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HOLLYWOOD'S NEWEST PLAYER

TALK SHOW HOST CHRIS EVERT

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In 1990, a year after she retired from tennis, Chris Evert remained America’s | best-known athlete, recognized (according to American Sports Data, Inc.) by 13 million more people than even Michael Jordan was. ”These polls-I don’t take ’em seriously,” says Evert. But Aaron Spelling does: The Beverly Hills, 90210 mogul’s company has launched her on a new career as a talk-show host-not exactly an endangered species nowadays, but Evert is the first to have earned $9 million with a racket. In the first Chris Evert Special, a syndicated hour- long program debuting the week of June 11 (check local listings), Evert interviews Gloria Estefan, Jane Seymour, and Eddie Murphy. Murphy was the subject of her first celeb chat, for which Evert used the same crew employed by the living master of the art form, Barbara Walters. ”I felt like I was going on the court at Wimbledon-I mean I felt sick to my stomach,” says Evert. ”That was pretty intimidating, but he turned out to be so sweet!” So is Evert (Mike Wallace she ain’t). ”I was pretty sensitive to the fact that Eddie has been getting some stick-some criticism-about the fact that he hasn’t had a hit movie.” So they concentrated on his music career. Still smarting herself from tabloid torment accompanying her 1987 divorce from John Lloyd, Evert was also sensitive about Seymour’s amours. ”I asked her beforehand if I could ask about her divorce, and she said ‘no’ bluntly, so I respect that. Shoot, it’s not worth it.” Happily remarried to Aspen Mountain ski director and TV executive Andy Mill and living with him in Aspen and Boca Raton, Fla., Evert plans to turn up the heat a bit after she’s settled into her new role. ”I didn’t really put my guests on the spot, but I’ll do it more. I’ll put myself out there on a limb-and do it in a nice, understanding way.” In other words, if her show were a tennis match, the score would be love-love.