Star Tracks

updated 02/12/1996 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/12/1996 01:00AM

Ever wonder why producers picked Madonna (center, in Buenos Aires with historian Enrique Oliva, left, and translator Laura Ayersa) to star in Evita, the story of Argentine legend Eva Perón, a woman of uncommon ambition and cunning who rose from obscurity to become one of the most famous and powerful women on the planet, known for her cool clothes and clear-eyed aim at world domination? Hmmm...

All that glitters is not Natalie Cole, but the rest most certainly was as the singer performed at the Friends of Sheba Medical Center's Rabin Awards in Beverly Hills.

As 60 Minutes' Ed Bradley (center) looked on, Cuban leader Fidel Castro got in his jabs at yet another American institution—Muhammad AH, who brought the CBS news show along on a humanitarian trip to Havana to deliver medical supplies.

Riding high on the success of their respective shows, Live with Regis & Kathie Lee's Regis Philbin caught up with Brett Butler, star of ABC's Grace Under Fire, at the National Association of Television Program Executives Conference in Las Vegas.

The Forum in L.A. became Magic's kingdom once again when a sellout crowd celebrated Earvin Johnson's return to the Lakers on Jan. 30 after a four-year absence. "I wanted my son to see his daddy play," said Johnson, 36, whose son Earvin III, 3, wife, Cookie, and daughter Elisa, 1 (below), watched him score 19 points to help beat the Golden State Warriors 128-118. "I'm kicking myself for not coming back sooner," said Johnson (with Warrior Chris Gatling, above), who retired on Nov. 7, 1991, after announcing that he was HIV positive. "But now is the right time. The NBA has educated every team in the league about HIV and AIDS." Johnson adjusted to reentry during a standing ovation. "At first I couldn't really feel the game," he said afterward. "Then I got hit, and I knew I was back."

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