PEOPLE

Radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger is getting some feedback from several quarters on her comments about gays. One comes from Ellen DeGeneres, who took issue with Schlessinger’s depiction of gays as “sexual deviants.”

“She has a right to her opinion,” DeGeneres said Monday night at the New York premiere of her new HBO flick about lesbian love, “If These Walls Could Talk 2,” which airs Sunday on the cable channel. But DeGeneres went on to accuse Schlessinger of fostering the sort of intolerance that led to the killing of gay student Matthew Shepard in Wyoming.

“I hope that people look at this (movie) and realize that love is love,” said DeGeneres, whose lover, Anne Heche, wrote and directed the “Walls” episode in which DeGeneres stars with Sharon Stone. “It’s not about gender.”

Schlessinger’s lawyer, Gerry Margolis, responded that the radio host “would rather not debate Ellen in the media,” but said Schlessinger is not homophobic. Of course, the good doctor can’t stay quiet for long and did issue a statement on the HBO vignette: “I saw the previews and was saddened that today a mainstream comedy thinks it’s funny to show two women having a baby and intentionally depriving that child of a daddy. Children, gay or straight, want a mom and a dad.”

Meanwhile, presidential hopeful Bill Bradley doesn’t care much for the signals Schlessinger sends out either. In an interview with the gay online radio show www.gaybc.com, he said Schlessinger’s views “make me sick to my stomach.” He also urged Paramount TV to rethink its plans to launch a Dr. Laura TV show this fall.

CAR TROUBLE : Sheriff’s investigators have asked the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office to file a felony charge against Halle Berry in a hit-and-run accident. According to authorities, Berry was behind the wheel of a rented Chevrolet Blazer that ran a red light and hit another car at a Sunset Strip intersection at about 2 a.m. Feb. 23.

“Ms. Berry allegedly then fled the scene of the accident,” said sheriff’s Deputy Joan Raber Tuesday night. Berry, who sought her own medical treatment, needed 22 stitches to close a cut on her forehead. The other driver was treated for a broken right wrist.

A statement released on Berry’s behalf said after “the opportunity to review (investigative) reports and conclusions,” the actress and her representatives “will respond to them in the appropriate forum.” The statement continued, “Halle is taking this situation very seriously If anyone else was hurt in the accident, she is deeply sorry and hopes they make a speedy and full recovery.”

DEATH THREATS TO NEWBORN: Spice Girls member Victoria Beckham and her soccer player husband, David, have received a death threat made against their baby son Brooklyn. The letter containing a doctored picture of the baby bleeding from a bullet wound was sent to the couple’s Hertfordshire, England, mansion, as well as to Posh Spice’s parents, who live nearby. The letters were especially chilling because they included detailed accounts of the couples’ lives and maps with the families’ homes circled in red.

Last year, police foiled a $1.6 million plot to kidnap Brooklyn and Posh and, until recently, David had been harassed by a stalker. The letters haven’t delayed plans for a $16,000 birthday party this weekend, when Brooklyn turns 1.

WHAT NEW PUSSYCATS? WHOA: While Drew Barrymore apparently had a heck of a time landing some talent for her “Charlie’s Angeles” remake, the casting call hasn’t had to ring long for the big-screen adaptation of the old Saturday morning cartoon “Josie & the Pussycats.”

Rachael Leigh Cook, who played the Pygmalion heroine in “She’s All That,” already has the leopard skins oiled for the lead role as Josie. The New York Post reports Tara Reid (“Body Shots, “American Pie”) and Julia Stiles (“Down to You”) might be contenders as well. A real singer might actually make it in the band, maybe Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins or Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes from the Grammy-winning R&B trio TLC.

BUT I SEE GHOSTS: Poor Haley Joel Osment. The little 11-year-old so splendid in “The Sixth Sense” cried after losing the Golden Globe for supporting actor to Tom Cruise. Now, Empire Online says that the Oscar nominee wants to be the English wizard Harry Potter. But when it comes to J.K. Rowling’s best seller, Britannia rules. “Clearly Osment is a very talented young actor,” says Susie Figgis of Susie Figgis Casting and the company representing the film, “but my brief to date has been to find an English boy.” They’re still bitter over there about the tea.

PELVIS HAS JUST LEFT THE BUILDING: It took just seconds to downgrade “American Psycho” to an R rating. The Motion Picture Association of America’s ratings board didn’t take too kindly to a menage a trois involving star Christian Bale, who plays a narcissistic serial killer, and two actresses portraying hookers. After Lions Gate Films appealed, director Mary Harron had to go back to the editing board and snip! snip!

Lions Gate president Mark Urman said it wasn’t as easy as it sounded. “The scene is very intricately cut, because the characters are having sex to a Phil Collins song that’s playing in the apartment Mary had to provide alternative shots to direct attention above the waist, while keeping the rhythm of the scene.” Sounds poetic. So does Lions Gate spokesman Jeremy Walker’s elegant comment: “It was a matter of taking out a pelvic thrust here, a pelvis-to-pelvis contact there The scene is intact, it’s just shorter.” The release date for “American Psycho” is April 14.

Today’s People Column was compiled by Vera H-C Chan from staff and wire reports. Comments? Write to us c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099. Or call 925-943-8262, fax 925-943-8362, or e-mail spin@cctimes.com.

Milestones

Town square planned: For Carlos Santana. His Mexican birthplace of Autlan de Navarro will build a Santana town square, erect a Santana statue and name a street after him. The square, to be finished by the year’s end, will also feature figures of other local musicians including Santana’s father, Jose, who played the violin in a mariachi band.

Hospital stay reported: For Frank “Pee Wee” King. The 86-year-old entertainer who co-wrote the state song “Tennessee Waltz” has been hospitalized at the Louisville Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Ky., following a heart attack. He was listed in guarded condition Tuesday.

Birthdays: Actress Jennifer Jones (81), bluegrass singer-musician Doc Watson (77), actor John Cullum (70), former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (69), author Tom Wolfe (69), actress Barbara Luna (61), actor Jon Finch (59), author John Irving (58), singer Lou Reed (58), singer Eddie Money (51), actress Cassie Yates (49), actress Laraine Newman (48), Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., (47), singer Jay Osmond (45), pop musician John Cowsill of the Cowsills (44), tennis player Kevin Curren (42), rock singer Jon Bon Jovi (38), actress Heather McComb (23).

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