If the British tabloids are trustworthy and we know they are then The Sun should have it right: An interview published Wednesday quoted Madonna as being engaged to movie director boyfriend Guy Ritchie. So read this and see if you came to the same conclusion we did:

“Guy has asked me to marry him, and I’ve said yes, but we haven’t decided when yet,” said Madonna. “It could be next year. We are very much in love and it seems like the natural thing to do. We understand what’s real. We cry on each other’s shoulders and we celebrate together.”

Sounds like they’re ready to pick out the china patterns, right? Wrong! Madonna representative Liz Rosenberg has leaped in to shove the corks back into those champagne bottles. “There are no wedding plans,” she flatly told Mr. Showbiz. “Madonna is not engaged.”

Rosenberg, who sure gets around, apparently also told MTV that the singer’s comments had been taken out of context. The interview was conducted precisely because Madonna wanted to stop rumors that she and Ritchie, the father of her second child, Rocco, were about to marry in Scotland.

We think Liz and Madonna need to talk more to each other.

TALK ABOUT GETTING YOUR MONEY’S WORTH: Ol’ Dirty Bastard, on the lam from police on both coasts, gleefully shocked fans when he turned up to perform with Wu-Tang Clan at Manhattan’s Hammerstein Ballroom Tuesday night. “I can’t stay onstage long tonight,” the rapper told hundreds of stunned music-lovers. “The cops is after me.”

L.A. wants him for fleeing rehab, and bench warrants have been issued in Brooklyn and Queens for drug raps. After his stint and before taking off, Ol’ Dirty told his listeners he planned to become “like a bird” and live off “birdseeds or whatever. You’ll see. You’ll see.”

Yeah, he was flying, all right.

THIS IS THE STUFF NIGHTMARES ARE MADE OF: “Kevin’s so focused that if he wants it bad enough he could probably have it.” Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell on why he thinks his bandmate Kevin Richardson could be president of the United States. Well, hey, if he can win Florida

WHAT ABOUT SHANGRI-LA AND ATLANTIS?: Vacation travelers, run to your agents. Public radio humorist Garrison Keillor has found what didn’t exist: the locale for the fictional Lake Wobegon. “Holdingford (pop. 638) is the town that looks most Wobegonic to me,” he avowed in December’s National Geographic magazine after combing Minnesota. “It has a fine little downtown of elderly brick buildings.”

The fictional village had been inspired by Keillor’s memories of Stearns County in central Minnesota, but times and the place have changed since he was a tot. Keillor said his pilgrimage came about after disappointing people for years when he told them the place was imaginary.

INTO THE HOPPER WITH YOU: The float probably won’t be a giant motorcycle that ends up ablaze, but strange couldn’t get stranger: Dennis Hopper will serve as grand marshal of the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade.

It took him two minutes to decide, according to the actor at a Tuesday ceremony where he received the marshal’s red jacket. “First of all, I was shocked, and then I looked at my 10-year-old son and I said yes. It was that easy.” Son Henry will ride with him during the two-mile parade down Hollywood and Sunset boulevards and Vine Street on Sunday, so presumably no reprisals from Hopper’s more famous scenes, like taking a pop at Isabella Rossellini. “Malcolm in the Middle” star Frankie Muniz will be junior marshal no popping off there, either.

RIMES WANTS OUT OF HER RECORD DEAL: Sniff, our young country singer has grown up. In a sure sign that LeAnn Rimes has come of age as a singer, she’s suing her record company.

The 18-year-old crooner filed a federal lawsuit in Nashville, Tenn., last week seeking to void her contract with Curb Records. The deal had been struck by Rimes’ parents on her behalf when she was 12.

“Her career has blossomed, something that couldn’t be predicted when she was 12 years old,” said her attorney, Tom Rhodus. “LeAnn simply wants to be her own person. She wants to speak for herself, and she wants to make her own deals.”

Rimes also filed suit earlier this year asking for $7 million in earnings allegedly siphoned off by her father and a former manager. Both men have denied the allegations. Curb Records attorney John David noted Rimes’ contract was affirmed in 1995 by state courts in Tennessee and Texas. “She has a valid and binding agreement,” David said. “That is the law.”

Of course, if the suit fails, Rimes can paint the word “slave” on her face, adopt an unpronounceable symbol for a name and become increasingly weird until Curb has no choice but to drop her like a sack of rotting peaches. Hey, it worked for Prince, didn’t it?

Today’s People Column was compiled by Randy McMullen and 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

Birthdays: Actor Michael Gough (83), Broadway composer Jerry Bock (72), former Labor Secretary William E. Brock (70), singer Betty Everett (61), actor Franco Nero (59), screenwriter Joe Eszterhas (56), actress Susan Anspach (55), actor Steve Landesberg (55), singer Bruce Hornsby (46), actor Maxwell Caulfield (41), actor John Henton (40), rock singer-musician Ken Block of Sister Hazel (34), rock musician Charlie Grover of Sponge (34), actress Salli Richardson (33), rapper Kurupt of Tha Dogg Pound (28).