Petty won’t back down on song use

Tom Petty is an official George W. Bush heartbreaker.

The presidential candidate was forced to remove Petty’s 1989 hit “I Won’t Back Down” from his campaign set list, after Bush received an angry letter from the singer, Rolling Stone reports.

After noticing that the Republicans had adopted his tune, Petty apparently shot off a missive to the would-be world leader.

“Any use made by you or your campaign creates, either intentionally or unintentionally, the impression that you and your campaign have been endorsed by Tom Petty, which is not true,” it said.

Bush’s cohorts replied, “We do not agree that the mere playing or use of a particular song at a campaign event connotes any impression, either intentional or unintentional, of endorsement.”

“EYE”-ACHES: T-Boz Watkins and Chili Thomas dissed fellow TLC member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes for her recent “missing” number in which she blew off a press conference and a family function and gave no word where she was, before being spotted frolicking in New Orleans. They branded it “an attention-getter” on a Big Apple hip-hop radio station. “It’s sick,” said Watkins. “You claim to love your fans, but you have little kids crying, thinking you’re lost.” Added Thomas: “This is what we’ve been going through forever.”

LOOKING OUT FOR THE BEST MAN: The critics might be a little cool to Gore Vidal’s revival of his 1962 satire, “The Best Man,” but celebrities were backed up along the Great White Way for the Sunday night Broadway opening. People Online spied the likes of Rosie O’Donnell, Regis Philbin, Peter Jennings, Walter Cronkite, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. Even Woody Allen, who usually ducks out of his own movie openings, braved the neon lights with wife Soon-Yi. “I’m here because I’m such an enormous fan of Gore Vidal’s writing,” Allen explained. “He speaks the truth.”

Allen also called the relevance of the show about backroom maneuvering during a presidential convention “amazing.” Stage presence, by the way, was made by stars Charles Durning, Spalding Gray and Chris Noth.

BEST MAN? DON’T LOOK HERE: Laura Dern at at last is publicly airing her grievances about how Billy Bob Thornton upped and left her for Angelina Jolie. “I left my home to work on a movie and while I was away, my boyfriend got married, and I’ve never heard from him again,” she says in Talk magazine “It’s like a sudden death. For no one has there been any closure or clarity.” Gosh, no wonder Thornton is such a malleable actor he’s composed of slime.

GOLD RECORDS TO SILVER SPOONS: Mick Jagger reportedly has given a satisfactory accounting to former Brazilian model Luciana Morad, otherwise known as the mother of his indiscretion. Morad apparently has agreed to the paltry sum of $4.5 million: The math works out to $19,000 a month until Lucas, now 15 months, reaches the age of 18. After that, he can draw on his own trust fund. The agreement allows Jagger to keep his books from judicial examinations, although his boxers are another matter.

THE REAL STORY BEHIND THE REAL STORY BEHIND OH, NEVER MIND: Princess Diana may eventually catch up with Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley as inspiration for behind-the-scenes, tell-all, look-I-found-their-diaries books. The next one coming up is from Patrick Jephson, who served as the princess’ private secretary for nine years. Jephson supposedly wants to counter all the “the indiscriminate comment she has received,” although the $3 million apparently comes in at a time when he’s in debt following a failed public-relations business and marriage. Barbara Walters reportedly has him for a “20/20” interview. Read ’em and weep.

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


Tapes made: Of Sid Caesar. The comedy of the 78-year-old, including sketches from “Your Show of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour,” has been released as “The Sid Caesar Collection” on newly remastered videotapes and DVDs. The writers for his 1950s weekly live show included Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Woody Allen.

Lifetime achievement awarded: To Robert De Niro. The actor will accept the award at the 48th San Sebastian Film Festival, which begins today with 10 days of screenings.

Birthdays: Cartoon animator Chuck Jones (88), actor Rand Brooks (82), actor Larry Hagman (69), poet-songwriter Leonard Cohen (66), actor-comedian Henry Gibson (65), author-comedian Fannie Flagg (56), author Stephen King (53), musician Don Felder of the Eagles (53), actor-comedian Bill Murray (50), rock musician Philthy Animal formerly of Motorhead (46), movie producer-writer Ethan Coen (42), actor-comedian Dave Coulier (41), actor David James Elliott (40), actress Nancy Travis (39), actor Rob Morrow (38), country singer Faith Hill (33), rock musician Tyler Stewart of Barenaked Ladies (33), actress-talk show host Ricki Lake (32), rapper Dave of De La Soul (32), actor Alfonso Ribeiro (29), actor Luke Wilson (29), actor Joseph Mazzello (17)