Comic asked to apologize for racial slur on “Conan”

An Asian-American watchdog group got a partial apology for a epithet uttered on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” because of a bad case of hoof-in-mouth disease.

Sarah Silverman, the stand-up comic who stuffed her hoof in her maw, was exchanging quips with O’Brien on July 11. She was admitting that she wanted to avoid jury duty, and a friend suggested writing something inappropriate on the form, like hating Chinese. Since she didn’t want to sound racist, she wrote instead she loved the Chinese “and who doesn’t?” The hoof part though was when Silverman swapped in the slur for Chinese, thereby commanding uneasy laughter from the audience and ire from the Media Action Network for Asian Americans.

“There is no excuse for something like this to have made the air,” said MANAA president Guy Aoki. “It’s not constructive to use such a hateful word and play it off for laughs. It just gives people permission to continue to use it.

“She obviously chose to target a group of people that she felt she could get away with insulting. We’re not standing for it.”

The joke “was clearly inappropriate and the fact that it was not edited by our standards and practices department was a mistake,” NBC said in a statement. “We have reviewed our procedures to ensure such an incident does not reoccur and we will edit the joke out of any future repeats of the show.”

A call to Silverman’s manager, Geoff Cheddy, was not immediately returned Tuesday, maybe because he was busy trying to pull out that last toe stuck between her teeth.

LOVE ‘EM AND LEAVE ‘EM: Does Courtney Love want out of the Hole? The perhaps soon-to-be former lead singer and Kurt Cobain widow says she has outgrown the grunge scene which is, like, so 10 years ago and wants to punk out again which is like, so 15 years ago, then 10 years ago, then six months ago. She even has an all-girl band ready to go, christened Bastard.

“The band is already in the studio recording tracks,” a source told the New York Post, but the album won’t be released until after the legal dispute with Vivendi Universal Records they say she owes them five undelivered Hole albums; she says they can kiss her bass guitar is settled. A Love representative says the girl group has been together six months “and will release an album with Epitaph Records next year. Hole can’t record right now because of the lawsuit, but they aren’t breaking up.”

WELL, IT’LL GIVE HIM TIME TO PRACTICE HIS KUNG FU: Rapper ODB, otherwise known as Russell Jones, will be living in a new home for two-to-four years. The Wu-Tang Clan founding member got his prison sentence Wednesday for drug possession charges. The New York State Supreme Court also recommended that corrections department officials examine him to see if he needs psychiatric or substance abuse treatment. Jones was arrested July 1999 in Queens, N.Y., after police pulled him over for a running a red light and found cocaine and marijuana. The rapper pleaded guilty in April, a few months after he took an unapproved vacation from his Los Angeles drug treatment center for a separate charge.

SUPERMODEL RECUPERATING AT HOME: Niki Taylor is back in her Florida home. The model suffered severe abdominal injuries late April after the driver of the car she was riding in crashed into a utility pole. After a lengthy hospitalization, she had to return one more time to Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital on July 6 to have fluid drained from around her liver. Manager Lou Taylor said in a statement that the 26-year-old was released Tuesday and will begin physical therapy. The statement also included thanks from the mother of two. “Words cannot express the gratitude in my heart for Dr. (Jeffrey) Nicholas and everyone at Grady who worked so hard to save my life. I am very grateful,” she said.

REJECTING OSCAR: Is Billy Crystal pulling a George C. Scott or Marlon Brando? Sort of. Crystal won’t be master of ceremonies at the Academy Awards until further notice, despite a “Bring back Billy” campaign. “I love and appreciate that the audiences want to see me out there, I really do, but I can’t do it every year,” Crystal told the New York Post. “I really like the years off, and the more I like them, the less likely I am to do it again.” It takes three months to do those opening bits, in which he inserts himself into notable film clips from the previous year. Last year, Crystal passed to focus on “America’s Sweethearts.” He’ll be skipping the next one for other projects, including a script for a one-man play and possibly reuniting with Robert De Niro for an “Analyze This” sequel. Someone drag him over the red carpet to stop that last one.

Baby expected: For Laura Dern and Ben Harper. USA Today reports the actress and rocker have been together about six months. The baby is due in fall.

Contract renewed: By Rush Limbaugh. The nine-figure deal with Premiere Radio Networks reportedly as high as $250 million with a $35-million signing bonus, will be good until 2009.

Birthdays: Former Sen. George McGovern (79), actor Pat Hingle (77), actress Helen Gallagher (75), country singer Sue Thompson (75), country singer George Hamilton IV (64), actor Dennis Cole (61), singer Vikki Carr (60), actor George Dzundza (56), rock singer-musician Alan Gorrie of Average White Band (55), rock musician Brian May (54), rock musician Bernie Leadon (54), actress Beverly Archer (53), actor Peter Barton (45), rock musician Kevin Haskins of Love and Rockets; Bauhaus (41), movie director Atom Egoyan (41), actor Anthony Edwards (39), actor Campbell Scott (39), country singer Kelly Shiver (38), actor Andrew Kavovit (30).

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