Scalpers scalped buying Streisand tickets

Barbra Streisand has, albeit unwittingly, scalped the scalpers. Brokers who scarfed tickets for the singer’s farewell concerts at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday and tonight have had to sell tickets for less than face value sometimes as much as half-off. Officially, the concerts sold out within hours, but a significant portion of the seats apparently were sold to brokers, who were scrambling on the Internet as late as Wednesday trying to unload their wares. One man who described himself as a ticket wholesaler who sells to other brokers said that he could probably secure one of the $1,500 tickets for $700 or $800.

Instead of being chagrined that Streisand isn’t worthy of even more inflated prices, her camp expressed glee. “We’re thrilled about that,” said spokesman Ken Sunshine. “They’re the scourge of the industry.” That’s a PR man deserving of his surname.

EXORCIST LITE: Someone needs to exorcise Winona Ryder. She seems to be possessed with the same demon that has visited the bodies of James Spader and Lou Diamond Phillips: Good actors, bad films. Following her latest clich, “Autumn in New York” co-starring the similarly afflicted Richard Gere, is “Lost Souls.” In this one, Ryder plays a Catholic out to stop Satan from ruling the world.

Ryder’s curse, though, seems to have spread to the set, according to the usual anonymous sources whispering to the New York Daily News. The first clue was when a priest warned the crew not to do the film. Everyone’s a critic, so the staffers went to another priest with Jeffrey Lyons’ standards to bless the set. Then, when filming began in Harlem, production staff members supposedly experienced freak accidents, allergic reactions, inexplicable electrical fires and power outages.

The final omen is that the release date for “Lost Souls” has been pushed back several times, to the well-chosen Friday, Oct. 13.

AMERICANA ON THE BLOCK: Talk about carving out your symbolism with a chain saw. A Troy, N.Y., home that once moved Norman Rockwell to put it on canvas is now in foreclosure. The brick townhouse turned up in a 1952 painting meant to exemplify America’s vibrancy and optimism. Now, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has seized it. If no one takes it off the block within a six-month window, the city of Troy can put down a gold Sacajawea for the home, valued at $66,876.

The painting, incidentally, shows adults looking on from the stoop and open windows at children chasing Henry Ford in his first automobile. Illustrated for a calendar marking the automobile’s 50th anniversary, the work of art was prophetically christened “The Street was Never the Same.”

IDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECT: A class of Virginia students thought they’d be meeting NASA scientists, but instead they saw stepping from a white stretch limousine Jackie Chan? Maybe it has something to do with his talent for self-propulsion. Anyhow, the Hong Kong director-actor came to Newport News’ Achievable Dream school Monday to film an episode of “The Nasa Why’ Files,” set for an Oct. 14 broadcast on public television. “Anything that can help children about education, I go,” he said. Chan, who also has a cartoon out on the WB, has his fans in the pre-adolescent set. “When I saw him my heart started to beat fast,” 11-year-old Shatasha McPhatter said. “I felt like I was dreaming.”

A REASON TO CRY AT THE WAILING WALL: In the weirdest confluence of world peace and Hollywood, on Monday a crowd of Palestinian youths was cheering a Hasidic Jew who was kickboxing some Israeli policemen. Actually, the Hasidic Jew and the policemen were actors, and the Israeli and Palestinian onlookers were cheering on a scene from Jean-Claude Van Damme’s $25 million action flick, “The Order.” “I think we are the first international crew to be able to shoot in these areas on the roof of the Holy City, I’m very blessed,” Van Damme said.

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