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Next Monday night will be a bang-up one in Washington, D.C., for - of all creatures - New Yorkers. Gothamites are that proud of the "Saturday Night Live" genius Lorne Michaels, who will be receiving the 2004 Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize. (Lorne has already been feted in Manhattan at the Park Avenue apartment of Christine and Stephen Schwarzman, the latter being the new Kennedy Center chairman.) The black-tie event in D.C. will feature, among others, Christopher Walken, Candice Bergen, Dan Aykroyd, Tim Meadows, Paul Simon and Conan O'Brien.

And while we're mentioning the philanthropist Mr. Schwarzman, who also masterminds the great Blackstone Group, let's do a newsy P.S. on Steve's house down in Palm Beach. He has been accused of everything except slapping the queen or tweaking Donald Trump's hair. But the reality is that he is one of the rare rich good guys. An eminence grise I know well in the world of high finance tells me, off the record, that Schwarzman is "one of the most honest and ethical human beings in the world of business."

Schwarzman bought "Four Winds," the fabled three-acre, oceanfront Bermuda-style estate designed by Maurice Fatio for the late E.F. Hutton, for $20.5 million last year. The Local Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the addition of a second story and other changes earlier this year that required strengthening the supporting walls. So Steve's contractor proceeded to deconstruct the house, storing all the exterior materials and architectural features that will return when the new frame is built.

However, the work came to an abrupt halt when a stop-order was slapped on following some public accusations and a lot of mean-spirited rumors that the work had been done "without the color of authority."

As it turns out, after the local press and some in New York labeled him a villain, an investigative panel has now cleared Schwarzman, his architect and his contractor of any wrongdoing and confirmed that they had sought permission and received it for every stage of the work. The committee unanimously agreed that these parties had acted in good faith and had met with town officials and obtained the required building permits. So, the stop-work order has now been lifted, and Schwarzman and company have been vindicated.

Four Winds, when rebuilt, will endure for generations as one of the finest Landmark Homes in Palm Beach. If Palm Beach doesn't want owners to remodel their houses in this way, the preservation foundation and the town will have to see that new rules, restrictions and laws go into effect.

Marisa Tomei took away an Oscar for her performance in "My Cousin Vinny" a few years ago. And although she has gone on to other things - some quite striking, such as her stage "Salome" last season - she holds a fond spot for her fame-making role.

Tomei, who appears as one of Jude Law's conquests in the new version of "Alfie," which premiered this week at the Ziegfeld, says she wouldn't be averse to a sequel to "My Cousin Vinny." The actress admits, "A few years ago may have been too soon for me, but Joe Pesci and I talk about it all the time, and I would love to!"

The Oscar telecast has had some irreverent hosts in its time - David Letterman, Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Martin - but I predict that Chris Rock will take the annual telecast to new heights of nervous tension and laughter. The audience of self-involved stars better be wearing their poker faces when Chris starts in. (Oh, wait, everybody has a poker face now. Botox.)

Pamela Anderson has plenty of what makes a woman (and men!) happy. But she knows how to budget what she's got. The other day at a Malibu supermarket, the blond bombshell spent many minutes rummaging through her purse searching for bargain coupons. "Hey, lady! Get a move on. I've got a job to get to," one patron grumbled. But Pam was sublime in her determination to find that coupon. She did and saved $3.40. Thrift is never to be despised.

Olivier Martinez, who famously led Diane Lane astray in "Unfaithful," was the object of many a feminine gaze - and approach - at L.A.'s Chateau Marmont the other day. Looking super-skinny but super-sexy, the actor averted all blatant come-ons with this line, "You are beautiful, but I have my woman." (Imagine this spoken in a divine French accent.) Olivier's woman is pop queen Kylie Minogue.

Tribune Media Services