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NAMES & FACES

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Fountains of Wayne

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, presumably in town to watch his team beat the Washington Capitals yesterday, toasted the New Year at Morton's steakhouse on Connecticut Avenue, the restaurant's publicist Linda Roth tells us.

Gretzky, part owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, arrived at Morton's around 9 p.m. with a party of 18. By the time they left -- before midnight -- he and his group had feasted on a variety of seafood, steak and three $675 bottles of Opus One.

"That's how you knew that were celebrating," Roth said of the group's high-end bottle-popping, which helped contribute to the $4,000 tab and tip of $850.

During the evening, a group of children came over to the Canadian's table for autographs, Roth reports.

Was Morton's management bothered that he used the restaurant's menus to sign his name and "99," his NHL number?

Nope, Roth says.

"It's the Great One. It's Gretzky."

Hello Skimpy!

And you thought Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction was bad.

Yesterday, a troupe of dancers in skin-colored bodysuits had Japanese national broadcaster NHK apologizing to viewers of its New Year's Eve music special for what seemed to be a full-scale skin-fest.

The dancers, who appeared to be naked except for skimpy bikini bottoms and feathered headdresses, covered the stage during a performance by singer DJ Ozma, prompting about 250 viewers to phone in and complain.

"The dancers were wearing bodysuits, but we apologize for any misunderstanding," a presenter announced toward the end of the 57th annual "Red and White Song Contest."

"I guess it looked a bit too real," local media quoted the singer as telling reporters after the show, which regularly tops viewer ratings on New Year's Eve in Japan.

Lo Drama

Jennifer Lopez may still be "Jenny From the Block." But she is waging a legal battle to stop her first ex-husband from dishing about her formative years.

Rather than let the case play out in court, the singer-actress is pushing to enter arbitration with Ojani Noa to stop him from publishing a tell-all book about their relationship, according to E! Online.

A hearing is set for Jan. 29 in Los Angeles Superior Court on Lopez's motion for arbitration and her request to put her lawsuit against Noa on hold until after the pair have tried to work things out.

Last summer a judge issued a preliminary injunction to keep Noa from peddling the racy manuscript. It also prevents him from profiting from any intimate Lopez details, disseminating private info about her and criticizing her in public. J.Lo had sued Noa after he allegedly asked for $5 million to ditch the book project.

But Noa, 31, refuses to enter arbitration.

"I didn't agree to it," Noa told L.A. Superior Court Judge Victor Person on Dec. 1. "My lawyer told me that it was the right thing to do, and I went along with it."

Lopez tied the knot with the Cuban-born Noa in 1997, shortly after meeting him at the Miami restaurant where he worked as a waiter. Eleven months later, their union was a wrap.

Noa needs to find a new lawyer before his next court date. His former counsel -- who agreed in October to enter arbitration -- reportedly wasn't a licensed attorney.

End Note

Britney Spears, partied out?

The pop star snoozed off in a Las Vegas nightclub shortly after leading the New Year's Eve countdown, her manager said.

"By about 1 o'clock, she was just done, so we took her out," Larry Rudolph told the Associated Press. "She was not drunk. She was just tired and falling asleep."

Spears was traveling with her two sons, 3-month-old Jayden James and year-old Sean Preston, and presumably did not take a nap when they did before the New Year's festivities.

Rudolph denied reports circulating on gossip Web sites that Spears, 25, collapsed and was carried out by bodyguards. The star was hired to host the celebration at Caesars Palace's Pure nightclub.

"There is nothing out of the ordinary here," he said.

Zzzzzz.

-- Compiled by Clint Walker from staff and wire reports

The Reliable Source column will return tomorrow.

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