Minnie Driver, Hitting the Sauce In Chicago

* "It's 100 degrees and everything is steaming and there's not much oxygen!" Minnie Driver told us breathlessly from a movie set in Chicago, where she was waiting the other day to do a restaurant scene with David Duchovny. "It's raining and we're laughing hysterically. I'm just eating Mott's applesauce. How's that for 'product placement'? Right in your stomach!"

The 28-year-old British movie star--about whom The Source is absolutely crazy--plays Mabel Chiltern in "An Ideal Husband," opening today. She's one of the lovely ladies vying to catch caddish Lord Goring, played by Rupert Everett in Oliver Parker's screen adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play.

"My part is decorative, I would say," she told us. "They expanded the role for me compared to the play. She's terribly funny, she's quick, not forced, but encourages Rupert's character."

And isn't it confusing to be filming one movie while flacking for another? "Actors get a fairly moronic rap most of the time, but honestly it's not that hard. Some people can be listening to the radio and also do the washing up, you know."

The Pooch, the Smooch and the Count

One definition of news is "man bites dog." Another might be "dog doesn't kiss man"--especially if the man is Arnaud de Borchgrave and he vehemently insists that the darned dog did so kiss him!

The diminutive de Borchgrave--former editor of the Washington Times and now president of United Press International--was at a party Wednesday night for "The World by the Tail," Brooke Negley's memoir of her love affair with Jack Russell terriers. One such terrier is year-old Scarteen, co-host Sydney McNiff Ferguson's pet, who charmed the crowd at Penne Korth's Embassy Row apartment by lavishing everyone with kisses. Except de Borchgrave, reports The Post's Roxanne Roberts.

Confronted with the perpetually suntanned Belgian count, Scarteen craned her neck, took a long sniff and then turned up her doggy nose, refusing to have anything more to do with him, said two witnesses. He looked startled, they said. But yesterday, de Borchgrave argued forcefully: "That's a stretch. She licked me all over and I wiped my face several times. . . . This is a non-item, dear boy."


* As Richard Holbrooke endures confirmation hearings to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, his wife, Kati Marton, has been missing from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Hungarian-born Marton also skipped a recent White House dinner for her homeland's president. "I'm incredibly torn," she told us yesterday from Telluride, Colo., where she's doing some "mother-son bonding" at a bluegrass festival with 17-year-old Christopher Jennings, her son with ex-husband Peter Jennings. And instead of White House dining, she was with their 19-year-old daughter, Lizzie, in Paris. "Richard has always said, 'I know my place--and it's number three on the Hit Parade.' "

* Rap mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs, charged with felony assault in the beating of Interscope Records executive Steve Stoute, says Stoute has accepted his apology, the Los Angeles Times reports.

* William Morrow plans to publish Texas Gov. George W. Bush's campaign autobiography with ghostwriter Mickey Herskowitz in time to go on sale Nov. 20.

* Folks in Upstate New York are loudly complaining about a fly in their soup over a comment by one of Hillary Rodham Clinton's unidentified Senate campaign advisers that she shouldn't "go to the fly-infested Adirondack Park." We immediately thought of Harold Ickes, who in the past has issued dire warnings about ticks on golf courses, but Ickes stoutly denied authorship. "The Adirondacks is a wonderful place and its beauty is well known," he told us. "I think there is a black fly season. . . . But I have no idea where the Clintons will take their vacation."

* Yesterday, the New York Post's "Page Six" column asked: "Which network news chief and his foxy wife are expecting a millennium baby?" Today, The Source answers: NBC News President Andy Lack and 37-year-old spouse Betsy Lack, set to deliver in December. We're here to serve.

CAPTION: Mott's to like: The ideal actress.

CAPTION: Scarteen and Arnaud de Borchgrave, right: One of them seems to be a snob.


Here's photographic proof of Dan Rather's claim yesterday that armadillos leap when startled.