Last week we caught Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.), Sonny's merry widow, wearing a rather significant rock on her ring finger. Could she be engaged to boyfriend Brian Prout, the drummer for country band Diamond Rio? Last year Bono told The Source all about their blossoming romance. But yesterday she said through a spokesman it's none of our beeswax.

Local Boy Goes Hollywood

* Like a lot of 26-year-olds, Ehren Kruger--a 1990 graduate of Alexandria's Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology--dreamed of writing Hollywood screenplays. Unlike a lot of them, he's actually done it. Kruger's new thriller, "Arlington Road," starring Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack, opens today.

Kruger wrote the movie--which is set in Reston but was filmed mostly in Houston--back in 1996. "I wanted to write a film that was about the suburbs and neighbors and the veneer of sameness and normalcy in those communities," he told us from the Hollywood set of "Scream 3," another in his oeuvre. Kruger's movie "Reindeer Games," starring Ben Affleck and Gary Sinise, debuts in December.

He's been writing screenplays since high school, where "I didn't particularly have an affinity for the chemistry and physics and robotics labs, so my only escape was the TV production lab." He grew up in Alexandria with parents Stanley and Ann, both administrators at the Department of Education until they moved three years ago to southwest Virginia. "Arlington Road" is the first of Kruger's scripts to make it to the big screen. "It's a thrill," he said. "I wish I had more time to be excited."

Ollie, Ollie Oxen-Free!

* Our good friend Oliver North has a new line of work: providing legal aid to wayward political candidates. On Wednesday afternoon, the Marine lieutenant colonel turned talking head was doing a live radio interview with his former White House compadre Pat Buchanan, while the Republican presidential contender was racing down an Iowa highway.

Suddenly listeners to North's show on the Radio America Network heard a state trooper pull over Buchanan's car for speeding. According to an account in yesterday's Washington Times, once Buchanan's car was stopped, he rolled down his window and invited the trooper to speak with North on the air. Whereupon Ollie interceded on Pat's behalf, persuading the star-struck lawman to give Pat's driver a warning instead of a ticket.

"I'm very encouraged that the law officers out there in Iowa are thoughtful enough to stop and talk to Pat Buchanan about law enforcement matters," Ollie quipped to us yesterday. "If any other candidates would like me to speak with law officers on their behalf, I will be happy to do so, regardless of party, whether it be Al Gore, Bill Bradley and even Mrs. Clinton, since I grew up in Upstate New York. This is a full-service radio show."

* Shortly after Sophia Loren tossed this pizza at Harrods on Wednesday--part of the hoopla staged by Mohamed Fayed to open the annual summer sale at his London landmark--the 64-year-old screen goddess earned her appearance fee the hard way. First she was attacked by a cockatoo named Peaches, then she fell off a stage. "The good news is that she wasn't hurt. She handled herself with great dignity and aplomb," a Harrods spokesman told us yesterday.

THIS JUST IN . . .

* And we thought she was a star! At her regular news briefing yesterday, high-profile Attorney General Janet Reno told of being mistaken for a grocery clerk while vacationing in Idyllwild, Calif. At a Fourth of July parade, Reno overheard a husband and wife talking about her. Reno recounted that the wife said, " 'Gee, she looks familiar.' 'Yeah, I think so too,' said the husband. Wife said, 'I think she's the checkout person at the market.' "

* Bent on eradicating the evil scourge of elephant abuse from the face of the Earth, Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) and game show host Bob Barker will present a video at the Longworth House Office Building next Wednesday depicting a "staggering case" of pachyderm mistreatment in India.

* Washington National Cathedral will be alive with the sound of music tonight when Vermont folk singer Elisabeth von Trapp, granddaughter of governess- turned-baroness Maria von Trapp, gives a free concert at 7:30.

CAPTION: Jefferson High alum Kruger in 1990.

CAPTION: Do we hear wedding bells? Bono sporting a diamond, a boyfriend Prout, above.

CAPTION: North, to Buchanan's rescue.