Bilious at the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian is finding itself on the hot seat again. This time it's over what the Humane Society of the United States says is indifference to the geese and ducks whose livers end up as pate.

In a letter to Mara Mayor, the director of the Smithsonian Associates, the Humane Society's president asks the office to cancel a two-hour talk and tasting next month on "Foie Gras: A Gourmet's Passion." According to The Post's Jacqueline Trescott, the society's missive details how the birds are fed by tubes put down their throats and how their livers are pumped up to become what some consider a true delicacy.

"The procedure leaves many birds barely able to walk, and breathing becomes extremely labored," wrote Paul G. Irwin. "Dead birds have even been found with food filling their esophagi and spilling out of their nostrils."

In her reply, Mayor wrote: "We understand and appreciate your views on this particular matter." Smithsonian officials plan to go ahead with the Sept. 21 program.

A Wheaties-and-Hamm Breakfast

They're world soccer champs and now they're going to be on boxes of Wheaties.

General Mills said yesterday that it will issue five special-edition boxes featuring U.S. soccer players Michelle Akers, Brandi Chastain, Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and goalie Briana Scurry. One player will be shown on the front of each box, with her career highlights listed on the back.

This is the first time in Wheaties' 75-year history that a soccer player has been on the orange box. The first of the boxes will be in stores later this month.

"Every kid playing sports in America grows up with dreams of one day being on the Wheaties box," Hamm said.

A General Mills spokesman said the company can't feature the whole team because it could not reach an agreement with the U.S. Soccer Federation, which owns licensing rights to the team. Instead, General Mills made individual deals with the five players.

Shatner Drowning Investigated

Police are investigating whether alcohol was a factor in the Monday night drowning of Nerine Shatner, the 40-year-old wife of actor William Shatner. The New York Post reports that Mrs. Shatner, a former model, had been in rehab for alcoholism twice during her two-year marriage to the "Star Trek" star. Los Angeles police have ruled out foul play in her death, saying it was an accidental drowning in the family pool. An autopsy was performed yesterday but officials said more tests are needed to determine whether factors such as drugs or alcohol impaired her ability to swim. In addition, the Associated Press reports that William Shatner had filed for divorce in October 1998 but the couple reconciled.

End Notes

In a first, Camilla Parker Bowles is vacationing aboard a yacht in Greece with Prince Charles and his two sons . . . Janet Jackson's former cook is suing the singer, saying she had several drugs prescribed in his name without permission. Ricardo Macchi claims that Jackson ordered an antidepressant, an appetite suppressant and other drugs under his name, to maintain her own privacy . . . Good news for fans of Alfred Hitchcock: A never-before-seen 20-minute segment of "Kaleidoscope," a film about a serial killer that the British director did not finish before his death in 1980, will be screened next month at the Venice Film Festival . . . Andrew Jackson, the seventh U.S. president, died from kidney failure--not from mercury and lead poisoning, as historians had thought. New lab tests of samples of the prez's hair showed "higher-than-normal levels of both lead and mercury--but not enough to be toxic." Jackson died in 1845 at age 78.

CAPTION: General Mills is making a dream come true for Mia Hamm and four of her teammates.