Get Out Your Tool Belt

Our favorite home-improvement guru, Bob Vila, is coming to town today to pound a few nails. Vila will join Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, actress Sarah Jessica Parker and more than 100 volunteers at the first-ever Raise the Roof Day. They'll all be on Lamont Street in Columbia Heights, where they'll fix up a vacant apartment building for 14 poor families. "It's a great cause," said Vila, who also does public service announcements for HUD. "Andrew Cuomo is a great guy, and I think he's doing great stuff in this area."

Details of Michael's Divorce

Michael Jackson will pay his soon-to-be ex-wife Debbie Rowe a reported $8 million, and in exchange he'll get custody of their 2-year-old son, Prince, and 1-year-old daughter, Paris. That's all from the National Enquirer, which also reports that Rowe left a message at Jackson's office telling him she wanted a divorce. (He apparently wasn't returning her calls.) The couple's spokesman, Howard Rubenstein, wouldn't comment on the story but told the New York Post: "The divorce was an amicable parting."

Speaking of the Weird One, yesterday he canceled his planned New Year's Eve concerts in Australia and Hawaii. A concert publicist said Jackson just wants to concentrate on finishing his new album.

Partisan Ship

Jamie Sterling left his post as senior managing director at Bozell Eskew Advertising two weeks ago and is now working for Vice President Gore's presidential campaign.

Yesterday, Torie Clarke, a Republican co-worker at the Washington firm, presented him with a life preserver. "It says Titanic on the side," Sterling said. "I just laughed. Those Republicans have a keen sense of humor. In November, they'll need the life preserver."

News From the Sick Bed

Retired Navy chief Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr. was in critical condition yesterday after having cancer surgery at Duke University Medical Center. The 78-year-old Zumwalt, who commanded American naval forces in the Vietnam War, was diagnosed last month with a cancerous tumor in his chest. Andrew Young, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has early-stage prostate cancer and will undergo surgery in early December. Young, 67, said he expects to fully recover. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said yesterday that she's still a "little wobbly" after her colon cancer surgery last month, but added: "I progress steadily." And game show host Bob Barker said he's feeling fine after his recent surgery to clear a blocked artery. He'll resume taping "The Price Is Right" on Oct. 25.

End Notes

Nicole Kidman has a new role: Olympic torch-bearer. The Australian actress will carry the torch during the opening ceremony of next September's Games in Sydney . . . Donald Trump's girlfriend, the 26-year-old Slovenia-born Melania Knauss, says she'd love to be his first lady. "I think every woman, every girl would want to," she claimed . . . Two Miami cops who responded to O.J. Simpson's recent 911 call for a drugged-out woman have been scolded for posing for snapshots with the former murder suspect. Their bosses said their actions were "inappropriate" and reassigned them to desk jobs . . . The Washington Feminist Faxnet, a newsletter by the Center for Advancement of Public Policy, has come up with a novel way to advance public policy. It is urging women to send their underwear to Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura. Seems they're offended that the guv told Playboy that he wants to be reincarnated as a "38DD bra."