THIS JUST IN . . .

* Cause celeb Brooke Burns of "Baywatch" fame--she plays an aspiring Hollywood stuntwoman on the intellectually demanding (not!) series--testifies before a House committee today against the practice of "finning." That's when a commercial fisherman catches a shark, kills it and hacks off its fins before tossing it back in the drink.

* Saturday-night revelers at the Chevy Chase home of Wall Street Journal sleuth Glenn Simpson and writer-wife Mary Jacoby were buzzing over the sight of President Clinton's private-scandal attorney, David Kendall, in an amiable chat with Clinton archenemies Dave Bossie and Barbara Comstock. They're former staffers of Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), who once called the president a "scumbag." Yesterday Kendall told us: "It was a social encounter. At Washington parties, one is always in danger of encountering journalists or lawyers." All's well that ends well?

* At a snazzy White House lunch celebrating the fifth anniversary of AmeriCorps yesterday, Hillary Rodham Clinton gave us a free meal and accepted the first annual Dan Dutko Award for "extraordinary commitment to national service," named for the AmeriCorps fund-raiser who was killed in July in a cycling accident. AmeriCorps, of course, is the Clinton administration's government- and corporation-supported national service program.

"Larry's thinking of hiring himself out as a stud service."

-- Shawn Southwick King, the 38-year-old seventh wife of CNN star Larry King, responding to our inquiry about the startling revelation that she and her 65-year-old husband are expecting their second child in June.

Float Like a Butterbean

Heavyweight boxer Eric Esch, who is in one of five featured bouts at tonight's Fight Night charity extravaganza, has gone a long way on his winning personality and his memorable nickname, Butterbean. But far from being "a variety of small-seeded lima bean"--we looked it up in the dictionary--this Butterbean is six feet tall and 320 pounds of intimidating flesh. And scary, too.

"When I get in the ring, I'm not the same person," Butterbean told us yesterday. "I'm thinking of every person who ever did something wrong to me, the bad people who picked on me, and that's all brought back to me. It's true anger. I'm a mean guy when I step in the ring. I'm competitive and I want to make sure people see a great fight. And lately, I've been able to knock my opponents out with either hand."

The 32-year-old Alabama native has racked up an enviable 49-1-2 record (41 of those victories knockouts) during his five years as a professional boxer. It's painful work--"I've dislocated biceps in both my arms throwing different punches"--but Butterbean is charging a third of his usual fee to fight at the black-tie event at the Washington Hilton, which traditionally attracts 2,000 pooh-bahs, mostly men. It will raise around $1 million for a variety of children's charities.

"Anything that helps kids, I want to be there," Butterbean said. Two years ago, after he last boxed at the testosterone-drenched fund-raiser organized by real estate mogul Joe Robert, he stripped off his shorts and auctioned them off for $5,500. "Actually I just had on my cup," Butterbean confided, "but I had a big 'Fight Night' T-shirt, so I looked like I was wearing more than I was." That's a relief.

Gabriel Byrne, a Devil of an Actor

* "I hate the word 'memoir,' " Irish showman Gabriel Byrne told us yesterday when we asked about his book, "Pictures in My Head." "It sounds like the last thing the great old man did before he went on to his reward--to finish his memoir in the country home." Byrne--who acted in the movie "The Usual Suspects" and produced "In the Name of the Father"--will read some of his essays (that's his preferred term) at a reception tonight at the Irish Embassy.

Published last year in the United States, Byrne's book limns the five teenage years he spent studying to become a priest, including such adventures as being kicked out of seminary after he was caught smoking in a graveyard. "I've never been able to solve what was I thinking," the 49-year-old Byrne told us.

These days Byrne is gearing up for the November opening of "End of Days," in which he plays the Devil opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger's ex-cop. "I wanted to play a Devil who was completely accessible, the kind of guy who could sit down beside you in a bar and start talking to you and seduce you into doing whatever he wants because you believe he's a really good guy and you trust him. Basically, someone cool, charming, amusing, seductive, but lethal--like a really astute politician."

CAPTION: Brooke Burns.

CAPTION: Butterbean, left, getting worked up in a 1995 fight with Mitchell Rose.

CAPTION: Actor and essayist Byrne.