Ronald Perelman, Butt of the Funnies

* Ex-wife Patricia Duff, fighting Ronald Perelman in a nasty child support and custody suit, isn't the only woman who has a beef with the New York billionaire. Lisa Trusiani, who writes the popular comic strip "Apartment 3-G," is also seeking revenge on the wily capitalist. Last week the strip, which King Features syndicates to 125 newspapers, introduced a new character, "Ronnie Pearlyman"--a leering, cigar-smoking, security-obsessed tycoon who enrolls his young son at the school where heroine Lu Ann Powers teaches art. "He's no caped crusader," one of Lu Ann's fellow teachers warns. "He's that greedy corporate raider. Plundered a marvelous comic book company, sinking the entire industry!"

Trusiani and her artist-husband, Rick Parker, both used to work for Marvel Comics, which Perelman acquired in 1989. Later he and Carl Icahn got into a battle for control of the company. Icahn emerged the victor eventually, but not before Marvel was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1996. Trusiani and Parker quit the same year.

"Ron Perelman was like a saboteur or a pirate," Trusiani told us yesterday from her home in Maplewood, N.J. She added that many co-workers were fired and one even died at age 42 of a heart attack, which some blamed on workplace stress. "The effect of his ownership was so disastrous, both for the company and for so many people that we personally knew." Trusiani said Pearlyman will probably stick around for the next three months. As for Pearlyman's real-world counterpart, he declined to comment.

This, We've Been Assured, Is Not a Hoax

We opened our mail yesterday to find the results of a nationwide survey conducted by the New York Center for the Strange, which describes itself as a "nonprofit research organization" interested in "prognostication, prophecy, soothsaying and divination." According to the center's interviews with 370 male and female witches "who claim to be able to predict the future," as a press release describes them, "in 2000 Hillary Clinton will not run for the Senate, the effects of Y2K will be relatively mild, Congress will investigate professional wrestling, 'Seinfeld' will return to television, and workplace attire will become even more casual."

"We take this very seriously," said the center's associate director, Lewis Scott, after we promised that we would come up to the center's midtown Manhattan office and cast an evil spell on him and his colleagues if we discovered that this was a joke. "We have our list that we go to every year--it takes us a month--and these witches very generously and graciously share with us their predictions." Some highlights:

* Presidential hopeful Pat Buchanan will angrily accuse leading Holocaust scholars of "Nazi-bashing."

* Real estate mogul Donald Trump will tell Barbara Walters that when he dreams about the 72-story Trump skyscraper he is building on Manhattan's East Side, he is often "aroused."

* The economy will continue to be robust. The Dow Jones average will top 12,000 by the end of June, and the inflation rate will remain low.

* Computer glitches will be responsible for nationwide shortages of reusable plastic chopsticks, breath mints, canned anchovies, poker chips and faux pearls.


* Alexandria City Council Member Lonnie Rich wore a Winnie-the-Pooh Halloween costume to Tuesday night's session. "We don't always have to take ourselves so seriously," he told The Post's Ann O'Hanlon.

* Caroline Kennedy has sold her family's half-interest in George to Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, which promises to keep publishing the late John F. Kennedy Jr.'s journal of politics and celebrity. And Robert B. Wallace, who quit as editor in chief of St. Martin's Press over the discredited George W. Bush biography, becomes editorial director of Talk magazine next week.

* His Weirdness, Michael Jackson, says somebody stole from his Paris hotel room home movies of him playing with his two young children, and that the thief is demanding $100,000 for their return. "His lawyers have reported the theft to the Paris police, and he will not pay a penny in ransom," Jackson's spokesman Howard Rubenstein told us yesterday.

* Crazy? No way. A week after becoming an instant billionaire by taking her company public, Martha Stewart has settled a $10 million lawsuit against the National Enquirer, which ran a 1997 article headlined "Martha Stewart Is Mentally Ill."