The Source's Exciting Love Connection

Jones, shaking hands with Prince Charles after a lunch in London in 1985. We certainly don't want more credit than we deserve. But the onetime sweethearts we wrote about last Friday have been reunited. Mere hours after British economist Hywel Glyn Jones, 51, used our good offices to issue an all-points bulletin for old flame Laura Kay Fleming--they had a summer romance in Oxford--he reached her by phone at her home in Vienna. Where she lives with her, um, husband.

"This came completely out of the blue," the 41-year-old academic writer told us yesterday. "It's extremely nice to hear from him. We have very kindly feelings toward each other, but it was a very long time in the past. Besides, it happened in a different country. We met in the Oxford train station and carried on a conversation all the way to London. We had a very sweet, warm, innocent, romantic friendship. He bought me a lot of books and recited poetry to me. It was the kind of intense time that young people have."

In the "ah-yes-I-remember-it-well" department, Fleming said they met in 1978--not in the early '80s, as Jones misrecalled. And Fleming hails from Birmingham, Ala., not Oklahoma, as he told us. "He knew I wasn't from Oklahoma. He did that to tease me," Fleming said.

"We've had splendid conversations," said Jones, who has phoned Fleming four times since our item appeared. "We got on like a house on fire. And I will speak to her again tonight. . . . There's little doubt from the course of these conversations that she and I will meet again someday."

No chance of rekindling their romance, though--and she won't be flying to the U.K. for Jones's pre-millennial bash next week. For the last 11 years, Fleming has been married to military historian Brian Sullivan, an Irishman whom she met while getting her English literature doctorate at Columbia University. "I'm very happily married," she said.

All Is Vanity

* Yearning for a definitive ranking of famous people mentioned in the New York media? Yearn no more: The annual New York Observer 500--the celebrity equivalent of the S&P 500--will be out tomorrow, offering an irresistible peek at the exertions of certain members of high society and their publicists.

Having pored over the fascinating data, we can reveal that the most mentioned celebrities in various gossip columns and slick magazines published in the borough of Manhattan are President Clinton (with 731 mentions), Hillary Rodham Clinton (401) and Monica Lewinsky (303), trailed by Vice President Gore (263) and New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (245). Although still dead, Richard Nixon ranks a respectable 35. Texas Gov. George W. Bush places at No. 7, just ahead of Donald Trump. And Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is No. 40, the same ranking as Talk magazine editor Tina Brown. (Can you say "parochial"?) Linda Tripp is No. 66, the same ranking as Kevin Costner, and Diane Sawyer is No. 74, far below fellow ABC diva Barbara Walters at No. 15. Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan is No. 79, just two rungs below Paula Jones, and Viagra pitchman Bob Dole is No. 91, wife Elizabeth is No. 114, and Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.) is No. 172.

Mean- while, White House aide Sidney Blumenthal --No. 137 on last year's list--has plunged to No. 220. "Wait till next year. I predict more slippage," Blumenthal told us yesterday.

THIS JUST IN . . .

* News from the cardiac ward at Channel 4: Afternoon anchor and late-night reporter Jim Handly was released from Johns Hopkins Hospital yesterday after successful surgery to treat a congenital weakness of a heart valve. Handly, 38, figured this was as "good a time as any to take care of it," according to WRC News Director Bob Long. He's "sore and fatigued" after last Tuesday's surgery and will be out of action for five weeks, Long told The Post's John Maynard. Morning anchor Joe Krebs, meanwhile, continues his recovery from last month's heart attack and expects to be back at work early next year.

* Newt Gingrich and Callista Bisek stepped out in style over the weekend, no doubt breathing a sigh of relief over the former House speaker's divorce settlement agreement last week with soon-to-be ex-wife Marianne Gingrich. The Source's resident Fun Couple was spotted dining Saturday night at the Carlyle Grand Cafe in Arlington and Sunday night at Landini Brothers Italian restaurant in Old Town. No word on the tip or their wine purchases.

CAPTION: WRC's Joe Krebs, still recovering.