Letterman on the Mend

"Late Show" host David Letterman is in rather fine spirits as he recovers from emergency quintuple bypass surgery. From his New York hospital bed, Letterman said to his executive producer, Rob Burnett, that he feels "better than Jimmy Johnson," referring to the now-former Miami Dolphins coach whose team Letterman watched get humiliated by the Jacksonville Jaguars, 62-7, on Saturday. He also joked over the weekend that doctors cleared his arteries and "installed an E-Z Pass."

The gap-toothed Indiana native was rushed to the emergency room last week after doctors discovered an extremely clogged artery near his heart. Letterman, 52, often joked on his show about his high cholesterol count; his father died of a heart attack in his early fifties. Letterman's doctors expect him to be released by Friday and are saying that it will take several weeks of rest before he can begin taping his show again. The operation came only days after Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton was a guest on his show, garnering his highest ratings in years.

Duff, Swearing Off Vows

Guess she's getting tired of all the wedding gifts. In an interview on "Dateline NBC" that airs tonight, ambitious blonde Patricia Duff discloses that she does not plan to get married ever again. "No," she tells correspondent John Hockenberry, "I would like to think that there's still hope, but . . . " She claims all of the attention her recent nasty divorce from billionaire Ron Perleman is "just prurient interest. It's like slowing down when you see a car wreck."

Duff also took the opportunity to defend her attempts to gain more from her ex-husband in child support, her reported net worth of $30 million notwithstanding. She claims that the disparity between her millions and Perelman's billions is detrimental to their 5-year-old daughter, Caleigh. "She already knows the difference," said Duff. "She knows she went on a yacht trip with her father for summer vacation. She's aware of how many homes her father has."

Duff has gone through four different husbands in the past 20 years and has recently been dating New Jersey Sen. Robert Torricelli (D).

For Kasich, a Twin Treat

If you can't be president, then start a family. House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich (R-Ohio) is the proud father of twin girls. Kasich's wife, Karen, gave birth Sunday in Columbus to Reese and Emma, who each weighed in at just over four pounds. They are the couple's first children.

The babies were born at Ohio State University Medical Center, where they will stay for several days until they gain a little more weight. They were not due for another month or so, but, according to Kasich, mother and daughters are all "doing great."

Kasich, 47, abandoned a presidential bid last year before it really got off the ground. He will retire from Congress, where he has served since 1983, at the end of this term.

End Notes

Marie Osmond has separated from her husband of 13 years, music producer Brian Blosil. "We hope the media will respect our privacy during this period of our lives," the 40-year-old "Donny & Marie" host said in a statement. The couple have six children plus one from Osmond's first marriage . . . The fossilized skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex, affectionately dubbed "Mr. Z-Rex," was put up for auction on the Internet yesterday (http://auctions.lycos.com), with an opening bid of $5.8 million . . . Fallen televangelist Jim Bakker and retired football player Reggie White are reportedly planning a new 24-hour evangelical TV network . . . Barbra Streisand has told TV Guide that her New Year's show in Las Vegas was the last public performance of her career . . . Whitney Houston was allegedly caught with marijuana at an airport on the Big Island of Hawaii last week, but boarded her flight anyway, walking away from security officers before police arrived. The marijuana was confiscated, however, authorities said, and the case has been referred to the Hawaii County prosecutor's office, according to the Tribune-Herald of Hilo.

CAPTION: David Letterman, looking on the bright side after undergoing heart surgery last week.