Gollum's New 'Precious' Actor Andy Serkis wants recognition for his acclaimed portrayal of Gollum -- the large-eyed, long-limbed and veiny creature in "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" -- even though the character was created digitally. New Line Cinema is pushing Serkis's performance for consideration in upcoming acting awards, saying every sick smile of Gollum's, every scampering movement, was performed by the actor and then re-created digitally.

Serkis compares his performance to actors wearing heavy makeup, such as Nicole Kidman wearing prosthetic makeup for her Golden Globe-nominated performance in this year's "The Hours," or John Hurt's Oscar-nominated role in 1980's "The Elephant Man," for which he wore a mask.

Serkis physically acted each scene alongside his co-stars, then re-created each motion and expression while wearing a bodysuit that monitored his muscle movements.

A Day in the Life Running for president is a busy job, and something has to fall by the wayside. Marked as "MAJOR" in Sen. John Kerry's calendar from last March was a 45-minute morning session penning thank-you notes and autographing photos of himself, according to Roll Call's "Heard on the Hill" column. Reading staff memos also got the "MAJOR" designation. A one-hour meeting with CNN's Tucker Carlson and a 5 p.m. workout were also "MAJOR" priorities. Even Richard Gere, scheduled to chat with the Massachusetts Democrat about Tibet, got top billing.

Who got short shrift? Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz, who "is very interested in attending" a black-tie dinner at the National Gallery of Art and "wants you to accompany her." Kerry skipped the event; the couple dined alone instead.

With UMBC, B Stands for Best Those smack-talking chess whizzes at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, really have something to brag about now.

Not only did the school win its sixth national collegiate chess championship in seven years yesterday in Miami, but it won the title with its B-squad, supposedly its second-best lineup, reports The Post's Manuel Roig-Franzia.

The B-team was so dominant that it outscored teams from all 30 colleges in the competition, including UMBC's revered A-team, which features the nation's top-rated chess player, "Alex the Invincible" Onischuk. The A-team tied for second place with its arch-rival, the University of Texas at Dallas.

The B-team might have had a little extra incentive. Alex "The Surgeon" Sherzer, a grandmaster with a huge international reputation, was demoted from the A-team right before the start of the Pan American Intercollegiate Chess Championship on Friday. The Surgeon played mercilessly throughout the four-day tournament, UMBC chess adviser Alan Sherman said.

"He had something to prove," Sherman said. "This is not what anyone would have expected."

Noted . . .

They make an odd couple: President Bush and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are the most admired man and woman in America, according to a year-end Gallup poll. Bush beat second-place Jimmy Carter with 28 percent of the vote, while Clinton led second-place Laura Bush and third-place Oprah Winfrey with 7 percent. . . . Pop diva Diana Ross was arrested yesterday in Tucson, Ariz., on suspicion of drunken driving.

. . . And Quoted

"You kiss an actor and you don't know what they are going to smell like. But you kiss a girl and she is going to smell good. And she's very soft. They're soft and they smell nice. Guys don't."

-- Julianne Moore on why it was easy to prepare for her on-screen kiss with Toni Collette in "The Hours"

-- Compiled by Barbara E. Martinez

from staff and wire reports

Lloyd Grove is away. The Reliable Source will resume when he returns.

Andy Serkis provided the movement and expressions for the computer-created Gollum in "The Two Towers."