All That U2 Can't Leave Behind

An October surprise: Twenty-three years after U2 suffered a grave injustice -- a briefcase of highly classified lyrics and such was (gasp!) stolen -- the item in question has been returned!

The notes were intended for the band's 1981 album, "October," and were filched by a mystery woman who supposedly had partied with Bono and the gang backstage after a Portland, Ore., concert. The heist forced Bono to rewrite the "October" lyrics, resulting in what band members later called their worst recording experience ever. A few years later, when U2 returned to Portland, they asked the crowd for any leads. Almost 20 years after that, in 2001, Bono still hadn't forgotten and asked again when U2 played the Rose Garden arena.

But the lyrics were actually discovered not long after they went missing, in the attic of a Tacoma, Wash., home. The renter, Cindy Harris, didn't realize they were stolen until years later. When she finally did learn the papers were hot, Harris didn't know how to reach the band. Then it took a year to get through to its managers. .

A very thankful Bono has called Harris's effort "an act of grace." Sounds like a U2 tune to us.

A Bad Time for Good Health

Cancer survivor Fran Drescher, whiny voice and all, thought she was doing a good deed by recording a telephone public service announcement encouraging New Yorkers to get regular cancer checkups. However, things went awry, reports the New York Post. "Some idiot in charge of the auto-dialing saw that the message was supposed to go out at 3 o'clock and figured that meant 3 in the morning," she explained. "So there I was waking everyone up in the middle of the night with, 'This is Fran Drescher with an important message about your health.' Everyone I knew was furious at me." Well, as they say: No good deed goes unpunished.

Noted . . .

Conservative mouthpiece Ann Coulter got pied while giving a speech at the University of Arizona Thursday night. Two guys ran up and threw pies at the leggy blonde, who was in the middle of a 30-minute rave for conservatives and rant against John Kerry, et al. The custard ammo hit her shoulder, provoking campus police to slap handcuffs onto the fellas . . .

"I {heart} Huckabees" director David O. Russell apparently did not see the groundbreaking Britney Spears debut movie, "Crossroads." Why else would he have agreed to let the newlywed popster audition for the role of Jude Law's girlfriend? "Britney wanted the Naomi [Watts] part and came and read for me three times. She didn't get it and she was angry," Russell tattles, according to London's Daily Mirror. . . .

Johnny Depp certainly loves catching zzz's. In describing his growing maturity to Vanity Fair mag, the actor said, "It's amazing when you get to a certain age, and you talk about sleep in the same way you spoke about inebriates 20 or 25 years before: 'Man, I got eight hours of sleep last night -- it was fantastic!' " . . .

That saucy political blogstress Ana Marie Cox, aka Wonkette, has landed herself a six-figure book deal. But don't get the wrong idea: "It's not chick-lit," she tells us. "It's not Bridget Jones does Washington. . . . It's Nick Hornby does politics." With any famous D.C. types? "There'll be some recognizable characters," she says slyly. "Dog Days" will be yours for the taking in 2005.

. . . and Quoted

"It's the other woman I would never lie to. You only lie to two people in your life: Your girlfriend and the police."

-- Jack Nicholson according to a dishy new book, "Jack: The Great Seducer."

-- Compiled by Anne Schroeder

from staff and wire reports

Bono and his band mates, back in possession of lyrics purloined more than 20 years ago.Drescher: Oops, wrong number.