'Crazy' in Crownsville

Now that's scary. An indie horror flick starring former porn star Traci Lords is being filmed at an abandoned mental institution in Crownsville, in Anne Arundel County.

Designer-actress Lisa Spengler of Tysons Corner is working as a stand-in and photo double for Lords, now a mainstream actress whose movies include "Blade." The plot of "Crazy Eights" has been kept under wraps by its production company, but Spengler told The Post yesterday that Lords plays a singer in a rock band who goes back to an old hospital where a childhood friend was murdered. Insert blood, gore and ear-splitting screams here.

According to Spengler, the Crownsville hospital, which the Capital newspaper described in a June 21 article as "once a 'dumping ground' for blacks and epileptics," is rumored to be haunted: "It's really creepy. There are old beds in the dungeon. There's a picture of a mysterious flash in front of a camera that's up on a bulletin board on the set and everyone thinks it's a ghost." Yikes! Filming wraps up at the end of the week.

Resting on His Deep Throat Coup

The man who founded PublicAffairs Books, a publishing group that produced books by the likes of Bill Clinton, Nancy Reagan and Boris Yeltsin, is stepping down as CEO.

Peter Osnos, 61, told The Post yesterday that he will act as editor-at-large for the company he started in 1997 with the notion of "doing the best nonfiction books I could." Before founding PublicAffairs, he worked at The Post for 18 years as a foreign correspondent and editor. Osnos said he started his company because of the experiences he had at the newspaper.

Osnos's most recent accomplishment was concluding a deal with the family of W. Mark Felt, Watergate's "Deep Throat," for a book that will tell Felt's story, a feat that Osnos says took "a lot of tap dancing."

"I was at The Post during Watergate, I know the story and I think I'll be able to apply the kind of journalism that it needs," he added. Osnos said he has read Bob Woodward's new book, "The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat," and "Felt's book is going to be just as good."

End Notes

* Party till the monarchs come home. The celebration of Prince Albert II's ascension to the throne of Monaco lasted until the wee hours of yesterday morning. Festivities began Tuesday and featured an outdoor dance party as well as a fireworks display set to music by U2 and Pink Floyd. The 47-year-old Albert took over royal powers after the April death of his father, Prince Rainier III, but did not formally become His Serene Highness until Tuesday.

* Wow -- he can keep a secret: Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has been engaged for two weeks. Spokesman Doug Gordon told The Post yesterday that bride-to-be Elizabeth Harper is a British citizen who works for a monetary policy think tank in Chicago, but he wouldn't disclose her age (the twice-divorced Kucinich is 58) or details about the event "to respect their privacy." Boo! Gordon added, "He's very happy and very looking forward to getting married." The wedding is expected to take place in late summer in the Cleveland area.

* A fan who was smacked by comedian Gallagher during a show in Laughlin, Nev., has filed a lawsuit. Edwin May III, who says he was severely injured, is seeking $80,000 in damages as well as lawyer's fees from the 58-year-old comic. Gallagher is known for smashing watermelons and other items with a sledgehammer during his shows.

-- Compiled by Korin Miller

from staff and wire reports

Local designer-actress Lisa Spengler is a stand-in for Traci Lords (inset) in a horror flick being filmed in Crownsville.

Peter Osnos, with Nancy Reagan in 1989, is stepping down as CEO of his publishing firm.