By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 24, 2002 01:00 PM

In case you’ve been asleep, the movie you just can’t avoid hearing and reading about this week is Mike Myers’s spy spoof “Austin Powers in Goldmember,” which opens Friday. On Tuesday’s “Today” show, Katie Couric even did her bit to hype the flick, in which she has a cameo, by showing off her role as a mannish prison guard, although her punch line reputedly ended up on the cutting room floor. Standing front and center in the movie, however, is Myers’s costar, Beyoncé Knowles, 20, who by any measure is hard to avoid. “She’s not remotely a diva,” “Goldmember” producer John Lyons told Reuters. “When you know her, she’s the last person in the world you’d say that about.” In her debut movie performance, Knowles plays Foxxy Cleopatra, a character parodying Pam Grier and other blaxploitation heroines of the ’70s. Lyons said Knowles was cast after he and director Jay Roach caught her performance in MTV’s hip-hop version of the Bizet opera “Carmen.” “She had bad-itude,” Roach told the news service, adding, “The audience decides how to feel about Austin through the leading ladies. The jokes deliberately bring you to the edge of maximum discomfort – you’re supposed to go, ‘Ugh.’ . . . But Foxxy is normal and cool, and she seems to like him, so that gives us permission to laugh.” Glad to have her approval.