By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated February 25, 2002 01:00 AM

PANNED: “Watching Ellie,” the new sitcom starring “Seinfeld” alum Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 41, is getting a thumbs down from TV critics prior to its Tuesday night debut on NBC. Based on the two episodes she saw, Wall Street Journal reviewer Claudia Rosett, referring to the earlier failures of the sitcoms starring the other “Seinfeld” costars, Michael Richards and Jason Alexander, writes that unless Louis-Dreyfus can come up “with much better material . . . we’re looking at strike No. 3.” And the New York Post gives “Watching Ellie” one star (out of a possible four) . . . REMOVED: Chicago film critic Roger Ebert, 59, was in good condition after undergoing surgery on Friday to remove a cancerous growth in his thyroid gland, doctors told the Associated Press. “He is expected to make a complete recovery,” said Dr. Harold Pelzer of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Ebert’s entire thyroid gland and selected lymph nodes in his neck were removed, Pelzer said, adding that Ebert’s vocal cord function appears normal . . . WED: Country singer LeAnn Rimes, 19, married dancer Dean Sheremet, 21, in Dallas on Saturday, reports USA Today. No further details are as yet available . . . PERFORMED: Paul McCartney, 59, returned to his hometown of Liverpool, England, Sunday night for a surprise appearance at a tribute concert to fellow Beatle George Harrison, who died of cancer last year at the age of 58. “He was a lovely bloke,” McCartney told reporters, according to Reuters. “He gave a lot to this world — his music and his spirituality. He was always a very strong man” . . . DIED: Beloved animator Chuck Jones, 89, who added his own special brand of humor to Bugs Bunny cartoons and is the man responsible for creating Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner in 1949 (“No dialogue ever” was his rule, according to The New York Times, “except ‘beep, beep’ “) died of congestive heart failure in his California home Friday. With 70 years in the business, Jones, who had attended the Chouinard Art Institute, also gave the world the romantic but smelly skunk Pepe Le Pew.