December 08, 2003 05:19 PM

REACTED: “American Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson, 21, learned of her Grammy nomination (for best female pop vocal performance for “Miss Independent,” a song co-written by Christina Aguilera) secondhand last Thursday. “I was on a radio interview and my manager looked at me and she was like … ‘You got nominated for a Grammy,'” Clarkson said Friday on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” “No kidding, in the interview, I was like (Clarkson screamed for DeGeneres and her audience), and they were like, ‘What kind of, does she not do interviews? Does she not know what she’s doing?'”

HONORED: “Godfather of Soul” James Brown, country music icon Loretta Lynn, violinist Itzhak Perlman, comedian Carol Burnett and film director Mike Nichols (whose “Angels in America” aired on HBO Sunday) were the five Kennedy Center honorees saluted in Washington on Sunday for their contributions to American culture. The annual celebration culminated in a gala performance attended by President Bush at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. During the ceremony, LL Cool J said a testament to James Brown’s influence on rhythm and blues music was that he was “born listening to it.”

QUOTED: “It was a tub of children’s books.” — Oprah Winfrey, 49, telling Time magazine what she sent recent father David Letterman, despite his long having made her the butt of his jokes

WED: “Gandhi” actor Ben Kingsley, 60, married companion Alexandra Christmann in Manhattan over the weekend, reports the New York Post. It was the third time for the actor, who is soon set to open in the new movie “House of Sand and Fog,” for which he is being talked up for an Oscar nomination. Kingsley’s previous wives were Angela Morant, from 1966-72, and Alison Sutcliffe, from 1978-92. Both of those marriages ended in divorce.

NOMINATED: Among the nominees for the 15th annual Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Media Awards are HBO’s “Angels in America,” Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” ESPN’s controversial drama “Playmakers,” the feature film “Under the Tuscan Sun,” the PBS documentary “Brother Outsider” and “People en Espanol” (the Spanish language version of PEOPLE), GLAAD announced Monday. The group also plans to honor Julianne Moore, Megan Mullally, Cherry Jones, John Waters and Clive Barker at GLAAD Media Awards ceremonies in Los Angeles on March 27, 2004 at the Kodak Theatre; in New York April 12 at the New York Marriott Marquis; and in San Francisco June 5 at the Westin St. Francis.

REPLACED: Neil Simon‘s latest Broadway comedy, “Rose’s Dilemma,” is still set to open Dec. 18, despite the departure of Mary Tyler Moore, 67, who quit after receiving a reputedly critical letter from Simon. Moore’s understudy, Patricia Hodges, will permanently replace her, the producers have announced.

SOLD: A two-story home of the family that inspired TV’s “The Waltons” was sold at auction Saturday for $122,000, reports the Associated Press. “I didn’t want to see it torn down,” said Pam Rutherford, the highest bidder. “There are so many different things that can be done with it.” Rutherford grew up about five miles from the Schuyler, Va., house, which she said had fallen into disrepair.

OFFERED: On Tuesday, the home-video version of this year’s most infamous stinker, “Gigli,” starring real-life lovebirds Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, hits stores, according to advertisements. “Action and romance make the perfect couple,” reads the tagline. Forewarned is forearmed.

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