By Stephen M. Silverman
August 30, 2002 01:00 AM

NOMINATED: With his response to the events of Sept. 11, “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” and “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” both receiving single, song and video of the year nods, Alan Jackson, 43, is in the running for a record 10 Country Music Association awards, including that for best entertainer (along with Brooks & Dunn, Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney and George Strait), the CMA has announced. Merle Haggard set the previous record of nine in 1970. Keith, 41, follows with eight nominations. The awards are slated to be handed out Nov. 6 at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House.

YANKED: Pepsi-Cola of North America announced this week that it was pulling from the air its 30-second TV spots featuring rapper Ludacris, 24, in reaction to customer complaints that his lyrics are offensive, reports Reuters. “We have a responsibility to listen to our consumers and customers and we’ve heard from a number of people that were uncomfortable with our association with this artist,” the drink company says in a statement, adding, “We’re sorry that we’ve offended anyone.” The ad was reportedly part of a new campaign to attract younger, urban soda drinkers.

CAST: Kelly Preston, 39, has joined the cast of "Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat," starring Mike Myers as the famous feline, says the Hollywood Reporter. Principal photography is due to begin this fall at Universal Studios in California, with the cat set to enter the lives of a boy named Conrad (Spencer Breslin) and his younger sister, Sally (Dakota Fanning). The big guy gets them into a lot of trouble, at least in the book.

UNEMPLOYED: Dennis Miller, 48, who earlier this summer lost his gig providing commentary on ABC’s “Monday Night Football,” will end his nine-year run on HBO on Friday night, reports the New York Post. His final episode of “Dennis Miller Live” will look pretty much like all the rest, says the paper, as the host decided there would be no sentimental Johnny Carson-style send-off nor favorite clips from the past. “It’s been a great nine years and he wants to go the way he came in — quietly,” the show’s executive producer, Kevin C. Slattery, told the newspaper.

CERTIFIED: Kentucky couple William and Claudia Lillian Ritchie, who got married 83 years ago on April 12, 1919, in Jeffersonville, Ind., were verified as the world’s oldest living married couple by the Guinness World Records people this week. “I wanted to take care of her, that was the biggest part of it,” Bill (as he likes to be called) Ritchie told the Associated Press. The Ritchies raised four children, two of whom have died. They have nine grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and 18 great-great-grandchildren. The patriarch is 104 and his wife is 98.