April 09, 2003 11:42 AM

ANOINTED: “Chicago” and “Bringing Down the House” star Queen Latifah, 33, will reign as host of the sixth annual “VH1 Divas” concert, to feature performances from Mary J. Blige, Jewel and Chaka Khan, reports the network. The show will air live May 22 from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Other performers will be announced later. The divas raise money for VH1’s Save the Music Foundation, which restores music programs in America’s public schools.

HOSPITALIZED: “No respect” comic Rodney Dangerfield, 81, underwent eight hours of arterial brain surgery Tuesday to improve his body’s blood flow in preparation for an upcoming heart valve replacement, his publicist tells the Associated Press. Dangerfield is expected to recover after about 10 days of hospitalization. Prior to the operation, he quipped in a statement, “After this repair work, I’ll be as good as new, but right now I know I’m in rough shape. I joined a weightlifting class … they started me with helium balloons.”

UNITED: Opera legend Luciano Pavarotti, 67, and U2’s Bono, 42, are teaming up to help Iraq war refugees, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has confirmed. The duo will sing together in a benefit concert on May 27 in Modena, Italy, the tenor’s hometown. The UN refugee agency has set up camps in Jordan, Syria and Iran.

SELECTED: The most popular name around New York these days is Ashley, according to the results of an investigation published in the New York Post, about what people are naming their babies. The survey tallied the names of the city’s 124,023 children born in 2001 (2002 statistics are not yet available) and discovered that 49 percent of those babies were girls. Hence, Ashley. Michael is the favorite among the boys. Another increasingly popular choice for girls: Destiny, though that one only came in at No. 9.

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