March 31, 2003 10:38 AM

SUED: New York attorney Marie Flaherty has filed a $15 million lawsuit against Queen Latifah, 33, and the producers behind “Bringing Down the House,” claiming Flaherty’s unproduced screenplay “Amoral Dilemma” (about a prisoner who meets a lawyer online) served as the original idea for the box-office hit, the Associated Press reports. Latifah spokeswoman Amanda Silverman had no comment, nor did Flaherty, who reportedly plans to represent herself.

STUDIED: “Titanic” star Kate Winslet, 27, is researching another big entity: the Greatest Show on Earth. Currently filming “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” with Jim Carrey in Manhattan, the actress, her brother and daughter Mia attended the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden so Winslet could bone up on her role as 1920s tiger trainer Mabel Stark, says a circus spokeswoman. She also reportedly talked to animal trainer Mark Oliver Gebel about his job.

SALVAGED: The new $4 million Broadway musical “Urban Cowboy,” based on the 1980 John Travolta-Debra Winger movie, opened Thursday to mostly rotten notices. “A conclusive demonstration that it’s possible to be vulgar and bland at the same time,” complained The New York Times. Producers posted a closing notice for Saturday night — after only four performances — but then delivered a last-minute reprieve. Still, how long the show sticks around remains to be seen, reports The New York Times.

CHOSEN: Michael Jackson, 44, was selected as the “most foolish American” in a survey conducted in anticipation of April Fool’s Day by public-relations consultant Jeff Barge. Jackson reportedly was picked for the honor by 80 percent of those polled. According to Barge, they were swayed by several factors, including Jackson’s baby-dangling incident in Germany last year. Boxer Mike Tyson, 36, came in a foolish second.

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