By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated February 24, 2003 01:07 PM
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RATED: The final (at least for now) Michael Jackson TV special, FOX’s “The Michael Jackson Interview: Footage You Were Never Meant to See” drew a mere 14.2 million viewers on Thursday, about half as many as the 27 million who watched British interviewer Martin Bashir’s “Living with Michael Jackson” on a special Feb. 26 edition of ABC’s “20/20.” About 14 million viewers also greeted last week’s Dateline NBC special, “Michael Jackson Unmasked.” The FOX special, which was sanctioned by Jackson, was meant to serve as a rebuttal to Bashir.

AWARDED: Meryl Streep, 53, won France’s highest artistic honor in Paris Saturday, and she thanked fans in both French and English for “loving women of a certain age — in movies and in life,” reports the Associated Press. France’s culture minister, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, named Streep a commander of the order of arts and letters, praising her “courage, delicacy, sensitivity and determination” and saying she’s been a star in France since 1985’s “Out of Africa.” Later on Saturday, Streep also won a Cesar, France’s equivalent of the Oscar. The Cesar also cited Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist” as best film and for best director.

GIFTED: Former Beatle Paul McCartney sang 19 songs (including “Yesterday”) and danced at a surprise birthday party for a 50-year-old fan in San Diego, raising $1 million for charity, his agent told Reuters. “Normally I don’t do this sort of gig, but I was chuffed to do it because it was a win-win show,” McCartney said in a statement. The birthday girl, Wendy Walker Whitworth, senior vice president of CNN, received McCartney as a surprise gift from her husband, financier Ralph Whitworth.

UNVEILED: Comedian Drew Carey, 44, got his star — the 2,216th to line the street — on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Friday, located (appropriately enough for an ex-Marine like Carey) in front of a military surplus store. “It’s great being here in front of the Supply Sergeant,” Carey quipped, “because if a war breaks out you can buy your military supplies here and think of me.”

HURT: David Hasselhoff, 50, and his wife, actress Pamela Bach, 39, suffered broken bones Thursday when the former “Baywatch” star lost control of the motorcycle they were riding and hit a curb, throwing the actor against a street light while his wife fell to the shoulder of the road, Los Angeles police tell the Associated Press. Strong winds were said to be the cause. Authorities say both were wearing helmets and were taken to UCLA Medical Center, where he was treated for possible lower back fractures, a broken rib and cuts and bruises, and she was treated for a fractured ankle and broken wrist. A spokesman for Hasselhoff said, “They’re in stable condition.”