January 02, 2002 04:05 PM

FETED: Native son Peter Jackson, 40, director of “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” was paid tribute in New Zealand on Monday, when he was named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. “We’re used to the achievements of our sporting heroes being honored, and it’s nice to have recognition for the arts and culture,” he said when accepting his award . . . FOUGHT: Boxer Mike Tyson, 35, had a heated confrontation with journalists when he encountered them in his Havana, Cuba, hotel lobby on Tuesday, shouting at them in Spanish and English and throwing crystal balls at them, according to witnesses, reports Reuters. He also lightly hit a Reuters cameraman twice on the back of the head with his fist, said the news service. Hotel staff said that Tyson was agitated by the unwanted attention that he’s received since his arrival Monday . . . NAMED: “Pearl Harbor” star Kate Beckinsale, 28, has been picked as Britain’s No. 1 beauty by the readers of the glossy Hello! magazine. Celebrity hairdressers, designers and photographers also contributed to the poll. Second was model Yasmin le Bon, 36; third was actress Kristin Scott Thomas, 41; and fourth was model Kate Moss, 27 . . . HIRED: Joan Collins, 68, has recruited Queen Elizabeth II’s personal bagpiper to play at the former “Dynasty” star’s February wedding, her fifth, to Percy Gibson, 36, says the Associated Press. Pipe Major Jim Motherwell, 42, from Glasgow, Scotland, has already played for former U.S. President George Bush in Washington and also for Pope John Paul at the Vatican . . . DIED: Oscar-winner Eileen Heckart, 82, whose statuette was for her supporting role as the overbearing mother in the 1972 film “Butterflies Are Free,” died on Monday after a three-year battle with cancer, said her son. On “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” she played Mary Richards’s tough Aunt Flo, a veteran journalist who could out-drink Lou Grant.

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