May 17, 2002 10:38 AM

DECLINED: Two days after a group of New Jersey political activists announced plans to draft Bruce Springsteen, 52, for this year’s U.S. Senate race, the Boss squelched the idea by issuing a statement Thursday and quoting U.S. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s refusal to seek the presidency in 1884: “If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve.” The statement appeared on Springsteen’s Web site . . . POSITIONED: Hayden Christensen, 21, who’s now playing young Darth Vader in “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones,” is in negotiations to play a disgraced journalist in the reality-based drama “Shattered Glass,” about Stephen Glass, the Washington writer who apparently made up many of his stories. Variety reports that screenwriter Billy Ray (“Hart’s War”) penned the script and will make his directing debut on the project . . . IMPROVED: Lady Bird Johnson, 89, wife of late former President Lyndon B. Johnson, has left intensive care and doctors have upgraded her condition to “good” after she suffered a mild stroke on May 2, her daughter, Luci Baines Johnson, said in a statement Thursday. Despite the improvements, no discharge date from the hospital has been set, according to Reuters . . . CLAIMED: Prospect Park, N.J., judge and former prosecutor Robert Baer says he helped create the Emmy-winning HBO series “The Sopranos” and wants his slice of the financial pie from the series’ credited creator, David Chase, reports the Associated Press. (HBO, like PEOPLE, is part of AOL Time Warner.) In response to the suit, filed Wednesday, Chase’s attorney Michael Gendler told AP, “We make it a policy not to comment on frivolous or meritless claims.” Except that it appears they just did.

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