August 02, 2002 10:00 AM

BRITNEY SPEARED: It was a strange week for Britney Spears. The pop princess got heat for flashing a universally recognized finger sign shortly after she landed at Mexico City’s airport last week (she later said the finger was meant for annoying paparazzi, not fans). But even stranger, according to a report from Reuters, Spears, 20, let the fizz out of her Pepsi-sponsored world tour by cutting short her final performance at Mexico City’s Foro Stadium, blaming rain showers. She was booed by the 52,000-strong crowd, given that she stopped singing midway through her fifth song, “Stronger,” and then left the stage, saying only, “I’m sorry Mexico. I love you. Bye.” Concert organizers said they would offer refunds.

CELINE’S SCENT: Celine Dion said this week that she is developing her own scent with Coty Inc., which also produces Jovan and Stetson fragrances. Celine’s scent, which is yet to be named, is expected in stores in early 2003. (The French designer Celine already has a perfume bearing that name.) “I wanted to partner with a beauty company that would develop a product in line with my values,” the Canadian pop diva, 34, said in a press release from Coty.

CONNICK TONIC: Harry Connick Jr., 34, will play the new love in the life of Grace Adler (Debra Messing) on NBC’s “Will & Grace,” said the Hollywood Reporter. When last we left Grace, she had been knocked over by a horse in Central Park. Guess who was riding the steed? “When we were looking to cast someone to play a handsome Jewish doctor who can ride a horse and looks like Harry Connick, he was the third person we called,” the show’s executive producer, Max Mutchnick, told the Reporter. Meanwhile, Kevin Bacon, 44, who already has been stalked by Jack (Sean Hayes) on the series, will play himself on the show’s next season, which begins Sept. 26.

MARTHA’S MESS: Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the man leading the probe into the ImClone insider-trading scandal, told New York’s Daily News that he wishes to interrogate Martha Stewart, 60, although not at a public hearing. “I would love to avoid that,” he told the newspaper. Not being able to avoid a little jab at the domestic diva, he added, “You know, I just can’t imagine us having to worry about all those place settings.” Tauzin said he is in contact with Stewart’s lawyers to arrange her appearance.

CLOONEY’S CALENDAR: George Clooney’s new movie, “Solaris,” in which he plays a psychologist dispatched to a space station, will be released at Thanksgiving rather Christmas, reported Variety. The shift is so that the sci-fi thriller will be an adult alternative to the next Harry Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (scheduled to open Nov. 15), says the trade paper. So expect “Solaris” Nov. 27 rather than Dec. 13, as had been planned. The movie re-teams Clooney, 41, with his “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Out of Sight” director Steven Soderbergh.

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