April 08, 2005 03:00 PM

LOVE OUTPOURING: From presidents and prime ministers to prelates and pilgrims, millions filled Rome on Friday for the funeral of Pope John Paul II, as millions more watched on TVs around the world, witnessing what is being called the largest religious gathering of modern times. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger presided at the 2 1/2 hour Mass for the “late beloved pope” who, as Cardinal Ratzinger chronicled in his celebratory homily, rose from modest circumstances as a factory worker in Nazi-occupied Poland to become, in a life of obedience until his death at 84 last Saturday, leader of the world’s 1 billion Catholics.

CANCER NEWS: Peter Jennings did not sit at his anchor desk on Tuesday’s ABC World News Tonight, but the 66-year-old journalist did appear in a taped commentary at the end of the broadcast, to discuss – in a strained voice – his just-diagnosed lung cancer. “I will continue to do the broadcast. On good days, my voice will not always be like this,” said Jennings, who also admitted he was a former heavy smoker who quit 20 years ago, only to resume while covering the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

OSBOURNE SCARE: Aimee Osbourne, at 21 the elder daughter of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, is being treated by doctors in Los Angeles following the removal of a lump from her breast. “Aimee’s had a breast cancer scare,” Sharon Osbourne, 52, said in a statement Wednesday. No further details were provided, though Sharon (a colon cancer survivor), did add: “The operation went very well on the whole, but there have been a few minor complications and she will be having more treatment and lots of rest over the next few weeks.” A full recovery is expected.

GRAPHIC TESTIMONY: A former personal maid to Michael Jackson said on Thursday that she witnessed Jackson “inappropriately” kissing and touching the young Macaulay Culkin and three other boys, according to testimony at the pop singer’s child-molestation trial. The accusation came the same day that a former Neverland security guard testified that he witnessed the singer deliver a “passionate” kiss and perform oral sex on a boy who later received a multi-million dollar financial settlement. Culkin has continually denied that Jackson ever molested him.

DESPERATE, INDEED: The behavior of Desperate Housewives stars during a cover shoot for this month’s Vanity Fair is fueling speculation that the women don?t get along. According to PEOPLE sources, ABC stipulated to Vanity Fair that Teri Hatcher – whose unofficial star-of-the-ensemble status has been a long-rumored point of contention on the set – not be allowed to steal the shoot. Specifically, Hatcher was not to get first shot at wardrobe (lest she pick the best outfits) or be posed in the center of the group. But that?s what happened – and Marcia Cross reportedly stormed off the set. ABC issued a statement saying, “This one isolated incident does not define these women or their relationship,” while Housewives creator-producer Marc Cherry admitted there was “a little tension that day” – but pointed out that no one was bludgeoned or arrested.

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