By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated December 20, 2002 01:00 AM

PITT STOPPED: The Malaysian government has banned a Toyota advertisement featuring Brad Pitt because it is “an insult to Asians” and the sight of non-Asian faces such as the 39-year-old actor’s would “plant a sense of inferiority among Asians,” the county’s deputy information minister Zainuddin Maidin told the national news agency Bernama. “Why must we use their faces in our advertisements?” Zainuddin says. “Aren’t our own people handsome enough?” There has been no statement from the Pitt camp.

CROWE’S FEAT: Russell Crowe’s publicist confirmed that the leading man, 38, and his longtime girlfriend, Danielle Spencer, 32, are engaged. According to the “Gladiator” Oscar winner’s local paper, the New Zealand Herald, Crowe gave her a huge Cartier diamond engagement ring, estimated to be worth $250,000. Publicist Wendy Day said: “He proposed to her on Nov. 26 at Darcy’s restaurant in Paddington (an area in Sydney, Australia) after having phoned her father the night before. Her father kept it a secret.” No wedding date has been announced.

BABY BRATT: It’s a new little Bratt — their first — for former “Law & Order” star Benjamin Bratt and his actress-model wife, Talisa Soto. The little girl, Sophia Rosalinda Bratt, was born at an undisclosed Manhattan hospital Dec. 6 and weighed in at 7 lbs. The happy news was announced Monday, which also was the proud papa’s 39th birthday.

HAIRY HARRY: Sir Michael Peat, Prince Charles’s private secretary, was forced to alert the police about an alleged plot to seize hair from Prince Harry for DNA testing — apparently to answer lingering questions about his paternity. It has long been rumored that Princess Diana‘s former lover, army officer James Hewitt — and not Prince Charles — is the father of Harry, 18. Hewitt, now 44, and Diana, who was killed in a 1997 car crash, carried on their affair during the late ’80s and early ’90s. The Mail on Sunday and Sunday Times claimed the DNA-theft allegation was made in a lawyer’s letter that Peat had received from a former police officer last week.

PENN’S PALS: Sean Penn spoke out in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, calling against an American attack on the country and defending Iraq’s innocent people who happen to be caught up in an international crisis. The “I Am Sam” star, 42, made his comments at the end of a fact-gathering visit organized by the San Francisco-based Institute for Public Accuracy. “Simply put, if there is a war or continued sanctions against Iraq, the blood of Americans and Iraqis alike will be on our hands,” Penn said at a Baghdad news conference.