By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated February 08, 2002 10:00 AM

GIRL, INNOCENT: Winona Ryder — who on Feb. 1 was charged with four felony counts for allegedly lifting nearly $5,000 in merchandise from the Beverly Hills branch of Saks Fifth Avenue on Dec. 12 and possessing the controlled substance Oxycodone (a morphine derivative) — slipped into a Los Angeles courtroom this past Tuesday, three days before she was due to appear, and pleaded not guilty, say news reports. She wore a conservative business suit, reports the New York Post, and remained quiet throughout the proceedings. Her attorney, Mark Geragos, did all the talking for her, including the entering of the plea, said the paper. The appearance of the 30-year-old actress (“Girl, Interrupted”) was announced afterward by the L.A. county district attorney’s office, though no explanation for her early visit was given.

BRITNEY BREAK-IN: Britney Spearswasn’t home at the time, but apparently that did not stop a man from allegedly lurking around her Hollywood Hills home, looking for her, on Monday, reported Reuters. The suspected prowler was detained briefly by Spears’s private security staff and then turned over to the cops, said Los Angeles police officer Don Cox on Wednesday. But the unidentified man was subsequently released once the caretakers “refused to prosecute for trespassing, so there was nothing we could do,” Cox said. No charges were filed. While all this was going on, the pop princess, 20, was across the country in New York, collecting an award from Cosmopolitan magazine for being the “Fun, Fearless Female of the Year.”

RYAN RESTRAINS: The man accused of stalking “Kate & Leopold” star Meg Ryan and breaking into a Malibu house in search of her last month was ordered on Monday to keep his distance (at least 150 yards) from the actress for at least three years, reports Reuters and other news sources. Ryan, 40, did not attend the hearing at the Santa Monica Superior Court, where judge Alan Haber extended a temporary order imposed in January against alleged stalker John Michael Hughes, 30. Hughes, wearing a yellow jail jumpsuit, acted as his own lawyer Monday and delivered a rambling statement in the courtroom, saying he and Ryan had been married last Nov. 11 in Vancouver, B.C., after her divorce from actor Dennis Quaid.

SUPER STARS: Goodbye, glitz, hello, patriotism. That, at least, was the watchword for the Super Bowl XXXVI half-time show, in which Irish rock band U2’s lead singer, Bono, sang “Beautiful Day.” Once that number wound down, a giant vertical screen rose behind the band and displayed the names of the victims of the Sept. 11 attack as the band played its ’80s hit, “Where the Streets Have No Name.” The stands, meanwhile, went dark. Speaking to Fox sportscaster Terry Bradshaw at half-time, Paul McCartney managed to spout some elliptical, one-word compliments about the U2 performance, though he came alive when Bradshaw suggested a duet of the old Beatles song, “A Hard Day’s Night” — which they did (quite goofily).

JORDAN JOLT: Things are looking up on the home front for His Airness. Michael Jordan, 38, and his wife of 12 years, Juanita Jordan, 42, who had filed for divorce on Jan. 4, are trying to patch things up. In a statement sent to news outlets, including The Washington Post, Jordan said: “We have decided to attempt a reconciliation, and our efforts to do so will be greatly enhanced if the privacy of our personal lives is respected.” The divorce filing, in which Juanita had cited “irreconcilable differences” between the two and went on to say that “past attempts at reconciliation have failed, and future attempts at reconciliation would be impractical and not in the best interests of the family,” has been withdrawn.

CELINE SUPREME: After two years of retirement, during which she stood by her manager-husband, Ren Angelil, during his health crisis and had a baby, born just over a year ago, Celine Dion is ready to return to the working world. Speaking to Barbara Walters in a “20/20” interview, the 33-year-old music superstar unveiled a new song, “A New Day Has Come,” and talked about her life, which includes fulfilling a reportedly $100-million contract headlining at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas starting next year. The break, she told Walters, was because “I needed to stop. I needed a balance in my life. I wanted a normal life at one point. I wanted to be home . . . I’ve never had a normal life,” she said from her palatial Florida home.