OPRAH Winfrey will become a “Library Lion” when the N.Y. Public Library lays on its Nov. 13 gala. Gao Xingjian, who won the Nobel Prize in 2000, the first Chinese writer to be so honored, will join her. Add Turkey’s Orhan Pamuk, Nobel winner James D. Watson, and Elie Wiesel with Toni Morrison as mistress of ceremonies. … Glamour mag has Sandra Bullock as one of their Women of the Year. Barbara Walters will present to the actress Monday at Carnegie Hall for her activism, charity and compassion. She has given millions to victims of the Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. … On Nov. 9, Iman and Alicia Keys, who serve as global ambassadors for the Keeps A Child Alive Foundation, host the annual Black Ball fundraiser at the Hammerstein Ballroom. They will honor many who are fighting AIDS in Africa; Keys will perform along with David Bowie. Call 212-307-7171.

ON TUESDAY I was hosting a lunch for Annette Bening at the behest of Sony and her new movie “Running With Scissors.” The problem with this “party” in Michael’s back room was that nobody said no to the idea of meeting or seeing Annette, whom I love to tease about being Mrs. Beatty. So the best-looking media savvy women in town crowded in to congratulate Annette — Diane Sawyer, Candy Bergen, Nora Ephron, Christie Brinkley, Anna Quindlen, Lesley Stahl, Deborah Roberts, Cristina Cuomo, Paula Zahn, Cynthia McFadden, Jane Rosenthal, et al. We were only missing Katie Couric. … When I congratulated Christie Brinkley on how well she has come off in her recent bout with the tabloid press, she laughed: “Liz, it’s amazing what good things can happen to you if you only keep your mouth shut.” She is working for both Covergirl and for Dr. Pat Wexler’s treatment.

JOAN RIVERS is planning another series for Bravo to be titled “Straight Talk.” She’ll sit around with some of her gay friends and chat — what she calls “a gay and lesbian version of ‘The View.'” I asked about her connection to the homosexual community. Joan said, “Well, who do I have more fun with? They have the best senses of humor.” … The comic is also busy writing a Broadway play with Charles Busch. And she spends every Wednesday boosting her youth demographic down at the Cutting Room on West 24th St. … Bravo to Cameron Mackintosh and Tom Schumacher and Disney Theatrical Productions for giving up on that most useless and expensive of events — the opening night party. Instead of having a party Nov. 16 when “Mary Poppins” opens, they will contribute $200,000 to Rosie’s B’way Kids, the Grand Street Settlement and the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club. … Here’s a little salt for the wounds of the now marginalized Heather Mills. Estranged hubby Paul McCartney is promoting a 2007 calendar of photos taken by his beloved first wife, Linda, with whom he enjoyed 29 years of wedlock. This calendar includes some of Linda’s best-known photographs.

DO NEW YORKERS really want to dress like the Queen. Well, to be precise, they want to dress like Helen Mirren playing the Queen. The manager of Barbour by Peter Elliot on Madison Avenue says that the jacket called the Beaufort, which Helen wears as the queen when visiting Balmoral in Scotland, is now in huge demand. The jacket is a zip-up classic country waxed number with a corduroy collar and hood, costing $365. Helen also wears other country classics such as the Lonsdale. The English country look is suddenly “in.”

(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com)

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