OPRAH ATTENDED the opening of the Hearst Tower on Eighth at 57th Streets, looking grandly beautiful, all in red. (She sprang off after cocktails to see Barbra Streisand.) When I told Oprah how much I was enjoying the movie of her road trip with Gayle King singing all the way, the big O put her hand to her mouth and said, “Oh, my word, you know I couldn’t wait for all of that to be over!” … The Hearstlings included a few real people actually named Hearst in their grand opening of the new Richard Long building with its all-green atmosphere and “riverwater” flowing down from the roof, re-circulated inside. Gov. Pataki was there as were Mayor Bloomberg and Diana Taylor, Deborah Norville and Karl Wellner, Charlie Rose and Amanda Burden Dan Rather, Martha Stewart, Katie Couric cuddling with Bryant Gumbel, Bob and Susan Wright, all the various Hearst editors, plus the chiefs Frank Bennack, Victor Ganvi, Cathie Black and Ellen Levine.

KATHIE LEE Gifford had fun six years ago when she made her B’way debut in Stephen Sondheim’s “Putting It Together.” On Dec. 6, we’ll see Kathie playing the terrible Miss Hannigan in “Annie” at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. A three-week limited run will mark the show’s 30th anniversary and its first revival in 10 years … “Lost” Bette Midler music tracks from her 1976 album “Songs for the New Depression” may have been found and might show up in Bette’s coming boxed CD set. These reportedly feature Bette backed by the Average White Band. …

THREE BIG GALA events this month are geared toward saving New York City. The Oct. 25th “Halloween Ball” in an Enchanted Forest being put on by the Central Park Conservancy. Call 212-310-6638. On Oct. 31, there is Bette Midler’s “Hulaween” party at the Waldorf, one of the big blast events of the year with Stevie Nicks performing and honoring Willie Nelson. The irrepressible Joy Behar will do the auction honors. Call 212-573-6933. Same night, with no mention of witches, ghosts or goblins, the New York Landmarks Conservancy will go black tie at Cipriani 42 Street and I’ll be emceeing the making of Norris and Norman Mailer, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, Meredith and Tom Brokaw and Amy and Howard Rubenstein into “Living Landmarks.” We’ll also be saluting Matilda and Mario Cuomo with the Lew Rudin Award for Public Service. Call 212-995-5260.

THEY SAY you get plenty of attention and Internet hits and emails and response when you merely write the two words – “plastic surgery.” These days, when I’m out lunching or dining with other women and people ask me later, “What did you talk about?” I always just answer “plastic surgery” and I’m usually correct. So it’s no wonder that people are talking about Alex Kuczynski’s new book “Beauty Junkies” and it’s also no wonder that some people mentioned therein have been threatening to sue. But, it looks like former New York Times reporter Kuczynski, who married a millionaire and became a self-confessed “cosmetic surgery addict,” has a hit on her hands. Reading Janet Allon’s flattering story in Avenue, I find it’s hard to quarrel with success or with being rich, tall, gorgeous and able to make a whole career out of trivia. But if we take a look at Alex on the cover of Avenue magazine, she doesn’t much resemble her original self. (And I thought that the original was pretty damned good.) She does, however, resemble some kind of retouched Valkyrie or white goddess.

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

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