RUSHDIE GROOVES TO BEAT OF ROCK 'N' ROLL IN BOOK

Salman Rushdie, rock 'n' roll guy?The writer told students at New York's Bard College in a rare public appearance why his new novel, "The Ground Beneath Her Feet," uses the rock world as a backdrop.

"I'm the same age as rock 'n' roll. When I was 8 or 9 or 10, rock was in its infancy," Rushdie said Monday. "I remember Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis and the Drifters. When I was protesting the war in Vietnam, so was rock 'n' roll."

Iran announced last year that it was disassociating itself from the fatwa, or death sentence, against Rushdie for "The Satanic Verses," but some hard-liners still threaten to kill him.

POP STAR'S LATEST SONG IS DEDICATED TO REFUGEES

Pop star Michael Jackson's latest song is reportedly dedicated to the plight of the Kosovo Albanian refugees.

All proceeds from the single "What More Can I Give?" will go toward helping the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians who have fled or been driven out of their homes in Kosovo, Jackson told the Mirror of London.

"I just want to go to Yugoslavia and hug every one of those children and tell them I love them," the singer was quoted Tuesday as saying. "The TV footage just breaks my heart -- it makes me cry every day."

A NEW QUEST FOR 'XENA' -- LAWLESS IS PREGNANT

Xena's going to be a mommy again. Lucy Lawless, star of hit show "Xena: Warrior Princess," is pregnant, she and husband Rob Tapert announced Tuesday. The baby is due in October.

The action series resumes shooting in Auckland, New Zealand, next week. Production is not expected to be affected by the pregnancy.

Lawless, 31, and Tapert, executive producer of the syndicated show, married a year ago. She has a 10-year-old daughter from a previous marriage.

BRAZIL OFFERS ACCOLADES AND AWARD TO ACTRESS

Fernanda Montenegro didn't win the Oscar, but the Brazilian government gave her a consolation prize.

President Fernando Henrique Cardoso awarded Brazil's leading actress the National Order of Merit in the highest degree, the top distinction a civilian can receive.

"All of Brazil felt prouder, raised its self-esteem by seeing you, not now at the Oscars, but throughout your whole life," Cardoso said Monday.

Montenegro was the first Latin American actress to be nominated for Best Actress for her performance in "Central Station." The award went to Gwyneth Paltrow for "Shakespeare in Love."