It was Leslie Nielsen, as Lt. Frank Drebin of "Naked Gun" fame, who once said "No matter how silly the idea of having a queen might seem to us, as Americans we must be gracious and considerate hosts."

OK, Frank. We'll try.

Queen Elizabeth II, proving she's much more hip at 81 than any of us ever thought she was at 40, 50 or 60, has just launched her own channel on YouTube.

Don't worry. We're not talking Paris Hilton shock material here. These are royally sanctioned clips, all the way.

With a simple click of your very own peasant mouse (www.youtube.com/theroyalchannel), you, too, can enjoy the Queen as she sends out her 50th annual televised Christmas message, which she first delivered live to the nation and its colonies (past and present) on Dec. 25, 1957.

Buckingham Palace also is posting archive and recent footage of the queen and other royals on the channel.

We're hoping this doesn't mean vintage clips of Prince Charles stumbling through an attempted dance at a rock concert. But just in case, click at your own risk.

MONEY DOESN'T GROW ON PALM TREES ... OR DOES IT?: The next time someone launches into a "tickets to concerts are way too expensive these days" tirade, you can top them with this:

Jimmy Buffett, the man who has built a jillion-dollar empire in a 35-year-career that features about two and a half hit songs, is playing a one-night-only charity concert Jan. 18 in Hong Kong.

Tickets are $1,500 apiece.


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Before your "Volcano" blows, read the small print: The cost includes two complimentary margaritas per ticket. And you know how expensive drinks are at concerts these days, so you're practically coming out ahead.

The concert will benefit the Foreign Correspondents' Club Language Training Centre that teaches English and Mandarin to 300 children ages 2 to 18 who are in residential care at the Po Leung Kuk Orphanage.

At $1,500 a pop, we're guessing those kids should know all the words to "Margaritaville" and "Come Monday" in no time at all.

NO TEARS FOR SPEARS TODAY: This just in to the People desk: As of 5:12 p.m. Sunday, neither Britney Spears, Jamie Lynn Spears, their mother, Lynne, or any of their respective grandmothers, aunts or cousins have managed to get themselves knocked up again this week.

But, in fairness, we were unable to receive a confirmation from Britney's seldom-heard-of brother, Bryan.

REPEATS, RERUNS, REGURGITATION: Say what you will about the Queen and her YouTube channel, at least she hasn't been affected by the writers strike. Over here in the land of the Yanks, there's still no end in sight, which means plenty of crummy programming around the bend.

To prepare for an even longer strike, television networks have stockpiled the following:

  • A gladiator battle. "You like films about gladiators, Joey?"

  • A lie-detector game. And no, there's not a chance in hell of getting any of the presidential candidates to appear.

  • A remade "Password." What do they mean, remade? As opposed to bringing Allen Ludden back to life?

  • A celebrity "Apprentice" and a competition for aspiring Pussycat Dolls.

  • A special "Spears Family" edition of "Survivor." Twelve female members of the Spears clan are left alone on an island with no men for hundreds of miles in any direction. Somehow, they keep getting pregnant anyway. The last Spears to be without child is declared the winner, and then officially outcast from the family.

  • Uh, just kidding about that item. But we were dead serious about the $1,500 ticket including two free margaritas.

    LOVE IS LOST FOR LETTERMAN: For longtime David Letterman viewers, there have always been a pair of distinct, yet equally enjoyable musical Christmas traditions: Darlene Love singing "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" and Paul Shaffer warbling his way through an impression of Cher singing "Oh Holy Night."

    Sadly for those of us with no other semblance to a life, neither will make it onto the air this year, thanks to the writers strike. But, there will be a repeat performance of Love singing "Christmas" on the Letterman show Tuesday night.

    And in case Shaffer wants to go on live and ad-lib his Cher impersonation without the help of the writers, we'll provide the lyrics for him: "Oh hoe-ee nyy, stah-sa brilyy shine-aw ..."

    Today's People column was compiled by Mike Wolcott from staff, wire and Web reports. Comments? Write to us c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099. Or call 925-943-8262, fax 925-943-8265, or e-mail spin@bayareanewsgroup.com.

    Birthdays: Songwriter-bandleader Dave Bartholomew (87), author Mary Higgins Clark (80), federal health administrator Anthony S. Fauci (67), recording company executive Mike Curb (63), rock singer-musician Lemmy of Motorhead (62), actor Grand L. Bush (52), actor Clarence Gilyard (52), actress Stephanie Hodge (51), the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai (50), rock musician Ian Burden of The Human League (50), designer Kate Spade (45), singer Mary Ramsey of 10,000 Maniacs (44), actor Mark Valley (43), actor Diedrich Bader (41), singer Ricky Martin (36), "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest (33).