TOUCHY TOPICS FOR TESH

You can't expect Entertainment Tonight to cover every showbiz story in Hollywood. Here, for example, are two ET will probably avoid: Cohost John Tesh's messy divorce and the fact that he has composed the opening theme music for a rival show, Fox's Personalities.

Tesh is in the process of ending his marriage to his estranged wife, Julie, 32, who is now dating actor James Woods, 43. Woods recently trashed Tesh in USA Today, saying Tesh had treated Julie badly, adding, "I'll chew John Tesh and his bald lawyer up for breakfast."

Tesh, 38, says, "I don't remember [Woods] being in my house when my marriage was falling apart, so I don't see how he has become an expert." Tesh's lawyer, Ron Anteau, who is indeed bald, had no response to Woods's crack.

As for Tesh's burgeoning second career as a composer of TV theme music: Until recently he had stuck to writing sports fare, including NBC's NFL Live and the new NBA on NBC theme. Now Tesh has added the theme music for Personalities, widely viewed as one of ET's competitors.

The composer, not surprisingly, doesn't see it that way. "I don't feel it's a competing show, and I don't think what I've done is a conflict of interest." says Tesh, who adds that he has received no flak about it from his bosses at ET. "If I were promoting Personalities in any way, then, yes, that's a conflict. But this is just a short little theme, and I'm proud of it."

LAHTI LANDS POPULAR PART

Christine Lahti, 40, has beaten out Goldie Hawn, Jessica Lange and Barbara Hershey for the starring role in Universal's upcoming female buddy movie, Leaving Normal. Sources tell us that Hawn, 45, Lange, 41, and Hershey, 43, each made known to director Edward (Glory) Zwick their desire to play the movie's free-spirited waitress. (Lange's rep denies Jessica sought the part.)

Zwick, 38, who is thirtysomething's co-executive producer, says, "My decision was entirely visceral. Christine has many colors as an actress that are right for this role."

Lahti's role was first offered to Cher, 44, who turned it down because it was too close to the character she played in the 1982 movie Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. Shooting starts next month in Vancouver.

O'CONNOR: WHAT IF THE DICEMAN COMETH?

Last May, singer Sinéad O'Connor, 24, backed out of an appearance on NBC's Saturday Night Live, protesting what she termed the sexist humor associated with that week's guest host, comedian Andrew Dice Clay, 33.

Well, show business being what it is, we thought you should know that today O'Connor and Clay are both represented by the same Los Angeles-based talent agency, InterTalent.

O'Connor says it won't bother her if by some quirk in scheduling she bumps into Clay at her agent's office. "I have no personal problem with him," she says. "He's probably not a nasty person, and he may well be joking. My problem is with homophobia, racism, any kind of ism. I worry that a lot of stupid people out there could take him seriously."

BART SIMPSON: SKINHEAD

Tonsorial scoop: Bart Simpson, the 10-year-old antihero of the animated hit show The Simpsons, will unveil his new, albeit temporary, radical 'do this Thursday (March 7) in the music video "Deep, Deep Trouble," which will air immediately after the show.

Matt Groening, 37, creator of The Simpsons, says Bart's new close-cropped look is the product of "every boy's nightmare—an angry dad in cahoots with a diabolical barber."

He adds, "It's just Bart's luck that he has a bald-headed dad who wants his son to look just like him. With his haircut, Bart now feels solidarity with Sinéad O'Connor and children with head lice."