Aretha Franklin had a hankering to shop at the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship in New York the other morning — the only problem is that it was 9:30 a.m. and the store wasn’t open yet. Nevertheless, Saks security admitted the diva, who’s gearing up for her appearance on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend. Aretha wanted hats to go with some of the new outfits she picked up during her Grammy stay in New York.

You don’t have to be the offspring of a movie star to break into movies. Stephen Mailer (son of Norman) and Andrew Lauren (son of Ralph) co-star in “Student Body,” about aspiring doctors who’ll kill — literally — to get into med school. The film is premiering at the Parks Council Winter Bash on St. Patrick’s Day.

Natacha’s restaurant in Paris is as hot as ever. Duran Duran drops in nearly every night, and last week Robert De Niro and Uma Thurman were there three times. Forest Whitaker, in town for “Pret-a-Porter,” came in the other night and were joined by Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss and Johnny Depp.

Those who need a good reason to go to New York’s East Village might finally have one — Lucky Cheng’s, an Asian-California restaurant in the space where once stood the Club Baths (where Bette Midler once performed). The legend of Miss M. lingers on — the waiters at Lucky Cheng’s are all in drag. “Finding a waiter is hard enough,” said co-owner Hayne Jason, “but finding a man who’s Asian and who looks good in makeup is something else.” The kitchen has plenty of firepower itself, planned by Peter Klein and run by Chris Genoversa, both chefs from the China Grill. Brice and Helen Marden, Alba Clemente, novelist Douglas Coupland, party planner Robert Isabell, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth and designer Manolo have all been by.

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