AS LIBEL LAWS are less favorable in Europe to us ink-stained wretches, a celebrity trend even more popular than adopting foreign babies is to sue U.S. publications in foreign courts.

Latest to jump on the bandwagon are Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, who, with their aptly named Belfast lawyer, Paul Tweed, are suing the National Enquirer over its claim the couple was tied to a drug scandal. Tweed, who specializes in bringing U.S.-based celebrities' libel cases to British and Irish courts, told the Associated Press that Lopez and Anthony were seeking "a six-figure settlement" (aka pocket change) from the Enquirer and its parent company, American Media Inc.

Tweed said the lawsuit would be filed today in a Belfast court, and in subsequent days in courts in Dublin, London and Paris.

Just in case.

A spokesman for American Media, Richard Balvo, had no comment on the suit, which also seeks an apology and retraction for an article that appeared in different versions of the Enquirer's U.S. and international editions.

The version published March 12 in British and Irish editions alleged the couple were "caught up in a heroin scandal" - and reprinted a 2004 picture of Anthony standing beside photographer Michael Star, who is facing charges of heroin possession and child pornography in the United States. The article quoted an alleged friend of Star as saying Star and Anthony were friends.

Not friends. Not even frenemies.

Tweed told the AP that Anthony didn't even know Star as an acquaintance. Anthony posed for the 2004 photo, Tweed said, because he's nice to fans.

"The First Amendment restrictions in U.S. libel law make it virtually impossible for international celebrities or other high-profile individuals to sue successfully," Tweed said. "But with the advance of the Internet, and with U.S. publications now extending their distribution network into Europe, they must subject themselves to libel laws in these jurisdictions."

This will be Tweed's second suit against the Enquirer. Last July, he won a published apology in the tab's European edition for an article that claimed Britney Spears was about to divorce Kevin Federline. Boy, they sure missed the boat on that one!

Say bye, bye, bye to your money

You would think that if you've managed 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys at the time millions of fans actually cared about them, you wouldn't have to steal money from old people.

Think again.

According to a report by Russell Goldman of ABCNEWS.-com, teen pop maestro Lou Pearlman ran a pyramid scheme that generated hundreds of millions of dollars from more than 1,400 gullible souls. He has now been on the lam since January, whereabouts unknown.

According to Florida state officials, Pearlman's scam lifted $317 million from individuals and $150 million from banks. Investigators say Lou and his fellow con artists did this by selling mostly senior "investors" fake securities through Trans Continental Airlines Inc., a Pearlman company.

ABCNEWS.com reports that Trans Continental assured investors that their money was insured through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), AIG and Lloyd's of London.

It wasn't.

In early February, within days of Lou's latest boy band, US5, receiving an award in Germany, a Florida judge placed what was left of Trans Continental into receivership. Shortly thereafter, FBI and IRS agents raided the company's offices in Orlando.

New Delhi, old customs

Angry crowds in several Indian cities burned effigies of Richard Gere yesterday after he swept popular Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty into his arms and kissed her several times during an AIDS-awareness event.

Photos of the canoodling couple were splashed across yesterday's front pages in India - where sex and public displays of affection are largely taboo.

In Mumbai, members of the right-wing Hindu nationalist group Shiv Sena beat burning effigies of Gere with sticks and set fire to glamorous shots of Shetty.

Similar protests broke out in other cities, including Varanasi, Hinduism's holiest city.

The two appeared at a press conference in New Delhi on Sunday to highlight the HIV/AIDS epidemic among India's truck drivers. In front of a cheering crowd, Gere kissed the giggling Shetty on the hand, then kissed her on both cheeks before bending her in a full embrace to kiss her cheek again.

"This is a bit too much," Shetty said after the embrace.

Yesterday, she tried to stamp out the controversy.

"I understand this is his culture, not ours. But this was not such a big thing or so obscene for people to overreact in such manner," she told the Press Trust of India news agency.

A Rose by any other name . . .

Ursula Auburn sued Charlie Sheen in April 2006, claiming the "wacky neighbor and female stalker Rose" on "Two and a Half Men" was based on her. Sheen never sought Auburn's permission, according to the suit, which was recently settled.

Yes, Auburn is upset because her real-life role as Sheen's wacky stalker has not been recognized as the inspiration for the show's wacky stalker.

Tattbit

* Prosecutors in San Diego will

not pursue charges against Victor Willis, the original policeman in the Village People, who was arrested last month after his girlfriend accused him of choking and threatening her.

Investigators became suspicious of the claim after learning a member of the Village People had a girlfriend. *

Daily News wire services contributed to this report.