NEWSMAKERS: Houston’s Got Another Problem

Whitney Houston played an imaginary piano, had trouble keeping her eyes open, bragged about how a “Jew guy” made her bracelet, and compared hanging with a junkie to hanging with a president during an interview for an upcoming magazine profile. Whitney Houston, left, with husband Bobby Brown The disclosures from Jane magazine come a day after the singer’s camp tried to shoot down reports that she’d been canned from Sunday’s Oscars telecast because she kept flubbing her routine in rehearsals. (According to Houston, she chose to sit out the show due to a sore throat.)

In the Jane interview, to be featured in the mag’s May issue, Houston was asked by interviewer Tony Romando if she’d ever met a president or kicked back with a junkie.

“Sure,” Houston reportedly said, adding that the junkie and the president are the same dudes.

“The president gets off on the country,” Houston told the mag. “The junkie gets off on a couple of hits. They’re the same, both cut from the same cloth, they’re just men, you dig?”

Houston didn’t dig in for her Jane chat until four hours after she was scheduled to arrive, the magazine says. When she did show, Romando says “she was extremely unfocused, had trouble keeping her eyes open and kept singing and playing an imaginary piano on the table.”

“I guess laughing gas can do that to you.” (Houston had told him she’d just come from the dentist.)

In the New York Daily News, Houston publicist Nancy Seltzer said she’d “never heard Whitney use language like that” — including the singer’s reference to the “Jew guy on Diamond Row in New York” who made her gold and diamond bracelet.

‘N SALES: For those keeping score at home, ‘N Sync’s “No Strings Attached” sold more than 2.4 million units in its first week in release, says. The mark shatters the previous standard (of 1.13 million CDs and such sold) held by boyband rival the Backstreet Boys. Final stats will be released today.

“AMERICAN” BRIDE: Mena Suvari, the object of Kevin Spacey‘s illicit affection in “American Beauty,” wed cinematographer Robert Brinkman (“The Cable Guy“) in California earlier this month, it has been revealed. Suvari is 21; her husband, 38.

ANOTHER GEORGE LUCAS MASTERPIECE ON THE WAY, NO DOUBT: The script for the latest “Star Wars” prequel “is not complete,” says a Lucasfilm e-mail update to fans, “but enough of the story is known to begin work.” Shooting is scheduled to begin this summer.

‘SUSSUDIO’ SUED: In London today, trial was to get under way in a lawsuit pitting two members of Earth, Wind & Fire (“Boogie Wonderland”) against newly minted Oscar winner Phil Collins. The band guys say they’re due royalties for an album they cut with Collins in 1990.