NEWSMAKERS: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Adult

Jennifer Love Hewitt joins the adult race today, reaching the ripe-old, legal-drinking age of 21.

Hewitt will, presumably, display some very adult-like maturity in the forthcoming ABC biopic “The Audrey Hepburn Story,” in which she portrays the late actress-turned-humanitarian, a role that departs from Hewitt’s usual angst-ridden (and stalker-pursued) TV and film roles.

The real Audrey Hepburn, by the way, was 25 when “Sabrina” was released, 28 when “Funny Face” came out, 32 when “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was released and 34 when “My Fair Lady” premiered.

Good to know Jennifer’s doing her best to catch up.

MEA CULPA: Back on the job after a nasty illness sidelined him for more than a month, Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein has this to say: Blame me.

You can’t hold a grudge against a guy who came down with a bacterial infection that laid him up for weeks and caused him to lose 40 pounds. But Harvey says he it’s his fault that “The Talented Mr. Ripley” didn’t get an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, as many people thought it should have.

“I was the captain of that ship and I was, unfortunately, convalescing in the hospital and at home when I should have been out there campaigning for it,” Weinstein says in the Newsweek magazine hitting stores today. “I would have just made sure the right people saw the film. Even though the movie is a tremendous financial success, it is hard to motivate Academy people. … I feel like Matt Damon and Anthony Minghella got robbed because I was away.”

Weinstein, 47, became ill while vacationing on St. Barthelemy Island in the Caribbean over the holidays with his family. While he was rehabbing, he missed the Golden Globes and Sundance, two popular Miramax stomping grounds.

Still, Harvey doesn’t feel all that bad. Although “Ripley” didn’t get the Best Picture nod, another Miramax picture, “The Cider House Rules,” did. That means Miramax has had nine Best Picture nominations over the past eight years, a not-too-shabby streak.

“We know that pundits wanted to see us get our ass kicked, and we’re sorry to disappoint them. We will continue to disappoint them,” Harvey tells the newsmag.

As it turns out, the Oscar scenario might be a better deal for Miramax anyway. Miramax co-distributed “Ripley” with Paramount, with the latter studio taking the domestic receipts and Miramax hauling in the foreign box office; therefore, any Oscar-related windfall for “Ripley” would have gone into Paramount’s pocket. Meanwhile, the post-nomination pipeline for “The Cider House Rules” feeds right into Miramax’s coffers.

Harvey never misses a trick.

NEUTERING “CATS”: Say it ain’t so, Old Deuteronomy. The Jellicle Cats are headed for the big litter box in the sky.

“Cats,” that incomprehensible-yet-wildly-popular Broadway musical, is nearing the end of its nine lives. Actually, it’s more like 7,397 lives — that’s the number of performances that will have been given by the time the show closes this summer.

The show’s promoters have announced that “Cats,” which opened in New York on Oct. 7, 1982, will close June 25. By the end of its run, those mangy alley cats will have sung their kitty hearts out to more than 10 million theater patrons in New York and sold an estimated $380 million-plus worth of Broadway tickets. The show has also toured across North America and Europe.

Ticket sales for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, based on stories by T.S. Eliot, have been slow of late, but they are sure to surge as fans rush to see it one more time before it ends. And that, for the promoters, is the cat’s meow.

“When you look at it, we’re running into our 18th year, and the houses have been slow,” Marlene Danielle, who has played Bombalurina since the show’s Big Apple debut, told The Associated Press. “It’s a business, and they have to make their money.”

NOTHING ODD HERE: Too bad Tom Hanks isn’t nominated for Best Actor this year. It might make things easier for the Las Vegas oddsmakers.

Joe Lupo of the Stardust Hotel says Kevin Spacey is the favorite to win the Best Actor award, with 9-to-5 odds, followed by Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.

In the Best Actress race, Lupo figures Hilary Swank is the favorite (3-1). And Best Picture? He’s got that down for “American Beauty” (5-2), followed by “The Cider House Rules” (4-1).

If you wanna make a boat-load of money, bet on nominal Best Actress hopeful Meryl Streep (25-1) and pray for a freakin’ miracle.

MIAMI VICE: Ah, to be mega-rich, to buy and sell multimillion-dollar homes on a whim. News flash: Madonna wants $9 million for her nine-bedroom home on Miami’s Biscayne Bay. No word yet on whether she’s simply bored with the drapes or she needs more space to unwind. According to Reuters, she bought the house for a mere $4.9 mil in 1992. Last year, she turned down a $6 million offer from Rosie O’Donnell to buy the place.