J

ASON BONHAM

, the newest member of

Led Zeppelin

, was given the honor of kicking off the band's reunion last night in London, pounding out the beat before the surviving founders joined in on a near-perfect "Good Times Bad Times."

While newsreel footage of the band from 1975 played in the O2 Arena, Bonham, son of the late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, began thumping the skittering beat, soon to be joined by guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist-keyboardist John Paul Jones and singer Robert Plant. The rarely played song, off the band's 1969 debut, proved a perfect starting point for this performance:

"In days of my youth, I was told what it means to be a man," sang Plant, showing no trouble reproducing his trademark wail at 59. "Now I've reached that age, I've tried to do all those things the best I can . . . No matter how I try, I find my way to the same old jam."

"Good Times" was followed by "Ramble On," "Black Dog" and "In My Time of Dying."

The benefit show, for the Ahmet Ertegun Education Fund, in memory of the Atlantic Records founder, was Zeppelin's first full set since 1980, the year John Bonham died after choking on his own vomit. Priced at $250, tickets had been selling on the Internet for upward of $2,000.

Kenneth Donnell, 25 and with sense inversely proportional to wealth, said he paid $168,500 last month for his tickets from BBC radio's "Things That Money Can't Buy" charity auction.

Billboard reports that before Zeppelin took the stage, Foreigner performed "I Want To Know What Love Is" with the St. Luke's Church of England Choir from Portsmouth. Ex-Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman and his Rhythm Kings were on stage beforehand, with vocal assistance from Paul Rodgers and Paolo Nutini.

An early glance at celebs in the crowd found Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Kate Moss, members of Oasis and Genesis, Steve Winwood, Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, and Marilyn Manson.

Foo Fighter Dave Grohl showed off his Zeppelin tattoo and told Billboard, "I'm so excited. One of the best nights of my life."

* The Nov. 25 death of Quiet Riot lead singer Kevin Dubrow has been ruled an accidental cocaine overdose by the Clark County, Nev., coroner.

Quiet Riot's last studio CD, "Rehab," came out in October 2006.

Collins avoids

long jail term

Host/actor/game- show contestant/drunk driver Gary Collins will not be prosecuted for manslaughter, even though Warren Gates, the 89-year-old man he hit the night he was busted, has died.

Gates had been hospitalized since the October accident.

Prosecutors told TMZ.com Collins had avoided the manslaughter charge because Gates caused the crash by making an illegal left turn. The Associated Press reported that Gates ran a red light. He could have done both.

Additionally, since Collins pleaded no contest to the DUI charge, double jeopardy attaches.

Collins will therefore serve 96 hours in jail while Gates' sentence is eternal.

Tattbit

She's a little bit country, she's a little bit tango, too.

Two-time "Dancing with the Stars" champ Julianne Hough has signed a record deal with Mercury Records and is expected to release a country single in early 2008.

She's expected to begin recording the album in Nashville early next month with producer David Malloy, label spokeswoman Amber Williams said.

Last night on "Extra," Julianne and this year's partner, Helio Castroneves, set the record straight about their rumored romance, which supposedly sent a high kick to the teeth of Helio's engagement.

"The only romance we had was on the dance floor," said Helio. "You guys saw. Everybody saw. We were having fun."

"I am not a home-wrecker, ladies and gentlemen," Julianne added. "Honestly, he is such a good friend of mine. And that's it."

North Korean food for the soul

In a cultural breakthrough, the New York Philharmonic has decided to perform in North Korea on Feb. 26. The move comes amid an easing of tension between the United States and the reclusive Communist nation, NYPO's president, Zarin Mehta, said yesterday.

North Korea's Ministry of Culture invited the orchestra in August. In October, Mehta spent six days in North Korea exploring venues and other arrangements for a potential concert in Pyongyang.

The regime of Kim Jong Il, once branded by President Bush as part of the "axis of evil," has been accused of torturing and starving its people. But they shouldn't be starved for Beethoven, especially since Pyong-yang started disabling its plutonium-producing reactors.

Last week, Bush took the unprecedented step of writing a personal letter to Kim, a big fan of the pop culture produced by American Capitalism, even if he hates the Capitalism.

Although the State Department sees the Philharmonic's trip as a further warming of relations, the Wall Street Journal's arts critic, Terry Teachout, wrote on Oct. 27 that the Philharmonic would "be doing little more than participating in a puppet show whose purpose is to lend legitimacy to a despicable regime."

That, however, will just make up for Kim Jong Il's puppet-like appearance in "Team America: World Police."

What's next, the Met in North Korea performing "Kim Jong Il Trovatore"? *

Daily News wire services contributed to this report.

Send e-mail to gensleh@phillynews.com