IT'S ONLY nine days until 2011, so Tattle wishes to thank

Lindsay Lohan

for returning to give our page a little punch.

Maybe a kick.

Or perhaps a slap.

Possibly even hair pulling.

Even though Lindsay is still rehabbing at Betty Ford, she is under investigation for an alleged misdemeanor battery against a female staffer there, authorities said yesterday.

Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy Herlinda Valenzuela said officers responded to a Betty Ford Center facility in Palm Desert on Dec. 12 shortly after 1 a.m. for an incident involving Lindsay.

Dec. 12? What have the folks at Radar and TMZ, which finally reported the incident, been doing for the past 10 days?

Valenzuela says that a female staffer - who was fired yesterday after giving an interview about the incident - reported having a dispute with the "Mean Girls" star and that she wanted to pursue charges. Valenzuela says detectives continue to look into the case.

Their results will be presented to Riverside County prosecutors, who will decide whether to file a criminal case, Valenzuela said.

Bride Wars:

Royal Edition

Buckingham Palace, the world's only talking palace, announced yesterday that Zara Phillips, Queen Elizabeth II's eldest granddaughter, is engaged.

Phillips, the daughter of Princess Anne and an accomplished equestrian, will marry longtime boyfriend and rugby star Mike Tindall, the palace said.

No date has been set. Phillips is close friends with her cousin Prince William, who plans to marry Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey on April 29, so that date is out of the question - although pairing up the weddings might make it a little easier for out-of-town guests.

Zara, 29, is 12th in line to the throne.

The eleven ahead of her may want to make sure she never sees Alec Guinness in "Kind Hearts and Coronets."

* In other news from England, 60 firefighters were brought in to fight a blaze that engulfed two tour buses belonging to Kings of Leon at London's O2 Arena.

No one was injured in the fire, but that must have been one massive spliff.

Tattbits

* "30 Rock" star Tracy Morgan is recovering from a kidney transplant.

A statement released by Morgan's publicist says he is doing well and taking "much-needed time" to recover from the surgery earlier this month.

Another "30 Rock" cast member, Grizz Chapman, also received a new kidney this year.

Hopefully not the same one.

* According to TMZ.com, police were called to 50 Cent's 52-room mansion in Connecticut yesterday after security guards saw a suspicious car in the driveway.

Officers promptly arrested two men, both of them in possession of marijuana, after finding one of them drinking wine in a closet.

So how high do you have to be to break into 50 Cent's house? Not very.

* Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer took a near-final step to emerging from bankruptcy Monday as a slimmer studio that has a lot of its future riding on "The Hobbit" two-part movie series.

The studio known for its roaring lion and classics such as "The Wizard of Oz" said its restructuring plan took effect Monday after a bankruptcy court approved the plan this month.

The studio, founded in 1924, is now led by Spyglass Entertainment's co-founders, Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, who share the roles of chief executive and chairman.

"MGM is emerging from one of the most challenging periods of its storied history," Barber and Birnbaum said in a statement. "We are honored and inspired at the opportunity of leading one of Hollywood's most iconic studios into its next generation."

The lion had no comment.

* Strong's National Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y., has splurged $146,500 on the oldest-known version of Monopoly handmade by inventor Charles Darrow.

The museum revealed yesterday that it was the winning bidder at Sotheby's last week for the table-size board game created around 1933 with pen-and-ink and gouache on a circular piece of oilcloth. It contains 200-plus pieces, including playing cards, hotels and bank notes.

Darrow, an unemployed heating engineer in Philadelphia, produced 5,000 copies of the real-estate trading game and sold them through a department store here. Parker Brothers bought the rights in 1935.

The Strong museum boasts the world's most comprehensive collection of games, toys and play-related objects.

* Marvel Comics (publishers of Spider-Man, Captain America, X-Men, etc.) said yesterday that the fear, uncertainty and overarching anxiety that has gripped the modern world will play havoc with its fictional heroes next spring as it embarks on "Fear Itself," a seven-issue limited series that will reach across numerous titles and leave its characters scarred but smarter.

Maybe the Human Torch could fire up the Senate about voting to approve health-care money for 9/11 first responders.

On the plus side of "Fear Itself," billionaire industrualist Tony Stark (a/k/a/ Iron Man) will be pleased about the extension of the Bush tax cuts.

* Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory Alarcon has dismissed several claims against Paris Hilton by a hair-extension maker that sued the celebrity socialite for $35 million over an endorsement deal.

Isn't that the type of case that should go before an Inferior Court?

Daily News wire services contributed to this report.