Time to party like it's 2009!

BET has done a double somersault with a 21/2 twist onto the already-sagging inaugural bandwagon, announcing two big Washington-based events. The first is the second annual BET Honors, at the Warner Theatre in Washington Jan. 17 (telecast Feb. 9) and hosted by

Gabrielle Union

. Honorees will include

Earvin "Magic" Johnson

,

Mary J. Blige

,

Tyler Perry

, dancer

Judith Jameson

, and entrepreneur

B. Smith

.

And then, par-

tay

! The channel will throw its first-ever Inaugural Ball, along with a one-hour TV special,

Yes We Will! BET's Inaugural Celebration

, on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day. Proceeds from the bash at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel benefit America's Promise Alliance, founded by

Colin and Alma Powell

, and D.C.'s Dunbar High School and Duke Ellington School of the Arts.Making so darn nice it hurts us all

It happened yesterday morning on NBC's

Today

. Falling over themselves not to (a) repeat their infamous mis-encounter of 2005; (b) appear resentful and vengeful over their famous mis-encounter of 2005; or (c) be bored, NBC's

Matt Lauer

and Scientology's

Tom Cruise

once again sat within six feet of each other and spoke calm sentences in a language much like English. The Cruiser has a new movie,

Valkyrie

, in which he tries to blow up Hitler, and Matt has a disappearing hairline and a show he must fill with scintillating guests.

Cruise said he'd "learned a lesson" from his tête-à-tête, his contretemps, nay, his face-wrestle with Lauer, when the two grappled over Scientology, whether shrinks are just bunk, and whether Lauer was "glib." Matt-Matt was nicer to Tom-Tom this time, and the latter, so nice his teeth were practically yodeling, said he realized he'd been "arrogant." Well, yuh. Cruise had much better hair this time and, unlike 2005, appeared to have showered, slept, and taken his meds, if any. He was proud of spouse

Katie Holmes

and her Broadway success in

Arthur Miller

's

All My Sons

, which, Tom said, he'd seen 25 times. Matt and Tom even arm-wrestled as a teaser to the sequence. The two seem to like each other now. Darn.

Down with smiley-face stuff

Enough, we say, enough of this happy news! The pleasure of others is a bore! Give us mean, not serene.

OK . . . How about

Madonna

and

Guy Ritchie

's mondo divorce settlement? British tab the Sun says the Ritchie gets richer, walking away whistling with $60 mils in assets, further mils in cash, a 1,200-acre estate, and a pub. (A

pub

?) Madonna keeps her Big Apple bungalow and Lalaland lair plus most of what she's about:

el dinero

, baby. The two are expected to come to a deal on the kids,

Lourdes

, 12 (father,

Carlos Leon

),

Rocco

, 8, and

David

, 3. Negotiations were, according to an anon Sun source, "relatively painless."

Sitting down in Rio

Painless?

Painless

? But we want pain. Do we have to fall down and hurt ourselves? No . . . Madonna did it for us. Sunday night during a concert in Rio. Being Her Coolness, shades and all that, she slipped on a wet patch and sat down with prejudice. Ah, but she popped up and performed a scheduled osculation (kiss-kiss) with another girly, as scripted.

Bag le bag, says Sarkozy cutie suit

Well, that wasn't

much

pain. Come on, give us something here. . . . Let's see . . . as

tout le monde

knows, French First Babe

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy

is suing designer Pardon, which has manufactured 130,000 shopping bags with the now-iconic naked photo of la Bruni taken when she was just

une petite jolie

in '93. (OK, not that

petite

. She's 41 now; you do the math.) (BTW, next to her nudeness is the funny caption: "My guy should have bought Pardon.")

Now, for some, being seen in the buff by millions is no big. Take

Eva Mendes

, who takes off more often than the US Airways shuttle from Philly to Boston. Eva has been known to grin and bare all for a good cause - say, for a PETA anti-fur campaign. Or for bucks, as in a

Calvin Klein

ad so hot it has been banned (controversy!) from U.S. TV. Now Eva is shedding her cover in the January issue of Allure, in which she discusses rehab, the Klein flap, and . . . being nekkid.

Mme. Sarkozy doesn't feel the same way. Her suit is for 125,000 euros, mild sum, to be given to charity if she wins. All we can say is: Justice may be blind, but we don't have to be.

Why we love tastelessness on TV

Speaking of visual impairment, New York Gov.

David A. Paterson

, who came to power in the wake of the

Eliot Spitzer

scandal, has some. And Saturday, the wacky folks at

Saturday Night Live

made fun of Paterson during the "Weekend Update" portion of the show. In it, host

Seth Meyers

interviewed comic

Fred Armisen

. Gov. Armisen-as-Paterson holds an economics graph upside down, tries to shake hands and misses, calls himself "caught totally off guard and comically unprepared to take office," and a black man "who loves cocaine," whose life is a "plot from a

Richard Pryor

movie." The gov's office said the skit ridiculed those with physical disabilities, and Paterson himself, in a Sunday speech at Yeshiva University, referred to it as a "third-grade depiction of individuals and the way they look and the way they move."

Paterson has reason to feel double and triple put-upon. After all, Spitzer will face no legal charges for his money-and-chippies shenanigans, whereas, now that he's in office, it's Paterson who is dogged with constant references to his admitted marital infidelity and former fidelity to coke.

Whew! Painful tastelessness. Now we feel better. Best joke in the skit? When Meyers asks Armisen-as-Paterson, "What do you have against New Jersey?" and the reply is: "Unfortunately, a southern border." So far, the State of New Jersey has had no comment.

Ungoverned speech from Mr. and Mrs.

Speaking of comments, for foul commentary, F-bombs raining down like V-2s on World War II London, you evidently cannot beat, nor should you try,

Patricia Blagojevich

, powerful wife of accused and hard-to-spell

Rod Blagojevich

, who is (as of this writing but perhaps not by the time you read this?) governor of Illinois. Mrs. B. is heard in FBI-tapped phone calls in the case against her husband. He's accused of trying to seek money or favors or

something

in exchange for

Barack Obama

's now-vacated Senate seat, which by law is the governor's to fill. The topic of one call was a request from the Chicago Tribune for help in selling Wrigley Field, hallowed shrine of the Chicago Cubs. Mrs. B. advises her husband to "hold" the affair "up," salting her statements with nasty nouns, verbs and suggestions for cheap dates. It's a family hobby: In other taped calls, Rod and Patti throw Anglo-Saxonisms around like horseshoes at a Veterans of Foreign Wars picnic.

Out of the 'Kitchen,' into the slots

Gordon Ramsay

will put contestants on the Fox TV cooking series

Hell's Kitchen

through their paces next season. They'll be competing for an unspecified head-chef position at Borgata Hotel Casino in Atlantic City. The season will begin Jan. 29.

This column contains information from Inquirer wire services. Contact "SideShow" at sideshow@phillynews.com.