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Mitt Romney
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, pictured in Michigan. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
NAMES

Candidate Romney talks tomes

As campaign questions go, "What's your favorite novel?" is a softball. Candidates with any sense just say "The Sun Also Rises" and move on, right? Not our man Mitt Romney. Asked the other night on "Fox & Friends" about his favorite novel, the former Massachusetts governor gave the thumbs up to "Battlefield Earth" by L. Ron Hubbard. Huh? Yes, Romney, who's a Mormon, cited the sci-fi saga by the founder of Scientology. (No word on whether Mitt managed to sit through John Travolta's atrocious C-movie based on the book.) "I'm not in favor of his religion by any means," said the Republican presidential candidate. "But . . . that was a very fun science-fiction book." (Weirdly, on his MySpace page, Romney lists "Huckleberry Finn" as his fave, and doesn't even mention "Battlefield Earth.") Asked about his favorite book, Romney, predictably perhaps, cited the Bible.

Imus producer has his say

Former "Imus in the Morning" producer Bernard McGuirk is in Boston today to rap with WTKK jock Jay Severin. McGuirk, who was dumped along with Don Imus for ridiculing the Rutgers women's basketball team, says he's still confused about the firing. "The media treated Al Sharpton like he was Nelson Mandela," said Bernie, who's being repped by local entertainment lawyer George Tobia. "I'm here because free speech is alive and well despite the actions of some seemingly spineless executives who acquiesced to a sanctimonious skunk." Imus, meanwhile, could be back on the radio as soon as September. His buddy, Mike Barnicle, who's been filling in for the I-Man locally, told us the dean of shock jocks is mulling offers to return to the airwaves in the fall.

Another Boston role lures Penn

Keep an eye peeled for Sean Penn. Word is the Oscar winner may be headed this way to do some research on Richard Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism expert whose book "Against All Enemies" bashed the Bush administration. An Oscar winner for his role in "Mystic River," Penn is said to be playing Clarke, a Boston Latin grad, in the movie based on his bestseller. The script is by "Zodiac" writer James Vanderbilt with Paul Haggis mentioned as possible director.

Maria in the land of the merry misfits

Medford minx Maria Menounos is constantly primping for the cameras, whether it's for her "Access Hollywood" gig or one of her segments on "Today." But tonight at the Tribeca Film Festival, Menounos hits the red carpet in a wholly different role -- as producer of the indie film "In the Land of Merry Misfits." Directed by her old friend, Stoneham native and Celtics fanatic Keven Undergaro , it's the story of a guy whose car breaks down after he drives through a mystical tunnel. Yep, a mystical tunnel. The film, premiering tonight, is narrated by cult-film king John Waters, who had high praise for the filmmaking duo. "He said, 'You know what?' " Menounos said, getting a bit misty on the phone from LA. " 'This reminds me of my films.' "

Helping homeless
This week's fund raiser for the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program attracted a few boldfaced names. Attending the event, which raised $1 million for the program's new digs at the former city morgue, were hosts Jack and Suzy Welch, and Jim and Kim Pallotta, as well as Pats owners Bob and Myra Kraft, Lycos founder Bob Davis, arts patron Paul Buttenwieser, comedian Lenny Clarke, Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley, and Big Papi's better half , Tiffany Ortiz. Kraft did his part during the auction, bidding $30,000 to play golf with Welch on Nantucket, in Juno Beach, Fla., and at Pebble Beach, Calif. . . . Gisele Bundchen is finished flaunting herself for Vic toria's Secret. Confirming a report in the New York Post, People magazine said Tom Brady's leggy girlfriend is splitting with the lingerie company. The Brazilian supermodel doesn't want people to get the wrong impression. "People have a perception of me because of Victoria's Secret that I'm sexy," she said, "but I'm not a sexy girl. I'm very tomboyish."

Pops conductor Keith Lockhart rode the T yesterday, shooting footage for a promotional video to be shown at Pops concerts this summer. . . . After his show at the Opera House the other night, Van Morrison huddled for two hours at Henrietta's Table with pal Peter Wolf and Phoenix Media exec David Bieber.

First lady Diane Patrick was the center of attention at yesterday's Mothers of Inspiration Celebration at the Park Plaza.

Hayley Kaufman of the Globe staff contributed. Names can be reached at names@globe.com or at 617- 929-8253.

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