HOLLYWOOD power couple Michelle Pfeiffer and David E. Kelley found themselves defending their rock-solid marriage yesterday after a year-old - and completely erroneous - tale of marital discord made it onto TV and radio in L.A.

The media's marital massacre began when the Chicago Sun-Times ran a piece Monday by film columnist Bill Zwecker insinuating Kelley was leaving his gorgeous movie star wife for Calista Flockhart, slender star of his hit Fox sitcom "Ally McBeal."

"Here's the skinny: Kelley casting about," read the Sun-Times headline. The story was picked up by Los Angeles TV and radio host Sam Ruben.

What the Sun-Times and KTLA didn't know is that the same bogus story made the rounds last year - and nobody believed it then. (As one Hollywood insider put it, "Would you leave Michelle Pfeiffer for Calista Flockhart?")

The Sun-Times issued a retraction yesterday. But Pfeiffer and Kelley are furious.

"David is absolutely livid and Michelle is deeply hurt and angry," blasted publicist Lois Smith. "Michelle and David live in that community, their kids go to school there. Those reports were unsconscionable. Of all the marriages to try and break up!"

"And this came from someone we refer to as a legitimate journalist," Smith added.

It just goes to show that gossip is a dangerous business that shouldn't be left to amateurs. The other day, self-appointed media watchdog Steve Brill and his troops enlisted the aid of notorious paparazzi-hater George Clooney to try and pull a fast one on gossip columnists around the country.

With Clooney's blessing, Brill's Content sent a fictitious "scoop" on "ER" letterhead (which Clooney provided) to 30 columnists. The unsigned note said Clooney was about to star in a movie about a president wrongly accused in a sex scandal, with the twist that the First Son - played by Britain's Prince Harry - gets trampled by paparazzi.

Clooney's flack, Lisa Reeder was not in on the hoax.

In yesterday's online edition, Content admitted that columnists aren't all that gullible. Only three journalists called Reeder, and nobody, she told the magazine, took the letter seriously.

PAGE SIX, which called, scored points for revealing the hoax last Saturday.

"The New York Post had the savvy to smell a rat," admitted Content on its website, giving a nod to our headline, "Not even Clooney's this far gone."