RENT PARTY: Not only did a faithful 400 pack the Barnes & Noble store across from The Public for the book party for Rent, 214 of them actually bought the book. Which, at $38 a pop, says something about the young's commitment to the late Jonathan Larson's latter-day La Bohème. Autographs were dispensed by Evelyn McDonnell and Katherine Silberger (who did the text for this outsized, heavily pictorial tome from Rob Weisbach Books) and by Anthony Rapp, the show's Mark. The latter favored the gathering with a number from Rent, "Without You," which he dedicated to the mother he recently lost. NEWLY JULIE: The Julie Andrews biography, written by Robert Windeler and published by Birch Lane Press, is down-to-the-wire current. Its cover shows her in Victor/Victoria drag. . . . M-G-M, as every film buff knows, stands for Makes Greater Musicals‹and Carnegie Hall just saluted Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's classic film musicals, with some of their original players participating; the lustrous line-up: June Allyson, Leslie Caron, Cyd Charisse, Betty Comden, Arlene Dahl, Gloria DeHaven, Betty Garrett, Kathryn Grayson, Adolph Green, Skitch Henderson, Celeste Holm, Tony Martin, Ann Miller, Donald O'Connor, Mickey Rooney, Esther Williams, Julie Wilson et al. Co-hosts for the evening were Michael Feinstein and Roddy McDowall. . . . Director and theatre professor Kurt Daw's new thesis published by Heinemann‹Acting: Thought into Action‹contains many illustrations and mind exercises to help the actor develop into a more efficient creative thinker. . . . Isabella Rossellini has caught Donald Margulies's Collected Stories a couple of times at Manhattan Theatre Club, giving credence to the rumor that she is planning to do the movie version‹either as a producer or as a co-star (opposite Jeanne Moreau in the mentor role). . . . Faber and Faber‹the British book company founded by the father (or, at least, the posthumous author) of Cats, T.S. Eliot‹has just added the Oscar-winning Fargo to the other eccentric scripts by the brothers Coen, Ethan and Joel, it has published (vocal inflections, alas, are not included). Todd Solondz's maliciously hilarious screenplay for Welcome to the Dollhouse should be right at home at F&F. . . . Margo Martindale, who originated the Dolly Parton role in Off-Broadway's Steel Magnolias and can currently be seen at the Variety Arts Theatre as No. One Fan to Tori Lynn Palazola's Patsy Cline in Always . . . Patsy Cline, just finished her second movie with Paul Newman. In Nobody's Fool, he chased her around the bar she tended, sometimes catching her; in their new film, The Magic Hour, she winds up in his arms (albeit, dying there). Robert (Kramer vs. Kramer) Benton scripted and directed both flicks and wrote this new part specifically for Martindale.