LOS ANGELES – “Forever Marilyn,” the 26-foot-tall statue of Marilyn Monroe that became a controversial fixture on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, has been getting final touchups since its arrival in Palm Springs, Calif., on Monday morning.

The 34,000-pound sculpture, which cost about $40,000 to transport, took a week to be trucked across the country. Passers-by have gotten a sneak peek this week as installers, and a few cranes, reassemble the statue at Palm Canyon and Tahquitz Canyon Way, where it will remain until June 2013.

“When we drove up to Palm Springs, we couldn’t believe it,” said Audrey Vernon, 67, of New Jersey, who was on vacation with her husband. “It was quite impressive.”

The sculpture by Seward Johnson, the 80-year-old artist and Johnson & Johnson heir who’s known for casting famous images into giant sculptures, re-creates the scene from the 1955 film “The Seven Year Itch” in which a drafty New York subway grate blows the sex symbol’s skirt well above her knees.

The piece didn’t receive the warmest reception in Chicago during its time there and was the target of more than a few vandals and critics. Some called the undergarment-baring pose sexist, while VirtualTourist.com dubbed “Forever Marilyn” the No. 1 piece of bad public art — ahead of a “Bewitched” statue in Salem, Mass.

Several cities lined up to host the massive Marilyn when its Chicago residency wrapped, perhaps because August marks the 50th anniversary of the Hollywood legend’s death.

“We received many requests as far away as Tokyo and Madrid and cities in Brazil, and we really felt that Palm Springs has a special connection to Marilyn because it is the legendary play land for Hollywood,” said Paula Stoeke, the director and curator of the Sculpture Foundation, an organization funded and run by Johnson.

In downtown Palm Springs, the city is busy preparing “Marilyn” for its May 24 debut.

“She’s still being assembled – it’s taking a while because it’s been so hot, making the surface hot to touch,” said Nona Watson, CEO of the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce.

Alleged Kunis stalker in court today

LOS ANGELES – Prosecutors have charged a man with stalking Mila Kunis and violating a restraining order that was issued after he broke into a vacant condo owned by the actress.

Stuart Lynn Dunn, 27, is scheduled to be arraigned today in Los Angeles on two stalking-related felony charges. He is being held on $190,000 bail.

Dunn has been arrested twice this year for trying to contact and meet the “That ’70s Show” and “Black Swan” star.

In February, a judge ordered Dunn to stay away from Kunis after he was found living in the vacant condo unit. He had repeatedly tried to contact her before that arrest, and he was arrested earlier this month outside her gym.

Gore surfaces swimmingly in dating pool

It’s never easy to re-enter the dating pool after years away — probably especially so if you’re one of the most famous men in the world.

But things seem to have worked out for Al Gore. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former vice president has a serious girlfriend.

Her name is Elizabeth Keadle — better known as Liz — a well-heeled Democratic donor from Southern California in her 50s with a background in science and a devotion to environmental causes.

The relationship is solid enough that she accompanied Gore, 64, and an eclectic group of experts and VIPs (Richard Branson, singer Jason Mraz, actor Tommy Lee Jones) on a trip to Antarctica in January to raise awareness of climate change.

Gore’s office declined to comment on the relationship, as did Keadle.

It has been nearly two years since Al and Tipper Gore announced their separation.

– From news service reports