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Smithsonian has nothing on the Spellings

GOOD MORNING: Bill Haber, owner of Western Costume, met with exex of the Smithsonian Institution to finalize his plans to duplicate their popular exhibit, the Inaugural Ball gowns of all the First Ladies. It will tour for the Millennium Celebration. After being shown the vast recesses of the Smithsonian including cavernous vaults where First Ladies’ gowns are hermetically preserved, Haber sat with Smithsonian toppers who asked his opinion. After a moment of serious thought, Haber said, “You are the only people who have a closet bigger than Candy Spelling’s!” The Washingtonians fell on the floor. As did Spelling when Haber related the experience. And Candy when Aaron told her. Haber is, of course, the Spellings’ longtime friend (and his onetime, longtime agent). Candy, meanwhile is readying the Spelling house for another of her charity events for Centro de Ninos, the East L.A. Child Development Center. This one is an Easter party for 140 kids 4-9 years old, to be held April 9 on the lawn of the Spellings’ home — egg hunt, food, entertainment, gifts, etc. Haber continues his work for Save the Children, the latest outing with another longtime friend, Allan Carr. They, with Paramount, brought 500 kids (9-18 years old) from Bedford-Stuyvesant Ellison’s Youth Inc. to B’way’s Guild Theater (a first time in the city for many of the youngsters) for a special screening of “Grease.” Save the Children funds Ellison for after-school programs in the arts, athletics and schoolwork as well. Carr has held similar charity screenings in Chi and Honolulu. He next starts the “Personal Shopper” feature. Haber, involved in B’way productions of “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” “Titanic” and “Freaks,” is now also presenting “High Society,” based on MGM’s 1956 musical version of “The Philadelphia Story.” The legiter, produced by Lauren Mitchell, starts previews Tuesday at the St. James.

SARDI’S WAS THE SITE Thursday night for N.Y.’s tribute to Stanley Donen, who continues to get congrats for his spectacularly creative song-and-dance acceptance of his lifetime achievement Oscar. Host of the Sardi soiree was longtime friend Chuck Barris. Among those on hand, Peter Stone, who had teamed with Donen on “Charade” and “Arabesque.” And they continue to talk future projects. Meanwhile, Stone, with “Titanic” and “1776” on B’way, is also writing the new book for “Annie Get Your Gun.” He and Donen had discussed several musical legits with Michael Jackson, but after long, “interesting” confabs with MJ, nothing finalized. Others on hand at Sardi’s: Gene Saks, Alan Pakula, Nora Ephron, Nick Pileggi, Marshall Brickman, Avery Corman, Richard Cohen and Irwin Winkler. Latter is winding production (Wednesday) in N.Y. on MGM’s “First Sight” starring Mira Sorvino and Val Kilmer. Both have been a “pleasure — and a treasure” to work with, Irwin told me. He wants Donen to direct a musical for him. No, not “Gershwin” — Martin Scorsese is still attached to it. Winkler says cooperation in N.Y. has been “very comfortable.” He’s no stranger to Gotham — seven pix with Robert De Niro. This week, they’ve been lensing “comfortably” in Washington Square. Frank Mancuso visited the set. MGM plans to release the PG pic between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Mira Sorvino’s “Lulu on the Bridge” with Harvey Keitel, directed by Paul Auster, is slated to be seen at Cannes in Un Certain Regard. … Also in N.Y. this week, Dennis and Victoria Hopper. … A dinner party’s upcoming April 4 at the China Club’s C hosted by HBO-NYC’s Colin Callender and Bobby Zarem for Jon Robin Baitz, author of the hilarious Hollywood putdown(?), “Mizlansky/Zilinsky or Schmucks.”

THE REGENCY HOTEL’S 540 Park restaurant will close April 9 for renovation, reopening April 20. Power breakfasts continue in the Library. The hotel itself is undergoing a $25 million dollar revamp. Loews opens six new hotels in the next three years. Jonathan Tisch is in L.A. this weekend, and dinner partying with brother Steve and friends at Loews Santa Monica Beach hotel where the chef-director is Alain Giraud, formerly of Citrus. … In BevHills, Nate ‘n Al’s deli is shuttered until April 2. The 55-year-old showbiz feeding ground is undergoing, they say, earthquake safety repairs — adding steel to some vintage walls. If those walls — and waitresses — would talk! … David Birney and Julie Haggerty are aboard the new “Love Boat: The Next Wave” as a divorced couple who meet — and fall in love again on the cruise. … Ken Howard, who played an ex-Chicago Bulls star-turned high school basketball coach in the 1978-1981 “The White Shadow” series, now plays the head of a sports agency in which Luke Perry’s an agent/lawyer for 20th Century Fox TV-ABC’s pilot for “The Game.” Exec producing the series are John Tinker and Bill D’Elia — Tinker (son of Grant T.) was a gofer for Howard in the “White Shadow” days — 20 years ago. … The Intl. Photographers Guild (Local 600) Showcase March 29 at the DGA in West Hollywood gives aspiring cinematographers a venue to exhibit their craft.

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