Davis’ Oscar Acad-bound

GOOD MORNING: Steven Spielberg was the “anonymous” bidder who paid $578,000 for Bette Davis’ best actress Oscar for “Jezebel” at a Christie’s auction in N.Y. Thursday. He will present it to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences as he had done previously when he acquired — for $607,500 — Clark Gable’s Oscar for “It Happened One Night.” This was Davis’ second acting Oscar; the first was for “Dangerous” in 1935. Spielberg won the statuette in a telephone bidding war that started at $250,000 and rose to a gavel price of $520,000. The Oscar was among various Davis items that were being auctioned off from the collection of Davis’ personal assistant and companion, Kathryn Sermak.

LEW WASSERMAN IS ANOTHER who had bid and won an auctioned Oscar and presented it back to the Acad — this one, Harold Russell’s for “The Best Years of Our Lives” … Casey Wasserman, grandson of Edie & Lew Wasserman and son of Lynne W., will wed Laura Ziffren, daughter of Cathy and Ken Ziffren, Sept. 1 in Hawaii. The bride-to-be is a music supervisor with credits including “Moulin Rouge” and “Serendipity.” Casey is owner and CEO of the L.A. Avengers arena football team and is involved in other sports ventures … And talking about Spielberg: He is taking a breather from back-to-back feature and TV filming — and the current editing of “Minority Report” — at his Hamptons home. He has chartered a yacht and is taking wife Kate, the children and a few guests — who may include Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and their children and Tom Cruise and his children (and Penelope Cruz?) — on a Caribbean cruise … “Proof,” which won the Pulitzer for playwright David Auburn plus Tonys (including one for its star Mary Louise Parker) is bound for the bigscreen by producers John Hart and Jeff Sharp. Discount any talk Julia Roberts would play the pic. “Proof” is not something she wants to do: She is not interested in the role and has too many of her own banner’s projects perking. However, another top femme star, I hear, may be interested in directing the movie. Stay tuned … Bill Haber, who departed CAA and Hollywood to devote his time to Save the Children and became a major B’way player, will have seven plays on B’way next year. Next week he’s also got a reading of “Where’s Papa?” He’s also developing a TV series for his Trio cabler with Barry Diller … Tom Hewitt, a hit in “The Rocky Horror Show” on B’way this season, will next star in “Dracula” in the Des McAnuff-directed, Frank Wildhorn-scored musical.

AMERICA’S BEST — TIME MAG’S initial list (of five) categories who represent the highest quality in arts and entertainment includes, among Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Chris Rock, Ang Lee and Susan Stroman — Bello. His full name is Bello Nock and he’s the star of the 131st year of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. It’s his first year with the circus, but the 32-year-old multi-talented (clown, daredevil, aerialist, pachyderm partner, etc.) is no newcomer to showbiz. At the age of 6, he played Michael Darling in “Peter Pan” for three years, touring the globe. He is a seventh-generation circus performer, but doesn’t insist that his three children continue the tradition. “I don’t want them to feel obligated or entitled.” He is being seen for the first time in the L.A. area as the circus bowed Wednesday at the Great Western Forum (until July 22, then to a July 25-July 29 stand at the L.A. Sports Arena). Bello has an inimitable look — eight-inch vertical blonde-orange hair that defies gravity — and derring-do — 73-feet up on a swaying pole! He is certain to be a fixture on circus memorabilia as is the classic face and figure created by Emmett Kelly, a standard circus collector’s item. Bello looks at every show “like I’m going for the gold medal at the Olympics.” The applause he gets confirms he’s a winner. Kenneth J. Feld, chairman and chief executive officer of Feld Entertainment, winged into L.A. for the Southern Calif. “all-new” show. He points out while concert biz is faltering, the circus is having “the biggest year we’ve ever had.” And that’s at a $21 top ducat price for the $10 million show. This year the show is even more youth-oriented and moves at a dazzling, non-stop pace by director Philip Wm. McKinley and ringmastered by Johnston Lee Iverson. This year the circus music is by Craig Safan, who has dozens of TV and feature film credits … Feld tells me when the circus moves to its Sports Arena site the ring will also be mastered — in Spanish by Roberto Miguel. When I asked why the show would move a mere five miles to another arena, he reminded of the great Latino audience — and that the organization can pack up and move in five hours and set up in another 10. They have 300 working in the troupe, its own private train. While here, Feld will also talk TV specials with the webs and cablers. Feld Entertainment also has eight units of Disney on Ice on the road, and the billion-$ Siegfried & Roy show at the Mirage on a lifetime contract. Monday they perform their 5,000th show in Vegas, with never an empty seat. The circus is also in rehearsals for its 132nd-year show while this one tours. “Ladies and gentlemen — children of all ages …”

THEY INDEED DID MEET: George Clooney, Andrew Lazar and Chuck Barris dined at Parta Via in BevHills to toast — finally — the start of the film version of Barris’ book, “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind: An Unauthorized Biography.” Clooney will direct and co-stars as Barris’ CIA boss; Barris’ screwball role has not yet been cast. Barris is so positive the pic’s to be a success, he’s not only writing a sequel pic, “Bad Grass Never Dies: More Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” but a TV series version. Charles Kaufman is writing the screenplay of the first feature, that is. Barris who sold his Paris houses, boat, etc. and moved back to N.Y., married Mary Clagett Kane March 7 in Gotham … Celine Dion will go back to the recording studio for the first time in two years for a CD to be produced by David Foster … To continue encouragement of writers and actors over 50, the WGAW and AFTRA present a premiere reading of Ann Marcus’ screenplay “For Heaven’s Sake,” starring Connie Sawyer and directed by Stu Berg, Monday at the Renegade Theater in North Hollywood. Call (323) 512-2570 for reservations.

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