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Shapiro steals Gordy’s spotlight

GOOD MORNING: “I was so disappointed when you walked in — before you came here, I was the center of attention!” laughed Berry Gordy to his pal of 20 years — Robert Shapiro. The attorney was among the congratulatory group at Marguerite and Norman Brokaw’s new BevHills home to celebrate publication of Berry’s autobiography, “To Be Loved — The Music, the Magic, the Memories of Motown” (Warner Books) plus Berry’s narration of the book for Time Warner Audio Books. Meanwhile, Shapiro sought out someone else at the party for an autograph — the Atlanta Braves’ Dave Justice, who was at Berry’s bash with wife Halle Berry. Shapiro wanted the baseballer’s signature for his kids, he said … Berry told me he worked on the book five years. “It was the hardest thing I ever did! I wanted to write a book everyone could understand — I couldn’t read many books — because I couldn’t understand them. I was a high school dropout.” He spent three months recording the book on tape — it includes a few songs as he plays the piano … Yes. Diana Ross has read the book. “I sent her the galleys,” Berry said. “I was shocked when she called me back — but she loved it even though I was very candid in it.” He writes of their romance from his embarrassingly failed initial interlude! “I still love her,” Berry told me. “She’ll always be my leading lady.” They have a daughter, Rhonda. He sang a song to me that he’d written years ago for Diana, “Try It Baby,” about a star and her manager … Berry says he feels so good now he’s going to help Smokey Robinson finish an album, “Berry’s Theme,” with producer Michael Stokes. And Motown’s readying a tribute album of all the songs Berry’s written … Now that Berry doesn’t “have a company hanging over my head,” he says he’s “going to have fun.” But he will be involved (as chairman of the board) as son Berry IV puts the catalog of Jobete Music to work in all possible ways — including TV, CD-ROM, commercials, learning outlets, etc. “Everything that needs songs. Only 5% of the songs (in the catalog) are making 95% of the money,” Berry said of the 30-year-old music company. “We haven’t touched the surface of this diamond.” Berry modestly says of his fame and fortune, “I’ve been good at finding potential talent — they are the ones who made it happen, they are the geniuses.” I asked, if a new Jackson Five came into his office today, would he sign them up? “No,” he smiled. “I’m just going to have fun now.”

ALTHOUGH HILLARY CLINTON accompanied the president on his Mideast trek, she will depart Damascus, Syria, Friday morning (it’s 11 hours ahead of L.A. time), fly to D.C., change planes and wing to L.A. and straight to the BevWilshire for the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee’s fundraising lunch for Demo candidates — with Barbra Streisand and Whoopi Goldberg. It had been hoped the First Lady would be here Thursday p.m. to see friend Mary Steenburgen, who is starring in “Marvin’s Room” at the Tiffany. But now, the Clintons will attend sometime in early December — they hope … Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly, longtime advocates of women’s rights, will be honored in D.C. today by the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs Inc. at the Press Club. The duo’s D.C. stand also kicks off a national press tour to promote “Cagney & Lacey — The Return,” airing Nov. 6, the first of two CBS MOWs — the second, “Together Again,” airs in February … There’s a new Gerber baby — Emma Gene born to Bill and Eve Gerber, Sept. 11 at Cedars-Sinai. Bill is WB’s exec VP of production … Patricia (Lawford) and Dan Stewart welcomed their first child, daughter Mackenzie, Tuesday at Verdugo Hills hospital … Doug McClure got the good word his lung tumors are gone following radiation therapy and chemotherapy. “And I didn’t lose my hair,” he happily told me. McClure will be on hand Dec. 16 when his star is unveiled on the Walk of Fame. And he’s also got a “Kung Fu” seg upcoming.

LIFE MAGAZINE is shopping for a sensational movie kiss to photograph for an upcoming four-page spread. The spread will compare the modern kiss with a 1944 smooch between Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney on “The Razor’s Edge” set in which the lovers were surrounded by 53 people — all necessary to shoot the scene. The November issue is good news for Life — it carries the most ads since December 1990 … Roseanne and fiance Ben Thomas, John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sarah Chalke and Glenn Quinn plus crew members of “Roseanne” were among the 400 well-wishers at the Long Beach Temple Beth Shalom to help co-star Michael Fishman (“D.J.”) celebrate his Bar Mitzvah. Michael has been with “Roseanne” since he was five and it’s understandable why his TV family looked on with as much pride as his real family, who’ve watched him grow to be a wonderful young man.

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