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Spacey sings the praises of Darin

GOOD MORNING: Kevin Spacey will head out on a 12-city U.S. concertour, singing “An Evening Celebrating the Music of Bobby Darin.” Spacey, on the longhorn from London, was exuberant in his plans to hit the club and “small venue” circuit with a 19-piece band. Phil Ramone is musical producer in the show presented by Clear Channel. Of course, the tour will coincide with the release of Spacey’s Darin biopic, “Beyond the Sea.” He winged over from London editing last month to show it to an audience including Bobby’s son Dodd Darin and Bobby’s longtime manager Steve Blauner (played by John Goodman in the pic). They applauded. The Lions Gate pic gets its first viewing Sept. 11 at the Toronto Film Fest, and opens Nov. 24 in N.Y. and L.A., with expansions to follow Dec. 10 and 17. Spacey received “not one penny” as star and director of the $24 million pic; some of the $ are also Spacey’s. He’s in final mix in London while holding down leadership of the Old Vic — where he says he has been received “quite warmly.” He’s directing the English translation of Dutch playwright Maria Goos’ “Cloaca” to bow Sept. 28. And he next directs “National Anthem” and “The Philadelphia Story” in January.

“WITH APOLOGIES to Clark Gable,” sez William Friedkin, “Frankly I don’t give a damn.” We were talking about “The Exorcist: The Beginning,” the prequel to his 1973 classic that won 10 Oscar nominations including one for director Friedkin. He said he’d seen some of the prequel’s promos, which include footage from his original. “Pretty sleazy,” he commented. “They’re using (the footage) as a shill,” he said, noting he’d never been called for its use. But he’s not pursuing a case, adding, “I have no intention of even seeing it.” Friedkin’s into heavy rehearsals for Richard Strauss’ opera “Ariadne auf Naxos” for the L.A. Opera, which bows at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Sept. 12-Oct. 2, with seven performances. Next on his opera sked: Saint-Saens’ “Samson et Delila” in Tel Aviv in June and L.A. in October 2005 with Placido Domingo singing opening night … Angela Bassett emcees the dedication of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center on the northern bank of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati on Monday. Angela has already completed voiceovers for the center’s multimedia presentation, “The Suite for Freedom.” And says she will continue to do radio-TV spots to encourage people to visit this living record of American history, observing “we still have the problem (of slavery) around the world,” Bassett’s heritage dates back to the era of U.S. slavery. She is well-versed in the history of the Underground Railway and the story of Harriet Tubman. Bassett has a script on Tubman that she’s trying to produce, tentatively titled “Live Free or Die.” She allowed that the story has once been told in NBC’s 1978 two-parter “A Woman Called Moses,” starring Cicely Tyson but Bassett reminded, “Freedom is never outdated. And, besides, I’ve been inspired by her (Tubman) since I was a teenager.” Others from showbiz participating in the Underground Railroad Freedom Center inaugural ceremonies included Brian Stokes Mitchell, Bono, Lionel Richie and Courtney Vance. The three pavilions in the center will be named Courage, Cooperation and Perseverance.

“IT’S A TEMPEST in an Italian teapot,” said “GoodFellas” godfather Paul Sorvino. We were talking about the Order of the Sons of Italy’s letter to Italy Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi asking to cancel plans to confer Italian citizenship on (“Goodfellas” teammates) Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese. “We are just all performers,” Sorvino reminded at this occasion, the “GoodFellas” anniversary and DVD release party at Matteo’s on Westwood Blvd., decked with red carpet outside and celeb-noted menu inside. F’rinstance Sorvino salad, Liotta’s baked ziti Siciliano, Pileggi parmegiana, Debi’s (Mazar’s) dessert, and Irwin Winkler wines. P.S. Irwin said you couldn’t make the picture today — it cost $12 million and went $2 million over budget. Members who attended included Debi Mazar, Ray Liotta, Henry Hill (the movie’s his life and he still seemed a little nervous), Nick Pileggi, Mike Starr. The eatery has long been home away from home for Italian-American showbiz. Regulars over the years I’ve seen there have included Frank Sinatra, Jilly Rizzo, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Danny Aiello, Ben Gazzara, John Cassavetes, Joe Pantoliano, Harry Guardino, Frankie Avalon, Vince Edwards, Frankie Valli, Al Martino, Jerry Vale, Ray Anthony and Robert Blake … Also on hand with the “GoodFellas” group was the Dodgers’ Tommy Lasorda, who joined in singing with tenor Sorvino who’d just done a one-hour cameo as a U.S. president in the “Jack and Bobby” series. Warner Bros. Home Video’s next tribute to showbiz will be the trio of “That’s Entertainment” with a preem at the Acad hosted by Roger Mayer and the cast of all three pix. Added footage includes preems of all three “TE’s” including the m.c. — yours truly.

TONY BENNETT HEADLINES the showbiz tribute with a special performance at the Aug. 26 dinner with John Kerry at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica. Ducats range from $5,000 per to $25,000 for VIP reception and dinner … NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts holds it first fundraising dinner in L.A. with Jerry Seinfeld headlining the Nov. 9 fete at the Century Plaza honoring a list of local supporters — and alumni. Will UCLA and USC take the cue and now try to fund raise in N.Y.? … Services will be held at 10 ayem today for Marcia Israel-Curley at the Marcia Israel Chapel of the Wilshire Blvd. Temple at 11661 West Olympic Blvd. in West L.A. She died following a stroke Aug. 17. She had been a enthusiastic supporter of the Geffen Playhouse, a Founder of the Music Center, Disney Hall, new Kirk Douglas Theater, the Simon Wiesenthal Center-Moriah Films well as several medical facilities at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She leaves her husband of 10 years, thesp James Curley, daughters Judith Israel and Jane (Mrs. John Siegel) and grandchildren Holly and Jack Siegel. She was the founder of the Judy’s stores and an involved citizen who will be missed.

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