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Mogul finds way to ‘Rain’

IT’S FUN to sit down in the theater and suddenly find yourself joined in the next two seats by Melania and Donald Trump. “I recognized you two coming down the aisle, by the back of your heads!” Donald said. He was talking about me and my date, Billy Norwich of Vogue … Donald and Melania held hands throughout the Julia Roberts play “Three Days of Rain” and he managed also to eat a box of his favorites – Milk Duds. (You have to love a guy like Donald whose obsessions are all-American cheeseburgers and candy.) Donald said the new baby, Barron, is a joy to behold. Meantime, he’d come to see Julia onstage even though he was involved in bidding on a huge property in Beverly Hills just across from the B.H. Country Club, “where Jimmy’s restaurant used to be. If I get it, I want to build a brand new kind of hotel which L.A. really needs.” … Donald also has an idea that will totally galvanize the theater should it come to pass. And it’s a good one! Donald Trump — producer. Wait for it.

WHEN I went backstage for a little visit with Roberts, I was once again impressed by how vital, tall, and impressive she is in person. Julia showed me pictures of her twins, Hazel and Phinneas, and said, “I don’t like Tuesday nights; it’s hard to get in gear. I like those Sunday matinees. Tonight, I hated leaving the children, splashing in their baths, but I said, ‘Mommy has to go work!'” She laughed at herself.

LITTLE RICHARD, Gladys Knight and the Pips and the late great Ella Fitzgerald will be inducted into the Apollo Theater’s Hall of Fame on June 19 — at the Apollo Theater, natch. Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee will receive Humanitarian Awards (Ossie, alas, posthumously.) Other hot names scheduled include “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” star Courtney B. Vance and his wife, the incredible Angela Bassett, so very good in “Akeelah and the Bee.” For ticket info call (800) 618-3444. … You can celebrate what would have been Katharine Hepburn’s 99th birthday on May 12 when the Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza and the Turtle Bay Assn. remember her in the garden bearing her name, from 1 to 3 p.m. … Everybody has Da Vinci on the brain — the book, the movie, the controversies. So I note that the St. Bernard School’s annual auction of “once in a lifetime opportunities” listed a chance to study the artist Leonardo’s most famous painting in the world — the Mona Lisa. St. Bernard put a value of $10,000 on a chance for buyers to examine the painting “up close and personal at a time when the Louvre is closed to the public.” … If you want to save other important May dates, try Friday through Monday for the first Harold Clurman Festival for the Arts presented by the Stella Adler School. They’ve assembled a wondrous group of artists — Elaine Stritch, Zoe Caldwell, Derek Walcott, Harold Bloom, Roy Scheider, Horton Foote, Israel Horovitz, John Guare and on and on. Call (212) 689-0087.

JOHN O’HURLEY, who became an instant household name and face thanks to the sensation of “Dancing With the Stars,” was all but signed to star in the national tour of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” but the lure of TV — where he first found fame on “Seinfeld” as the character based on catalog king J. Peterman — was greater than the lure of the legit stage. (He’s on Broadway now in “Chicago.”) O’Hurley, as you know, will host “Family Feud” starting next year. … Broadway’s theater lovers can bless London’s National Theater for sending us one of the most mesmerizing and mind-boggling productions — Alan Bennett’s “The History Boys.” Nicholas Hytner’s meticulous direction serves the superb cast to a tee. The singular Frances de la Tour is, as usual, perfection. Among the “boys” I especially enjoyed Richard Griffiths, Russell Tovey and Samuel Barnett.

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