Spielberg purchases Oscar for film history

Saturday, December 21, 2002

LOS ANGELES -- Steven Spielberg has rescued another Oscar from the auction block.

The director-producer paid $180,000, not including fees and taxes, to buy Bette Davis' best actress Oscar for the 1935 movie "Dangerous," spokesman Marvin Levy said Thursday.

Spielberg will donate the Oscar to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

"It's part of preserving film history," Levy said.

A bid made by telephone on Spielberg's behalf was the winner Saturday at a Sotheby's auction in New York. The golden statuette should arrive at the academy within a couple of weeks, Levy said.

Spielberg, himself a multiple Academy Award winner, bought and donated two other Oscars that were being sold privately. He paid $578,000 last year for Davis' Oscar for the 1938 movie "Jezebel," and $607,500 in 1996 for Clark Gable's best-actor Oscar for 1934's "It Happened One Night."

Book on former welder is top seller in Britain

LONDON -- The joke's on Harry Potter.

Pamela Stephenson's biography of her husband, comedian and actor Billy Connolly, zapped J.K. Rowling's wizard to be the year's top-selling book in Britain, Nielsen BookScan said Friday.

Potter books had topped the annual chart for the previous three years.

Connolly, 60, is a former shipyard welder who got into show biz playing banjo in a folk duo. His intros became longer than the songs, and he turned to standup comedy.

His most notable movie role was as Queen Victoria's servant, John Brown, in the 1997 film "Mrs. Brown."

Stephenson, a New Zealander who appeared in "Not the Nine O'Clock News" in Britain and "Saturday Night Live" in the United States, later trained to become a psychotherapist.

Stephenson's book, "Billy," sold 517,811 copies this year. Nick Hornby's "How to be Good" was second in this year's list with 477,522 copies, while "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" sold 464,985 copies this year.

Shakira donates shoes to children in Columbia

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombian singer Shakira returned to her hometown of Barranquilla to donate 10,000 pairs of tennis shoes to impoverished children.

The Latin pop star sang for the children Thursday night and urged them to take part in sports.

Shakira said she remembered "seeing many children in the streets playing soccer without shoes" in Barranquilla, a city on Colombia's Caribbean coast 435 miles north of Bogota.

The donation was made through the Barefoot Foundation, named after one of Shakira's discs, called "Pies Descalzos" in Spanish.

In October, at the first MTV Video Music Awards Latin America, Shakira swept all five categories in which she was nominated, including artist of the year. A month earlier, Shakira won a Latin Grammy for her "Suerte" video, the Spanish-language version of her hit "Whenever, Wherever."

Gere tells India HIV fight needs different face

BOMBAY, India -- Richard Gere said Friday that India should focus on children suffering from HIV in its fight against the disease.

"We need a way to touch the heart of the subject. We need to change the face of the disease," the actor said.

Gere hosted a carnival filled with actors from India's popular film industry, including Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Manisha Koirala, who ran game stalls and posed for photographs with fans.

The carnival, organized by the Gere Foundation India Trust and Godrej, a top Indian industrial house, aimed at raising awareness and funds to help prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

"In America, by focusing on children, we got under the radar of prejudices, American prejudices ... We can remove the stigma surrounding the disease here (in India) here by changing the face of the disease," Gere, 53, told reporters.

Money raised at the carnival will go to two organizations focusing on HIV-positive women and children in India, the United States-based Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and Bombay-based Naz Foundation.

Rock stars write song to honor Nelson Mandela

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Veteran rock stars Bono, Dave Stewart and Joe Strummer have written a song in tribute to former South African President Nelson Mandela.

"48864" is the number Mandela wore as a prisoner of the apartheid regime. The three entertainers will play the song at a Feb. 2 AIDS benefit concert on Robben Island, where Mandela was held prisoner.

Mandela, 84, emerged from prison to become South Africa's first democratic president in 1994. He stepped down in 1999 and since has become a vocal activist in the fight against AIDS.

The song, which focuses on Mandela's courage in speaking out against apartheid, ends with the musicians defiantly chanting "48864," Stewart said Thursday.

Many artists "have responded to Mr. Mandela's call to arms on the issue of HIV-AIDS," said Stewart, the concert's musical director.

Performers at the daylong concert will include Queen, Macy Gray, Nelly Furtado, Shaggy, Jimmy Cliff, Johnny Clegg and Youssou N'Dour.

--From wire reports

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