He's Hot, So What's A Little Wretched Excess

Posted: March 13, 1997

"I kind of feel like an ugly guy with a date to the prom." - Oscar nominee Billy Bob Thornton, gearing up for the big night

We already know Nicolas Cage is a big-spending kind of guy. Last year, his wife, actress Patricia Arquette, was so enamored of the pile of diamonds a jeweler had lent her for Oscar night that Cage plunked down the cash so she could keep them.

Yesterday, Cage picked up a little bauble for himself: a $446,820 car.

Specifically, it's a rare 1971 Lamborghini Miura SVJ. Original owner: an auto buff who went by the title Shah of Iran.

Cage bid by phone to snag the metallic-burgundy roadster, which went on the block in Geneva, Switzerland.

His winning bid was almost double the estimated value of the car.

The car was originally one of about 3,000 owned by the late shah, who, you'll recall, was thrown out of the country by Islamic revolutionaries in 1979. They commandeered most of the shah's vehicles for official transport, but thought the Lamborghini and a few others were a tad decadent, and put them in storage.

The Lamborghini was eventually sold to an unidentified Middle Easterner, who will be the beneficiary of Cage's latest spending spree.

The actor isn't the only Hollywod denizen with an eye for automotive exotica. ``Tonight Show'' host Jay Leno, who owns dozens of vintage cars and motorcycles, was yesterday named the Meguiar's Collector Car Hobby's Person of the Year. Meguiar's is a Southern California outfit that sells cleaners and waxes to persnickety car owners.

``Everyone knows Jay as a talented comedian,'' burbled Ken Gross, chairman of the award committee. ``What they may not know is that he is a very approachable, hands-on automobile enthusiast who spends a large portion of his time as an activist in the hobby.''

Casting corner

Doesn't anybody want to be a movie star anymore? Two relatively successful actors are talking up their defections from the big to the small screen.

Dylan McDermott, star of several very lackluster movies including ``Destiny Turns on the Radio'' and ``The Cowboy Way,'' says he'll try to change his luck in the new ABC drama, ``The Practice.''

``I've tried like hell to make bad movies good, and I can't,'' he told the April Us magazine. ``Maybe Marlon Brando has been able to do that at times. But even he has a hard time making `The Appaloosa' a good movie.''

And one-time teen sensation Rob Lowe, now doing George Hamilton-esque character roles in movies like ``Wayne's World,'' announced yesterday he'd try the TV thing too. He's signed a two-year deal with Paramount Network Television to star in a sitcom - story and premiere date to be figured out later.

Lowe is the only latest member of the famed '80s Brat Pack to turn to TV. His buds Judd Nelson (now of ``Suddenly Susan'') and Molly Ringwald (``Townies'') have already blazed that trail.

Baby parade

* ``Inside Edition'' host Deborah Norville has announced she's going to have a third kid. Father is hubbo Karl Wellner. The former ``Today'' show anchor says she's due in September.

* Angie Everhart, estranged wife of Ashley Hamilton, would like to stress she's not pregnant, despite the talk that's being bandied about: ``These days, if I got pregnant, it would have to be by immaculate conception,'' she said.

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