- - Monday, February 20, 2012

A black velvet dress that belonged to Whitney Houston and a pair of earrings she wore in “The Bodyguard” will be sold to the highest bidder next month, the Associated Press reports.

Celebrity auctioneer Darren Julien said Sunday the pieces and other Houston items became available after the singer’s unexpected death on Feb. 11 and will be included among a long-planned sale of Hollywood memorabilia such as Charlie Chaplin’s cane, Clark Gable’s jacket from “Gone With the Wind” and Charlton Heston’s staff from “The Ten Commandments.”

Mr. Julien said celebrity collectibles often become available after their owners die.

“It proves a point that these items, they’re an investment,” Mr. Julien said. “You buy items just like a stock. Buy at the right time and sell at the right time, and they just increase in value.”

The singer’s floor-length black dress is valued at $1,000 but likely will collect much more. Same goes for the vest she wore in “The Bodyguard,” listed at $400, and the faux-pearl earrings, which start at $600.

Houston fans and other collectors can bid online, by phone or in person during the Hollywood Legends auction on March 31 and April 1. Lots will be shown during a free public exhibition beginning March 19 at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Writers Guild honors ‘Midnight,’ ‘Descendants’

Woody Allen’s romantic fantasy “Midnight in Paris” and Alexander Payne’s family drama “The Descendants” have won top screenplay honors from the Writers Guild of America, the Associated Press reports.

With his biggest hit in decades, Mr. Allen, the film’s writer-director, earned the guild’s prize Sunday for original screenplay on “Midnight in Paris.” The film stars Owen Wilson as a modern Hollywood writer who gets a chance to hang with his literary idols in the 1920s Paris of Hemingway and Fitzgerald.

Director Payne shared the adapted-screenplay honor with co-writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, “The Descendants” stars George Clooney as a Hawaiian dad struggling to tend to his two daughters after a boating accident puts his wife in a coma.

The wins boost the prospects for both films to earn the same prizes at next Sunday’s Academy Awards, where both movies also are in the running for best picture.

Obama sends message for Ali birthday gala

President Obama lauded Muhammad Ali Saturday as he joined some of the country’s most famous people in offering birthday wishes to the boxer known simply as “the Greatest.”

“Happy birthday, champ,” Mr. Obama told Mr. Ali through a video message, saying he wished he could have attended a swanky dinner gala in Las Vegas featuring some of the biggest names in sports, film, television and music.

“As a fighter, you were something spectacular,” Mr. Obama told Mr. Ali, who turned 70 last month. “You shocked the world, and you inspired it, too. And even after all the titles and legendary bouts, you’re still doing it.”

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