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Arts Czar Has Capital Idea


Actress JANE ALEXANDER, who was sworn in this fall as chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, and her husband, Ed Sherin, co-executive producer of the New York-based TV series "Law & Order," have sold their Santa Monica condo and are moving to Washington, D.C.

Alexander, 54, won a Tony Award in 1969 for her Broadway performance as the white mistress of a black heavyweight champ in "The Great White Hope" and she earned an Oscar nomination for the film version. The Pulitzer Prize-winning play was directed by Alexander's husband when it opened in Washington with the help of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Alexander also won the TV Critics Circle Award for her portrayal of Eleanor Roosevelt in the miniseries "Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years" (1977) and was nominated for a Tony last summer for her role in "The Sisters Rosenszweig."

She and Sherin sold their condo for close to its listing price of $449,000, sources say. Martin Leeds, an entertainment attorney who was a vice president of CBS and an executive of Desilu Productions, and his wife, Shirley, were identified as the buyers.

The penthouse unit has an unobstructed view of the ocean and two bedrooms in about 1,500 square feet. Built in 1979, the condo was owned by Alexander and Sherin for seven years. Randi Pollock and her mother, Phyllis, both with Fred Sands' Santa Monica office, handled the deal.

Grammy-winning record producer MICHAEL OMARTIAN has moved to Nashville, and he has listed his home in Northridge, with its eight bedrooms and 10 baths in about 10,000 square feet, at $995,000.

Omartian, 48, moved to Los Angeles from Chicago in 1970 to pursue a career in music, working as a keyboardist and arranger. Now, with a number of gold and platinum records behind him, he has produced recordings by stars such as Rod Stewart, Michael Bolton, Whitney Houston and Amy Grant.

Omartian, who is a songwriter and recording artist himself, is the first producer to have No. 1 hits in the 1970s, '80s and '90s, according to Billboard magazine.

The Omartians moved to Northridge about four years ago and paid $1.45 million for their new home, which they renovated at a cost of "additional hundreds of thousands," said listing agent Georgiana D'Angelo of Coldwell Banker, Estates Division, in Northridge.

BUDDY SHEFFIELD, a head writer for "In Living Color" who created the fast-moving variety show "Roundhouse" for Nickelodeon in 1992, has purchased a Hollywood Hills home once owned by Oscar-winning screenwriter Preston Sturges, who died in 1959.

Sturges, one of the first of the sound-era screenwriters to become a director, was known for such innovations as using a voice-over narrative to advance the story, as he did in the 1933 film "The Power and the Glory," a model for "Citizen Kane." During the 1940s, Sturges was hailed as a comic genius.

Before he became a screenwriter, he managed his mother's cosmetic shop in New York and invented kissproof lipstick in 1919.

Charlie Chaplin was married in the living room of the house that Sheffield bought, and Bette Davis climbed on top of a 60-foot-long bar and left dents where she danced in her high heels, sources say.

Sheffield reportedly bought the 6,000-square-foot home for just under its asking price of $619,000. Dan Sager of Jon Douglas Co., Hancock Park, represented Sheffield in the purchase, and Denny Kagasoff of Jon Douglas Co., Sunset Strip, represented the sellers.

Movie producer JAMES G. ROBINSON has purchased the former Bel-Air home of the late John C. Tyler, co-founder of Farmers Insurance Group, for about $2.6 million, sources say.

Robinson, who owns Morgan Creek Productions, was executive producer of "True Romance" (1993), "Freejack" (1992), "The Last of the Mohicans" (1992), "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" (1991), "Pacific Heights" (1990) and "Young Guns II" (1990).

The house, which was built in the 1930s, has five bedrooms and five fireplaces in just under 7,000 square feet, on about an acre. Priced originally at $3.9 million, the house had been on the market since Tyler's widow, Alice, died last March at 80. The insurance executive died in 1973 at 85.

The Tylers were known for their philanthropic work, and they co-founded the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, with $150,000 given annually to a deserving scientist.

Robinson plans to refurbish the Roland Coate-designed house "to keep its classic charm," a source said. Stan Richmond of Jon Douglas Co., Beverly Hills, represented the buyer, and Chris Forrest of Jack Hupp & Associates, Beverly Hills, represented the Alice Tyler Trust.

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