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Dylan McDermott persuades police to reclassify mom’s death as murder

Chanel And Charles Finch Pre-Oscar Dinner

Chanel And Charles Finch Pre-Oscar Dinner

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Updated: July 27, 2012 6:16AM

A ccording to many people close to Dylan McDermott, it was the actor’s tenacity that finally led the Waterbury, Conn., police department officially to reclassify the shooting death of “The Practice” and “American Horror Story” star’s mother Diane McDermott as a homicide — 45 years after her death in 1967.

Apparently, McDermott — who was 5 years old at the time of his mom’s death — was instrumental in helping authorities uncover some key evidence, leading them to name the murderer. One part of that evidence included the fact the caliber of the bullet that killed Diane McDermott did not match the gun found next to her body.

The shooter has now been identified as McDermott’s boyfriend, a well-known local mobster, John Sponza — himself the victim of a gangland-style killing in 1972. Sponza’s body was discovered in the trunk of a car abandoned in the parking lot of a Massachusetts supermarket.

According to a Hollywood source, long close to McDermott from his days on “The Practice,” told me Monday, “Dylan has always known Sponza killed his mother.”While McDermott has not commented publicly on the case, the Waterbury Republican-American quotes police superintendent

Michael Gugliotti as saying the actor told him, “In order for me to survive and to get where I am today, I needed to bury that moment in my life deep within myself.”

Gugliotti added that McDermott told him it wasn’t until recently, “I’ve come to the point in my life where I’m able to begin to process all of this.”

The young McDermott was outside his home and heard the shot that killed his mother — an act originally ruled a suicide, then later an accident. Sponza was the only person present inside the house at the time.

The McDermott source in Hollywood said Monday, “This is now a closed case. But while I hate the word ‘closure’ — this does give Dylan some modicum of peace, as it’s always bothered him that the truth has been suppressed all these years.”

Another source explained McDermott’s silence on the Waterbury police’s announcement. “This is a private matter. There’s no need for him to comment.”

GETTING INSPIRED: A B.Z. pal based in Florence, Italy, says that during Madonna’s recent private tour of the famed Uffizi Gallery, the superstar was overheard saying that she often finds inspiration for her tours and production numbers from “awe-inspiring works of art.”

At the Uffizi, Madonna reportedly was quite taken with Botti­celli’s famous “Birth of Venus” — making one wonder if we may someday see a version of that naked goddess of beauty on a huge clamshell as a motif in a Madonna concert tour.

SEEN ON THE SCENE: Yes, that was Donovan McNabb spied hangin’ at Market’s rooftop both Friday night and Saturday afternoon. … McNabb also hit Studio Paris, as did ex-NFL’er Chris Carter, the Bulls’ Joakim Noah, Jerry Rice and the Saints’ Pierre Thomas. … The Underground weekend sightings included singer JoJo, Brooklyn Nets’ Deron Williams and “Dallas” star Josh Henderson. … Among those who have been spied supping at RPM Italian in recent days was Lisa Marie Presley, her husband, Michael Lockwood, and (separately) “Glee” star and Dolton native Jane Lynch. … The television crew at O’Brien’s Riverwalk Cafe on the Chicago River the other day were shooting “Sin City Critics” — a proposed Travel Channel pilot starring Las Vegas foodies Al Mancini and John Curtis .

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