Monthly Archives: November 2005

It’s only the first graph and The Guardian is in full gush:

“The debonair Clooney, the playboy actor once best known for keeping a pet pig and being the consummate ladies’ man, has clearly taken on an unlikely role: the new King of Liberal Hollywood. Unseating old-time liberal ‘actor-vists’ such as Warren Beatty, Tim Robbins and director Rob Reiner, Clooney has now emerged as the leading political voice in Hollywood, winning plaudits from liberals and stinging attacks from conservatives.”

Well yes, but I don’t think the pig had anything to do with it.

“His two most recent films have slammed a broad range of targets, including US foreign policy in the Middle East, the corruption of oil companies and the Red-baiting of the McCarthyite era. In interview after interview, Clooney has spoken out on his favourite social issues and is a senior campaigner with the Make Poverty History movement that saw him recently lobby the president of the World Bank for aid to Africa alongside rock star Bono. ‘I’m an old-time liberal and I don’t apologise for it,’ he recently told Newsweek.
It is a remarkable transformation for the man who first won the hearts of a generation of female fans in the hospital drama ER and whose early films included Return of the Killer Tomatoes. But it is a change that has won critical acclaim for his most recent politicised films and led to talk of him being rewarded at the Oscars ceremony next year.”

Also true. But there’s no reason to bring up Return of the Killer Tomatoes when he’s appeared far more recently in the ultra-frothy likes of Ocean’s Twelve and Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. Sure a guy’s gotta make a living. And when you’re as devestatingly handsome and charming as Geoge Clooney (and I’ve been this close in conversation with him — manfully fighting off the urge to grab him and elope to Massachusetts for a quicky wedding) careers come easy. He has, however, not taken the easy way out, beginning with David O. Russell’s phenomenal Three Kings (still the best American film about the Gulf War and our entire Imperialist policy) and continuing with the one-two punch of Good Night and Good Luck and Syriana

“Clooney’s rise comes as the influence of a previous generation of Hollywood liberals, headed by Beatty, appears to be fading. Beatty has flirted with running for office in a ‘will he, won’t he?’ drama that has played out in Beverly Hills for three decades. Yet Beatty’s long on-off dalliance seems to have left the public bored with the idea, even as speculation mounts once more that he will run for the governorship of California.”

The ever-self-obsessed “Mainstream” clearly can’t differentiate it’s own annoyance from the public’s amusement. No, Warren would never win the governorship, and he knows it. His recent (highly successful) Anti-AHnuld campaign was simply a private citizen taking advantage of his fame — and enjoying himself be creating some first-rate street theater in the process. But the “Mainstream” would rather swallow poison than admit to that.

“Other liberal Hollywood figures, such as Sean Penn and Barbra Streisand, have also long been derided in the media for the earnestness and anger in their expression of political opinions.
However, Clooney comes from different stock. His engaging off-screen persona has made him one of the most popular stars in Hollywood, with men and women, Republicans and Democrats alike. In interviews he comes across as being a genuinely concerned citizen, more often making his points with the use of gentle humour rather than preaching outrage.
It is also clear that Clooney has not sacrificed any of his own legendary high living as he embarked on his quest to help save the world. He is still a man about town from London to New York to his luxurious house on the shores of Italy’s Lake Como. A bevy of beautiful women still accompany him wherever he goes.”

Really? Well they were nowhere in sight last night when Clooney held a cocktail party at the Cafe des Artistes for the press and selected guests as part of an ongoing promotional effort for Good Night and Good Luck as awards season looms. An exceedingly eclectic group was on hand to down drinks and munch nibblies including two of the film’s stars David Strathairn and Frank Langella plus Langella’s erstwhile And God Created Woman co-star Vincent Spano , lovely Diane Baker, still lovely Dennis Christopher, a very hairy Elliot Gould (he’s now sporting a full white beard) and Aesthetic Realist William Atherton .

Langella was most anxious to see Christopher, with whom he shared a smooch. But prior to such canoodling the latter told me how much he was enjoying appearing on Deadwood, while the former informed me that his big line “Let’s walk through the next few minutes very carefully” was absolutely real. He also was well aware of Bill Paley’s history with Louise Brooks. “Oh she was one of many. He had all sorts of women. I talked to to Gloria Vanderbilt about him. She says in her book that he was rock hard all the time.”

Clooney, by contrast, may be sex on a stick, but he’s as cool as cucumber. Perfectly relaxed he’s able to navigate all manner of personal appeances (I’ve seen him at several so far this year) with grace and ease. Add an ability to extemporize with wit and you’ve got yourself a real superstar.

Experts believe Clooney has probably got it right in today’s conservative political climate in America. ‘Celebrities attract people, and their talent helps to sell tickets to fundraising events,’ said Alan Schroeder, a journalism professor at Northeastern University. ‘But, Hollywood is a dirty word for conservatives.’

Just who are these “experts”? Frank Luntz? Merv Griffin? Matt Drudge? The publicity campaign that combined with K Street chicanery has given the Republican party Beltway dominance for the past two decades shouldn’t be mistaken for an electorate that rather than “divided” is profoundly middle-of-the-road on virtually everything. And judging from his interview in the new issue of The Avocado, Clooney know precisely how to play the game>

“I say this in every interview, so I’m not just picking an obviously biased place to say this, but I’ve been a big old liberal my whole life, and I’m hard-pressed to find when [liberals] have been on the wrong side of social issues—to lose the moral argument. Without the liberal view we’d still be burning witches at the stake, and women wouldn’t be voting, and blacks would be sitting at the back of the bus, and we’d be in Vietnam, and McCarthy’d be in power. It’s not to knock a conservative point of view, but I don’t understand how we lose a moral argument.”

Neither do I, George. And in speaking of Avocado-related issues in Good Night and Good Luck that dark heart of gay self-loathing, Roy Cohn, plays a pivotal role —

“McCarthy turned around in the hearing and started going after this young lawyer from Welch’s firm. And that’s when Welch turns up and says, “Sir, I have done you no harm, and if I have”—and he looks at Roy Cohn—“then I apologize.” And you see Roy Cohn shaking his head “no.” And then Welch turns around to McCarthy and says, “Have you no sense of decency?” That’s when Welch goes at him. So it’s an interesting sort of interplay when you watch all of the footage. I wish people had time to watch it again, ’cause it’s really mind-blowing”

You can watch that footage in Emile De Antonio’s Point of Order. As many critics have noted, De wasn’t at all impressed with Joseph Welch. Indeed he went on record as regarding elch’s “Have you no sense of decency?” grandstanding as ever bit as egregious as McCarthy’s smearing. He has a point in that gay-baiting isn’t pretty. a fortiori Welch was upset that McCarthy had violated their “gentlemen’s agreement” not to go after staff — particularly staff that had recused itself from the case. What would have been his attitude had that lawyer in his employ been gay rather than a former communist?

But then back in those days, one was invariably folded into the other — as everyone save for Sam Tanenhaus seems to understand.

But then there are those less recherche things that even a publication as seemingly sophisticated as the Guardian can’t quite “get” —

“Clooney also seems aware of the fact that his colourful private life would be ruthlessly exposed by the media were he ever to try and turn to politics professionally. In typical jokey style, he once quipped: ‘I’d have to run on the “Yeah, I did it” ticket. “Did you sleep with so-and-so?” Yeah, I did. “Did you take drugs?” You bet I did.’

In other words — he’s Warren Beatty!

Just younger, smoother, a tad less evasive — and he exec produced for Todd Haynes.

Hey Todd — put George in your Dylan movie. He’d be perfect!