Tag Archives: George Clooney

How George Clooney Became Prince of the Ball

Interesting, the story behind George Clooney becoming this year’s honoree at Barbara Davis’ gala of all Hollywood galas, the Carousel of Hope Ball.

The socialite philanthropist, whose event draws dozens of A-list stars and power players each year, tells us that she got to know Clooney just after he put together the January, 2010 Hope for Haiti telethon.

Medical personnel on the scene in that earthquake and poverty-stricken land needed drugs, including Insulin and antibiotics specifically used for diabetics. Clooney turned to Davis – whose Carousel of Hope events have brought in more than $100 million for the fight against the disease– and she turned to the pharmaceutical companies who know her well. Soon, the asked-for medications were on their way to Haiti – and Clooney and Davis had become philanthropy pals. Now Clooney’s the man of the hour at this Saturday’s (10/20) Carousel of Hope at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

“Honestly, I can’t rave enough about the man. He uses his celebrity in such amazing ways. There may not be a Santa Claus, but there is a George Clooney,” says Davis, whose fundraiser benefits her Denver-based Center for Childhood Diabetes. Her friend George is a huge draw, of course, and it sounds as if the suave star even has Davis a little breathless. “He’s so nice you just can’t believe how wonderful! He’s such a mensh,” she gushes.

Carousel of Hope has been called the glitziest, most elaborate event on Hollywood’s charity calendar for good reason. Sponsored by Mercedes-Benz (which contributed a $137,505 Mercedes-Benz 2013 G63 AMG design for auction this year), the affair boasts Neil Diamond and Babyface as performers, Jay Leno back as emcee, with George Schlatter as producer and David Foster as music director.

Davis admits her charity, like nearly every charity out there, has felt the impact of the recession (not that you’d notice). “Very honestly, there are some people giving less. But there are also some giving more. People affected by auto immune diseases are more prone to get yet another auto immune disease,” she notes. One of her daughters has had diabetes since age seven, the other has MS– both auto immune diseases.

Among the expected attendees this year: Tatyana Ali, Antonio Banderas, Adrien Brody, Cheryl Burke, Sophia Bush, Jessica Capshaw, Jackie Collins, Joan Collins, Cindy Crawford & Rande Gerber, Billy Davis, Clive Davis, Jane Fonda, David Foster, Quincy Jones, Shirley MacLaine, Alyssa Milano, Shaquille O’Neil, Sidney and Joanna Poitier, Don Rickles, Smokey Robinson, Sarah Silverman, Jaclyn Smith, Sharon Stone, Alan Thicke and Diane Warren.

And among the items being auctioned off, in addition to the Mercedes: a luxurious Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week, including tickets to runway shows by Valentino, Versace, Giorgio Armani and others; and a Bora Bora dream wedding valued at $250,000.

WELL-DESERVED: Nice to see Mel Brooks being designated next year’s American Film Institute lifetime achievement honoree – as well as getting the full-on biographical treatment from PBS’s “American Masters,” also for next year. The hard part will be dealing with time constraints, considering the funnyman’s contributions and hilarious behind-the-scenes stories. Three of Brooks’ movies are on AFI’s top 100 list of all-time great comedy films (“Young Frankenstein,” No. 13; “The Producers,” No. 11; and “Blazing Saddles,” No. 6). And then there’s his Broadway success, and his serious side (eg: “The Elephant Man.”) And he’s not done yet. The man who told us he delights in “putting pins into balloons, deflating pompous types”has a comedy horror picture called “Pizzaman” on his to-do list, with Cary Elwes and Stacy Keach.

“I’ve been accused of vulgarity, and rightly so,” admitted Brooks. “I think that vulgarity, pointed properly, can be a good weapon in the hands of a creative person.” It’s certainly worked for him.

THE FUNNY SIDE: Kellie Martin says that one of the appealing aspects of her Oct. 20 ‘I Married Who?” was that the movie – about a woman who wakes up wed to a movie star she doesn’t know – gave her a chance to work her comedy chops. “Usually I have to be really upset and emotional,” says the veteran of drama series including “ER,” “but this was‘Learn your lines and have fun.’” Fun she did have, including adding improvisational bits to some scenes, with a director who encouraged the cast to stay loose. “There were times I felt it was way too big or too broad, but when they put it all together I was so surprised they used as much of the improv as they did…I needed to feel safe, to be able to try and fail.”

Ethan Erickson plays the movie star, and Kellie applauds him for making the most of his perfect looks for comedy’s sake.

“It’s Hallmark’s answer to ‘The Hangover,’” she adds with a laugh. “A super clean version of the Hangover.’”

 

George Clooney, Al Pacino, Kyra Sedgwick, Eric Stonestreet and More – Backstage From the Emmy Winners’ Circle

George Clooney

George Clooney proved again how utterly charming he is, Al Pacino quoted Michelangelo, and Kyra Sedgwick talked the fifth time being the charm backstage at the 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

Maybe it was that First Amendment question that got things rolling.   George Clooney, honored with the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award for his fund-raising work including this year’s multi-network telethon for Haiti earthquake relief, was asked about the conflict between wanting to maintain some kind of privacy in his life and his belief in the First Amendment.

He said firmly that, as the son of a newsman, “I always felt that the inconveniences I have are worth it rather than infringing on anyone else’s rights.”

Alrighty then, open season!

Clooney quickly deflected a question about his date – girlfriend Elisabetta Canalis — noting that “She picked me up in Italy” and yes, she was around.

He said he’d spent part of his day shooting hoops:  “John Krasinski came over to my house with a bunch of guys to play basketball.  If you see him later, well, he’s limping.”

Illustrating anew that the stars’ biggest fans are other stars, Clooney confessed to a moment of that star-struck feeling when he found himself with Al Pacino and Tom Selleck in the green room, and “suddenly I’m 14 years old.  It’s very funny.”

He also gave the telecast its first glowing review:  “The show is really good tonight.  Jimmy Fallon is just really killing it.  He’s just really funny.”

George on Prop 8 being lifted:  “I think it’s terrific.  Now it’s unlifted again…These are things that take a long time to change…People will look back on this period of history and think of it as an archaic time.”

George on his “ER” leading lady, Julianna Margulies, presenting his award:  “It’s pretty great. We’ve stayed in touch.  We’re good friends.”

Clooney talked about the namesake of his award, Bob Hope, noting, “It wasn’t just the USO shows.  That’s something everybody remembers him for 50 years.  He was one of the great charitable actors.  He did it all, always a great sense of humor.  He was fun.  He’d just show up and do something.”  Asked what he learned from Hope, Clooney, who knew the iconic comedian personally as a young man, recalled that “What you learn from him was, he didn’t take himself seriously.  I really appreciated that.”  Clooney recalled that Hope’s wife Dolores sang with his aunt, Rosemary Clooney, on her “Salute” show, and “she was great.  She’s 101 now and really doing great.”

Noting several times that he felt a little awkward to be getting an award for doing the right thing, Clooney insisted, “I don’t particularly do more than anybody else in the position I’m in.”

Well, not everyone organizes record-breaking, multi-network telethons full of A- List celebrities to help victims of the Haiti earthquake, the South Asia tsunami and Sept. 11 — raises hundreds of millions of dollars, and then follows up to ensure that the money is being used properly as Clooney does.  But anyway, he went on, “If you have a tremendous amount of heat from the spotlight, you’re able to deflect some of it onto people who could really use it.  My dad calls it a ‘Celebrity Credit Card’ that you can try to cash in other places.”

Al Pacino

Al Pacino, who won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his portrayal of Dr. Jack Kevorkian in “You Don’t Know Jack,” admitted that he felt a bit out of place at the TV honors.  “I’m just so used to movies,” he said, noting that he considered his HBO “You Don’t Know Jack” to be a movie, though it was shown on small screen.

“You’re a little lost.  You’re in the midst of all these TV people and you feel a little like you don’t belong.  You still feel like a movie person,” said Al.

Holding an Emmy had to have helped.

Pacino talked about the controversial medico known as Dr. Death for assisting suicides of terminally ill patients, saying he only got to know Kevorkian after making the movie, but “I’m so glad I got to know him.  He’s got that kind of intelligence where you can ask him anything and he’ll come up with something different from what you expected.”

Pacino lost weight to play Kevorkian, a notoriously finicky eater who has impassioned feelings against fat – yet is known to sneak sweets, according to Al.  He joked, “Gaining weight is much easier.  I wish I had to gain weight for a part.  Losing weight requires exercise, and “I’m from the Oscar Wilde school…Whenever I get the urge to exercise, I lie down until it passes.”

He told press he considers it a plus to play a real-life character:  “It’s great when you know somebody exists…It sort of frees you.  As Michelangelo said: ‘Free me of myself, Lord, so I can please you.’  I had that with Frank Serpico when I played him.  Actors like it, it’s very nourishing.”

Kyra Sedgwick

Kyra Sedgwick, who took home her first Emmy (outstanding Lead Actress for “The Closer”) in five nominations, was asked whether she’d been afraid of turning into another Susan Lucci, notorious for always being nominated but never winning.  “I love Susan Lucci,” she said.  “I kind of think you think you haven’t got a chance in hell after five times, but it’s always such a gift to be invited to the party.”

Looking amazing in her purple Monique Lhuillier gown, Kyra added that she reached the point, “I started to placate myself” with remembering that a lot of great actors never won Emmys – Martin Sheen, for instance, never won for “The West Wing.”  “I’d find solace in such things.”

With hubby Kevin Bacon in the press room nearby, sipping champagne while she fielded questions, Kyra was asked about competition between the famous couple.

“I think Kev’s won more….We don’t play the same roles…Of course there’s no rivalry.”  She says they always joke around about whether there’s enough room for another award.

Eric Stonestreet

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series winner Eric Stonestreet talked eloquently and movingly about reaction to his portrayal of a dad with a same-sex partner on “Modern Family.”  “I can tell you what people say to me – I get amazing compliments from kids of same sex families.”  He cited a “gentleman who was raised by two moms” who had recently adopted another daughter.  He thanked Stonestreet, saying that now, if bullies ever taunt his sister, “she can say, ‘Look at Mitch and Cam – you like them.”

Mitch and Cam, of course, are the couple played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and himself.   Ferguson and cast mate Ty Burrell were also nominated in the same category, so one reporter wondered whether there’d be awkwardness on the set Monday.

“No, not at all, we had all joked around abut that before — if any one of us won whether it would be fun to punch each other in the stomach or walk out.”  However, “This was a win for the show…We love our job, so it won’t be awkward at all.”

Stonestreet and “Modern Family” executive producer Steve Levitan – who came into the press room after the show won Outstanding Comedy Series honors – both stressed that the upcoming episode in which Cam and Mitch kiss was planned a long time ago.   That is, before the controversy grew over their lack of physicality on the series.  Although, as Stonestreet acknowledged, it’s going “to look like we caved to public pressure, it was planned before.”

Asked about where he found inspiration for his portrayal, Stonestreet pointed to his mom – “spell it right” – Jamey and her excitable, emotional, passionately caring ways.  After he keeps it for a couple of weeks, he’s sending his Emmy to her and his father Vince to keep, he says.

He’s had a lot of women tell him that they identify with Cam.

Edie Falco

“Nurse Jackie’s” Edie Falco came right out and said what a lot of people were thinking about her winning as Outsanding Actress in a Comedy – over a group of funny ladies that included Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Lea Michele, Toni Collette, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.   Said Falco:  “Tina Fey, for heaven’s sake.  It’s ridiculous!”  She also said, “The women I was up against are hysterically funny, talented comedians.  I’m not playing coy here.  I’m just dumbfounded by the events of the evening.”  She added, “But I’m happy to be here nonetheless.”

As for what she planned to do to celebrate?  “I hadn’t planned on celebrating.  I’d planned on going home and ordering room service,” Falco said.  But she was glad to make a change in her plans.

Tom Hanks

For those die-hards who care about the coarsening of public discourse in America today, Betty White’s “What the hell are you looking at” during the opening number of the Emmy show this year no doubt felt like a let down.  Et tu, Betty?  Later, after his “The Pacific” won the Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries, Tom Hanks dropped the F-bomb backstage.  At least he apologized right away.  He got carried away when a reporter mentioned how HBO and his Playtone production company continue to be winners, and Tom answered with “$#%-in’ A!”

Hanks also talked about the fact he was sorry there were only two nominees in the category, since there are certain stories that so well suited to the form.  He hopes “The Pacific” serves as a model.  As for what will come next from the firm that has gifted the public with a phenomenal string of artistically, intellectually and emotionally satisfying productions (“From the Earth to the Moon,” “John Adams,” “Band of Brothers” to name three), Hanks said they’re still three or four years away from unveiling any new projects.

Padma Lakshmi

When it comes to the night’s most overtly competitive personality, honors have to go to “Top Chef’s” Padma Lakshmi.  She made it clear that she’d had enough of “Amazing Race” winning “Outstanding Reality – Competition” honors year after year.  “I was really mean to the host on the red carpet.  I think I hit him twice with my purse,” she said.  “I said, ‘You’re going down.’”  And so they did – and “Top Chef” got the Emmy.

Claire Danes

“It’s always nice to see someone who is getting old with you,” said Anthony Edwards, asked about his former “ER” cast mate George Clooney being honored the same night that Edwards’ “Temple Grandin” won seven out of 15 Emmy nominations, becoming one of the huge winners of this year’s awards.

Edwards is one of the executive producers of the telefilm that won Emmys for Made for Television Movie, Outstanding Lead Actress for Claire Danes, Outstanding Director for Mick Jackson, and Supporting Actor and Actress Emmys for David Strathairn and Julia Ormond.  Getting the bio-pic made was a ten-year effort.  “I was very involved from an early part of the journey…Trying to sell a movie about a woman who is autistic and designs slaughterhouses – it’s not the easiest sell,” Edwards admitted.

Clearly, however, it was worth it.  Grandin herself was in the press room, and pointed out that the telefilm has a lot to say about autism and clearing up misconceptions about the nature of the malady.  She noted that autistics range from “Silicon Valley geniuses” to severely afflicted persons who can’t even speak.

She also said she had faith in Emily Gerson Saines, the lead Exec producer and driving force behind the film of “Temple Grandin.”  Saines’ own son is autistic, and she founded the Autism Coalition for Research and Education that’s now a part of Autism Speaks.

Said Grandin, “I knew a mom would get it right.”

Asked what made this win special, Claire Danes declared, “I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder on a performance. It was epic in its scope.  And I don’t think I’ve ever been as inspired by any part I’ve played.”  She feels that Grandin and the film of her story “encourage positive change in the world. That’s wonderful.  I don’t expect to have another opportunity like this.”

Danes admitted that her shimmery golden Armani Prive gown was “not as uncomfortable as it could be.”  She wasn’t complaining.  After all, “It’s a party dress and we’re gonna party!”

Jason Lee Talks Hot New ‘Beat,’ Not Imitating Elvis

Jason Lee TNT photo

Jason Lee would like to correct misconceptions about his June 22-debuting TNT “Memphis Beat” series – which a number of critics have already referred to as the best of this summer’s crop of new TV offerings.

First, “People started talking about this show as being about a cop who’s an Elvis impersonator, but that’s not what it is.  We’re taking a very, very sincere approach, absolutely without being silly or gimmicky,” he says.

Lee, clean-shaven and looking much different from his mustachioed Earl Hickey persona in “My Name is Earl,” plays a dyed-in-the-wool Memphian who is passionate about his city and his music, and who is cop and who does go out and perform at night.  “It’s a massive release for him,” he says.  And for Lee himself, “It’s great, it’s fantastic performing ‘Love Me Tender’ with a guitar onstage.  It’s really special.  It feels comfortable.”

Second — fear not, Memphis.  The “Memphis Beat” company has been shooting in Louisiana, a fact that Memphis media have noted with some dismay, but “We’re going up there soon to actually shoot some stuff.  I spent a little bit of time in Memphis before, but I can’t wait to go back within this context,” he says of the soulful drama that also stars Alfre Woodard and DJ Qualls – and is produced under the banner of George Clooney’s and Grand Heslov’s  production company.  “The city is a big part of this show and you’ve got to see it.  You can’t fake it.”

Lee admits he’s still saddened by the loss of “Earl.”  He says, “I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next when the show ended.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m glad it became this thing.  It’s something I’ve not gotten to do yet, and very, very exciting for me.”

The shooting schedule “is tough,” however.  “We have fewer episodes than a network drama, which is great, but the workload is pretty intense, especially in the heat.  You just take a lot of water and pace yourself.  It’s a fun, exciting gig and that certainly helps a lot.  But I’m definitely going to take a break once we’re finished, a much-needed break.  I’ll probably just kind of go camping.”

Borgnine Keeping a Pace That Could Scare Guys Half His Age

Ernest Borgnine on "ER"

Ernest Borgnine on "ER"

Ernest Borgnine may be 92 years old, but he’s keeping up a pace that could scare a man half his age.

The “Marty” Oscar winner just wrapped up work on “The Genesis Code” big screen drama with Louise Fletcher and Fred Thompson in Michigan, and he leaves next week for New Orleans to start work on the comedy “Snatched” — his 202nd picture.

He’s also been busy this summer with book signings for his recently-launched “Ernie, the Autobiography.”  “I love being out meeting the people!” he enthuses.

He helped launch “Another Harvest Moon,” his ensemble drama with Anne Meara and Cybill Shepherd, at this month’s Rhode Island International Film Festival — where Lifetime Achievement Honors were bestowed upon him.  And he squeezed in a visit to Naval Station Newport, where he went through boot camp some 74 years ago.

“This time, they were saying, ‘What can we get for you, Mr. Borgnine?’  None of the finger-pointing and ‘Hey you’s!’ I remember from before,” says the Navy veteran of 10 years, including WWII.

With all that going on, he’s barely had time to celebrate his Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama.  He tells us he and wife Tova will definitely be on hand to see whether he’ll win the honor for his portrayal, on the final episode of “ER,” of a man whose wife of many years is dying.   He played it with such honest simplicity, it was a four hankie job, for sure.

“It was hard in the sense that it never happened to me and to make it look like it was real, I had to really dig into my heart and my head,” he says.  “It turned out fine.”

So fine, he got nominated — while returning stars George Clooney, Eriq LaSalle and Noah Wyle did not.

“I know,” he says and smiles.  “I shouldn’t gloat, believe me.”

Nevertheless, Ernie’s competition is fierce – Michael J. Fox on “Rescue Me,” Ted Danson on “Damages,” Jimmy Smits on “Dexter,” and Edward Asner on “CSI: NY.”

He assures, “I’m just glad I was nominated.  I was also nominated for the Golden Globe and I missed out on that one.  People were saying they were sorry, but I said, ‘Hey, man – I won the nomination!  Are you kidding?’”

BAD BOY: Moviegoers who remember Daryl Sabara as Juni, the cute younger brother of Robert Rodriguez“Spy Kids” movies, are in for a paradigm shift of perception if they see him in “World’s Greatest Dad” starring Robin Williams, opening tomorrow (8/21).  Sabara plays the teenage son you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, a profane and mean-spirited kid whose departure from this earth could only improve it.  So how did writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait come to know that the 17-year-old actor had this ability to play rotten?

“Daryl is a funny guy.  He came in and lied, saying he wanted to play Andrew, the sweet kid in the movie” – when in fact, he had his sites set on terrible Kyle instead.  Bobcat let him read for the latter, and found “he was such a convincing creep – a teenage Gary Oldman, you know?  I had him come in again just to meet with him.  I needed to know he wasn’t really a jerk.”

Goldthwait also tells us there was a surprise when it came to casting Robin Williams as the beleaguered, bereaved title parent in the truly twisted black comedy that was a Sundance Festival hit.  According to Goldthwait, Robin recently confessed, “he thought he was going to help me out and do a cameo.  But then he read the script and said, ‘I’d like to be the guy.’  It really changed everything.”

These days, Goldthwait does stand-up if he needs to support his efforts as an auteur filmmaker.  Admits the show business veteran once thought of as a way-too-out-of-control comic, “The early part of my career, I had the kind of career you usually have when your career is ending.  Having a new career now at 47, I have much more appreciation.”

READ NO EVIL:  Joan Rivers, the queen of jabs, tells us she has one big secret to her success.  If you’ve written something about her, she wants no part of it.  “I don’t read it.  I absolutely don’t read it.  I don’t read good reviews and I don’t read bad reviews,” admits Rivers.  “Obviously I’m told about good reviews,” she adds.  “I know when it’s been a good show and I know when it’s been a bad show.  I don’t need an outsider to tell me.  I can come off stage and tell you how it was and what went wrong a lot faster than somebody else can say it.  I’m sure they say terrible things about it.  I don’t need it.  I don’t need to look at it.”  So, there!

Rivers currently can be seen enjoying the high life with some fellow hard workers in the TV Land series “How’d You Get So Rich?” “We go to their houses and we see all of their toys.  It’s fascinating how differently they spend their money. One man made all this money so he bought himself a Lamborghini for every day of the week,” she says.  “I think it’s very uplifting that in this day in age you can do it if you’ve got the right attitude and the right product.  But it teaches you a good lesson that you’ve got to work for it or win the lottery.”

A WEIGHTING GAME: Angie Dickinson was one of those perpetually perfectly lean ladies in her heyday on small and big screen, but now the still-beautiful septuagenarian complains that she’s 20 pounds overweight.  “If I lost 20 pounds I’d be more viable.  I’m serious about that,” she says.  “I watch ‘The Biggest Loser’ and I am so enamored of those incredible people, how they shame themselves and go through whatever it takes to get in shape.  I could no longer get out there in a little top and shorts.  They expose their worst sides and I admire them beyond belief – but I still don’t lose the weight.”

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster