Since Barack Obama has been in office, Hollywood celebs keep getting his ear for their pet causes. CNN is reporting that George Clooney paid a visit to the White House on Tuesday and met with President Obama in the Oval Office and discussed his recent trip to southern Sudan. Clooney said, “I think we’re very impressed with how involved, at the highest level, this administration is. And now our job is to try and continue to keep it in the press and … to keep the light turned on for the next 90 days while we try and broker a peace deal, which is what they’re working on right now.
EXCLUSIVE: Sean Penn won’t attend the May 20th Cannes premiere of his political movie Fair Game because, ironically, of his social activism. He has been asked to appear before a U.S. Senate Committee hearing focused on the crisis in Haiti. Penn has made himself a very visible participant in the disaster relief effort there since the earthquake. Fair Game debuts In Competition at the Cannes Film Festival, and is being sold overseas by Summit International. Director Doug Liman will be attending with Naomi Watts, who stars as Valerie Plame. Penn played her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson.
The actor is the 2nd significant figure to bow out of the festival. Director Ridley Scott was unable to attend the opening night premiere of Robin Hood after painful knee replacement surgery. Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, and Brian Grazer carried on in Scott’s absence.
Gotham’s Primary Stages wraps up its 25th anniversary season with a celebrity benefit stage reading performance that will be of particular interest to those who were fans of The Godfather and Oz. (I plead guilty to both). Tom Fontana, the creative catalyst behind the HBO prison series, has written Godfather IV. He will preside over two performances, with proceeds benefitting Primary Stages and Writers Guild of America’s East Foundation. Fontana is president of the latter.
Playing themselves, former Oz stars Chris Meloni, Lee Tergesen and Dean Winters sit at a diner, musing about their own careers and those of screen immortals. When Meloni dares to knock the plausibility of the horse-head-in-the-bed scene in The Godfather that befell Hollywood mogul Jack Woltz when he refused to cast Don Corleone’s godson singer Johnny Fontane in the lead of a picture, the other two reenact the scene by sneaking a horse’s head into Meloni’s bed. Unexpected complications ensue from the horseplay. Linda Laundra is directing, and other Oz castmembers taking part include Eamonn Walker, Mike Doyle, Zeljko Ivanek, David Laundra, Kristin Rohde, Catherine Wolf, Fontana and Terry Kinney, who played Oz‘s long-suffering prison head Tim McManus. Two performances are on for May 2.
NEW YORK, NY (January 25, 2010) – “Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief,” drew a cumulative audience of more than 83 million viewers and a gross average audience of more than 24 million viewers in the United States, according to Nielsen Media Research. The telethon has now raised more than $61 million in donations from the general public to date. “Hope for Haiti Now” aired across networks including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, BET, The CW, HBO, MTV, VH1, CMT, PBS, TNT, Showtime, AMC, CNBC, COMEDY CENTRAL, Bravo, E! Entertainment, MSNBC, National Geographic Channel, Oxygen, G4, CENTRIC, Current TV, Fuse, MLB Network, EPIX, Palladia, SoapNet, Style, Discovery Health, Planet Green, CNN en Español, HBO Latino, Logo, MTV2, MTV Tr3s, MTV Hits, VH1 Classic and VH1 Soul. Across the Web and mobile, “Hope for Haiti Now” attracted 1.9 million video streams during the live broadcast. Between the live broadcast and replays of the performances available on MTV.com and other sites, “Hope for Haiti Now” attracted 5.8 million total streams throughout the weekend, including more than 150,000 mobile streams. The “Hope for Haiti Now” iPhone app, which allowed for live streaming of the broadcast, has been downloaded more than 100,000 times. “Hope for Haiti Now” was also the most Tweeted topic of the weekend, and recorded more than 1 million Tweets around the event on Friday evening alone.
NEW YORK, NY; LOS ANGELES, CA; AND LONDON, ENGLAND — (January 23, 2010) – With donations continuing to come in from around the world, “Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief” today announced that it has raised more than $57 million to date, a new record for donations made by the general public through a disaster relief telethon. The preliminary figure includes donations made via phone, online, and mobile. The preliminary figure does not include donations by corporations and large private donors, or iTunes sales figures, all of which are still being calculated.
Liz Taylor says she asked for and received “one night’s dispensation” from the WGA so that striking TV and film writers could put down their picket signs when an AIDS benefit performance is held next month on the Paramount Pictures lot, according to news reports. Taylor and James Earl Jones are slated to perform one night of Love Letters on World AIDS Day (Dec. 1), to raise $1 million for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. The 75-year-old actress said she wouldn’t cross the WGA picket lines.
UPDATE: Here’s a YouTube 2007 video of Tom Cruise trying to dance in London. Did he have a stunt double do his rockin’ in Risky Business?
It sounds like one of those hilarious Hollywood moments that you probably had to be there to fully appreciate. So, last night, Mr. United Artists aka Tom Cruise was honored by the nonprofit Mentor LA, do-gooders dedicated to helping schools and neighborhoods in LA’s poorer areas. So this Promise Gala held on the 20th Century Fox studio lot was chaired by Megan and News Corp. prez Peter Chernin along with other power players and their wives: Paramount’s Brad Grey, Disney’s Bob Iger, Sony Pics’ Michael Lynton, Warner’s Barry Meyer, Universal’s Ron Meyer, MGM’s Harry Sloan, Yahoo’s Terry Semel (ex-Warner’s) Why honor Cruise? His “long-standing commitment to working for positive change in the world.” Yeah, barf. Anyway, the dinner featured musical performances by both Kanye West and Stevie Wonder. So when Stevie got his groove on, Tom and Katie (no, she wasn’t left home) stood up and started clappin’ and dancin’. And that meant Peter Chernin and Ron Meyer and Terry Semel who were all sitting at the head table also had to stand up and start clappin’ and dancin’. It wasn’t a pretty sight, I’m told. Especially Semel’s strange contortioning. “They were embarrassing themselves. Not one of these white guys could keep time to the music. It was really painful to watch Hollywood have so little rhythm.” …
OK, so now we know what ex-studio moguls do: they blog on HuffPo. If Sherry Lansing’s doing it, can ousted Viacomer Tom Freston be far behind? Sherry opines about turning 60. But there are some interesting Hollywood revelations as well. “I’ve always had this great fear that time would run out and life would have passed me by. I realized that I didn’t want to die at my desk. I wanted to do something else and began to wonder: Am I defined by my job and if so, what kind of a person am I? Is this really what I want to say with my life? Of course, I loved the movies and the movie business. I ran Fox for over three and a half years, produced movies for ten years, and then ran Paramount Pictures for over twelve years. I loved my job, but at a certain point it became repetitive. The highs weren’t as high, and the lows weren’t as low. So I asked myself: What is it that really gives me pleasure? The answer is giving back.” She claims she “retired” from the entertainment business and committed herself to a career in philanthropy. In 2005, she formed The Sherry Lansing Foundation dedicated to cancer research and education. She serves on the board of the Jimmy Carter Center and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which disburses $3 billion in funds for stem cell research. …
2nd UPDATE: *George Clooney spoke movingly and passionately to the United Nation’s most powerful body Thursday, saying the world would be blamed for another Rwanda if atrocities were not halted in Sudan’s Darfur region. “In many ways it is unfair but it is nevertheless true that this genocide will be on your watch. How you deal with it will be your legacy,” Clooney said. “Your Rwanda, Your Cambodia, your Auschwitz.” Reminding that the mandate of African Union peacekeepers in Darfur expires at the end of the month and the Sudanese government has rejected their replacement by a U.N. force, Clooney warned that if U.N. forces are not sent to replace them, all aid workers would leave and the 2.5 million refugees who depend on them would die. “After September 30, you won’t need the U.N. You will simply need men with shovels and bleached white linen and headstones,” the Oscar-winning actor said. ”The United States has called it genocide. For you, it’s called ethnic cleansing. But make no mistake it is the first genocide of the 21st century. And if it continues unchecked it will not be the last.”*
It’s been said that Hollywood’s hottest marriage is the one between actors and Africa. That’ll be true Thursday when Oscar winner George Clooney is scheduled to address the United Nations Security Council on the crisis in Darfur. That’s right, not some small media conference, but the actual Security Council. Hosted by John Bolton, …
Since the Brangelinas are donating the proceeds from selling photos of their baby, let’s consider this: that, for all of Hollywood’s wealth, glitter and dizzying array of charity events, its biggest names are largely missing from the list of America’s major philanthropists. Only two entertainment industry figures were in the top 50 (Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey) in a recent Slate survey, and neither is based in Hollywood. So slaps the Los Angeles Business Journal recently. But many denizens do fork over for good causes. Sherry Lansing’s foundation gives to cancer research organizations. Mel Gibson is behind a $15 mil fundraising drive to endow arts programs in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Spielberg launched the Shoah Foundation and its archive of Holocaust testimonies. Haim Saban and his wife donated $50 mil to Childrens Hospital to fund pediatric medical research. Marvin Davis’ widow Barbara funds the Children’s Diabetes Foundation. etc.
And then, in a category all by himself, is David Geffen. His foundation donated $200 million in unrestricted funds to the UCLA School of Medicine, now named the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, making it the largest individual gift ever to the University of California. I also recall how Geffen and Ray Stark together funded medical research into specialized brain surgery to help friend Dawn Steel when she developed an inoperable brain tumor. Now In magazine writer Dana Miller lionizes what it calls the Four Warriors of AIDS fundraising: Geffen, …
On the sad occasion of Dana’s death, here’s the column I wrote right after her husband died in 2004: Where’s Their Sense of Decency? I learned that, just a day after the actor’s passing, one or more Republican senators put a surprise hold on the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Act. The uncontroversial legislation had been expected to sail through committee, and then the Senate, as easily as the House where it passed 418 to zero. This was beyond cruel; it was like opposing Mom and apple pie. And Congressional sources confirmed to me that the hold on the legislation was placed from the Republican side of the aisle.
UPDATE: It’s still nowhere.