Hollywood Political Watch: Brave actors say no to hunger, yes to food

Ruth Graham Contributor
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This column has naturally focused mostly on Hollywood’s intersection with American politics so far, but this week we see an A-list actor becoming embroiled in the international political scene. George Clooney – movie star, international activist, and all-around handsome guy – may be called to testify at the trial of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Berlusconi is set to go on trial next week for having sex at a party with an underage dancer and prostitute named “Ruby the Heart Stealer.” Clooney and his girlfriend, Italian model and actress Elisabetta Canalis, are said to have attended one of Berlusconi’s parties, along with young Ruby. Clooney and Canalis both deny this; Clooney said he has only met Berlusconi once, in an effort to secure Italian aid for Darfur.

Note to self: If I’m ever involved in a lawsuit of any kind, have my lawyer call George Clooney as a witness. Just because.


BRAVE ACTORS SAY NO TO HUNGER, YES TO FOOD Doesn’t it seem like just a few weeks ago that Ben Affleck was testifying in front of Congress to push for more aid to the Congo? This week he is focusing on an issue closer to home, cowriting an op-ed for the Huffington Post that calls for “everyone in America — the business community, policy makers and the public — to do what they can to help people battling hunger in their communities.” What this plan lacks in anything resembling specifics, it makes up for in good vibes. I, too, am against hunger! And I definitely think everyone should do whatever they can.

Turns out Affleck is on the nonprofit Feeding America’s “Entertainment Council,” which also includes illustrious anti-hunger advocates Courteney Cox, Scott Hamilton, and Nick Cannon, described as a “multi-faceted entertainer/entrepreneur” but who you probably know as “Mariah Carey’s husband” or “who?” Cannon was in the news last year for giving his wife a custom-made “candy” ring pop encrusted in white diamonds and pink sapphires. Not only is that classy, it’s also a well-known cure for hunger. Let them eat ring pops!


GHADDAFI IS ON TEAM KIRSTIE The New York Times reported this week that the White House checked in with networks including ABC before scheduling President Obama’s speech to the country about Libya. The parties engaged in “friendly negotiations” with the goal of securing peace between foreign policy speeches and primetime television. It was a smart move by the White House: Pre-empting “Dancing With the Stars” is the kind of thing most Americans would go to war over.


FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE Hollywood stars turned up in London to help former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, one of the most important international figures of the 20th century, celebrate his 80th birthday this week. Hosting the lavish event were the only two people anyone could have imagined doing the job: Kevin Spacey and Sharon Stone. Because when you think “glastnost,” you think “Basic Instinct 2.”

The attendees were a bizarre mix of the distinguished — Lech Walesa and Shimon Peres – and, well, the Goldie Hawn. Ted Turner received an award. Milla Jovovich accidentally exposed her breast as she walked the red carpet. Gorbachev left the event in a limousine that sported a pink leather interior. The event was billed as a fund-raiser but supposedly cost an extravagant 3 million pounds to produce. In other words, it was a well-intentioned, less-than-perfectly-executed mixed bag that ended up costing too much and leaving plenty of people unhappy – a fitting tribute to the guest of honor.


DEAD “KENNEDYS” When the lavish eight-part miniseries “The Kennedys,” focusing the Kennedy clan during its heyday, was first announced last year, it seemed a promisingly juicy marriage between Hollywood and politics. The cast of the $25 million production was intriguing: Katie Holmes played Jackie, with Greg Kinnear as President Kennedy. Then rumors swirled that the surviving family members put up a fuss because the series wouldn’t be respectful enough, and the History Channel dropped the series before it had aired. That made it seem even more promising. Too juicy for mainstream cable! Combine that with the fact that producer Joel Surnow is…you might want to sit down for this…a CONSERVATIVE, and this had all the makings of a piece of appointment television. Kennedy speechwriter Ted Sorenson, who died last fall, even called an early draft “malicious,” “vindictive,” and “a one-sided right-wing script.” It sounded awesome.

Well, “The Kennedys” finally landed at the obscure ReelzChannel, where it’s scheduled to air this Sunday. The reviews are in, and alas, it sounds like a dud. The Hollywood Reporter calls the miniseries “a hamfisted mess,” the Boston Globe says it’s “a draggy waste of time,” and Variety slammed it as “painfully shallow and woefully bad.” Oh well. We can still hold out hope for a “Chappaquiddick: The Movie” someday.


ACTORS AGREE THAT GOOD THINGS ARE GOOD You have to feel sorry for celebrities at fundraisers for vague causes like “the environment” who are forced to provide quotes on their passionate concern with the issue at hand. Here’s actress Diane Kruger, attending a “green auction” called Bid to Save the Earth.:

“I love the diversity of nature.”


Guests at this Manhattan event enjoyed a fashion show featuring items like an organic Oscar de la Renta wedding gown, and they ate some grass-fed beef tartar. And then, just like that, the earth was saved! Everyone patted themselves on the back and went home.