Santa Barbara Film Festival: George Clooney

By Madelyn Ritrosky
Entertainment Magazine

George Clooney’s ceremony was held in the historic Arlington Theater, on upper State Street.  It is the largest movie theater in Santa Barbara.  Festival coordinators must have figured – correctly – that the largest crowd would be for this man. 

The red carpet was rolled out for each of the special events, and on this night it was packed with press and fans.  The theater was full. 

Like the others that would follow, the event consisted of a welcome by the president of the festival’s board of directors, Arnold Kassoy; introduction of the honoree by the festival’s executive director, Roger Durling; a fairly lengthy on-stage interview conducted a noted film critic; numerous film clips sprinkled throughout the interview; the presentation of the award by someone who worked with the guest of honor, and the honoree’s acceptance speech.     

Clooney is definitely one of the current sizzlers with his three Oscar nominations.  He’s nominated for best original screenplay (with Grant Heslov) and best director for GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.  He’s also nominated for best supporting actor for SYRIANA.  It’s an historic first to be nominated in the same year for acting and directing for two different films.  Clooney called GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK his “passion piece.”

With typical humor, he said, “I have to make up for BATMAN & ROBIN. . . . I was horrible in it.”  That 1997 movie earned him and the film generally bad reviews.   

If Clooney is anything, he’s droll and self-effacing – and he appeared quite relaxed.  In fact, of the four award recipients I had the chance to see in person, I’d say it was Clooney who came off as the least nervous talking about himself up there on the stage.  He’d make a good stand-up comic, for his witticisms elicited laughter from the audience throughout the evening.  With a twinkle in his eye, he deadpanned, “I’m a huge star.”  Then he’d crack a grin. 

Regarding the hypothetical circumstance of achieving his fame while very young, he suggested, “I would have been shooting crack into my forehead.”  Clooney also noted his early experiences on movie sets and joked, “I’m from Kentucky – we try to stay away from trailers.”    

He also discussed the political implications of GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK, which traces how Edward R. Murrow brought down Joseph McCarthy.  He sees fear – then and now – used as an excuse to attack civil liberties and keep people from asking questions.  But instead of “shouting” about this, Clooney feels that “a good drama” about “a polarized time” where eventually “people were able to come together” better conveys a message about such circumstances. 

He and Grant Heslov, who also produced the film, made sure that their script was as accurate as possible.  In fact, Clooney said they wanted to make sure that their independent investors could not say things like “maybe that character wouldn’t do that.”  Clooney and Heslov wanted the weight of historical veracity on their side with this politically charged, albeit Cold War film.   

This Modern Master, who will be 45 in a couple of months, is certainly on his way to earning that title.  It was, of course, appropriate that Grant Heslov was the person who came on stage to present the award to Clooney.  The actual award, by the way, broke in Clooney’s hands.  Since these two men have been friends for 25 years, perhaps we can look forward to their partnership producing more projects like the intelligent and relevant GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.      

Photos by Madelyn Ritrosky

Images from the movie below, "Good Night Good Luck":

Photo credit: Melinda Sue Gordon Copyright © 2005 Good Night Good Luck, LLC All Rights Reserved.

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