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Ribs, and a roast for Clooney

October 16, 2006|Susan King | Times Staff Writer

The spirits of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin were very much in evidence Friday evening at an American Cinematheque tribute to George Clooney.

The witty valentine to the Oscar-winning actor, political activist, producer, director, writer and heartthrob felt more like an old "Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts" or a vintage live Rat Pack album than a tribute. Clooney's own Rat Pack of friends and admirers good-naturedly ribbed the 45-year-old with clips from old TV series, early movies such as "Return of the Killer Tomatoes!," the mega-flop "Batman & Robin," his old mullet hairdo and even his stint as People magazine's "sexiest man alive."

Clooney was the 21st recipient of the American Cinematheque Award. Previous winners include Al Pacino, Nicole Kidman and Denzel Washington. The ceremony was a fundraiser for the Cinematheque's film and video programs at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. An edited version will air Dec. 13 on the AMC cable channel.

Clooney, who exudes old movie star charm, was self-deprecating when his good pal and fellow "Ocean's Eleven," "Ocean's Twelve" and "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" costar Julia Roberts presented him the Cinematheque award at the Beverly Hills Hilton.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday October 17, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 31 words Type of Material: Correction
George Clooney: An article in Monday's Calendar section about a tribute to actor George Clooney said it was held at the Beverly Hills Hilton. The hotel's name is the Beverly Hilton.

"I have no regrets for the mullet," he told the audience.

And although he said he had long been involved with American Cinematheque, he confessed with his tongue firmly in cheek: "I'm not exactly crystal clear what it is they do."

The past year has been an exceptional one for Clooney, who toiled in Hollywood for years before finding stardom in 1994 on the hit TV show "ER." That led to roles in films including "The Perfect Storm," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and "Out of Sight" and then directing. This year, though, he found himself in a completely different class: He was a triple threat at the Oscars, earning nominations for directing and writing the 2005 best picture nominee "Good Night, and Good Luck" and a best supporting actor nod for "Syriana," for which he won the Oscar.

Off-screen, Clooney also traveled earlier this year to the troubled African region of Darfur and recently addressed the U.N. Security Council about the devastating effects of genocide there.

Among those who helped fete Clooney were Bonnie Hunt, Morgan Freeman and Ellen Barkin, who gave an R-rated tribute.

Clooney's "ER" costars Noah Wyle and Julianna Margulies remarked that they "knew George when he had hair." Don Cheadle revealed that "no other actor on the face of the Earth is more childish." Fellow "Ocean's" star Carl Reiner said he had never met anyone like George before, describing him as the "silliest human being."

Taped remarks from several politicos were shown during the evening, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who played Mr. Freeze in "Batman & Robin"; Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.); former Vice President Al Gore; and former President Clinton, whose appearance was met with loud applause.

Clooney turned the tables on his friends by showing a series of embarrassing photos, especially one of Cheadle decked out in his cowboy outfit in "Boogie Nights" and another of a young Matt Damon dressed in a gaudy suit.

"Nights like this don't come by very often," Clooney said. "This is a celebration and a roast."

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