George Clooney brings celebrity and focus on the Sudan to Council on Foreign Relations
When George Clooney shows up at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., a few predictable things happen.
For starters -- and most importantly, certainly -- he speaks at length about preventing more potentially deadly civil unrest in the Sudan, a time-sensitive concern given a January referendum that could split the north and south regions of the African nation.
He also charms his way through a crowd of eager hand-shakers while making his way to the front of the briefing room. And, not surprisingly for wonky Washington, his presence attracts a mix of policy makers, scholars, journalists and outright gawkers who each have different reasons for parking themselves in uncomfortable chairs to listen to an hour-long conversation about the nitty-gritty nuances of international diplomacy efforts.
Some make a point of noting how seriously they take the matters being discussed ("I actually write about this issue and the substance of it," says one reporter nearby) while others -- like the two ladies beside me arguing over exactly how tall Clooney is -- are unembarrassed to acknowledge they're here for the heartthrob. And surely there are those who count themselves in the "both of the above" category, like the statuesque redhead who works at a think tank yet confesses that she came principally to (her word) stalk the star of "Up in the Air." (That redhead shall remain nameless so that she may maintain her credibility at said think tank.)
Clooney -- who joined John Prendergast, co-founder of the humanitarian organization Enough, to take questions about their efforts to raise awareness about the situation in Sudan -- appealed to the celeb-watchers with occasional flashes of comedy, making goofy faces while his bio was read and cracking jokes about his two-time Sexiest Man Alive status.
But above all else, Clooney was, appropriately, in serious advocate mode, noting the promising nature of his meetings earlier in the day with members of Congress and President Obama while also emphasizing the urgency of what he characterized as a "ticking time bomb" situation in Sudan.
"Obviously what this is going to require is diplomacy," he said during the briefing. "Robust, intricate, complicated diplomacy. But it also has to be done quickly. If we're going to avoid what we have seen happen twice before with the same players in the north, south and Darfur, we can't just sit back and think, well, if we just let it play out, maybe this time it will be better."
Of course, when any celebrity of Clooney's stature speaks out about a serious political issue, it's sometimes challenging for the average person -- as in, those of us who don't play a role in international negotiations -- to know what we can do about it. Clooney made a suggestion during his remarks: he encouraged citizens to visit Sudanactionnow.org and voice their support for efforts that will ensure peace in the region.
There's a good chance that members of Tuesday's audience from all three of our aforementioned categories -- the policy experts, the celeb stalkers and the "both of the aboves" -- may be exploring that Web site as we speak.
| October 13, 2010; 12:10 AM ET
Categories: Celebrities, Political Statement | Tags: George Clooney
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