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To Lure Viewers, It's All About the Guest Stars

Nick Clooney, left, and Bill Small were onstage, but the center of attention at Monday's screening was actor George Clooney. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Hey, gang! Want to go out on a cold night for a somber period-piece flick you already saw three years ago, panel discussion to follow?

Okay, well, did we forget to mention George Clooney will be there?

It was a full house Monday night for the Newseum's screening of "Good Night, and Good Luck," part of a "Reel Journalism" series hosted by American University journalist-in-residence Nick Clooney -- who, as dad to the film's writer-director-star, was able to rope him in. Balancing out the panel: former NBC News exec Bill Small.

Lots of jolly yuk-yuks in the pre-screening remarks. George: "This is not going well. Big mistake." Nick: "Came 3,000 miles for nothing." George: "He promised me booze." But seriously, folks! The heartthrob said that growing up with a journalist dad meant that newsman Edward R. Murrow, his movie's subject, was always a big hero.

After the lights went up, George fielded the "whither media" questions. Only one woman in the Q&A line tried to get cute. "I exaggerated to all my friends tonight," she cooed. "They think I'm on a date with you!" He fired back, ambiguously: "Yes!"

Others kept it wonkily on topic. What would Murrow think about "citizen journalists" and bloggers? Sighed Small, "I haven't the foggiest idea." George, meanwhile, called on media overlords to encourage smarter TV: "Every time they underestimate viewers, we're doing a disservice. I've been on some of those shows. I've had a mullet on some of those shows."

To get our question answered, we muscled into the post-show autograph mob. Hey, George, where were you hiding out for the inauguration? Never saw you here in D.C.!

"Actually, I was here the week before for my dad's birthday," he said. But he opted not to join the Hollywood caravan back to town.

"I sort of wanted to stay away and watch it on TV. It was someone else's night."

By The Reliable Source  |  January 28, 2009; 1:03 AM ET
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