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Two Ryan Binghams get Oscar nominations

The real Ryan Bingham, left (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for VH1), and his Hollywood counterpart: George Clooney's character in "Up In the Air" (Dale Robinette).

Ryan Bingham, meet Ryan Bingham.

With the Oscar nominations, moviegoers can finally shake that closing-credits deja vu. Yes, the character that George Clooney got nominated for playing in "Up in the Air" has the same name as the guy who picked up a "Best Song" nomination for the theme from "Crazy Heart."

Small world, huh? Yet there's no connection, says Walter Kirn, whose book inspired the Clooney flick. Kirn explained that Bingham is a common name in the Mormon faith he grew up in -- it was his first girlfriend's last name -- so he gave it to the layoff-consultant hero of his 2001 novel. Years later, Kirn saw a concert listing for Ryan Bingham, and assumed ("the great narcissism of the novelist!") that the artist was a fan who'd taken a stage name in his honor.

Smaller world: Jeff Bridges, the Best Actor nominee for "Crazy Heart," is a part-time neighbor of Kirn's in Livingston, Mont., who recently performed some of the movie tunes at the local Elks Club. Kirn walked up to the star and asked, did he know he was singing a song written by a man with the same name as the character played by an actor he was competing for awards with? "He looked at me like I was fresh from the bar," Kirn told us.

As for the real-life Bingham -- he joked to our colleague Jen Chaney that if he and co-writer T Bone Burnett are lucky enough to win, "I thought it would be cool if George Clooney could go up there and make a speech."

By The Reliable Source  |  February 3, 2010; 1:05 AM ET
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