Clooney discusses Darfur trip with Obama
Los Angeles — George Clooney apparently had a good reason for skipping out on Oscar night: He had a meeting with President Barack Obama.
The Oscar-winning actor appeared Monday on CNN’s “Larry King Live” and spoke of his visit earlier that morning with Obama to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region.
Clooney said he told the president of his visit to camps in Chad where 250,000 refugees live, but he downplayed the risks he took to witness the suffering firsthand.
“I don’t think people should be going there and coming back and saying how it affected them,” Clooney told King via satellite from the White House lawn. “I think somehow we should all know that these people are hanging on by the skin of their teeth.”
Clooney, a U.N. Messenger of Peace, said he asked the president to appoint a full-time regional envoy who reports directly to the White House, and to ask China to set aside its business interests in the region and pressure Sudan to prevent atrocities.
The 47-year-old actor also confirmed that he was going to appear in the last episode of NBC’s “ER” with Julianna Margulies. “So it should be fun,” Clooney said.
‘Spider-Man’ musical sets broadway opening
It’s official: “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark,” the new musical featuring music by U2’s Bono and Edge, will open on Broadway on Feb. 18, 2010.
The musical, based on the Marvel comic superhero, will be staged by Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), who co-wrote the book with Glen Berger (“Underneath the Lintel”). No official word on casting, although Evan Rachel Wood has said she will star as Mary Jane, love interest of Peter Parker, the teen who is bitten by a radioactive spider and gains superpowers.
The production, with a reported budget of about $31 million, will begin previews Jan. 16 next year at the Hilton Theatre. Tickets go on sale in June.
Britney Spears’ ex faces assault charge
Los Angeles — Prosecutors have charged Britney Spears’ former boyfriend, Adnan Ghalib, with three felonies including assault with a deadly weapon.
Ghalib allegedly struck a process server with his car outside his apartment on Jan. 30. The server was attempting to deliver papers notifying him that Britney Spears’ father and attorneys were seeking a restraining order against him.
According to a news release, the process server clung to the hood of Ghalib’s car to avoid being pinned and broke his wrist. The 36-year-old paparazzo, who has not yet been arrested, also faces battery and hit-and-run charges.
A current phone number for Ghalib could not be located. He did not appear for a Monday hearing on the restraining order.
New York Post drops Liz Smith column
New York — The New York Post is dropping Liz Smith’s column this week to save money, leaving the legendary gossip columnist without a newspaper home in the city for the first time in 33 years.
“I’m very sorry that that has come to an end, and that I wasn’t valuable enough for them to keep me on,” the 86-year-old Smith said Tuesday.
Smith said the daily newspaper declined to renew her $125,000 annual contract in a letter that said, “due to economic circumstances, they were the bearer of bad news and so forth.”
Col Allan, the paper’s editor-in-chief, said: “The Post is grateful to have been able to publish Liz Smith’s legendary column for so many years. We wish her the very best for the future.”
Smith writes a syndicated newspaper column that she said is carried by 70 papers around the country. She also publishes in Daily Variety and in Parade magazine, and is part owner of a Web site. Smith says she’s also writing a novel and will never retire.
“I’m busy,” she said. “I’m OK. I’m OK for a person who’s been let go.”
Audrina Patridge posts burglary video
Los Angeles — Audrina Patridge is sharing video from a different kind of tense life episode: a break-in at her house.
The star of “The Hills” posted surveillance video Tuesday on her blog of the break in, which police said was reported Monday.
The footage shows a young man and woman, apparently aware of at least one camera, running around her Hollywood hills home in the dark. Patridge was not home at the time.
She blogged Tuesday that the robbery was “pretty devastating,” but that most of the items taken are replaceable. She asks anyone with information to call police.
Video surveillance played a role when $2 million in jewelry was stolen from Paris Hilton’s Sherman Oaks home was last December. No suspect has been caught in that case.
Just a joke: Cowell has no deep-freeze plan
Los Angeles — A spokeswoman for Simon Cowell says reports that the “American Idol” judge wants to be frozen after death are greatly exaggerated.
Cowell was making a tongue-in-cheek remark at a dinner in London two weeks ago with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other guests, spokeswoman Lisa Dallos said Tuesday.
But the cryogenics comment that Dallos said was meant as a joke was trumpeted in a number of news reports as a serious plan by Cowell, a music industry executive and TV producer (“America’s Got Talent,” Britain’s “The X Factor”).