George Clooney to voice 'Fantastic Mr. Fox'

THE TROUBLE with writing about the new movie “W.” is that in print, one can’t do justice to what appears onscreen. The startling W is followed by a scarlet red period. That does provide emphasis! Filmmaker Oliver Stone is still the enfant terrible of movies no matter his age. He has always been a pet of mine, even when I disliked his ideas. Yes, he takes facts and elaborates them. But … against all odds – because at first I thought I wouldn’t even go to this film – I simply loved the movie “W.”

Josh Brolin, as the president who doesn’t know what he is doing, is magnificent. My favorite moment in the film is the establishing shot of all the administration biggies in a situation room soon after Bush ascends to the presidency. Most of the players are brilliantly cast – Richard Dreyfuss particularly as Dick Cheney, Thandie Newton as Condi Rice, Jeffrey Wright as the sympathetic Colin Powell.

Leaving the screening room, I found myself haunted by an uncertain depression. I had really liked the movie, but I hadn’t needed to see it to remember the downward spiral of the Bush administration. So why my uneasy feeling? I guess the past was prologue. Inescapably, I remembered America’s dire financial straits which came on as suddenly as the flat-out failure of the war in Iraq came to the Bush situation room. The current tragic state of Wall Street is just a P.S. There is all that same lack of oversight, incaution, impulsiveness, and raging over-spending, un-realistic certainty, crass ambition and moral turpitude where nobody can even say they are sorry over what they have wrought.

WHEN ROALD DAHL wrote “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” he had no idea he’d eventually make George Clooney so happy. George will provide the starring voice in Fox’s coming animated feature of Dahl’s story. While performing his chores a few weeks back, the studio put him up at the Sunset Marquis Hotel for an entire month. The hotel has its own sound studio and so Clooney did voice-overs there instead of traveling from his house. Clooney used a private screening room in the hotel to show sports events to his numerous buddies. The deal also included a private chef for the Clooney gang, the loan of a Bentley and George’s own private entrances in and out of his rooms.

I AM LISTENING, watching and trying to find the secret of Gov. Sarah Palin’s appeal. She is attractive and hard-working and energetic; obviously a multi-tasker. But the charisma and genuine charm her fans insist she possess escapes me. I cannot help comparing her to conservative provocateur Ann Coulter. For all her wacky, over-the-top statements, Coulter is a really intelligent woman who believes what she says. But she also gets the humor in her own outsize persona (black cocktail dresses for morning interviews, spike heels and femme-fatale eye-makeup.) Sometimes underneath her crazy, button-pushing rhetoric, Coulter makes a point. And she knows her stuff; she reads. You’d better be on your toes if you decide to go at it with Ann. I’ve never seen her in caught a “gotcha” moment. Though her opponents are often left with mouths agape.

Who is more of a mystery? Obama, who has been on the scene big-time for two years–mercilessly vetted–or Sarah Palin, who was propelled to national prominence only six weeks ago? Her vetting is stymied because any questions are considered “attacks” on her character. Coulter would welcome probing questions–“Ask me, you liberal wussy, see if you can trip me up!” I don’t think Coulter would hide behind the shield of her party, plead her femininity or use her family. Coulter thinks very little of the “elite right wing media” but she’s not afraid of it. In any case, Ann Coulter sometimes makes me laugh. Sarah Palin does not.

CHARLOTTE D’AMBOISE is on her way back to “Chicago. She’ll reprise the role of kewpie-doll killer Roxie Hart starting Nov. 3. Charlotte was Tony nom’d last season as Cassie in “A Chorus Line.” Daughter of choreographer Jacques d’Amboise, Charlotte holds the record for having played Roxie Hart more than anyone else – 1,250 times on Broadway and 100’s of others on tour.

SALMA HAYEK is just back from a trip to Sierra Leone, Africa where she worked with UNICEF. They are trying to do something about the cruel way in which lockjaw kills newborns and children who have not been vaccinated for tetanus. (In Sierra Leone, the ground is full of germs and women usually give birth right onto the surface.) A tetanus shot costs only about seven cents each to give.

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