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Clooney to support dad in congressional run

GOOD MORNING: Yes, George Clooney will indeed support his dad Nick Clooney’s congressional run from Kentucky — on the Democratic ticket, natch. George says he’ll do a fund-raiser in L.A. as well as in D.C. — with a feed to Kentucky in the early spring. “I don’t want to overdo” my presence, Clooney, fils, allowed, “but I want to support him as best as I can from afar.” The Clooney clan’s from Augusta, Ky., “where I was raised — population 1,500,” George noted. And reminded that Rosemary Clooney’s buried in the home site of Maysville, Ky. He says his father’s been involved somewhat in politics most of his life, “as an anchor man and a columnist. He’s 69 and has the energy of a young man. He’s been out on hand-shaking trips like I do. I believe in him.” … George will have some time now to devote to that vote-getting project as his next film, “Ocean’s 12,” is delayed until April, he says, because of Brad Pitt’s Achilles’ heel injury on “Troy.” During the delay, Clooney will visit his banner’s “The Jacket,” which starts filming January in Scotland. He’ll also work with partner Steven Soderbergh on the late summer start of their film, “Syriana,” well as another “live” TV drama, this one based on the battles between Ed Murrow and the HUAC’s Joe McCarthy for CBS. Clooney says the ’50s witch hunt parallels the threats by the current Patriot Act. As for tackling “live” dramatic TV again, Clooney admits, “I can remember, five minutes before we went on the air (with ‘Fail Safe’) we were all terrified — and will probably be once again!”

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IN THE DAYS BEFORE the big romance with Princess Diana, Dodi Al Fayed and I talked of his plans to feature film “Peter Pan.” He and his father Mohamed Al Fayed had bought the film rights — including the agreement, per J.M. Barrie’s will, that a certain percentage go to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. And the proviso for all filmmakers was that the amount of the hospital contribution and all ensuing profits be kept secret. (It was in effect as well with the making of “Hook”). After last week’s preem of the current “Pan” (exec produced by Mohamed Al Fayed) in London, the entire cast paid a visit to the children in the Ormond Street Hospital, producers Lucy Fisher and Douglas Wick reported to me following Sunday’s preem at Hollywood’s Chinese Theater. Wick’s father Charles, former head of the USIA under the Reagan administration, was at Grauman’s with wife Mary Jane and their longtime friend Nancy Reagan and her daughter Patti. Nancy’s also a supporter of the Wicks’ endeavors to get government support for stem cell research — their daughter suffers from juvenile diabetes. Doug Wick’s next pic is “Win a Date With Tad Hamilton,” getting a release (DreamWorks) Jan. 23. This week starts talks with Rob Marshall on “Memoirs of a Geisha.” They’re also readying a start of their “Bewitched” with Nora Ephron directing Nicole Kidman and Will Farrell … Sean Astin, who as Sam, engages in one of the screen’s all-time struggles (with the Spider Shelob), returned home from “The Lord of the Rings” treks to New Zealand, Berlin, London, Paris and N.Y. After spending the better part of two years on the three films, he couldn’t remember the address of the new house he and wife Christine and their two small daughters had moved into in the Valley. He returned home in time to phone happy birthday greetings to his mom, Patty Duke. (Dad is John Astin). During the “Rings” he also managed to do a film, “Slip Stream,” in Capetown, South Africa. Now winding the final 48 hours of the p.a’s for “The Return of the King,” Astin (32) will assemble the three short films he directed into a DVD. He next looks forward to the Hawaii preem of “51stt Date” in which he co-stars with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler … WB’s DVD divison is readying Judy Garland and Marx Brothers collections for 2004 … And Sony, Buena Vista, Paramount, Universal and Miramax have united 10 of Arthur Cohn’s Oscar-winning/nominated films into a special edition package.

DAVID SHEEHAN ANNOUNCED he was leaving the showbiz news-reviewing biz on his Friday report on KCBS. He reportedly has plans to “produce videos” and “work in homeless education.” When asked to elaborate on Sheehan’s statement, the station would only say, “if and when he leaves we’ll give him the sendoff he deserves.” The always-affable Sheehan had not returned calls as late Monday … For a brief moment Sunday the Motion Picture and Television Fund campus became a “home” of a different kind. It was a safe haven for street kids and an opportunity for them to watch a film that tells their story and offers hope. The film, “Downtown,” is produced by Michele Berk (“Bandits”) and Joey Dedio, a former street kid who wrote, produced and stars in the film about life on the streets. It boasts a remarkable performance by Genevieve Bujold and a cameo by John Savage. Vin Diesel surprised the youngsters by attending the screening even though he is not in the film … Virginia Mayo is recuping at the Thousand Oaks Health Care following a bout with pneumonia … Leonard Nimoy is exhibiting photos of his “Shekhina” book at the Copro/Nason Gallery in Culver City through Jan. 31. On Saturday he hosted a book signing and made a presentation on how Shekhina has influenced his life, work, and growth as a photographer. Shekhina is based on the concept in the Kabbalah of the female manifestation of God. He’s next working on a series of self portraits titled “Myself & Time” … Sidney Sheldon just heard form his publisher (Morrow) that his next book, “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” will have an initial printing of 750,000 copies. It’s due in August. Sheldon receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Palm Springs Film Festival, Jan. 11 … Gary Smith will be honored by the Friends of Sheba Medical Center on Feb. 5 at the BevHilton. Proceeds from the dinner benefit the Sheba Medical Center in Israel.

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