GOOD MORNING: It was George Clooney returning my phone call between takes directing “Good Night and Good Luck” at CBS Radford. No, it s not a TV movie, although George reminded, “We planned to do it as a live TV show.” He had already directed a “live” “Fail Safe” for the web. However, he said, “CBS thought it better to ‘pause’. And Les (Moonves) was nice enough to let us do it as a feature.” WB is now releasing the black and white bigscreener. “It didn’t take much writing,” Clooney says modestly of the script written by him and Grant Heslov. “Murrow was the best writer.” Clooney also plays CBS’ Fred Friendly in the film and produces with Heslov. Clooney wants the film to show “good hard news is not antiquated and hard journalism can exist. (Television) news has now become entertainment instead of a service. I’m allowed to say it,” he reasoned, “because of my background.” His father, Nick, was a journalist and anchorman on-and- off for 40 years. “He would come home and tell us how they wanted to stress the makeup and wardrobe.” (Clooney, pere, recently ran, unsuccessfully, for a Congressional seat in Kentucky) … George says he tried his hand at newscasting briefly in college and learned “I wasn’t very good at it.” The film depicts Murrow’s powerful unveiling of the evils of Sen. Joseph McCarthy in 1953 and 1954 in five broadcasts of “See It Now,” which were “the love of Murrow’s life.” David Strathaim plays Murrow. “He’s dead-on beautiful,” Clooney says. No thesp plays McCarthy — it’s actual footage carefully culled “from months in the CBS archives. It’s all his own words. We’re trying to play the fairest — double and triple-checking everything.” And Murrow and web family members are also present on the set, he revealed … The film demonstrates “our constitutional rights–like the right to face your accuser,” reminds Clooney, “If you trade away those rights, you lose your freedom.” The film opens and closes with Murrow accepting an award at a broadcast journalists convention in 1958. In his speech, he said of news on television, “If you don’t use it (television) as an instrument of respect, it simply becomes a box of lights and wires.”
LEONARDO DICAPRIO PUTS his money where his mouth is: the young thesp, a spokesman for environmental issues, is on the board of and support$ Global Green. He narrated their most recent film, “Water Planet,” on the dangers of global water pollution. He appeared with the docu Tuesday at SanFran’s Clift Hotel. He’s now in hefty body building for his Boston cop role in Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” … Jerry Orbach, who died Dec. 28 of prostate cancer at age 69, is honored today at the Richard Rodgers Theater where he and wife Elaine met in 1976 when both were in the “Chicago” company. “Law & Order”‘s Dick Wolf said of Orbach, “He was a gentleman in the truest sense of all the people I know. I’ve never heard anyone say a negative word about him — something almost unheard of in the bizness.” Sam Waterson hosts and those on hand include Angela Lansbury, who voiced Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” with him. … Among the Hollywood contingent heading to Hawaii for the Easter holiday are the Arnold Schwarzeneggers … Mrs. Israel wins the “Mrs. World” contest which airs Monday on PAX TV. John Hurley hosts. The show taped Friday in Amby Valley, India, and exec producer David Marmel tells me the site is the most spectacular he’s ever seen in 30 years of TV production. Seemanto Roy invited (paid for) the entire TV company to do the show in his planned luxury city. Michael Douglas is among the stars who have been there to play on its 24-hour lighted golf course. The “Mrs. America” show is skedded later this year at the Riviera Resort and Racquet Club in Palm Springs, also for PAX … The first bi-coastal party for Gen-Art’s 10th annual Film Fest was celebrated Wednesday at Armani’s Casa on Robertson, where clips of the fest were unspooled. The guest list included Samuel L. Jackson, Marcia Cross, Carmen Electra, Mena Suvari, Charlie Hunnam, Adrian Grenier, Brett Ratner and Jason Ritter. Next event for Gen -Art will be a preem for “Winter Solstice”… Former partners Brad Grey and Bernie Brillstein dined at Dan Tana’s … The Palm has signed a new lease on its Santa Monica Blvd. flagship in West Hollywood … Wolfgang Puck opens another restaurant, 20, 21 in the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. He says it is in the style of Chinois on Main.
PETER YATES AND WRITER Ronnie Harwood are re-teaming for “The Girl in Melanie Klein,” based on Harwood’s novel. They previously did “The Dresser” for which they were Oscar-nominated. Harwood also won an Oscar for “The Pianist.” They’ve already set Tom Courteney and Eileen Atkins for “Klein.” Yates wings in from London to attend the Daytime Emmys in N.Y. where he’s nominated for Showtime’s “A Separate Peace” … Barbara and Don Rickles celebrated their 40th wedding anni in Palm Springs where he appeared at the Spotlight 29 Casino. He returned to L.A. for cast readings on ABC’s series “The Catch,” which starts filming this week … Hugh O’Brian’s 22nd annual Albert Schweitzer Leadership Awards Gala at the BevHilton Tuesday raised $500,000 … Megan Mullally of “Will & Grace” is honored by Teen Line, Cedars-Sinai’s peer-to-peer counseling hotline, April 27 at the BevHilton. James Burrow makes the presentation … CBS’ “Young & Restless” star Kate Linder is national spokesperson for the ALS Association (Lou Gehrig’s disease). She’ll launch a Kate’s Club to get more industryites involved. Rikki Kleiman hosts this year’s Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation Women of Distinction Awards May 11 at the Music Box Henry Fonda Theater … The L.A. Alzheimer Association, which celebrated its “Night At Sardi’s” this year with “Side by Side by Sondheim” (he celebrated his 75th birthday this week), have slated “Funny Girl” as their musical takeoff next year. Barbra Streisand’s mother suffered from Alzheimer and Barbra’s a supporter of the organization. … At the Vine Street Lounge Tuesday night, Paris Hilton, Kimberly Stewart and Cisco Adler. Samantha Ronson, sister of DJ Marc Ronson, was DJ for the night.