This week we're focusing on some pre-holiday action in a season that's heating up, at least in terms of pure star power.
Clooney told the crowd he's proud to be doing movies that he wants to do. Although he did say that it is extremely difficult to get any studios these days to go for the "Clayton" kind of mid-range drama, even at a somewhat modest price tag of about $20 million.
As he did on "Good Night and Good Luck" and "The Good German," Clooney took virtually no money upfront in order to get the film made. ("Well, I made slightly more than I did on 'Return of the Killer Tomatoes', but not much.")
It's working out nicely since "Clayton" continues to hang in as one of the few adult drama success stories of the fall. It's nearing $40 million with lots of awards talk, not only for the film, but also Clooney's acclaimed performance as the flawed "fix-it" lawyer for a top New York firm.
It could put him in the best actor race for the first time in his career. Not that a supporting actor win for "Syriana," and nods for directing and screenplay with "Good Night and Good Luck" in 2006 are anything to sneeze at.
He described how winning the best supporting actor Oscar immediately changed his life when we pointed out that it must have been intimidating for first-time feature director Tony Gilroy (who also wrote the "Clayton" original screenplay) to be instructing two top-tier directors like Clooney and costar Sydney Pollack on how to act a scene together.
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"I reminded him of that a lot," Clooney joked. "The funny thing was, I won the Oscar for 'Syriana' while we were shooting 'Michael Clayton,' and I had to fly back to L.A. for the ceremony doing the whole thing in one night.
"I won it and came back and I hid it in my bag and I put it up on top of the camera and while Tony was talking I was like 'can you get out of my eye-line?' "
Clooney just wrapped the Coen brothers' new film "Burn After Reading," in which he re-teams with Brad Pitt and "Clayton" costar Tilda Swinton. He soon heads to the Middle East where "Michael Clayton" will be opening the Dubai Film Festival on Dec. 9.
Meanwhile, a few nights earlier, another big star was going for supporting glory this year.
John Travolta was mobbed by paparazzi, and later by autograph-seeking fans, as he slowly edged his way toward Santa Monica's Aero Theatre exit following the American Cinematheque's "Hairspray" screening and Q&A.
It looked like 1977 all over again, except this time, most of the panting women in the audience appeared to be closer to 40 than 14.
"Hairspray" producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron had earlier greeted Travolta in the lobby, showing him the "for your consideration" ad promoting Travolta's risky Edna Turnblad role that ran in The Envelope earlier that day.
The next night, he accepted the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's Kirk Douglas award at the fest's annual fundraiser and was in L.A. this week for a 30th anniversary "Saturday Night Fever" screening at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
There's no question that Travolta is working it.
So is Keri Russell, who is working overtime doing press for her new film, "August Rush," but taking time out to attend a pie and champagne party that Fox Searchlight threw Friday afternoon at Taste on Melrose in honor of her terrific performance in the early 2007 release, "Waitress."
She freely admitted it was a thrill acting with a legend like 81-year-old Andy Griffith, who deserves some awards attention of his own for his charming portrayal of the owner of the pie shop where Russell's character works.