Clooney and friends use fame for greater good

By Laurie Bennett

March 16, 2012 at 9:50am

The power of celebrity was palpable in Washington this week, as George Clooney testified before the Senate, posed for photos at the White House state dinner and traveled the talk-show circuit to discuss violence in the Sudan.

He came across as serious, knowledgeable and committed - his Danny Ocean character turned inside out.

Clooney belongs to a network of famous friends, many of them co-stars in the Oceans movies, who have leveraged their fame to improve life around the globe, with a focus on Africa.

George Clooney
George Clooney

They have founded a passel of nonprofits, which also operate as a network, partnering with and promoting one another.

Clooney’s Senate testimony followed a trip to the Nuba mountains of southern Sudan, where civilians have been terrorized by the government of Omar al-Bashir. Clooney spoke not only of the atrocities he witnessed, but of a satellite project he has co-founded with activist John Prendergast to monitor violence in the region.

Prendergast is a co-founder with Don Cheadle, another Oceans star, in the Enough Project. The Washington-based program works against genocide.

Former United Artists CEO Jerry Weintraub, who appeared in all three Oceans movies, is a co-founder and board member with Clooney of the humanitarian group Not On Our Watch. Cheadle, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt are also co-founders.

Damon is a co-founder of H20 Africa, which supports clean water programs. Pitt founded Make It Right, which has worked to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

His wife, Angelina Jolie, is well known for her work in Africa as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. High commissioner for Refugees.

And back to Clooney: He’s also active with the United Nations, serving as a messenger of peace.

Update: Clooney and his father, journalist Nick Clooney, were among the demonstrators arrested Friday morning while protesting outside the Sudan embassy in Washington.

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