Hollywood lends some glamour to Council on Foreign Relations

By Laurie Bennett

January 9, 2013 at 7:45am

When the august Council on Foreign Relations launched after World War I, it was dominated by New York businessmen, bankers and lawyers.

Membership expanded dramatically in subsequent decades so that now it even embraces Hollywood.

George Clooney, who has testified before Congress on violence in Sudan, is a member. He was nominated in 2010 by two well-known members, PBS host Charlie Rose and New York Times columnist Nick Kristof.

With typical Clooney cool, he issued a statement at the time saying, “I look forward to participating in the work and programs of the Council on Foreign Relations. And I hear the initiation ritual is wild.”

Actress and MacArthur “genius grant” winner Anna Deavere Smith, whose work has focused on such topics as health care and urban riots, is another CFR member. Smith is also a trustee of the Aspen Institute.

Warren Beatty, who has campaigned for Democratic candidates and flirted with the idea of running for office himself, is a member. So is Richard Dreyfuss, founder of a nonprofit working to revitalize civics education in public schools.

Other celebrity members include actor Michael Douglas, screenwriter Stephen Gaghan and child star Shirley Temple Black, who as an adult served as ambassador to Ghana and chief of protocol at the State Department.

No doubt the presence of these members boosts attendance at CFR functions.

We can’t help but notice how many of them have appeared in political TV shows and movies.

Smith had a role on “The West Wing” and “Dave.” Beatty starred in “The Parallax View” and “Bulworth.” Douglas and Dreyfuss were opponents in “The American President.”

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Hollywood and the Council on Foreign Relations
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