Media not welcome as Clooney comes to town

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 September, 2011, 12:00am


Hollywood heartthrob turned social activist George Clooney will be in the city today to speak at an event organised by a local brokerage, but any media looking for an interview will be told: 'Good night and good luck.'

Clooney (pictured) will speak at a lunch at the Grand Hyatt in Wan Chai as part of the CLSA Investors' Forum. The Oscar-winning actor leads a line-up of more than 30 speakers this week, but, unlike the rest, he will be strictly off limits to the press.

The media shut-out may raise eyebrows in light of the self-described liberal star's frequent defence of press freedom in public remarks and in Good Night, And Good Luck, the acclaimed film about cold war-era US censorship that he wrote, directed and acted in.

'Mr Clooney is coming to Hong Kong as the guest of CLSA to attend the CLSA Investors' Forum, a private, invitation-only event for our clients,' a CLSA spokeswoman said. 'As such, there are no media commitments during this short visit.'

The spokeswoman said CLSA did not disclose the fees paid to speakers. She did not respond to a request for information on how to contact Clooney or his publicist directly.

Clooney - the son of a television anchor and brother of a television host - will discuss his career, life outside Hollywood, activism and his Africa human rights and peace promotion work including the Satellite Sentinel Project.

The project combines satellite imagery, analysis and field reports with Google's Map Maker technology in efforts to create an early-warning system to expose mass graves and other indicators of atrocities. Last month, the group published evidence of two new mass graves around the disputed border area of South Sudan.

The media was similarly banned two years ago when CLSA brought in a celebrity with very different political leanings: Sarah Palin.

The divisive former US vice-presidential candidate made the tightly choreographed visit during her first in trip to East Asia to speak to a select group of global investors.

Palin's handlers kept her hidden from public view. Unusually, there were no press events or outside meetings with local Republicans - all standard fare for visiting US political figures.