- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 12, 2006

Maybe next time

He has three nominations, but George Clooney says he doesn’t expect to win any Oscars this year.

Mr. Clooney is a directing and screenplay nominee for “Good Night, and Good Luck” and a supporting-actor nominee for the provocative oil-industry thriller “Syriana,” in which he plays a veteran CIA agent assigned to assassinate the heir to the throne in an oil-rich Persian Gulf country.

“I don’t think we’re going to win any,” a deadpan Mr. Clooney told reporters Friday in Berlin, where “Syriana” was screened at the city’s annual film festival. “There’s been a lot of ‘Brokeback Mountain’ stuff.”

His nomination in the screenplay category for “Good Night, and Good Luck” puts him up against Stephen Gaghan, who wrote and also directed “Syriana.”

Mr. Clooney grew a beard and piled on weight for the role.

“I put it on so quickly I was anxious to get it off,” the 44-year-old actor-director said. “The depressing thing was that I could put on 35 pounds in 30 days.”

Abe and Mary

Liam Neeson and Holly Hunter will portray Abraham and Mary Lincoln in a special live performance tonight of “The Lincoln Family Album” at the Library of Congress’s Coolidge Auditorium. The performance will cap the first of two days of meetings by the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, which has been chartered by Congress to plan a “fitting and proper” celebration of the 16th president’s 200th birthday in 2009.

This picture-and-words account of the Lincolns’ lives and times presents their intimate letters and his public speeches alongside the many portraits for which they posed over the years. The tapestry of words and pictures re-creates a personal and political union, and vividly recalls the Lincolns’ triumphs and tragedies.

The 7 p.m. performance is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Contact Ticketmaster at 301/808-2405

Pachyderm paradise?

The director of the Los Angeles Zoo on Saturday disputed game show host Bob Barker’s comments about the condition of the zoo’s three elephants.

Mr. Barker on Friday pleaded with the Los Angeles City Council to close the zoo’s elephant exhibit, saying the pachyderms lived in misery and that two of the three elephants were ill.

“His information was wrong,” said John Lewis, the zoo’s director. “He was making statements that were just factually untrue.”

Two of the zoo’s elephants, Billy and Ruby, are healthy physically and mentally, Mr. Lewis said. Gita has been recovering from October surgery for a foot injury and has been behaving normally, he said.

Mr. Barker, the 82-year-old host of “The Price is Right” and a longtime animal rights activist, stood by his remarks Saturday saying that Gita has had continuous problems with her feet and she continues to stand on cement and hard-packed soil, which exacerbates her condition. He also said that Ruby is under emotional stress and has started to sway back and forth for hours at a time.

“The only place you see that is at zoos and circuses. When they are under such emotional stress they begin to sway,” Mr. Barker said before denouncing the zoo’s plans to build a 2-acre, $19 million elephant exhibit that supporters claim would provide more space and a more natural environment.

Mr. Lewis said the proposed exhibit would exceed the requirements for elephant exhibits set by the American Zoo & Aquarium Association, which accredits U.S. zoos.

The mayor and City Council will decide whether the new elephant exhibit will move forward.

Compiled by Kevin Chaffee from Web and wire reports.

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