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‘Ocean’s Thirteen’ raises money for Darfur

George Clooney and Matt Damon on Thursday used the premiere of the lighthearted casino heist film “Ocean’s Thirteen” to talk about atrocities in Sudan’s Darfur region
/ Source: The Associated Press

George Clooney and Matt Damon on Thursday used the premiere of the lighthearted casino heist film “Ocean’s Thirteen” to talk about atrocities in Sudan’s Darfur region.

They and fellow cast members Ellen Barkin, Bernie Mac and Don Cheadle along with producer Jerry Weintraub greeted screaming fans on the red carpet but devoted a large part of their time talking with reporters about what the U.S. has called genocide.

“We can hold rallies and fundraisers and everyone think it’s fixed,” Clooney said. “It’s not fixed.”

Ticket sales from the gala went to Not On Our Watch, an organization started by Clooney and others working the movie that is helping the International Rescue Committee raise funds for hundreds of thousands of people uprooted by the Darfur conflict. Tickets went for $2,000 each.

Hollywood’s sexiest on-again, off-again bachelor is a movie star in every sense of the term.

Not Our Watch has raised at least $9 million since its May 24 fundraising debut at the Cannes Film Festival in France, according to Edward Menicheschi, editor and publisher of Vanity Fair. The magazine helped sponsor fundraising premieres in Chicago and Las Vegas.

Clooney and his father Nick Clooney, a writer and activist, approached the IRC last year looking for ways to bring attention to Darfur, according to organization spokeswoman Melissa Winkler.

“They are informed and very committed to the issue,” Winkler said. “They have a unique ability to raise the alarm to turn attention to places that need attention because of their celebrity and their reach. And it has made an impact.”

Cheadle and Brad Pitt, who also stars in the movie but was absent from the Chicago premiere, have traveled to Sudan.

The money will go to aid projects that include setting up health care services at six clinics in Darfur, creating learning shelters for children and training local leaders on human rights.

“It’s difficult to get attention to Darfur,” Winkler said. “I think in many ways a lot of these celebrities have put Darfur on the map.”