By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 3, 2008 at 7:50AM
While speculation runs rampant on whether or not the Coens will take their next movie, the CIA pic Burn After Reading, starring Brad Pitt and George Clooney, to Cannes--obviously Thierry Fremaux will want it, but he hasn't screened it yet; UPDATE: Working Title says it probably won't be finished in time--in the meantime Focus Features has booked the Working Title movie to go wide on September 12. This suggests that after the Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men (which soared 67% this weekend) the Coens have jumped out of art-film territory and boast more commercial appeal; this pic's stars are certainly big enough to warrant a wide opening.
BTW, over the weekend I caught up with Time's entertaining Clooney cover story, which involves writer Joel Stein (who has a man-crush on George) inviting the star over to his modest abode for dinner. Stein proceeds to undercook the bloody entree, sets off house alarms and sends Clooney skittering into his dusty attic.
Clooney is more accessible than most stars, and understands and therefore manipulates the press better than anyone. I've met stars who can turn the charm on and off and focus their laser-beams on you in a way that can be unnerving. But no one is a better politician, remembering first names, delivering engaging attention, than Clooney. He's got the gift. He likes journalists because he grew up the son of one. That makes all the difference in the world. Other stars may have the same ability--they just don't choose to expend their energy.
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]