George Clooney's new challenge: preparing his Broadway debut at 63

In this era in which autocrats resort to fake news to stigmatize everything that exposes them, in which characters like Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin proclaim that “the press is the true enemy of the people”, it seems more than appropriate to recover the figure of the journalist honest and unafraid of the power that Edward R.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
14 May 2024 Tuesday 16:32
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George Clooney's new challenge: preparing his Broadway debut at 63

In this era in which autocrats resort to fake news to stigmatize everything that exposes them, in which characters like Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin proclaim that “the press is the true enemy of the people”, it seems more than appropriate to recover the figure of the journalist honest and unafraid of the power that Edward R. Murrow embodies.

He joined the CBS radio station (root of the future television network), although to carry out a job that was not that of a journalist. His extraordinary voice took him to the European offices in a decade like the 1930s, becoming a pioneer in the dissemination of news as it is known today.

“I'm Edward Murrow, I'm speaking to you from Vienna, it's almost 2.30 in the morning and Herr Hitler hasn't arrived yet,” a live broadcast that was then seen as revolutionary.

But his career was marked by one phrase. Stationed in London, subject to German bombing, Londoners used to end their conversations with the expression “good night and good luck.” In October 1940, Murrow closed his news program one night with that expression and the station's managers asked him to make it his own.

Starting next spring, George Clooney, 63, plans to make it his own by making the leap to theater with his Broadway debut.

This work is an adaptation of his 2005 film, precisely titled Good Night and Good Luck, which earned good reviews and six Oscar nominations, including two for the actor (screenplay and direction).

On that occasion, Clooney reserved the role of Fred Fiendly, one of the leaders of CBS and a close collaborator of Murrow. But on Broadway, where he will arrive at the age of 64, he will play Murrow himself.

The work is a portrait of the iconic informant in the postwar period in which he confronted Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, the Wisconsin Republican who achieved notoriety for the witch hunts (the real one, not the one invented by Trump) and the excesses that he committed in his anti-communist crusade. Murrow had already jumped to CBS television by then, bringing with him his famous farewell to the audience.

Clooney is no stranger to the world of politics. A great admirer of President Barack Obama, the actor, director and screenwriter is dedicated to his support of the current president, Joe Biden, and, above all, conspired to try to prevent Donald Trump from returning to the White House. Curiosities of fate, Clooney could premiere on Broadway with the real estate magnate sitting again at the center of power.

The script for the film was written by Clooney with Grant Heslov. The two are now teaming up again for the theatrical adaptation. The stage director will be David Cromer, who has a Tony (the theater Oscar) for the musical The band's visit. In principle, the theater chosen will be the Shubert, one of the most historic in the district.

In his career, Clooney has two Oscars, as a performer in Syriana and as a producer in Argo.

The experience of Broadway, the most famous stage in the world, will be like a return to the beginning. The actor was a student at the Beverly Hills Playhouse school and also worked with the Chicago company Steppenworld Theater Company.

In a statement, Clooney welcomed his debut in the great mecca of New York.

“I am very honored, after all these years, to return to the stage and especially on Broadway, the art form and the place to which every actor aspires in their career,” he stressed.

In another statement, director Cromer went more into the nitty-gritty. “Edward Murrow exercised a kind of moral clarity that feels increasingly rare in today's media,” he noted. “There was an immediacy in those first live television announcers that can only be captured on a stage now,” he reiterated.

In The New York Times, A.O. Scott wrote, upon release, that Clooney's film was "a passionate and thoughtful essay on power, truth and responsibility."

If that was true then, that there was no talk of fake news, the urgency today is even greater.