LOS ANGELES - George Clooney, Brad Pitt and other stars of "Ocean's Thirteen" have agreed to use the lighthearted caper film to call attention to a more serious cause - the genocide in Sudan's western Darfur region.
Clooney, Pitt, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle along with producer Jerry Weintraub are using events surrounding the movie's premiere next month to promote their Web site, www.notonour
watchproject.org., which is partnering with the International Rescue Committee to raise funds to aid the hundreds of thousands of people uprooted by the Darfur conflict.
"All the guys have been to the Sudan this year. They saw this huge genocide and nobody doing anything about it," Weintraub said in an interview yesterday. "Clooney got attention earlier, but it faded."
"What we are trying to do here is bring our celebrity to raise money and bring a spotlight on Sudan again. We decided to dedicate ourselves to this. The thing I am most proud of by far is that these events will benefit a cause that is very important to me and my colleagues."
There will be benefit screenings of "Ocean's Thirteen," a Warner Bros. release, to raise funds for Not On Our Watch and the IRC, including a special June 6 screening at the CineVegas Film Festival in Las Vegas, where Weintraub will receive a special Vanguard Producer Award celebrating his half-century in show business.
Other events surrounding the film's June 8 nationwide release include the May 24 fund-raising debut in Cannes, France, and the June 5 North American premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, where Clooney and the other stars will leave their footprints in the wet cement outside the Hollywood tourist spot.
In "Ocean's Thirteen," directed by Steven Soderbergh, Clooney reprises his role as Danny Ocean, who reassembles his crew of master criminals to take revenge on a hated Las Vegas casino owner played by Al Pacino.
Weintraub, 69, plans to visit the Darfur region later this year.
"It's not a pleasant place to go," he said. "They don't need another tourist like me going there. I can do a lot more good here raising money. But I will go. We are all very good friends, so when one does something we all get onboard."
At least 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been chased from their homes since 2003 when ethnic African rebels in Darfur rose up against the Arab-dominated central government.
The Sudanese government is accused of retaliating by arming local nomadic tribes and unleashing militias known as the janjaweed - a charge the government denies. *