Saturday, July 19, 2008

SOUTHPORT, England -- Where’s George?
That’s the question the hard-nosed and lively British papers can’t seem to agree on.
George Clooney was in these parts in 2006 for the British Open at Royal Liverpool, watching with his buddies as Tiger Woods hoisted the Claret Jug. Did the sometimes golfer forgo his Italian villa in Lake Como this year for the seaside charms of chilly, windy northwestern England?
Yes, says The Sun, the tabloid known for its topless Page 3 girls and clever headlines (its report on pop star George Michael's bathroom-sex arrest was "Zip me up before you go go"). The Sun reports that Clooney rented out an entire Birkdale Village restaurant to entertain friends Friday night: George Clooney has been showing his chiseled features in and around the golf all this week. And last night the Hollywood A-lister block-booked an entire Birkdale restaurant for a lavish celeb knees-up. The Daily Star had Clooney on dining on Thursday with thuggish English soccer star Wayne Rooney—an odd couple on a par with Clark Gable breaking bread with George "The Animal" Steele. The Cloonmeister, 47, is in the fabulous north-west to get his golf fix at the Open, which is being held at Southport’s Royal Birkdale course. However, those sightings might be slightly exaggerated, according to The Independent. One of those Americans [in Southport] is said to be the Hollywood heart-throb George Clooney, which is what I mean about the golf being peripheral. Natives of Southport are called Sandgrounders, and for many females of the species, and not a few males, the question of who is leading the Open at any one time is of slightly less interest than the whereabouts of gorgeous George. I am going with some friends to a restaurant in Birkdale this evening, and we have been tipped off that Clooney will be there, too. Unfortunately, the same rumour applies to every half-decent restaurant in town. Meanwhile, nobody I know has actually set eyes on him. He's probably in Santa Monica, in front of his TV watching baseball. The Times is even more unequivocal, throwing cold water on English women who might have suddenly expressed an interest in attending a golf tournament this weekend. And on celebrity visitors, stop it now before it gets silly. [British Prime Minister] Gordon Brown is not coming. I just put that bit in. And neither, for the last time, is George Clooney. He is definitely not here, he's not coming, he never was coming. He probably doesn't even like golf, so that's it. Discussion closed. Now stop it. And, while we are at it, neither is Michael Douglas nor Justin Timberlake, Brad Pitt or anybody else off the telly. For what it’s worth, no one I’ve talked to here has spotted Clooney, although the guards wouldn’t let me into the clubhouse to check. He wasn't anywhere in Greg Norman's vast galleries on Thursday and Friday, and the Shark appears to be a more likely 'Friend of George' than soccer player Rooney.
The only celebrity I’ve seen here is Chris Evert. But if I get another chance to talk to her, the first thing I’ll ask is, “Have you seen George?”

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