Star Power Well Used
When movie stars lend their glittering names to political causes, the effect is sometimes ludicrous.
The movie "Simone" (2002) stars Al Pacino as an egotistical director fed up with egotistical actresses, who is given a computer program capable of digitally creating the perfect star. The movie is a dud, perhaps because Mr. Pacino sleepwalks through it, and Rachel Roberts, the lissome model who plays Simone (short for Sim One), could learn a lot about acting from the animated paper clip on Microsoft Word.
But there are a few good bits, including a TV interview given by Simone while ostensibly "on a goodwill mission to the Third World." With a few keystrokes, the director projects his star's immaculate image against a backdrop of filthy hovels, burning garbage, and starved dogs. The irony is underlined by the fact that Simone does not seem to have a clue about why she is there.
One could compare this to Don Cheadle's January trip to Darfur. Nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of Paul Rusesabagina (the hero of "Hotel Rwanda"), Mr. Cheadle had something to gain from lending his name to efforts to stop the genocide of the Sudanese government.
But so what? This was a case of a star's self-interest coinciding with a moral emergency. And to judge by Mr. Cheadle's actions since then, his commitment is more than a career move. Find out more on the website he co-sponsors with Mr. Rusesabagina.