Clooney urges Obama to do more for Darfur

George Clooney missed Sunday's Oscars for more pressing business: To meet Monday morning with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to impress on them the need for a full-time regional envoy to Sudan to address the crisis in Darfur.


Clooney explained his Oscar absence Monday on CNN's Larry King Live.

Clooney told Obama the 250,000 refugees in camps in Chad need "what we do best ... good, robust diplomacy all across the world."


Fighting erupted in Darfur in 2003. Nearly 2.5 million people have been displaced by a conflict that has killed about 300,000 people.

Clooney said his latest visit - his sixth to Darfur and Chad - was privately arranged. He traveled with journalists, including The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof and NBC's Ann Curry, but the Sudanese government denied him a visa.


The musical Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark will drop into Broadway's Hilton Theater on Feb. 18 (previews will begin Jan. 16).

Julie Taymor (The Lion King) will co-write the book with Glen Berger (Underneath the Lintel) as well as direct. U2's Bono and The Edge will write the music and lyrics.

No casting has been confirmed, Variety reports, although Rachel Evan Wood has been talking up her role in the musical.

TV's top 10

Among the big winners at Sunday's Oscars was the Academy Awards ceremony itself. Its 36.3 million viewers topped the list of most-watched shows for the week of Feb. 16-22, according to Nielsen Media Research.


The rest of the top 10, in millions: American Idol, Tuesday, Fox, 25.4; American Idol, Wednesday, Fox, 24.8; Oscar's Red Carpet, ABC, 24.4; The Mentalist, CBS, 18.2; NCIS, CBS, 18.1; CSI, CBS, 16.9; Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 15.6; Criminal Minds, CBS, 14.5; House, Fox, 14.2.

Here's Andy

NBC says Andy Richter will rejoin Conan O'Brien on late-night TV.

Richter, who worked with O'Brien for seven years on NBC's Late Night, will become the Tonight show announcer when O'Brien takes over from Jay Leno as host in June. NBC said Richter also will take part in comedy bits.


TV producer Larry Gelbart, 81.


CBS newsman Bob Schieffer, 72.

Comedian Carrot Top, 42.

Actor Sean Astin, 38.

Latin singer Julio Iglesias Jr., 36.