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Friends turn up the heat on Clooney

Everyone seems to love George Clooney. He's a ladies' man and he's a man's man, a guy so well-liked that few people even begrudge his two victories as People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive.

Fortunately, he can take a joke, as evidenced by tonight's very funny tribute-roast, "George Clooney: An American Cinematheque Tribute" (8 p.m., AMC on basic cable).

Those who knew and loved Clooney before America discovered him in his breakthrough role of Doug Ross on "ER" come to bury him, not praise him, as he becomes the 21st recipient of the honor. He's an easy target, a guy whose good looks, sense of humor and impeccable style cry out for ridicule.

"Oh, my George, you are gorgeous," says longtime friend Bonnie Hunt, who starts out the roast by advising Clooney he is a getting a midlife achievement award and not a lifetime achievement award. "If you were a woman his age, it would be a lifetime achievement award," cracked Hunt, mindful of the double standard in Hollywood.

Hunt is followed by a long "A list" of friends that include Danny DeVito (yes, he mentions drinking with George), Richard Kind, Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman, Julia Roberts, "ER" co-stars Noah Wyle and Julianna Margulies, Matt Damon (via film), Salma Hayek, Ellen Barkin (who has to be bleeped) and several political friends that Clooney has met through his activist efforts.

I don't think I've laughed this much while watching any fall sit-com listening to the PG-13 jokes and seeing some old photographs of Clooney before he became the George Clooney we all know in the numerous film clips that are shown.

Wyle and Margulies were my favorite comedians, with Damon a close second. This is one well-written award show that actually doesn't seem long. Enjoy it.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars (out of 4)


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