In town Thursday night

A Brilliant maneuver: How George Clooney's major Houston appearance came about

A Brilliant maneuver: How George Clooney's major Houston appearance came about

When Scott Brogan launched the Brilliant Lecture Series in 2006, he hoped to draw some of the world's most interesting people to Houston to talk about the important issues of the day.

Mission accomplished.

Queen Noor of Jordan, Diana Ross, Julie Andrews, Sidney Poitier and former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan have been among the notables who have taken part in the lecture series organized by the nonprofit foundation that also sponsors in-school programs featuring inspirational leaders.

 "He's one of those celebrities who has been able to maintain a dignified private life. It's a rare treat to have him share a glimpse of what drives him."

 Now Brogan has snared one of the world's biggest names as actor and activist George Clooney will appear at the Wortham Theater Center Thursday night as the latest Brilliant speaker. It will be Clooney's only such appearance in this format in the United States after doing two similar engagements in Australia and Hong Kong late last year.

If those overseas appearances are any indication, Clooney will discuss his life before Hollywood, his passion for acting, why he wouldn’t consider a career in politics, on being voted twice the sexiest man alive and, most importantly to him, his peace-promotion and human-rights work in Africa. Clooney co-founded Not On Our Watch, a group that highlights the dire situation in Darfur.

Snagging top speakers is not an easy task; the sponsoring organization must develop a network of relationships and build trust. Brogan is always asking former Brilliant Lecture speakers, friends and others to suggest good candidates. But when a friend of his, who is a close friend of Clooney's, mentioned the actor, Brogan didn't immediately jump to the idea.

"I had never thought of him as a speaker," Brogan admitted.

But he pursued the matter and was delighted when Clooney agreed to take part in the lecture series. Unlike other participants, who gave a podium speech and then took questions, Clooney will be interviewed by Houston's international icon Lynn Wyatt and engage in questions from the audience. Brogan believes the format showcases Clooney's personality and allows for a more freewheeling session.

"He's one of those celebrities who has been able to maintain a dignified private life. It's a rare treat to have him share a glimpse of what drives him," Brogan said.

The actor won't get much of chance to see Houston as he is flying in Thursday afternoon and leaving early Friday morning, after what figures to be a late night appearance at a dinner at the home of John and Becca Cason Thrash.

But Brogan plans to fit in some time to gather the actor's input about who he might suggest as upcoming Brilliant Lecture speakers. "You can imagine there will be some interesting car conversation with me and Mr. Clooney," he said.

A few tickets remain for the Brilliant Lecture series featuring George Clooney. Click here for information.

News_George Clooney_Venice Film Festival
George Clooney at the Venice Film Festival last year. Photo by Ian Wilson/WENN via Ace Showbiz
News_Crown Prince Alexander II_Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia_Scott Brogan
Scott Brogan, right, recently hosted a reception for Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Alexander II and Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia at the Hotel Granduca. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
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