George Clooney for the ‘Fall Sneaks’ Win

Veteran LA Times entertainment reporter John Horn has three pieces in this Sunday’s “Fall Sneaks” print edition Calendar section, covering Contagion, Tower Heist and the latest directorial effort from George Clooney, The Ides of March. On his way to Telluride for the picturesque Colorado film festival, Horn was kind enough to take time out to answer a few FishbowlLA questions via email.

Telluride has been very good to the reporter. The last two years, he was able to catch the first screening of that year’s eventual Best Picture winner, Slumdog Millionaire and The King’s Speech. This weekend, Horn has his eye on another film starring Clooney, The Descendants (Alexander Payne‘s first film since 2004’s Sideways), and says it’s always a pleasure to deal with the crown prince of Hollywood.

“He’s not full of himself. And he can speak in complete sentences,” notes Horn. “That’s actually saying a lot. Listen, you have to have some ego and even narcissism to be an actor. And any number of actors succeed more on good looks and dumb luck than talent.”

“But some of Hollywood’s most accomplished actors–I’m thinking of Sean Penn here–are not always articulate,” he adds. “Talking about acting is never easy, and it’s invariably a bit silly. Clooney does it better than many others. I think also because he didn’t become famous fast, he has some perspective–and appreciates the life and career he has.”

Oscar season has changed dramatically since Clooney first got involved. Horn says the campaigns are longer and more calculated, although he’s not quite sure about many of those high-priced Academy Awards season specialists.

“What they really do is sometimes a mystery to me, but these consultants miss few opportunities to call up reporters or e-mail them, and try to spin,” he explains. “It’s all harmless, but time-consuming to fend them off.”

“And God forbid you dare write something critical about a film or its makers during the awards season: It’s as if (and you are told in almost so many words) you have strangled someone’s grandmother. The filmmakers and the consultants, especially in the middle of an Oscar race, have no perspective.”

No wonder Horn is once again looking forward to being away from the publicity and media throngs this weekend in Telluride, where he says the films tend to be smaller, more obscure and less commercial.

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.