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The Nominees: George Clooney

George Clooney comes by his showbiz-newsy career honestly. His father was a respected newsman, and his aunt was a famous singer and actress.

So, genetically speaking, it makes some sense that he is nominated as Best Supporting Actor (for "Syriana") and Best Director (for "Good Night, and Good Luck").

Clooney, 44, spent a lot of time when he was a young boy with his father, news broadcaster Nick Clooney, in the Cincinnati studio where the senior Clooney also hosted a talk show. He got his start in an acting career later in life when his cousin, Miguel Ferrer (son of Rosemary Clooney and Jose Ferrer), helped him get a bit part in a movie.

As a young actor, he first gained notice as a recurring character on such sitcoms as "The Facts of Life" and "Roseanne." His career then shifted into high gear with "ER," the TV drama that was his springboard into the movies. He moved from romantic comedy ("One Fine Day" with Michelle Pfeiffer) to action-adventure ("Batman & Robin" with Chris O'Donnell).

More from on George Clooney and on the Oscars...
  • See photo essay menu for more pictures.
  • See a full interactive about "Good Night, and Good Luck."
  • Watch Web Exclusive interview with The Public Eye.
  • Watch a few light moments as Clooney accepts an award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
  • Watch an interview with Harry Smith of The Early Show..
  • Find out about all the nominees in the Academy Awards special report.

    But as Clooney's influence grew, his choices changed. Before long, he was producing and starring in "Fail Safe," a live TV production, and in movies like "Three Kings" and "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" that were not your typical glossy Hollywood mind candy. Clooney seemed to go for substance over style, picking projects in which the main characters faced moral dilemmas. ("O Brother" is loosely based on Homer's "Odyssey.")

    That's not to say that Clooney has abandoned his sense of fun; he was the force behind the remake of the '60s Sinatra caper "Ocean's Eleven" (and happily starred in a sequel), and he seems to cheerfully accept such tributes as being named People's Sexiest Man Alive (1997).

    Clooney also seems to enjoy his image as a carefree bachelor. He makes no secret of a bet he once made with Julia Roberts and Michelle Pfeiffer: They bet $10,000 each that he would be a father by the time he turned 40. When it came time for Clooney to collect, he gave them back their money and bet them double or nothing that he would not even be a father by the time he turns 50, and neither would he be a husband.

    Time will tell, but it's rarely mentioned that there was a time when Clooney was a husband, to Talia Balsam for nearly four years (1989-93). And any man who spends several months of the year at his own house on the shores of Lake Como, Italy, probably has a big inclination to romance.