The Fight of the Week; Gossip Girls and Oprah Winfrey Take on a Warlord; Jane Bussmann Joins a Mouseketeer Lobbying Congressmen (It's a Hollywar)

The Evening Standard (London, England), July 10, 2009 | Go to article overview

The Fight of the Week; Gossip Girls and Oprah Winfrey Take on a Warlord; Jane Bussmann Joins a Mouseketeer Lobbying Congressmen (It's a Hollywar)


Byline: Jane Bussmann

Joseph Kony sports Milli Vanilli dreadlocks and Aviator sunglasses. He's teetotal, belongs to a religious cult and even has a personal tailor. But Joseph Kony is not an actor or singer, he is the world's most wanted man. The Ugandan guerrilla has abducted between 20,000 and 65,000 children and forced them to live as sex slaves or soldiers. Last month he kidnapped another 135.

And now he's become a Tinseltown talking point by playing up the image of the crazy African warlord, claiming he can read your mind, cure AIDS and talk to God. But Kony wasn't prepared for the three young Americans who stumbled across him in 2003. Bobby Bailey, Laren Poole and Jason Russell were travelling in Africa when they found thousands of children hiding from Kony by night, under armed guard. They made a viral MTV-style pop doc called Invisible Children, ended up on Oprah and became stars themselves. Their stunts have brought young Hollywood on board.

'I don't often feel like I have a purpose,' Kristen Bell of Gossip Girl and Heroes told the papers at the How It Ends anti-Kony lobby day in Washington last month.

Nip/Tuck and 90210 bad girl AnnaLynne McCord chimed in with: 'I'm saying, "It's cool to be a good person!"' Kirsten Dunst makes YouTube videos about Kony. Oscar nominee and former Mouseketeer Ryan Gosling has written a film about him and singer Ashlee Simpson turned out as a cheerleader when the Invisible Children charity organised a mass Americawide sleepout.

By this April, young pinups from Melrose Place, Fame, Knocked Up, Tropic Thunder and The OC took part in The Rescue, where children all over America 'kidnapped' themselves in solidarity with the abducted children and refused to go home until a celebrity 'rescued' them - in other words, arrived to give a public statement about what life is like for the very-much-notrescued child soldiers. The final celebrity targeted? The toughest of all. The filmmakers sat outside her studio for six days begging to go on her show. 'We hadn't slept in days. Gayle brought us out cupcakes.' Gayle who? Best friend to the lady they were picketing, Oprah Winfrey. After six days, 'Oprah came out to see us in an orange jumpsuit like she was fresh out the gym and said, "Are you really ready do this? Because with the public you have to be very clear - and I'm only going to give you a minute."' Oprah gave them eight minutes of airtime. By now one in five Americans was aware of Invisible Children. …

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