Reds legends help 'Ellen' land Clooney
Movie star a life-long fan of Hall of Fame Cincinnati sluggers
Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan have done what the Chippendales, the Rockettes, Brad Pitt and even president-elect Barack Obama couldn't.
After more than two years of trying to lure actor George Clooney onto her daytime talk show, Ellen DeGeneres enlisted the help of the two Cincinnati Hall of Famers to finally get the job done.
Intrigued yet? Well, the story, or maybe more appropriately put -- the saga -- began when DeGeneres moved into a new studio on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Calif. Clooney's office sits on the same lot.
Despite their close proximity, DeGeneres remained unsuccessful in getting Clooney to appear on her show. She launched a "George Clooney '08" campaign in which she staged various gimmicks inside and outside Clooney's office, and used suggestions from other famous personalities to find a way to land Clooney on her show. Nothing worked.
In December, actor Noah Wyle, most noted for being on the television drama ER, suggested to DeGeneres that she bring members of Cincinnati's famed Big Red Machine into town to help. Clooney, who was born in Lexington, Ky., and spent years living in both Kentucky and Ohio as a child, is a lifelong Reds fan and even tried out with the organization in 1977, but was not offered a contract.
When members of the Reds' front office staff heard about Wiley's suggestion, the wheels started turning
It was Karen Forgus, Reds senior vice president of business operations, who made the first call to the producers of the show. Forgus offered sending signed balls and jerseys to DeGeneres, but it was Forgus' offer to send players from the World Series championship teams that piqued the interest of DeGeneres' producers.
Because Clooney spends very little time in his Burbank office, a month passed while the offer stood from the Reds. Then, on Tuesday, producers got word that Clooney would be in his office later this week. Forgus got the phone call and immediately went to work.
Bench, who lives less than two hours away from Burbank in Palm Springs, Calif., quickly agreed on short notice. Morgan, who was in San Francisco, also agreed to appear on the show. Morgan boarded a flight on Thursday and arrived in Southern California just in time for the show to be taped Thursday evening.
And yes, this time Bench and Morgan, both wearing Reds jerseys, had enough clout to get Clooney to actually show up.
The appearances by Clooney, Bench and Morgan will be aired on Monday's show, which can be seen at 10 a.m. ET on channel WCPO-9 in Cincinnati.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.