Clooney weathers ÔThe Perfect Storm' Thanks to ER, George Clooney is a bonafide television superstar. But in the movies, he's had more misses than hits. Yet there is no arguing his movie star quality. Charisma, combined with talent and good looks, makes for a formidable Hollywood presence. That presence adds to the anticipation for Clooney's potential summer blockbuster movie, The Perfect Storm. It is, of course, based on the 1997 bestseller by Sebastian Junger. Subtitled A True Story of Men Against the Sea, this gripping saga tests readers' sea legs by taking them aboard the doomed swordfishing boat, the Andrea Gail (Harper Mass Market, $14, ISBN 0060977477). It was in 1991, during what meteorologists dubbed the "storm of the century," that the ship from Gloucester, Massachusetts, battled 120-foot swells and a dark destiny. Junger followed suit with what has been called a "fictional interpretation" of the crew's final journey. The movie, which will have a tie-in paperback, will doubtless benefit from the fact that it's helmed by a man who's proven himself a master on the seas. Director Wolfgang Petersen came to prominence with the still-unsurpassed submarine drama, Das Boot. He has since provided thrills on land (In the Line of Duty) and in the skies (Air Force One). As for Clooney: In his performance as the Andrea Gail's valiant Captain Billy Tyne, he'll get to show off his considerable physicality. The strenuous role comes on the heels of another tough venture the Clooney-produced CBS remake of Fail Safe, in which he also starred. First published in 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis, the Cold War classic by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler was initially adapted for a 1964 movie. Along with reviving interest in the book (Ecco Press, $14, ISBN 088001654X), Clooney's production marked a revival for live TV broadcasts.

Earlier, Clooney took a turn at Elmore Leonard, starring in an adaptation of Out of Sight (Dell, $6.99, ISBN 0440214424). The off-beat caper found Clooney cast as a slick career bank robber. He meets his match in law enforcement as well as love when he encounters a federal marshal played by famously curvaceous Jennifer Lopez. Their teaming proved memorable but nothing so tempestuous as what Clooney will face on the high seas of The Perfect Storm.

Pat H. Broeske has authored biographies of Howard Hughes and Elvis Presley.

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