George Clooney, Brad Pitt and other pals gather for Oscar lunch

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George Clooney, Brad Pitt and other pals gather for Oscar lunch

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BEVERLY HILLS, California - George Clooney says the best thing about Academy Awards nominations is not necessarily the prizes. It’s hanging with old and new friends.

At the annual Oscar nominee luncheon Monday, Clooney said he’s made new pals on the awards circuit this season and has been happy to catch up with longtime friends such as Viola Davis and Brad Pitt, his co-star in the “Ocean’s Eleven’’ movies.

“A lot of people at home think we all hang out together. .?.?. The truth is I hadn’t seen Brad in about a year’’ until they crossed paths at January’s Golden Globes, Clooney told reporters before sitting down to lunch. “So it’s fun to catch up, and it’s fun to see people I like and haven’t seen in a long time.’’

Both are up for the best-actor Oscar - Clooney for “The Descendants’’ and Pitt for “Moneyball.’’

Pitt joked that like Clooney, awards season has allowed him to make a lot of new acquaintances.

“I met this guy named George,’’ Pitt said, stumbling over the pronunciation of the name, “G-g-george, Jorge Clooney. Very nice guy. Very personable and very nice guy.’’

Along with Clooney and Pitt, others among the 150 nominees at the luncheon included “The Help’’ co-stars Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer; “Albert Nobbs’’ co-stars Glenn Close and Janet McTeer; “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’’ star Rooney Mara; “My Week with Marilyn’’ co-stars Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh; “The Artist’’ co-stars Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo; and “Hugo’’ director Martin Scorsese.

The menu for Hollywood’s most-exclusive lunch included chopped vegetable salad; hors d’ouevres featuring Indochina spiced beef and roasted Asian barbecue duck; a main course of Atlantic salmon; and sorbet with mango sauce and berries for dessert.

Nominees also posed for a group photograph.

The next time the 2011 nominees will gather is on Oscar night Feb. 26. AP
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