Rocking the Planet

Nobel Peace Prize Concert Oslo Spektrum Oslo, Norway Pictured L-R Melissa Etheridge, Al Gore , Kevin Spacey and KT Tunstall, backstage at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert
Nobel Peace Prize Concert Oslo Spektrum Oslo, Norway Pictured L-R Melissa Etheridge, Al Gore , Kevin Spacey and KT Tunstall, backstage at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert (Sandy Young - Sandy Young - For The Washington Post)

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By Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, December 12, 2007

OSLO, Dec. 10

For KT Tunstall, the Scottish folk-rock sensation, it was the eyebrows. "He has great eyebrows -- expressive, arched, well groomed," she said. "And he's really tall. You've got to love a tall man."

For Uma Thurman, whose credentials on the subject of sexy are impeccable, there was no question that "the man's adorable." "Of course he's sexy," she said. "He seems to be flourishing and following his calling. It's just the most enviable thing in the world, like watching a beautiful racehorse run."

Al Gore, sexy man. The thinking girl's thoroughbred.

It has definitely been this guy's year. "It's only taken me 30 years," Gore joked, backstage at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, where a roomful of actors and singers waited their turn to make small talk with the man who, on this cold Scandinavian night, was clearly The Man.

Gore, 59, picked up his Nobel Peace Prize Monday at a conspicuously formal ceremony befitting the world's most prestigious piece of hardware. Tuesday night the Norwegians loosened their ties and rocked out -- in a Norwegian sort of way, checking to make sure people on either side were clapping along before they put their hands together.

Thurman and Kevin Spacey -- Miss Very Hot and Mr. Way Cool -- hosted a lineup featuring Tunstall, Melissa Etheridge, Annie Lennox, Alicia Keys, Kylie Minogue, Colombian heartthrob Juanes and the ageless Earth, Wind & Fire.

But it was Gore's night. The Nobel Prize was the occasion and the official draw, and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared the award. But the former vice president turned climate change celebrity was the connective tissue that turned the evening into a homily -- albeit a celebratory one -- about the dangers of global warming.

"No single individual has done more to create a greater understanding of the perils we face than Albert Gore," Spacey said, to rapturous applause from the 6,000-plus people gathered in the Spektrum in central Oslo. Once known for having a staggering knowledge of policy but the stage presence of a fire hydrant, Gore has clearly become far more at ease in the limelight over the year in which his film, "An Inconvenient Truth," won an Academy Award and his career earned him a Nobel.

In an interview in her hotel suite, Thurman said she's known Gore "for a thousand years" in his political incarnation. She said that since losing the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000, Gore seems "liberated" and "unencumbered."

Etheridge, whose song for Gore's film, "I Need to Wake Up," also won an Academy Award, said she too has seen a remarkable change in Gore, which she said has made him a far more effective campaigner for climate change.

"When I saw the movie I thought: Who is this guy? He used to be so stiff," Etheridge said in an interview. "He is the closest thing we have to a hero right now. Because he is not of Hollywood or from Hollywood, there is a certain respect for what he is saying. I love Brad Pitt, but if he were talking about global warming, you'd say, 'Go home to your lovely wife.' " (She meant, of course, Angelina Jolie, though they're not married.)


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