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Barkley from ''Clean Slate''

Barkley from ”Clean Slate” — A day in the life of the little dog co-star

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A crisply uniformed hotel attendant tiptoes into the luxe suite rolling a linen-draped table laid for lunch with the kind of understated elegance Sharon Stone aspires to when she’s in her Grace Kelly mode. The attendant nods deferentially, then glides out as quietly as the audience after a screening of Schindler’s List. The star, on the other hand, is as unmoved as Reba McEntire’s hair in a windstorm. He drapes his compact body on a couch as richly upholstered as Angela Lansbury presenting an Oscar. He yawns, showing small, glossy teeth sharp enough to take a bite out of a pants leg. He blinks, his moist eyes as soulful as those of NYPD Blue‘s David Caruso when Caruso is talking to a pretty widow about how he’ll always be available if she needs someone to lean on.

It’s 1 p.m. on a breezy Manhattan Sunday afternoon, and in the three days since he flew in-first class-from the coast, the star has worked harder than Jerry Lewis during the final hours of a muscular dystrophy telethon, when Jerry’s got his tie off and he’s sweating and he looks like he’s about to keel over but he won’t because he knows little sick kids need him to go on. The star has been taped for segments on Hard Copy, VH-1, Entertainment Tonight; he has been photographed for newspapers and magazines; he has made a celebrity appearance at an awards show. He has done all of this, as all seasoned stars do, to promote his new film, the first of a two-movie deal with MGM that leaves him little time for a personal life. Single, with no children, he likes to take long walks in the park whenever he can. Today will not be one of those days.

Right now the star would like to take a nap, but he stays alert. He would like a snack, but he’ll wait until he has some privacy. As his visitor stands up to leave, he lifts up his head delicately, like Debra Winger on her deathbed saying goodbye to her children in Terms of Endearment. It is the kind of talent one can’t be taught. The lunch table remains untouched.