The July 3-July 10 issue (on newsstands Monday, June 26) in a special double issue, Newsweek launches its annual "The Giving Back Awards" in recognition of people and organizations who use fame, fortune, heart and soul to help others. A New Orleans hospice nurse, a retired librarian and two Yale grads on list with Brad Pitt, Target and Soledad O'Brien. Plus: Jonathan Alter on Karl Rove and Iraq, the divided Democrats, NASCAR broadcasting and an interview with 'Superman Returns' director. (PRNewsFoto/NEWSWEEK)
Michael O'Neill for Newsweek

Star Power: Pitt has lured attention to humanitarian issues

Brad Pitt
Los Angeles

He lured the paparazzi to Africa, where people really needed the attention.

If it wasn't for Brad Pitt, most Americans would never have heard of Namibia. They might not know about AIDS orphans in South Africa, or the plight of children in Haiti, or what transpired at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Pitt, 42, has been a movie star for 15 years—and a paparazzi target for nearly as long. Celebrity mags have made millions reporting on his love life, and the obsession only intensified when he began romancing Angelina Jolie. So he started fighting back—but not by punching photographers. If paparazzi were going to follow the couple everywhere, Pitt figured they might as well drag them somewhere that desperately needed the world's attention. "It's the first time I've actually felt like we have some degree of control over it," says Pitt, from his home in Malibu. "I can't describe what an immense relief it is for me."