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March 24, 2008

Omigod I met George Clooney


I've been handling our arts and entertainment section for the past two weeks (something I'm woefully unqualified to do) while the regular arts reporter does an in-depth project. Therefore, when rumors began swirling that George Clooney might come to town to promote his new movie, I was the go-to girl. My nosing about came to nothing, and I kind of forgot about it until last week. The newsroom got a press release stating that not only were we getting George, his co-star Renee Zellweger would tag along as well. I could hear shrieks reverberate around our building as my co-workers received the news in their inboxes.

I wrote a story for the next day's pape about their impending visit, and then went to the screening of "Leatherheads" a few days later and wrote about that, too. This, apparently, was enough to qualify me to attend the press event yesterday. When we arrived on location, over-eager public relations hussies drunk on power only allowed us to descend to our seats in groups of five. My chaise was six rows back, behind the broadcast lovelies, the Strib and PiPress scribes, the public television and public radio voices and, yes, even our local radio stations' morning show DJs. How about a little love for the hometown pape? I mean, come on! My only solace was I was right next to the mayor and his wife, who's a pretty cool chick. (I wasn't the only one getting the shaft... a video camera-wielding photog from our pape got hustled by a trashy looking PR brat in 5-inch heels, a fellow alumna who went to school for broadcast. Guess it didn't work out.)

They packed in adoring fans all around the press pen. The ones with chutzpadik climbed up onto the trains to get a better view. A scream arose from the crowd as George and Renee chug-chug-chugged up to their platform. George was wearing a charcoal suit and a saucy gray newsboy cap. Renee was wearing a tweed dress and matching jacket, with 6-inch black Christian Laboutins and pearls, natch. She looked very shiny and taut and, as my dad likes to say, like she was farting lemons. George flashed his Sexiest Man Alive smile and made the ladies in the crowd swoon.

The mayor presented them with extremely phallic trophies-- blocks of wood with helmets on top-- and declared Mar. 24 Leatherheads Day. The fancy up-front reporters lobbed nothing but softballs at the stars (so how do you like our town? what's it like to be a celebrity? you have fans. what would you say to them if you could? it's cold here, huh?), to which they responded with a charming, witty repartee. Well, for the most part. Most of the questions went to George so Renee spent a lot of time looking bored and farting lemons.

The last question went to a woman in the crowd who had knit the pair mittens. It was all so hokey and heartwarming. I had made it my mission for the day to find out what George smells like, so I followed him around like an awkward, lost puppy trying to get a whiff. He turned around and saw me, shook my hand, and told me to have fun. Unfortch, didn't get close enough.

I proceeded to the front entrance, where they were scheduled to make a public appearance, to talk to some fans. There was a babushka who police weren't forcing behind the barrier, so I decided to lob her some questions. After a few I could tell she wasn't all there, so I aborted the interview. "I don't know what I'm doing here," she said. "I just saw all the people so I came down. I turned 85 last week. Here, look at my birthday card. Oh, is that him?" she asked, indicating a PR flack.

I migrated to the other side of the crowd, which ended up being a bad choice. As soon as George popped his head out of the door, the middle-aged women around me surged toward the barrier, screaming, "George! I love you George! George, come here! George!" A cameraman bopped me on the head quite a few times with his gear, and somehow ended up stepping all over my pants... I have footprints on them now. George was extremely gracious, greeting fans on either side of the entrance and even going to the other side of the street. Renee only greeting one side before lunging into the safety of her luxury SUV to fart some more lemons.


  1. Little do you know that "babushka" was George's secret wife.