Backstory: Sketchiest Source | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice


Backstory: Sketchiest Source


Published December 27, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated December 27, 2017 at 10:03 a.m.

  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Stuart Stevens

After weeks of reporting a profile of Republican operative and part-time Stowe resident Stuart Stevens, I was finally ready to sit down and write. I had more than enough material, including an interview with his former boss, Mitt Romney, and hours of tape with the subject himself.

Then came the George Clooney call.

Stevens, a chronic name-dropper, reached me late one Thursday afternoon and asked whether I'd like to chat with his old pal Clooney. "Our worlds don't intersect a lot, but when they do—" Stevens told me, trailing off. "George is just a fabulous guy — and we talk from time to time."

I considered declining. Would the Hollywood star really have anything interesting to say about Stevens? I doubted it. But I figured, What the heck?

Stevens set one condition: We'd be corresponding by email — and I was not to reveal Clooney's address.

"George, meet Paul Heintz," Stevens wrote in his introductory email, dispensing with the usual amount of niceties. "I assured him that you would not go too far into my devil worship, but a little is probably expected. After all, I do work for Republicans..." Stevens ended his message by telling Clooney, "Somehow we have to get you and the family to Vermont!"

I responded to the thread with a handful of questions for the actor and director, assuming he — or, more likely, a publicist — would respond with a bland, two-sentence statement. Instead, he fired back a 310-word email answering each of my questions in great detail.

As I regaled the newsroom with the exchange, one colleague wondered aloud how I'd know whether I was actually talking to the real Clooney. Fair point. As the journalistic maxim goes, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out."

"Mr. Clooney," I wrote my new pen pal. "One stupid question for you: How do I know this is really you? I'm sure my editors will ask. Thanks again, Paul."

"Good question," he responded, nine minutes later. "I don't know how to prove it. Any proof I give is probably google-able. I guess you'll have to trust Stuart."

Hmmm, I thought. There must be some way to prove it.

"How about a proof-of-life photo with today's newspaper, wherever you are?" I ventured in my response. "I will consider it off the record and will not publish or share in any way."

A brilliant idea, I told myself. Brilliant.

Clooney's response was succinct. "No Paul," he wrote.

And that was the end of our exchange.

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