The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Did George Clooney really tell a lady she was fat?

September 14, 2009 | 12:03 pm

George Clooney is easily the most quotable actor of our time, as he proved once again at a press conference in Toronto promoting "Up in the Air," where he aired his disdain for social networking by quipping: "I would rather have a rectal examination on live TV by a fellow with cold hands than have a Facebook page." (I think it's the "fellow with cold hands" detail that really makes it such a great line.)

Clooney So when I saw a post this morning on Vulture, one of my favorite blogs, headlined: "George Clooney Told a Lady She Was Fat," I couldn't resist reading the item, which linked to a piece Clooney had written for the Daily Mail explaining why it bugs him that everyone in the world today feels obligated to offer an opinion on every possible subject, no matter how hurtful or offensive the opinion might be.

Clooney's Daily Mail story was introduced by a delightful anecdote about him meeting a woman at a party who volunteered that she hated his last movie, disagreed with his politics and -- just to twist the knife in a little further -- thought he looked older in person than on screen. Finally, Clooney says he'd had enough. "I smiled very politely and said, 'You know, those 35 extra pounds of weight you're carrying -- they look just fantastic on you.' "

LOL, right? But why was Clooney, who's so busy these days that he had two movies opening this week at the Toronto Film Festival, taking time out to opine about modern-day manners? On a whim, I e-mailed the Mail story to Stan Rosenfield, Clooney's longtime spokesman, asking if the piece was authentic. Stan e-mailed George, who responded: "Nope. I never wrote that. Never have."

It was a hoax, just like the one a few months back that had Clooney being killed in a plane crash. Amazingly, everyone on the Web just went ahead and ran his or her own clever post on the Clooney "column" from the Daily Mail without bothering to check whether it was true or not. When I asked Rosenfield for his take on what this says about the modern-day media, he responded: "I'm not shocked that the Daily Mail published the story. But I am shocked that you actually called me to check it out. I hope you don't get in trouble with your editor for doing this."

Photo: George Clooney. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Associated Press.

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