George Clooney is in New York today to tape his appearance on Inside The Actors Studio and to attend the NBR gala tomorrow night. Stacy Keibler has accompanied him on the trip. We’ll come back to this.

But after all this time, Lipton has finally landed George Clooney. A very big get. And why now? You know the answer. Clooney has a Supporting Actor Oscar. He wants the big lead. He thinks this year is his best chance. This is a balls out campaign. Clooney on Inside The Actors Studio airs January 31st. (Brad Pitt turned down James Lipton’s request to go Inside The Actors Studio in 2004 because he didn’t feel his work was good enough then. Jennifer Aniston accepted the invitation last year.)

Before heading to New York, Clooney was in Palm Springs on Saturday night to receive the festival’s Chairman’s Award in front of an audience that included his competition: Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman, and Jean Dujardin. That’s the Best Actor race right there.

I want you to look at the first photo I’ve posted. Of Clooney stopping to sign autographs for that excited, mature lady. I spent the day in Palm Springs. There are a lot of Academy voters and influencers who live in Palm Springs. They look a lot like that lady. That’s exactly who he does it for. So every time you groan at his sh-t and wonder if it’s working? Remember her face. It’s working for her.

As for Clooney and Keibler - they worked the entire press line together, stopping at every outlet. It took a while. And still he did it. Because, as mentioned in the intro today, Oscar ballots haven’t closed yet. Palm Springs is a hustle. You’ll recall though, just 4 short months ago at TIFF, Stacy had to walk herself to his premieres, and the two did not pose together on the carpets. We’re 6 weeks from Oscar now and suddenly she gets to use the front door at the same time he does, AFTER sharing camera time...? It’s been a steady and deliberate upgrade.

My interview was mostly directed at him. I’m not going to lie - I probably should have, like all the other big name US outlets, made the conversation about both of them so, I dunno, the story could be about their “date night”. But in that moment, I just didn’t know how to direct a question over to her without feeling really, really awkward. Hey Stacy, what do you think of George getting the Chairman’s Award tonight, are you proud of him?

I couldn’t do it. I just... didn’t care enough. Instead I asked him about his rivalry with Brad Pitt and he gave me a hilarious answer about how he totally didn’t mean it in Entertainment Weekly when he said he wanted Brad to win and then I made him laugh when I asked him about whether he orders the chicken or the steak at these award show galas and after that we talked about Einstein, his dog, and all the while, Stacy, who is actually quite sweet, stayed silent, just smiling, encouragingly actually, content to listen and be the attractive escort, not needing to insert herself into the discussion for the sake of being heard. That’s when I realised why she’s so much more successful than the former Italian Queen Elisabetta Canalis.

Keibler (who was too heavily made up) is patient. She doesn’t push for the prize. She’s content to take what’s given to her in the moment. She’s drama-free without being totally useless (Sarah Larson). And, from what I observed through the night, people like her. She doesn’t coast on being Clooney’s girlfriend and expect people to serve her or engage her. She talks to people, he can leave her alone and she’ll be ok, and he doesn’t have to be afraid to come back to the table to find a pouty face staring back at him. Whatever Stacy Keibler is for him, in those circles at least, she’s not a liability. At least not right now.