On Monday, Sept. 24, the actors Brad Pitt, Rene Russo and Tate Donovan; NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon; and *NSYNC singer Joey Fatone showed up at the Ziegfeld Theater to see first-time director Tony Gilroy’s movie Michael Clayton, about New York lawyers, starring George Clooney—and also to glimpse the new girlfriend with whom Mr. Clooney recently cheated death when confronted, atop his motorcycle, by a 1999 Mazda Millenia, in Weehawken, N.J.: Las Vegas cocktail waitress Sarah Larson.
Mr. Clooney arrived with a full beard of gray scruff; Ms. Larson, on crutches, a high-heeled shoe on one foot, an Ace bandage on the other. She worked the carpet briefly with her beau, then hobbled into the theater. Mr. Clooney remained to ham it up from the cameras, receiving a back slap from a passing Mr. Pitt (recently on the promotion trail himself for that Jesse James movie) that seemed to say “sucka!”
“George! George!” screamed a couple of female fans in the distance. “My mother and my sister,” Mr. Clooney deadpanned. “Looking for cash.”
What did he give Ms. Larson to apologzie for the accident, the Transom wondered. Flowers? “No, but she got a really nice sock,” Mr. Clooney said. “Did you see?”
After the flick was screened, the actor held court at the Harvard Club, greeting well-wishers from a table in the center of a spacious, wood-paneled room. Ms. Larson rested her foot on a leather couch behind him. Suddenly an astonishingly youthful-looking Ellen Barkin approached, wrapping her fingers around Mr. Clooney’s head and tousling his hair for what seemed an eternity, considering Ms. Larson’s proximity and inability to defend herself. Meanwhile, Mr. Clooney’s ethereal co-star, Tilda Swinton, cozied up at a corner table with her husband, Sandro Kopp, an artist. The other guests nibbled beef Wellington—only at the Harvard Club, kids—warily circling the stars. By 10:45, Mr. Clooney had vamoosed out the back door with Ms. Larson and his parents, leaving five untouched plates of food and a noticeable energy vacuum.