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Shinan and Lainey: Two titans of gossip dish on George Clooney and Rob Ford

TV personality Elaine Lui has a new book Listen to the Squawking Chicken.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Returning to the scene of so many of our crimes, Elaine Lui and I convened at Soho House on Adelaide Street this week. Plying our respective trades in the celebrity-sphere for years, and like ships who are forever passing in the scuttlebutt sea, we've both been here, done that, procured the tees. And so a smutty summit was held to toast her first book, Listen To The Squawking Chicken, her just-released memoir that reads like The Joy Luck Club, lightly battered in David Sedaris.

Ms. Lui recently moved back to her hometown of Toronto to co-host the CTV talk show The Social. She's now settled with her husband and two dogs in the Beaches, where she runs her site Lainey Gossip, which attracts one million readers a month.

As we kibitzed on a wide variety of subjects – her recent move, the celebs that bind, and her work as one of the pioneering Marco Polos of the blogosphere – Lainey, as she's best known, got comfortable.

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SG: Well, this is certainly different from the last time we were together. With Rob Ford! [Lainey and I were both in L.A. in March when we ran into each other in the Air Canada lounge – along with our mayor, who had just come from doing Jimmy Kimmel. We were all on the red-eye back to Toronto.]
Lainey Lui: I always say – coincidence or conspiracy? I do feel that Ford and I are fated. I moved to Toronto just as his story was blowing up …also, I was nominated at the Canadian Tech Awards, and he was presenting the award. I didn't win, alas.

SG: Did you talk to him?
LL: I took a photo where he appears to be photo-bombing me … but, seriously, his story is bigger than any celeb. It has power, drugs, intrigue, class warfare.

SG: Have you adjusted to being back in Toronto?
LL: It's different. I moved away when I was 26, and the Toronto I knew was the Toronto I partied in. Now, I have a burger local. No Bull Burger [on Kingston Road]. Now I have patio furniture.

SG: Do you have memories of being at Soho House during TIFF, in particular?
LL: I was with you! The night George Clooney kept us hostage. He was in a really good mood …

SG: … and he was talking to everyone!
LL: And it was 1:30 [a.m.] … and then it was 2:30 … and we couldn't leave because the gossipmonger's code is that, 'If George Clooney is at the party, you stay put.'

SG: It was the year that he debuted Stacey Keibler as his girlfriend. It's amazing she stayed in that position for two whole awards seasons. Who would have thought it?
LL: And she walked from the Ritz-Carlton to Roy Thomson Hall, I remember. She walked. Are you writing this down, Shinan?

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SG: So, Lainey, when is Drake, our beloved NBA ambassador, going to debut [girlfriend] Rihanna at a Raptors game?
LL: I wonder if it's so serious that he's waiting. It's like, 'I'm not bringing her until they've gotten deep into the finals, or at least the conference finals.' You don't bring Rihanna – your trump card – to the first round of the playoffs.

SG: Tell me, how was it doing that TED talk about gossip?
LL: I was the most nervous I've been in a long time. I had to defend gossip as an art form.

SG: Which we both know it is. I think we both agree that the most interesting thing about celebrity gossip is listening to how people talk about it.
LL: It's almost more interesting than the gossip. People are basically filtering their own experiences through these common stories.

SG: Now, this is funny: you had your book launch at your dermatologist's office!
LL: I'm 40 … and on television three times a day.

Globe columnist Johanna Schneller sits down with Ms. Lui on Tuesday, April 29 at Airship 37, 37 Parliament St., Toronto. Visit

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