Exhibit A. A few years ago I had a brief and mutually unsatisfactory conversation with one Charlotte Parker, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s PR flack at the time. I had just met Arnold while reporting a Planet Hollywood story for Esquire when Parker drew me aside: “We’d like to get Arnold on Esquire’s cover,” she said. “He’s been everywhere else.”
“How much time with him would you need?” Parker asked. “Half an hour? Forty-five minutes?”
“Well, if I were going to do it, I’d want to hang around over a few days,” I said, rather stiffly.
“Oh, God,” she said disgustedly, “this wouldn’t be one of those profiles where you try to figure him out, would it?”
Exhibit B. Us magazine, December 1997.
Us: “What [do] you loathe about yourself?”
Richard Gere: [Laughs darkly] “You are someone I met ten minutes ago, and now you want to get into the deep, dark questions about my being?”
Exhibit C. In the October 1997 Esquire, Tom Junod wrote a cover story entitled “Kevin Spacey Has a Secret.” Junod was sheepish about his hateful task—trying to out Spacey. So he began by quoting his own mother: “Well, I hear he’s gay.” Then Junod sought to confirm his “reporting,” growing increasingly sour and antagonistic as he looked for someone, anyone, “to betray [Spacey], to divulge his one essential secret, to give him up, finally, once and for all.” Esquire’s editors archly justified this ninja mission by asserting that “a celebrity has no secrets; he belongs to all of us, completely, not onl...