First, there was Sean Penn?s mini-diary of his trip to Baghdad a year ago, which the paper ran in two segments after the actor, a Bay Area resident and Bronstein pal, agreed to write up thoughts and observations of his trip.
This past week, Robin Williams agreed to a sit-down with the Chronicle editor to discuss his week-long visit in the war zone last month to entertain the troops. Bronstein plans to run the interview, which he tape-recorded at Williams? San Francisco home Friday, as a Q-and-A later this week.
?Most of it was a serious and sobering conversation,? Bronstein told E&P. ?I think it was a really moving experience for him over there to meet the troops.?
Williams, who has lived for years in San Francisco?s exclusive Sea Cliff neighborhood, got to know Bronstein when the editor lived there with Stone. Williams has visited the newspaper in the past and even sat in on a news meeting years ago. ?It was definitely a different experience,? Bronstein recalled.
But Williams? interview was not the only celebrity interlude last week for the editor. Just a few hours prior to his one-on-one with the actor/comedian, Bronstein joined the Chronicle editorial board for a 90-minute chat with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is making the rounds pushing his proposed new budget.
Along with producing a few columns and a mostly kind editorial in the Chron, the Terminator?s visit also brought out some star-struck responses from newsroom staffers. ?I saw at least a few cameras go off when he walked through and said hello,? the editor said. ?He walked through and there were people lined up in the aisles. He said, ?This place is a mess, it needs reform.??
Bronstein gave Schwarzenegger high marks for answering questions in a mostly straightforward manner, despite having more security people than any previous governor. ?It was almost like a presidential visit,? he said of the governor?s entourage. ?But he was very deft at dealing with the press, very disarming.?
The paper?s editorial, published Sunday, also noted that Schwarzenegger is ?a quick study on policy issues? and ?answered questions without once turning to an aide for help.? It even noted the governor?s response to a reporter?s question about the difficulty he will face implementing an ambitious prison-reform proposal.
Schwarzenegger?s retort: ?You negative son of a gun, you.?
By: Joe Strupp The San Francisco Chronicle and its ongoing Iraq coverage continue to benefit from the celebrity connections of Editor Phil Bronstein, who was formerly married to actress Sharon Stone.