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Dual citizens: Big Sky and Los Angeles

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By Bradley Bermont contributor

It’s the last week of the Olympics and Colleen Williams, coanchor
for NBC4 Los Angeles is driving to work. She’s been
working for the past 28 days: an onslaught of Olympians and
Olympiads, culminating in exhaustion. She wants to be in Big
Sky with her husband Jon and their son.

On the other side of the city, in the heart of West LA, an agent
is calling Clay Lorinsky’s law office. His secretary answers and
asks if the agent wouldn’t mind holding for a moment while
she tracks him down.

Since they’re dialing a 310 area code and a secretary on
Wilshire is answering, “Mr. Lorinsky’s office,” his clients don’t
realize that he’s picking up the phone from 406.

His secretary calls, asks if he’s free, and tells him his client, an
agent, is on the line. Lorinsky asks her to put him through then
takes a sip of morning coffee in his home office under Yellow
Mountain. He’s in his gym shorts with no shirt on, and it’s
surprising how muscular this middle-aged lawyer is.

Unlike Williams, Lorinsky isn’t dreaming of Montana, he’s
living in it, and he’s been waiting for this call. There’s a TV deal
in the works with one of the cable networks, and he may be
pulling at what’s left of his hair if this doesn’t pan out. They’ve
invested many hours in negotiation, not to mention the tens of
thousands of dollars sunk into the pilot of this non-disclosable
television show.

They banter for nearly an hour before things start wrapping
up. As they’re making a date for their next meeting, face-toface
in Lorinsky’s office, the agent asks him, “Your office is on
Wilshire, right?”

Lorinsky has his feet up on the desk, leaning back in his chair.
“Hasn’t moved since the last time.”

“I go back to LA once every five weeks, give or take,” he says.
During a week-long stint, he’ll have two to four meetings a
day, not including lunches and dinners with every client and
friend he can schedule, plus his normal workload, which is
nearly nonstop. There’s always more business to be had, he
says, and, “As much as I hate to do it, it’s pretty hard to bring in
new clients without leaving Big Sky.”

Colleen Williams faces an opposite difficulty – it’s tough to
broadcast the news from Big Sky. Unlike Clay, she can’t get to
Montana more than three or four times a year. Sometimes, she
visits for just a weekend.

As she walks into NBC’s Burbank studio, she’s ready for
this Olympics week to be over. Outside, it’s nearly 100

“It is just a plane ride away,” she says of Big Sky. “When
there’s a direct flight, it’s great. I’ll get on at 6 p.m. and land
at midnight. I don’t mind getting an hour or two of sleep
the night before, because there’s such an anticipation when
I get there. It’s so calm, quiet and peaceful.”

In 2005, she was taken aback when her husband Jon said he
was buying land in Montana. She hadn’t ever been there,
and she asked him, “Out of all the places, what could be in

“If I don’t buy it, someone else will,” he said.

It didn’t take more than a season before she was sold. Now
seven years later, she says, “We couldn’t be more fortunate
to have it.”

In normal conversation with Williams, you can hear the
sound bites and the newscaster authority, but when Big
Sky comes up, her voice drifts toward nostalgia.

“It’s the winters that I find really spectacular. It could be zero
degrees outside, and you’re still snowshoeing under blue

She loves cross country skiing, while Jon is more partial to
downhill. Chalk it up to the serenity of nature or the short lift
lines accessing the “Biggest Skiing in America,” but winter had
an allure they couldn’t escape.

Neither could Lorinsky.

“If you’re going to be a second homeowner, especially for a
ski home, you’re gonna be doing most of your skiing there,”
Lorinsky says. “For me at least, Big Sky is the only mountain
that I thought could keep me entertained.”

A friend introduced him to the area in 1993, but he didn’t
switch to dual-residency until 2005. Just prior to that, he was
offered an opportunity to run business affairs at Warner Bros.

“Ultimately, it was a lifestyle choice. There’s no way I could do
that and live like this.” He points out the window toward the
mountainside of Douglas-firs behind his home. Earlier in the
week, he saw a mother moose and her calf walk across his yard.

“You can’t have your cake and eat it
too,” he says, shrugging.

Williams attests: “It’s not easy to
do with the hours,” referring to her
schedule of starting work at 11 a.m.
or noon and wrapping up close to
midnight, sometimes later during
high stress seasons or the Olympics.

“You’re never free from work.
There’ve been a few times where I
was in Big Sky and something big
happened in LA, like an earthquake,
and we discussed coming back.” Last
spring she left her vacation early
to cover the tsunamis that ravaged

Traveling with her earpiece, Williams
can report from anywhere.

“I could be in the Bozeman airport,
saying ‘This is so big, people here are
looking at it,’ and that would end up
on the news in LA.” Or on the news in
Montana, which anyone with an NBC
West Coast feed could tell you.

She’s been stopped walking through the
Meadow Village and standing in the
Hungry Moose when someone will look
at her, do a double take and– “Aren’t you
that woman from NBC?”

“It’s weird to see yourself on TV in
Montana,” she says, laughing.

But for Lorinsky, it’s almost comforting
to watch the 6 o’clock news
to see what’s happening in LA.
Williams and her teammates are a
constant, whether the lawyer is in
Montana or LA. Often, it’s a reminder
why he spends so much time away
from the city. He was happy to have
only experienced “Carmageddon”
(the 2011 construction on Route
405 that had some executives taking
helicopters to work) from his den in
Big Sky.

Like Williams says, “I’m neutralized
[in Big Sky]. Stress free.”

They’re dual citizens, drawn to Big
Sky for similar reasons.

For Clay Lorinsky, it’s not vacationing;
it’s work with a chance of
vacation. For Colleen Williams, it’s
vacation with a chance of business.

Even so, they both agree: There’s no
place they’d rather be.

Megan Paulson is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Outlaw Partners.

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