Park City, Utah — The 10-day celebration of snow, sun, stars and swag otherwise known as the Sundance Film Festival kicked off last Thursday in a whirlwind of film and fashion moments. A few dispatches from the mountain:
Despite an engaging performance by Maggie Gyllenhaal, several A-listers dozed off in the front row at the premiere of “Happy Endings,” directed by Don Roos (“The Opposite of Sex”). The film marks the first time the actress sings on screen. She took her inspiration from a Richard Avedon photograph of Cat Power in The New Yorker. “She was naked on an elephant and holding a cigarette,” Gyllenhaal explained. The after party, however, sponsored by Sean John, was a lively, intimate affair in the two-story tent at Village at the Lift for stars Lisa Kudrow, Jason Ritter and Tom Arnold, as well as Steve Tisch (wife Jamie arrived from Aspen a day later), Keri Russell and Patrick Wilson.
A few hours before David LaChapelle ended up in a Park City jail cell, he was elated by the response to his documentary, “Rize,” about the South Los Angeles dance movement. “It’s probably one of the best nights of my life,” he said. “I’m on Cloud Nine.” Celebrating with the fashion photographer were Alan Cumming, Pamela Anderson, Jamie Bell and LaChapelle’s Italian greyhound, Lil Boo, who was flown in on Anderson’s private plane.
A few blocks away at The Shop party venue, the bash for Brian Grazer’s documentary, “Inside Deep Throat,” didn’t get started until 11:45, where the main attraction was two go-go dancers that L.A. event guru Bryan Rabin had recruited from his days at Club Cherry in L.A. As they shimmied and mimed indecent acts wearing only American-flag bikini bottoms, white fur boots and red, star-shaped pasties, the conservative Utah contingent — and even Grazer — looked on in shock and awe.
Naomi Watts got off to an early start Saturday morning to screen “Ellie Parker,” a film she produced based on a short she appeared in five years ago at the festival. The humorous tale of a struggling actress was very personal for Watts, who recalled “shoving flyers under people’s noses and handing out gift bags in the street” on her first go-round. “This time, we’re collecting the goodies,” she said.
That afternoon, John Leguizamo got a Clarins shave for his “Cronicas” press junket at the Fred Segal Beauty outpost on Main Street. Over at the Fred Segal boutique, trashtastic celebs such as Anderson, Stephen Dorff (who snapped up women’s — yes, women’s — cashmere V-neck sweaters by Jones New York) and Paris and Nicky Hilton took the “gift” shop by storm. “That’s hot,” Paris drawled while fingering a camisole by Frederick’s of Hollywood. She wore her swag to that night’s parties, and several other actresses followed suit, slinking around in slips of fabric underneath their shearlings and down jackets.
But Saturday’s hottest ticket was “Pretty Persuasion,” an over-the-top teen comedy starring festival princess Evan Rachel Wood. The actress stunned the audience when she fell off the stage during the Q&A. “I leaned on the curtain behind me and realized there wasn’t anything behind it and I thought, ‘I’m just going to let myself go gracefully’ and I started laughing hysterically. I was like, ‘Did you get that on film? Great!’”
Alexandra Kerry was doing a little campaigning on behalf of her short film, “The Last Full Measure.” According to Kerry, it’s about “a little girl whose dad comes back from the Vietnam War. It’s a fictional narrative, obviously pulled from facets of my life.” Just a few hours before the premiere Saturday night, Kerry stopped by Escada at the Motorola House to pick up some goodies. After choosing a black ski parka, the indecisive Kerry couldn’t decide between a brown and a cream Eluna bag, so the lucky gal was gifted with both.
At the Entertainment Weekly/Hewlett Packard party at The Shop, Michelle Rodriguez was on the prowl for pretty young things to star in films for her new production company. A crew of unlikely celebrities, all of whom have films at the festival — Metallica’s Lars Ullrich and girlfriend Connie Nielsen, Jenny McCarthy, Phillip Bloch and Emilie de Ravin — mingled with a black fur-clad Kimberly Guilfoyle (and her Court TV and San Francisco social pals). The action paled in comparison to the Motorola Late Night Lodge affair. Anyone who is anyone at Sundance — Adrien Brody, Billy Baldwin, Jared Leto, “It” boy Joseph Gordon-Levitt —as well as a few well-bred names who just came to play in the snow — Jay Penske, Will Kopelman, Bijou Phillips, Chris Heinz, Rashida Jones, and the Hilton sisters — partied until a fire alarm went off at 2:30 a.m., forcing everyone home two-and-a-half hours early. Still, Paris Hilton was in no hurry to evacuate. As the alarm blared, the heiress whipped out her compact and started powdering her nose.
On Sunday, all anyone could talk about was Craig Brewer’s hip-hop pimp drama, “Hustle and Flow,” which sold in a $16 million deal with Paramount Studios/MTV Films. Costarring with Terrence Howard and Taryn Manning is rapper Ludacris, who stopped by the swankiest rental in town, the 9,000-square-foot William Morris Luxury Lodge high in the mountains, to pick up his swag from Rescue Hand and Foot Spa and Lucky Brand Jeans. “I only wear a 38 jean and an XXXL shirt,” the diminutive star told flacks. So he passed on the too-small denims and skivvies from Cosabella.