Peek Experiences

By staff January 22, 2007

Star-spotting at Sundance.


By Charlie Huisking


Celebrities are flying by faster than the snowflakes here in chilly Park City, site of the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.


I just spent the last hour doing my best imitation of a paparazzi, snapping pictures of Teri Hatcher, Kyra Sedgwick, Molly Shannon and Paul Rudd as they picked up some swag bags at the Heineken Green Room.

My new best friend : Teri Hatcher signs autographs for fans.


Last night, I listened to Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney introduce their new movie, The Savages, and then watched Catherine Keener, James Franco and Bradley Whitford take the stage for the premiere of their new film, An American Crime.

Later tonight, I'll be there when Anthony Hopkins introduces his first directorial effort, Slipstream.


Clearly, it's not just the high altitude in this old mining town that causes you to become dizzy. The pace is unrelenting, with screenings starting early and continuing past midnight at Park City's various venues, which range from cozy theaters to a 2,500-seat high-school auditorium.


In The Savages, Hoffman and Linney play a brother and sister who must suddenly care for an aging parent. It's a smartly written, touching and funny film, my clear favorite so far. Director Tamara Jenkins said the film was finished only two days before Friday's world premiere. And how important is a showcase at Sundance? Well, Hoffman flew in from Australia two hours before the screening, and Linney came all the way from Argentina, where she was shooting her next film.


I've been shadowing Sarasota Film Festival Executive Director Jody Kielbasa, who is here to do some networking and watch as many movies as possible. Jody invited me to accompany him to a late-night party sponsored by Premiere magazine, which had taken over a restaurant on Historic Main Street for the occasion.


When we got there, two burly security guys were informing a line of would-be guests that the room was too crowded, and nobody else would be admitted.


"But we're with the Italian press, and we're on the list," a wavy-haired young man implored. "I don't care, buddy, you're not gettin' in," the guard said.


Another man dropped a name and pressed his case, but the guard shook his head. "They hire us because we're ignorant," he said. "We don't know how important anybody is, so those names mean nothing to us."


But Jody was undeterred. He worked some cell-phone magic, and soon, the publisher of Premiere himself (who had been to the Sarasota festival last year) came down and waved us in. The Italian press guys seethed with envy, and I felt like I was in a scene from HBO's Entourage.


I must say I don't always feel so cool and hip at this festival. Like every other credentialed member of the press or the film industry, I wear a big badge around my neck, which has my picture, my name and my affiliation.


Whenever you enter a room, people are subtly checking you out, to see if you are an important critic worth schmoozing or a film distributor who could turn your life around. Dozens of times, I've seen flickers of disappointment cross people's faces when they check out my badge. I guess "Charlie Huisking, SARASOTA magazine" just doesn't do it for them." Oh, well, Teri Hatcher was nice enough to stop and pose while I figured out how to work my brand new digital camera.


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