Parties the choice of festgoers

PARK CITY, Utah– A case could be made that there’s more passion for the parties at Sundance than the films. In the words of Brad Krevoy: “You don’t see anyone rioting to get into the movies.”

The perennially over-booked parties exist as an alternative circuit to the screenings, and Thursday’s social whirl kicked off with Daily Variety’s Ten Directors to Watch reception at the Stein Eriksen Lodge. It was held, said publisher Gerry Byrne, because Daily Variety “wants to be at the center stage of the future and these directors are the leading edge of the next wave.”

Among the comments about the festival heard at the party was actor-writer-daytrader Tom Carver’s line: “Talk about sleeping your way to the middle, there’s a lot of that going on.” And Russian actress Dasha Volga of “Beyond the Ocean,” who noted the festgoers constant cell phone use and said Moscovite mobile users are either “politicians or militia members.”

One unique feature of the Daily Variety party was mandatory coat checking in the parking garage, then a brief dash in the frigid night air across a porch and downstairs into the party. If nothing else, guests were wide awake upon arrival.

Among those checking their coats were the honored directors: Greg Berlanti, Joan Chen, Nigel Cole, Robinson Devor, Gavin Hood, Tony Pemberton, Gina Prince-Bythewood (Tarsem, Arik Kaplun and Jan Hrebejk were not able to attend); plus guests Stephen Baldwin, Billy Rose, Anne Sterling and Janet Yang.

Variety’s U.S. publishing director Charles Koones said this was the first of 10 Ten to Watch series that would “tie together entertainment events and festivals throughout the year.”

Just down the hill from the Stein Eriksen, New Line had taken over the Old Silver Mine (which is exactly what the name implies: a closed mine that’s now a museum) for a post-screening celebration for “Love and Basketball,” which garnered a standing ovation for first-time director Bythewood.

New Line topper Michael DeLuca was “euphoric” over the response and said he’d “much rather go for a first-time director than some overpaid Hollywood hack who takes a month to read the script and then doesn’t get back to you.”

The party went on with dancing until 2 a.m.; among those on hand were New Line execs DeLuca, Bob Friedman, Rolf Mittweg and Joe Nimziki; plus 600 guests including Courtney Love, Jamie Feldman, Emile Gladstone, Kevin Spacey, Peter Gabriel, Vince Vaughn and Adam Schroeder, who’s decided the festival parties “are all about crowds of needy lemmings looking for a free drink.”

Across the valley, VH1 followed its Storytellers Webcast (Dwight Yoakam, Aimee Mann, Lisa Loeb and John Popper performed) at the Park City Racquet Club with a 300-guest after-party at a massive private residence on the edge of town that reminded one attendee of “The Shining.”

And where else but Sundance would a party pull together Lisa Marie Presley, RuPaul and John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) under one roof?

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