S’dance: Right party is key

Festivities pull all the stops

PARK CITY, Utah — AmFar’s Sheila Charton said the AIDS org had decided “Sundance is a contender” and thus important to “have a presence among the parties” at the film festival.

The result was Monday’s $250 per ticket Cinema Against AIDS bash that raised $125,000 and was described by one guest as “about as chic as Park City gets.”

Elizabeth Much said the usual Sundance party “is, like, in a 10-by-10 room and gives you flashbacks to college. Here they’re actually passing hors d’oeuvres.”

Attorney Carlos Goodman said the AmFar affair, held in a gallery at the Kimball Arts Center, was “more like a New York loft party rather than the usual kegger.”

The guest list was as upscale as the party with the crowd swelling to include Uma Thurman with Ethan Hawke, Lisa Marie Presley, James Woods, Marisa Tomei, Gus Van Sant, Johnny Rotten, Liev Schreiber, Vincent D’Onofrio, Margaret Cho, Kyle MacLachlan and “Love & Sex” star Jon Favreau, who described himself as “the Arnold Schwarzenegger of dirt cheap indie films.”

* * *

One studio exec commented that it’s always struck her as strange that her Sundance colleagues “act like it’s life and death if they buy some art film that you know is going to fail at the box office.”

What she didn’t mention was the only thing taken more seriously than commerce at Sundance is getting into the parties. Life and death are mere trifles compared with appearing on the right guest list.

A case in point was Tuesday’s CAA party at the Snow Park Lodge. It’s hard to imagine a more over-subscribed affair.

The fact that the room had all the charm of a packed elevator did not deter an incensed mob of theoretically invited guests from besieging the nervous guardians of the velvet rope (“Back it up people, back it up”) who eventually threw up their hands, retreated to a more defensible position and let the mob stampede by.

Five minutes after the rush, one of the thundering herd exited the now unimaginably over-crowded party to say: “Never has there been a room I wanted to leave more.”

* * *

Showtime topper Matt Blank describes indie filmmaking as “one of the great creative gardens,” which is one reason his company threw a party Tuesday at Lakota for “Rated X.”

Among those on hand were Neal Moritz (“Skiing at Sundance has made me a better producer”) and Mike Marcus, who described the festival scene as “a zoo. It’s hysterical. I wouldn’t come — despite owning a house here — without having a movie. It’s a constant fight to get into the right party or screening. It’s a constant hustle.”

Despite all that, Marcus echoed many showbizzers who braved those mean Park City streets when he said coming “is worth six months of PR.”

Those doing PR for the film were director-star Emilio Estevez, star Charlie Sheen and a guest list that included Cassian Elwes, Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche.

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