Sundance: More Bodyguards Than Directors

Sundance: More Bodyguards Than Directors

Several days before the movie he has a small part in makes its debut, Justin Timberlake is in Park City for the Sundance Film Festival. His late-night appearance at Motorola’s party on Saturday, along with fellow or former NSyncer Lance Bass, caused a stir if only because he was the first new celebrity the paparazzi had seen in a couple of days.

Alas, fresh blood that he was in this small town, Timberlake didn’t want any pictures taken of himself inside the party. To make sure of it, he kept the hood of his black sweatshirt over his head even while inside, perhaps instigating a new fashion look. The Greta Garbo move worked then, but with Craig Brewer’s "Black Snake Moan" not debuting until Wednesday, Timberlake’s chances of not being photographed are pretty slim.

Luckily the photogs who are patrolling the perimeter here in small armies have lots of other choices. At the Entertainment Weekly party, Sienna Miller — quickly turning into the 2007 It Girl — did a quick turn for them but declined actually coming into the event, which had a clever tie-in with Kevin Bacon’s new Sixdegrees.org.

Bacon, of course, was there with his wife of 19 years, Kyra Sedgwick, and they acted like newlyweds for most of the evening. Sixdegrees.org, Bacon says, is a way for him to capitalize off the game that sprouted from his prolific career and to help others at the same time.

Before Bacon could even finish that sentence, Sean P. Diddy Combs arrived, and the two of them launched into a discussion of their mutual charities. Diddy, of course, was fresh from the insult leveled at him on Monday night in Los Angeles by the people who ran the Creative Artists Agency party, but he looked no worse for the wear.

It’s safe to say the gathered media didn’t find his star any diminished; wherever Diddy goes, bright lights follow.

And then, of course, there was Nick Cannon, the MTV star who’s rolling with several boulder-sized bodyguards for reasons that are unclear. He’s also sporting a huge bling of gold around his neck, chains that could be used on tires up here should the need arise during a whiteout.

What does he feed these stone-faced assistants, I asked? “Gunpowder,” he replied.

And so the Entertainment Weekly party, which is always a good attendance sheet for who’s in town, proceeded with Tara Reid, Crispin Glover, Elizabeth Banks, Justin Theroux, Schuyler Fisk (singer daughter of Sissy Spacek) and an appearance by Chris Klein, star of so many teen flicks beginning with "American Pie." He makes a startling turn in a somber drama called “The Good Life” as a Nebraska town bully/sociopath that should give a good scare to all his fans.

Klein, who was engaged to Katie Holmes for four years, came with girlfriend Ginnifer Goodwin (HBO’s “Big Love”) who, frankly, resembles Holmes a bit. The main difference, of course, is that Goodwin has a bubbly personality and a lot to say other than, “Tom is amazing.”

Meanwhile, across town, while Mike White’s “Year of the Dog” premiered for Paramount Vantage to mixed reviews, the mini studio’s chief, John Lesher, was one of many studio heads who crammed into the Racquet Club Theatre to see James C. Strouse’s “Grace is Gone.”

Strouse wrote another film from Sundance a couple of years ago, “Lonesome Jim,” that was much admired. This little gem of a film — the best movie here so far other than Tamara Jenkins’ “The Savages” — is one of the few this year without a distributor and should cause a bidding war.

John Cusack, in what could be an award-winning performance, plays a father who can’t bring himself to tell his two small daughters that their mother, a soldier in Iraq, has been killed.

“Grace is Gone” is not an epic or a blockbuster by any means, but its depiction of an average Army family faced with the reality and horror of the war is incredibly moving. It may be all the more so considering news this past week that a young woman who many of us knew from New York who was not a soldier, Andi Parhamovich, was killed there.

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This is mind-blowing because Andi — who had started as an assistant at Miramax and worked for a short time for Air America — was the kind of person you can’t imagine being taken by war. Blonde, blue-eyed and upbeat, she had gone to Baghdad to teach with a non-political group. (Her boyfriend is there with Newsweek.)

It was very strange to get this news just as “Grace is Gone” had ended, if only because that’s the moment when you realize art does imitate, if not anticipate, life.

Andi was just one of those great women you meet, starting out in the business and in life in New York. She must have been around 23 when she came to Miramax, full of life and eager at the chance to get into everything.

When Miramax changed owners she moved on to Freud Communications with her old boss, Matthew Hiltzik. But then she got the chance to work at struggling Air America. Talk about idealistic! The last time I saw her was at an Al Franken book signing at Barnes & Noble, and we talked about how much fun she was having and everything she looked forward to. It is small comfort to her parents, but Andi was enjoyed and embraced by everyone she knew during her short time in New York.