PARK CITY, Utah – With the Sundance Film Festival coming to a close Sunday in chilly Park City, Utah, I thought I’d toss off a few choice tidbits gleaned while rubbing shoulders with the stars — in between the 17 times a day I had to blow my nose due to a nagging sinus infection. Ah, the glamorous life.
At the Philips Electronics lounge, where free products were being “gifted” to celebrities, I bumped into boy band survivor Lance Bass (‘N Sync).
Fresh from a kiwi shave-off competition with actress Shannon Elizabeth — yes, they shaved kiwis to prove how strong Philips razors are — Lance told me about another item he was eyeing.
“I like the heart defibrillator,” he said. “That’s amazing.”
“Uh, hopefully you won’t be needing that,” I replied.
“Well, I hope I don’t, but if someone passes out at my house and stops breathing, I’ll know what to do.”
I like a young man who’s prepared for anything.
Actor Paul Giamatti (“Sideways”) was at Sundance with two films. “The Hawk Is Dying” has him playing an emotional misfit who trains hawks, and in the “The Illusionist,” he’s a mysterious magician in early 20th-century Vienna.
I asked Giamatti if he ever longs to make women’s hearts flutter as a full-on romantic leading man.
“It’d be nice,” he answered, “but I really wouldn’t know what to do.”
Use the defibrillator?
Maggie Gyllenhaal arrived at the festival with a film called “Sherrybaby.” She stars as a woman trying to rebuild her life after getting out of prison.
I wanted to know about rebuilding her reputation, which took some hits in the press after the actress said the U.S. was responsible for the events of 9/11.
“I’d really rather not talk about that right now,” said Gyllenhaal, who’s currently filming a movie about that tragic day, directed by Oliver Stone. “I will say, though, that I’ve never had an experience like this one I’m having with Oliver. It’s blowing my mind. Oliver is really intense and demands more of me than probably anyone I’ve ever worked with. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that, but at the end of the day I also feel awful because living through the events of Sept. 11 is hard.”
Haskell Wexler is a multi-Oscar-winning cinematographer known for such classic films as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” and “Coming Home.” He was at Sundance with a documentary he directed called “Who Needs Sleep?” — which is critical of the film industry for making crew people work excessively long hours.
Since he's a tough old coot, I figured Wexler would have never been afraid of Elizabeth Taylor, so I asked him to call up his memory of her from “Virginia Woolf.”
“I love Elizabeth Taylor,” he said. “I wore my light meter on my waist all the time, and every day she’d come to work and give me a hug, and I would say, ‘Elizabeth, you’re crushing my light meter.’”