Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sundance: Ski & Schmooze 2008

To appreciate the Sundance Film Festival, as it is, you must embrace its contradictions. Here, the most high-minded artistic and moral aspirations coexist with hype, corporate self-congratulation and a ravening hunger for money and attention. All the values and pathologies that define the movie industry, - and perhaps American culture in general - are concentrated into a bitter, dizzying espresso shot."

A.O. Scott, Film Critic, NYT.

Just returned from 5 exhausting, fun and food filled, party crazed days at The Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Park City is a former mining town, turned world class ski resort, with three major ski resorts: Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort, and The Canyons Resort.

With an elevation of 7,000 feet, the air is thin, & temperatures decrease significantly ( it's fucking C O L D). The combination of lower temperatures, lower oxygen levels, and lower air pressure associated with high altitude brings on altitude sickness and as such one requires a period of acclimation when arriving in Park City. Symptoms can include headaches, nausea, hypothermia, insomnia, diminished alertness. The physiological reason altitude sickness occurs is because the reduced air pressure and oxygen levels creates a shortage of oxygen in the blood, so the body produces more red blood cells in the hopes of capturing more oxygen.

Usually I get hit with a relentless headache! In order to acclimate, I need to take alot of aspirin, and drink alot of water. The first day I drink a bottle of water every hour, for 10 hours, plus take four aspirins as soon as I arrive, and another 2, two hours later, and another 2 two hours after that. That usually eases my headache and gets me acclimatized. (Every day after that I drink no less than one bottle of water an hour!) I dress in layers and walk Main Street where all the stores, restaurants, and gifting suites, and parties occur.

Since Main Street lies on a hill, I walk up the hill, window shopping, visiting SWAG Suites, taking in the action, and then downhill, on the other side of the street, doing the same., and I nosh on grains and fruits, and the occasional hot chocolate, throughout the day, to tide me over until dinner---- which is usually a 3-4 course "prix fixe" meal at $85.00 a head - not including tax, tip and wine.

This year I stayed at Treasure Mountain Inn, which is located at the TOP of Main Street. Walking uphill at that altitude is a WORKOUT, hell---- walking DOWNHILL at that altitude is a workout!! Try walking up & down Main Street, 3-6 times a day, with bags of SWAG in your arms! They say what doesn't killya......

Experts suggest doing the following to combat the effects of high altitude:

Performing moderate physical exercise quickens the acclimation process.Limiting exposure to cold, staying dry if prolonged exposure is necessary and dressing warmly and in layers can prevent hypothermia . While at high altitudes, one should drink plenty of water to prevent over-saturation of red blood cells. Calorie intake also needs to be high because of the additional energy required to maintain body temperature in a cold environment. Good sources of calories are carbohydrates such as grains and fruit.
Good to know I'm in sync with the experts, although I notice they don't recommend indulging in the quantity of aspirin I usually swallow on Day One, or for that, matter, they don't mention aspirin at all! But that headache is a bitch, and aspirin helps.... ALOT!!

After Day One, I usually take two aspirins with breakfast ( 7 grain oatmeal with soy milk, raisins, & sunflower seeds ) and won't take anymore until I feel a headache coming on. As long as I'm hydrating, and noshing, I know I'm ok, and the headache is likely related to air pressure, and aspirin really helps mitigate the pain.

Our event - The Alive Expo Green Pavilion-which I produced with Kim Shimmel of Mix Media and Patrycja Siewert-Towns of Alive Expo -was a huge success; lots of photos will be forth coming. We hosted the Phoebe in Wonderland press conference---you can see some photos here at WireImage.

I spent one & half days with the fabulous & stunning Asian beauty Cassandra Hepburn from gifting suite to gifting suite, where she was gifted over $10,000 worth of SWAG. I was also gifted well over $1000 worth of SWAG, including a great pair of shiny silver and white Rubber Duck boots "Snowjoggers", a pair of Cr8tive Recreation sneakers, that you can dress up or dress down, a super warm Tundra hat, ( mine is pink), a pair of RBK, natural organic make up, organic wine, a really cool bag from EcoGear, & "Heal the Bay"t-shirts.

Cassandra is starring in Hellride, produced by Quentin Tarantino, appears on the cover of Femme Fatale in Feb, and this summer she plays opposite Woody Harrelson in "Surfer Dude", the new Mathew McConaughey flick.

Schmoozed with:
Bruce Willis attending the "What Just Happened?" premiere at the Eccles Theatre on January 19.

Sarah Jessica Parker & Mathew Broderick at the "Smart People" Premiere

Ran into:
Adrien Grenier, of Entourage, at Myspace Cafe, and at the premiere of this movie, 'Adventures of Power' at the Egyptian Theatre, across from where I was staying.

The uber hot Michael Rosenbaum, who is diabolically delicious as Lex Luther on Smallville.
I think he should change his name to Campbell because he is Mmmm Mmmmm Good !! Meoch!!

Emily Deschanel,( I love "BONES") Mary Kate or Ashley Olsen ( damned if I can tell them apart!!) Stanley Tucci, the very tall & very charming Alan Rickman, the very pretty Maria Bello ( Downloading Nancy premiered at Sundance) & Jason Ritter.

Colin Hanks, in town for the premiere of "The Great Buck Howard".
It was nice to see Colin again. The first time we met, was on the set of "Roswell", when my client at the time, John Bartley, (Emmy award winning cinematographer for X-Files) worked as the DP. Colin looks more like his dad, Tom, with each passing day.

Eco-Friendly Celebs Who Dropped By:
Jeremy Glazer, Sienna Miller, John Eckhouse, Bill Pullman, Tim Daly, Elle Fanning, Rachel Smith ( Miss America) Lin Shaye, Cassandra Hepburn, Rex Lee from Entourage, John Jean Louis from Heroes, Donovan Lietch, Max Wong(Producer, Bring It On) Reggie Bush ( San Diego Chargers) & his lady, Kim Kardashian. More to come........

Hung-Out with:
My good friend, Max Wong, of Pinkslip Productions. While at Beacon Film, she developed and produced"Bring It On" . The original - not the multiple direct to dvd knockoffs Beacon Films releases annually to capitalize on the popularity of the original. These are bastard children to the original. Beacon never believed the original movie would make any money at the box office. They were wrong! It was made for $10 million and on opening weekend alone grossed over $17 million. Worldwide, the film has grossed over $350 million. It did so well, they fired Max
(hence the name of her company: Pinkslip Productions) and now the bastards at Beacon keep producing these horrible sequels... ASSHATS!

I love Max, she is an awesome producer, a great friend, and lot's of fun, and one of my biggest supporters, who believes in me more than I believe in myself. Her other credits include: Air Force One, Disturbing Behavior (which is when we met) Tuck Everlasting, All You've Got ( aka Rumble) and The Anatomist ( which is in pre-production). Check out these films on dvd instead of the never ending mindless "Bring it On" sequels which are nothing more than a cash grab by Beacon.

Notably absent:
Films about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sundance 08 Mantra: Focus on Film
"Thanks for putting your focus on film"

10 Shorts 10 Days:
Sundance continues its traditions of making 10 shorts available free online.
Check them out here

Fave Short:
F.C.U. "Fact Checkers Unit" - a CSI spoof about Fact Checkers. Friggin HILARIOUS.
Watch it here.

Fave Documentary:
"Where In The World is Osama Bin Laden?" from charismatic Morgan Spurlock of "SuperSize Me" fame. This is a must see. Questions the US war on terrorism with humour. It's funny, entertaining, and illuminating!

From Josh Horowitz, MTV Movie Blog:

In truth the film is less an actual search for bin Laden than an excuse to place Spurlock in the heart of a land we’re used to seeing only through CNN-reflected glasses. Sure Spurlock queries distant relatives of 9/11 hijackers and Taliban members, but this filmmaker/showman is savvy enough to know calling bin Laden airlines and asking where Osama is won’t produce any great leads.

Spurlock is a witty, quick-on-his-feet guide. His questions are basic (”What do you think of America?” and “Is Osama a murderer?”) but his manner and technique are authentic. He’s in the moment and wants answers just as we do. How did it all come to this, anyway? When did America become the enemy? If no especially resonant and definitive answers are given, at least the questions are posed with an open and thoughtful mind. And as for the answer to that central question of the title, well you don’t really want me to tell you, do you?

The Verdict: It is to Spurlock’s credit that he once again emerges from his doc as a level-headed concerned citizen rather than a rabble-rousing polarizer. “Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden?” explores some tough issues and it’s not going to get us all to sing “Kum Ba Yah,” but it is a doc that negotiates that ever-so-delicate dance between the illuminating and the entertaining.
Strange But True:
Main Street and many houses on the hills above Main Street suffered a one hour black out Friday nite when all power suddenly shut down ----during which time some asshat tried to steal a flat screen TV from the Main Street Mall & fell off the roof - killing himself. ( I couldn't make this up if I tried) Talk about 'instant karma'. No answer as to what caused the outage, but it didn't stop the insanity:>)

Friends, Films, Food & Fun:
Most restaurants offer great food (especially Grappa & Chimayo) & Main Street which is nestled into the Wasatch Mountains, is very scenic, albeit swarming with celebs, media, film fans, ski lovers, apres-ski lovers & musicians. There is no better place to ski than Deer Valley, and no better place that the Sundance Film Festival to see some great films and the next generation of film makers, actors, writers, and directors! Except for SLAMDANCE!!

Hope to have some great photos of our event up in the next few days, along with a list of those who attended our event and REALLY DO CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT, and a list of those who claim they care, but don't --- they were conspicuous by their absence.

Sundance is over, but there's no rest for the weary & the wicked!!

Next up:

Our 3 day Alive Green Expo event surrounding the Oscars at The Sofitel, Feb 21st - 23rd.
The Writers Strike may stop the show, but the parties go on!
We hope to have Writers drop by, receive some special gifts and our moral support!

Alive Expo Green Pavillion - Real Time TV
Fox News
Sundance Ski & Schmooze 2007
Sundance, Slamdance & Swagdance
Our 2007 Emmy Event

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pat Dollard 's "Young Americans" on Showtime

At last, Young Americans, the 8-episode mini series by agent-turned manager-turned gonzo documentary film maker and honorary Marine, Pat Dollard, airs the Spring on Showtime.

Over half a year and 600 hours of footage in the formerly most dangerous place on earth has had a spill-over effect into how Dollard perceives the world today.

"The best of spiritual America, the spirit of America is in Iraq," is how he describes it.
Congrats, my friend, you’ve put alot of your blood - in the literal sense- and sweat into this project.

Matt Sanchez reviews Episode 3 "The Glass Factory" for World Net Daily.

This spring, Pat Dollard's Young Americans will air on cable television, the result of years of work. But there's a good reason for the time it has taken: Pat Dollard is a man obsessed with reality, his reality of the war he experienced while embedded with the 3rd battalion 7th Marines in Ramadi.

Mixing that desire with Hollywood never is simple, either. Getting attention for movie projects often is a large part of the goal, with much of a project's budget going to advertising. Just that attention can make a film a blockbuster or package it for the discounted DVDs. Publicity is everything in Hollywood, and that's what makes the films about the war in Iraq so different.

Read more here

Thought of the Week

What IF the hokey pokey is REALLY what it's all about??

Rise Of The Real People

The thin and beautiful have had their turn. The hippest models today look more like the rest of us.
Fashion-industry folks say the trend of using real people to sell clothes attests to a fatigue with skinny, expressionless models in ads and on runways. As proof, they point to the negative publicity surrounding the painfully thin models at last spring's Fashion Week. "I definitely think there's some backlash amongst people who see fashion shows, then read stories about how the models have to smoke themselves to death and only drink lemon water for six weeks," says Simon Rogers, head of Ugly New York, a casting agency for "real"-looking models. "People would like to see somebody up there who reflects how people on the street really look." (The TV show "Ugly Betty" echoed this sentiment in a recent episode where Betty staged an "alternative" fashion show with nonprofessional models.)


Much of this interest in real-looking models is driven by the Internet, which has democratized the once rarefied world of high fashion


Clothing companies are responding to the trend by seeking real people who look at home in the clothes being sold.


While Ben Sherman won't be showing at fashion week, Dana Dynamite, VP of marketing, says the brand is enthusiastic about using real models on catwalks in the future. Response to the ads, she says, has made her a believer: "People on blogs are saying we're so much cooler now that we did this."
It's about time!!
Read the entire piece by Jennie Yabroff from Newsweek .

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Artists influencing the 2008 vote

Hollywood filmmakers, philanthropists & investors, came together at Sundance to launch "The U.S. Campaign" .

* What is it?: A collaboration of filmmakers, artists and musicians who want to make 10 short films about political issues and stream them on the Internet.

* The players: Amy Berg is a filmmaker who has produced documentaries for CNN and whose freshman directorial effort, "Deliver Us From Evil," earned an Oscar nomination; David Poe, singer-songwriter who has worked with Bob Dylan, Tori Amos, Joan Baez and Duncan Sheik; Cathy Schulman, president of Mandalay Pictures and producer of the Oscar-winning "Crash."

* Participating filmmakers: Amy Berg; Morgan Spurlock ("Supersize Me,"); Alex Gibney ("Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room"); Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady ("The Boys of Baraka"); Ross Kauffman ("Born into Brothels"); Tiffany Schlain ("Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness"); Ted Hope ("21 Grams"); R.J. Cutler ("The War Room").

*The Focus:
"to make meaning out of media and cut through the white noise of campaign rhetoric." according to Cathy Shulman, Prexy of Mandalay Pictures.

*The End Game:

National politics meets grass-roots technology with the goal of
affecting the outcome of the 2008 presidential election.

Fundraising efforts at Sundance garnered $200k of the $500K they need to produce all 10 shorts, after potential investors viewed Amy Berg's short" Polarized," which chronicles the effect of global warming on a native Alaskan village. Her short can be viewed on You Tube.

I 'm told this is a bi-partisan effort. You be the judge - but my spidey senses are tingling and not in a good way!

Read more:
Sundance: Filmmakers want the issues online

Sundance: SKi & Schmooze 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Brig. Gen Dana Pittard "Deal or No Deal"

Brig. Gen. Dana Pittard made a special appearance on "Deal or No Deal" to present the Commanding General's Coin to a special contestant: Military Spouse Shaquilla Farrelly, married 17 yrs to Army Staff Sgt. Patrick Farrelly, who has done tours in Afghanistan, and who is about to deploy again for another tour of duty.

Pittard said:

" We recognize the service of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, and the sacrifice, the selfless service of our soldiers is so important. But just as important is the sacrifices and service of our family members, just like you Shaquilla.

And that means so much.

We just want to thank you and as a token of our appreciation, I'd like to present to you our Commanding General's coin from America's Army."
Then he gave her a big hug, and left with a HOOOAH!

She didn't win the million dollars, but she left with $37,000, met one of her favorite talk show hosts, Ellen DeGeneneres, who was the first celebrity briefcase model, and topped that with a special visit and tribute by Brig.Gen. Dana Pittard.

Several episodes of "Deal or No Deal" have been devoted to military members and spouses.