Day four, in which Kimberly Gadette checks out Ed Helms' office and sings along with Carole King. Or, as they might say in Sundance: dropping temperatures AND dropping names.
The chill of temperatures in single digits does not stop the celebrants on Main Street. I'm happy to say that I witnessed it for myself on Sunday (Day #4). But first, an explanation: given that the majority of press screenings are located in the northeast section of the hub, there's not that much time in the day to hop the 2.5 miles down to Main Street. (Think of the Sundance area as shaped as a capital "P," as in "Philm" ... while I'm hanging around the curvy part, the revelers party hard on the straight and narrow – an obvious oxymoron, but there you have it.)
It's a perfect people-watcher's delight. Twenty-something men wearing outrageously silly, woolen caps; women, their thighs the size of twigs, balancing on 4" boot heels; silver-haired producer-types snarling into smart phones, doing deals and talking acquisitions, instructing their subordinates on exactly what to say to who-sis. Both 50 Cent and Slash were holding private parties; the young crowds anxiously waited behind the ropes, hoping to get waved in.
Amid all the lights and traffic and noise, in an icy alley adjacent to an upscale restaurant, a solitary piano player plunked out half-hearted tunes. An old spaghetti pot served as his tip jar. Presenting the haves and have-nots, Sundance style ...
Back to the brighter lights: other than jewelry, art and T-shirt shops, nightclubs, restaurants, coffee shops and temporary headquarters for the likes of AFI, Sundance Channel, ASCAP, filmmaker lounges, et al., the publicists find places to hold assorted talent interviews and roundtable conferences. Not only did the upcoming comedy Cedar Rapids set up shop on Main Street, but it literally set up shop, transforming a nondescript space into the fictional headquarters of BrownStar Insurance. Starring Ed Helms, John C. Reilly and Anne Heche, this out-of-competition film is slated for a US-wide release in mid-February, with the UK opening date to follow a month later.
The faux insurance agents were more than happy to "insure my dreams," as the slogan claims, by plying me with all sorts of winterized bling – including a woolen beanie, long-sleeve T-shirt, lip balm, coffee mug and hand warmers. But woolen beanies couldn't quite win me over. Though I was hoping to love the film, of the three mainstream comedies I've seen over the last few days, Win Win (with Paul Giamatti) and My Idiot Brother (with Paul Rudd) simply can't be beat. Not to say that Cedar Rapids isn't fun, with strong comic performances ... but the movie's just not in the same exceptional category as the other two.
It was more than mere desire to snap pictures of the festival's festive goings-on that lured me to downtown Sundance. Sunday just so happened to be the day of my ersatz date with Carole King. First, I attended a screening of the documentary Troubadours, a nostalgic valentine to the singer/songwriters who once reigned supreme at the West Hollywood club, "The Troubadour." And at the film's center are two of the most iconic talents of the late '60s-early '70s: Carole King and James Taylor.
To help publicize the film, Ms. King held an intimate concert by invitation only. And somehow, yours truly wangled an invite. And there, on a late Sunday night in the downstairs room of Cisero's that hosted maybe 75 people at most, I was one step away from the stage. Well, one step if you don't include the scowling bald-headed security officer standing as a barrier between Ms. King's piano and me. Along with her two original band-mates Danny Kortchmar and Leland Sklar (both in the film as well), she performed with as much joy and gusto as ever, belying her 68 years. She insisted that the multi-generational crowd act as her chorus, cueing us when to belt out a back-up lyric, and then when to stop. "My turn," she'd say, grinning. Maybe it's a bit of an exaggeration, but I'd like to think that at one night during Sundance 2011, I got to sing "Natural Woman" with Carole King.
And no, it doesn't get much better than that.
Signing off from Sundance,