Sundance report: the deals, the stars, the swag -- At the film festival's midpoint, John Singleton's movie breaks records, while celebs grab goodies

By EW Staff
Updated January 27, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST
Paris Hilton
Credit: Paris Hilton: John Sciulli/ WireImage

If Sunday-morning chatter on Main Street was to be believed, the 2005 Sundance Film Festival had exactly one movie: Hustle & Flow, the pimp-with-dreams-of-rapping tale that MTV Films and Paramount picked up for a fat $16 million — the highest Sundance price tag ever (it includes a three-picture deal with the film’s producer, John Singleton). Next to that mega sale, Harvey Weinstein’s none-too-cheap $7.5 million purchase of the Pierce Brosnan flick Matador for Miramax went virtually unnoticed. And when Weinstein goes unnoticed, that’s something.

Of course, by Monday, it was back to business as usual in Park City, with indie powerhouses like Newmarket, Sony Pictures Classics, and Lions Gate hunting down the Next Big Hit. The contenders? Junebug, about a sophisticated art dealer (Thirteen Ghosts‘ Embeth Davidtz) gaining acceptance into her husband’s (Laurel Canyon‘s Alessandro Nivola) dysfunctional Southern family; The Squid and the Whale, Wes Anderson collaborator Noah Baumbach’s divorce drama starring Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels; Lonesome Jim, the Steve Buscemi-directed dramedy starring Casey Affleck and Liv Tyler; and Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza’s documentary The Aristocrats, which promises to split your sides with the story of the World’s Dirtiest Joke.

As for the celebrities, most lament that they don’t get to many screenings because they’re, you know, promoting their own films. Yet somehow, these same stars manage to find time to fill up their suitcases with free stuff. Stars from the likes of Kevin Costner (The Upside of Anger), Marisa Tomei (Loverboy, Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School), and Maggie Gyllenhaal (Happy Endings) hit Fred Segal Beauty to indulge in gratis spa treatments and body-care products. Also at FSB, Entourage‘s Adrian Grenier, in a curious moment of life imitiating art, grinned for paparazzi as he and two female companions loaded up shopping bags. Nearby, at Fred Segal, Paris Hilton raided Rocawear for not one but two parkas, Frederick’s of Hollywood for multiple negligees, and plenty of other shops for free goodies she would have absolutely no problem affording herself. (She’s not in Park City doing press for a film or anything — as far as we can tell, her sole purpose in showing up at Sundance is to rack up swag, shamelessly.)

Some celebrities, however, do know how to say no. Strangers With Candy star/screenwriter Amy Sedaris declined the graft, saying with a shrug upon her return from the Motorola House: ”I don’t want to carry anything else back [to New York] with me.”