About Town: Rambling Reporter

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Following the latest happenings around Hollywood and where industry players spent the holidays.

OPRAH'S SUNDANCE SURPRISE Word is, Oprah’s heading to the Sundance Film Festival to hunt for content for OWN’s large documentary division within the burgeoning network. While much ink has been spilled on the big names she’s lined up for her monthly “documentary club” (projects with Julia Roberts, Forest Whitaker and Gabriel Byrne are already in production), she’s also looking for smaller productions; in November, she snapped up three indie docs, including, for example, 65_RedRoses, the story of a woman with cystic fibrosis. Bill Gates was the surprise star of Sundance last year, but Oprah could eclipse him. And how does her new doc division, headed by Lisa Erspamer (a Harpo vet) affect “queen of docs” Sheila Nevins, who’s ruled from her perch at HBO for years? Will there be a seismic shift in power within the documentary world from East to West? Stay tuned ...

Jerry Bruckheimer: Just Say No Thanks
Superproducer Jerry Bruckheimer is seemingly not a man who needs much validation. The creator-producer of the CSI franchise (plus The Amazing Race, Cold Case, Without a Trace and dozens of blockbuster films including the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise) was asked recently to accept induction into the Television Hall of Fame — and word is he turned down an opportunity other longtime television producers would die for. Who in Hollywood isn’t interested in legacy? A spokesperson for the TV Academy tells THR they never comment on inductees, and Bruckheimer spokesman Paul Bloch at Rogers & Cowan’s comment is: “I don’t believe it. It’s an honor to be asked.”

Don’t Date, Don’t Tell
There was a time, back in the Ovitz era, when some Hollywood agencies had hard and fast policies regarding agents’ personal lives. But now that a third CAA agent is involved with a star (CAA’s Jim Toth just got engaged to Reese Witherspoon, Hilary Swank is paired up with John Campisi, and Alyssa Milano is married to David Bugliari), it’s time to ask: Do agencies have any such policies these days? Although CAA is the hotbed of activity, over at WME, Patrick Whitesell is married to agency client Lauren Sanchez and agent Jason Trawick is dating Britney Spears. Representatives for WME, Gersh, UTA, Paradigm and ICM all say no such policies are in play — but one agency insider admits: “It’s frowned upon, but it’s mostly a very rare occurrence. Agencies are more corporate than Wild West these days — most agents are married family people.” A spokesperson for CAA was not reachable as of press time.

Big Splash in the Desert
Who’s heading out to Palm Springs this weekend? Everyone, it seems. Solidifying its role as one of the most important stops on the road to Oscar, the Palm Springs International Film Festival is luring Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman, Colin Firth and Ben Affleck to its black-tie awards gala Jan. 8. And festival organizers tell THR that they’ve lined up Amy Adams to co-present with Mark Wahlberg the Director of the Year Award to The Fighter’s David O. Russell and James Franco to present the Sonny Bono Visionary Award to 127 Hours helmer Danny Boyle.

POWER TRIPS

St. Barts: The island attracted a sunny crowd over Christmas, wanting to show off famous significant others: Demi with Ashton, Ellen vacaying with Portia, Jason Statham relaxing with Victoria’s Secret model (and new Transformers star) Rosie Huntington-WhiteleySalma Hayek and husband Francois-Henri Pinault cruising on his yacht … Alicia Keys with husband Swizz Beatz; Harvey Weinstein and wife Georgina Chapman, and George Lucas arm-in-arm with Mellody HobsonFergie and Josh Duhamel partying at the $80 million beachfront estate of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who flew in the Black Eyed Peas to entertain.

Mexico: South of the border got its fair share of those seeking their moment in the sun — and paparazzi as well. While Paradigm’s Norman Aladjem was seeking out quiet Cancun, Cabo was anything but, with the half-naked beautiful likes of George Clooney and Elisabetta Canalis, Cameron Diaz and A-Rod, Leo DiCaprio and Bar Rafaeli, and Jessica Alba and Cash Warren somehow always sunning in reach of photographers … Leo hosted an NYE party at his private villa in Cabo for revelers Naomi Campbell and Vladimir Doronin and Nicky Hilton and David KatzenbergEdward Norton and Kid Rock had New Year’s Day lunch at Cindy Crawford’s villa … Rob Reiner, Mark Burg and Aaron Sorkin low-keying it. … Elsewhere in Mexico, WME’s Jeff Gorin was poolside at the Four Seasons Punta Mita in Puerto Vallarta and PR chieftain Stan Rosenfield sunning at Capella Ixtapa.  

On the Slopes: Who opted for ice and snow? Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson enjoyed their estate in Sun Valley …  Aspen winter residents Jack Nicholson, Goldie Hawn and Don Henley skiing Ajax … Dustin Hoffman chilling at his home in Deer Valley, as did Brian Grazer.

Overseas: Some opted for more exotic travel: Summit’s Patrick Wachsberger traveled to Rwanda and Burundi to see gorillas in action … Producer Morgan Wendell visited Tel Aviv and Cairo … Ryan Seacrest and producing partner Adam Sher also in Israel (aprés Ben Silverman’s wedding) … Denzel Washington touring Haifa and fooling Israelis into thinking he was a Denzel look-alike … It wasn’t  just Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz caught coupling up in a small town in England: Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson celebrated on the Isle of Wight.

Los Angeles: Ari Emanuel staying on home turf and taking the kids to Barney Greengrass for lunch.

 

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