Ruth Bader Ginsburg Storms Sundance but Makes One Festgoer Nervous

"If they could have brought her in a bubble or a Popemobile — a Ruthmobile — then fine," Black List CEO Franklin Leonard says of the 84-year-old Supreme Court Justice as she and others had to navigate treacherous weather and flu threats.
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Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg may have received a rock star reception — three standing ovations — at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 21, when the doc RBG about her life and legacy made its world premiere. But the 84-year-old Supreme Court Justice’s presence in Park City made at least one high-profile festivalgoer a bit uneasy.

“It is cold and slippery, and everyone has the flu,” Black List founder and CEO Franklin Leonard told THR. “If they could have brought her in a bubble or a Popemobile — a Ruthmobile — then fine. Otherwise, it was literally the first time that I’ve ever questioned Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s judgment. I mean, she must stay alive.”

Leonard attended a private lunch at Firewood on Main Street (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jeffrey Wright and Jeff Zucker also were on hand) before the CNN Films’ bow and the moment for him was almost worth the risk. “I couldn't help feeling emotional in her presence," he said.

Still, the so-called Notorious RBG, who pumps iron with a private trainer three days a week to keep fit, tried to keep her Sundance commitments to a minimum. In fact, a source says she only planned to sit in the audience during the post-premiere Q&A with the film’s directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West. But once the first audience question was lobbed, the tiny firebrand got up gingerly from her seat and stormed the stage.

Following the justice's return to Washington, D.C., Magnolia Pictures and Participant Media nabbed worldwide rights to RBG.

A version of this story also appears in the Jan. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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