12:00pm PT by Rebecca Ford, Tatiana Siegel, Chris Gardner
Sundance Rambling Reporter: Helicopter Showdown, Executive Dance-Off and More Sights, Sounds of the Fest
A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Sundance Film Festival attendees had new transportation options this year with widely publicized helicopter shuttles from Uber as well as Blade, which offered reasonably priced rides to and from Park City. However, the services, which were scheduled to start Jan. 21 and continue through Monday, shut down less than 48 hours after launching following threats from the Summit County Sheriff's Office, which maintains jurisdiction over the area.
According to a source, local officials claim that the services didn't have necessary permits to fly over the area, and the county doesn't have a framework in place to deal with helicopter traffic.
A spokesman for Blade shrugged off the abrupt stoppage, saying "It was an amazing introduction to the West Coast for our Blade services, including the Sundance jet and our custom Blade lounge. It was mission accomplished for us; we're already talking about doing it again next year."
A rep for Uber didn't respond to a request for comment. Summit County Sheriff's Office also didn't return a phone call for comment.
John Krasinski owes the casting of Margo Martindale in his directorial effort, The Hollars, to Marshalls, having met the actress on his first job, a commercial for the clothing store. "I said to him at the time, 'I'm not a betting person, but if I was, I would bet all of my money on you,' " Martindale tells THR.
The packed crowd inside Cicero's on Jan. 22 — on hand for Insurgent Media's Sundance bash hosted by Electus chief Ben Silverman, Endemol North American co-chairman and co-CEO Charlie Corwin and musician/filmmaker Donovan Leitch — got a surprise treat in the form of legendary rocker Sting.
Some big names from the music biz were already scheduled to perform as part of an all-star band of sorts (Leitch alongside Juliette Lewis and Mark McGrath), but it was Sting who stole the show with an impromptu performance that included his "Message in a Bottle." (Sting hit Park City to help support Jim: The James Foley Story, a documentary set to air on HBO on Feb. 6)
But guests with good memories did a double take when they spotted former enemies Silverman and Turner chief Kevin Reilly rocking out inches from each other in the same VIP section. However, a source says that hatchet was buried years ago and Reilly was in attendance as a guest of Silverman, as was Turner president David Levy and wife Niki.
Also at Insurgent's bash: producer Chris Smith, Fisher Stevens (who also performed) and KCRW resident star deejay Jason Bentley.
Sting performs onstage at Insurgent Media's Sundance bash at Cisero's in Park City on Jan. 22. (Photo by Sonia Recchia/Getty Images)
With all the press she's doing as the star of Starz's The Girlfriend Experience, Riley Keough won't be catching Spike Lee's Michael Jackson's Journey From Motown to Off the Wall, though Jackson was briefly her stepfather when he was married to her mother, Lisa Marie Presley. "I have no plans to see any movies. I'm struggling to find time to sleep," says Keough.
Still, there's at least one person at the festival who would enjoy meeting Keough: director Kevin Macdonald, who is directing a biopic about the actess' grandfather, Elvis Presley, Fox 2000's Last Train to Memphis.
"I should cast her as her grandmother," jokes Macdonald, who was in Sundance with his documentary Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang. "Or Priscilla Presley."
For Keough, playing her grandmother would be "really bizarre."
"I find it weird playing people that are alive in general, so playing your grandma would be very weird," she says. "I don't think it would be something I'd enjoy. It would make me extremely uncomfortable. But to quote Justin Bieber, ‘Never say never.'"
Jan. 23 delivered a big night for Ricky Bates Jr. with the premiere of his latest film Trash Fire. But it became an even more momentous event when Bates took to one knee and proposed to his girlfriend of six years, Noelle Cruz, at the beginning of the Q&A portion at the premiere at the Egyptian Theater. And she said yes!
Bates tells THR that he decided when he made the film that wherever it premiered, he'd gather his family and hers and make it official with a ring. "Noelle has, in a lot of ways, saved my life and I would never have been able to make this movie without her encouragement," he explains. "All day was pretty nerve-racking. My editor, Yvonne Valdez, flew over with the ring and handed it off to AnnaLynne McCord, who had the ring on her until the Q&A. One of my best pals ever, Matthew Gray Gubler, flew over just before so he could say a few kind words and introduce us alongside AnnaLynne. This was a team effort — best night of my life!"
Keegan-Michael Key is part of the short-film jury at Sundance, but the Keanu star also became one of the busiest party-hoppers during the festival, seen at several splashy events over the weekend. He popped by THR and Sundance TV's event Friday night, the Morris From America party with Craig Robinson at Bar 53 on Friday, the Manchester by the Sea premiere with Casey Affleck at the Chase Sapphire Lounge on Saturday, and giving director-star John Krasinski a big hug at The Hollars party at the Acura Studio Sunday night.
Empire star Jussie Smollett accompanied friend Tika Sumpter to the bash for her Sundance premiere of Southside With You at the Rand Luxury Lounge at the St. Regis hotel on Jan. 24. After posing for photos with Sumpter and Parker Sawyers (who play Michelle and Barack Obama in the movie) Smollett told his pal to look around and "take this all in."