On Friday, Jan. 18, Paris Hilton hosted a private dinner party for her film The Hottie and the Nottie at the Turning Leaf Lounge, one of many venues along Main Street that had been rented and revamped by Hollywood party planners. Across the street, a quaint sports bar called Doolan’s bore a temporary new maroon awning emblazoned with the word Stereo, after the New York nightclub.
Inside the party, where a giant wine bottle hung from the wall, Ms. Hilton was meeting a few select members of the press. Two girlfriends waited patiently on couches nearby, occasionally whispering in each other’s ears. Ms. Hilton wore a sparkly blue dress and a giant diamond ring on her ring finger that she waved around with impunity. She is not engaged.
After her work in the comfortable, sparsely populated lounge was done, she exited to the street, where two SUVs and a giant mass of screaming fans were waiting. “Oh, my God, oh, my God, she looks so beautiful,” said one of the latter, his voice quavering with emotion as he looked at the image he had captured on his digital camera.
Next stop: the 50 Cent concert at Harry O’s, a big performance space along the strip, where the rapper Akon had performed the night before, as would Maroon 5 and Velvet Revolver in the coming days.
A group of bodyguards forcefully whisked Ms. Hilton’s entourage to a table at the front of the stage. Ms. Hilton’s manager asked that her friends create a sort of human shield against encroaching fans, the most persistent of which was a middle-aged woman who claimed to be a former Playboy model. “I’m a really cool chick,” she pleaded.
At the adjacent table sat pregnant actress Jessica Alba and her fiancé, Cash Warren. “How crazy is this?” exclaimed Mr. Warren, who is in town promoting his documentary Made in America, about the Crips and Bloods. Later, he said that he had not been expecting such a huge crush of people. “When 50 went on, all of a sudden a mosh pit broke out. We were like, ‘O.K., Jessica’s pregnant, we gotta get out of here.’”
Mr. Warren said that even though he and his fiancée have gotten really good at “keeping things moving” through fawning crowds, Sundance presented special hazards. “It is a little overwhelming at times,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing the lengths to which people will go to gift you.”
Among the booty the couple had accepted thus far: snowboards, boots, the video game Guitar Hero and “lots of clothes and soft stuff for the little one.”
Over at Stereo the night before, Sir Ben Kingsley—promoting two films, The Wackness and Transsiberian—argued a similar line, echoing his self-spoofing appearance on The Sopranos. “I think that the marriage between that talent and corporate wealth and know-how need not be contaminating—it can be a very, very good thing,” he said. “I mean the Renaissance [was] built on patronage from royal princes of great wealth. We need our royal patrons, and now it’s the corporations.”
And the corporations have gotten very savvy at making their presence as soothing as possible. At the Village at the Yard suite, Diesel offered not free gifts but the opportunity to style an underprivileged child. The folks from Lexis Hybrid Living at the Project Greenhouse suite offered organic robes and scarves and trail mix and the opportunity to feel really good about one’s car.
R&B singer John Legend was there. “It’s quite a lot going for a small town,” he said. “It’s like Hollywood has descended on a very small town, and all the L.A. people get to wear their ski jackets, which I’m sure they’re very excited about. A nice little fashion change-up for them.”
Mr. Legend performed up the street at the Star Bar Saturday night. But the night belonged to Bono, who hosted a dinner at the Bon Appetit Supper Club after the premiere of the Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington documentary U2 3D. Al Gore came to dinner, as did the actors Woody Harrelson, Colin Farrell, Mary-Kate Olsen and Dennis Quaid. Afterward they headed up to the Greenhouse nightclub—another New York outpost, no relation to the suite—where they listened to the musical efforts of Entourage star Adrian Grenier.
On Sunday night, the group Velvet Revolver was slated to perform at Harry O’s. Sadly, lead singer Scott Weiland had missed his plane, so the band was forced to make do with Cisco Adler, who was conveniently dining downstairs at the film festival’s corollary “Chefdance” event. “Dude, I rocked that shit, bro,” he said of the capacity crowd. “I learned the lyrics five minutes before going on.”
Across town that night, a different kind of cast party was under way.
“After our premiere, we all went up to Daxter’s,” said Mark Maccora, unit production manager on North Starr, which is about a rap star who leaves inner-city Houston for rural Texas. “They just wanted to have a real classy group experience to celebrate. Get away from the hustle and bustle of Sundance.”
Mr. Maccora said he had been moved to tears during a scene in the film where the protagonist is offered the opportunity to finally go horseback riding “for real.” “We’ve been working so hard all our lives for this,” he said. “And now we’re getting to ride for real.”