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For the Poseurs of Sundance, Attitude Can Be Everything

January 20, 2002|Text and Photos By ROBERT GAUTHIER | TIMES STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

PARK CITY, Utah — Locals call the Hollywood elite attending the Sundance Film Festival "PIBs,"--"People in Black." It's meant in the most derogatory sense, but that doesn't seem to bother the herd of movie-industry types walking along Main Street, wearing Kenneth Cole sweaters and talking into their ultra-tiny Motorola Star-Tak phones.

Actually, it's getting harder to spot a PIB because black seems to be fading to gray and giving way to other colors. As the 20th annual celebration of American independent movies ends today in this picturesque mountain town, new fashion categories come to mind such as "PINGs" (People in Neon Green) or "PIMPs" (People in Modified Pink).

Photo day at the Mountain Lodge ice rink, and a San Francisco drag troupe is melting snow as its colorful outfits and attitude outshine the bright midday sun. The troupe earns the "People Who Just Won't Let Go of the '60s" award. Not far away is actress Bai Ling, melting some snow of her own as she shows off her "ski outfit," with a tiger-stripe print midriff top and an even shorter fur jacket with leopard spots. Guaranteed to keep her warm as she's cutting through the deep Park City moguls.

Looking like the girl next door in a classic "look in your own closet and you'll find one" sweater, actress Aimee Graham, who is in "Bark," responds to a red-carpet type question of "Who's your sweater by?" with, "I don't know, just make something up." Later in the week, she's posing at the Reebok house, a cabin where filmmakers, actors and actresses can go to get a workout, a massage, lunch and free Reebok clothes from head to toe. It didn't take long for her to graduate to one of the People in Free Gear. She still doesn't know who made her sweater.

You still see an occasional dead animal--or faux skin--warming the obviously wealthy shoulders of a "Park City Recreator at Play" as one of them exits the Marriott Hotel on the way to the slopes for some of the best skiing in the world.

Then there are the likes of the truly independent filmmaker, who is the embodiment of the spirit of Sundance. Don Thomas, a graduate student at San Francisco State, wears his homemade chicken outfit day in and day out to promote his master's project, "Pedro+Tony?," his animated love story about a dog named Pedro and his "boyfriend who happens to be a chicken," Tony. Thomas falls into a category of his own: "People in Chicken Outfits Desperately Looking for Attention."

Mariah Carey, very overdressed by her standards, still embodies diva-ness alongside frumpishly elegant Mira Sorvino as they arrive to the preview of their movie "Wise Girls."

Carey looks fabulous in just a pair of jeans, a suede jacket and a low-cut white top. We can't call Mariah a "PIB." She's obviously in a league of her own, rising above the common first initial "P." She's a DINGBAT--"Diva In Non-designer Gear But Appropriate Today."

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