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SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL | NOTEBOOK

Can you #!%! hear me now?

January 27, 2006|Chris Lee and Robin Abcarian | Special to The Times

PARK CITY, Utah — It's really the little moments that make a place like the Sundance Film Festival so magical. You're walking down the street minding your own business and suddenly a burly man in a big down parka on a cellphone comes striding toward you. He's dropping the F-bomb over and over into the ear of whatever poor guy is on the other end.

Just as you begin to think you are witnessing a truly ugly moment in the history of Hollywood thuggishness, you realize: Hey, that guy's Harvey Weinstein, the poster boy for brutish behavior. And you can die happy now. Your Sundance experience is complete.

Posing for charity

It's almost impossible to describe the free-for-all atmosphere in the suites around Park City where corporations have descended like vultures-in-reverse, allowing celebrities and other taste makers (media people) to pick their carcasses clean of free goods. Hewlett-Packard decided to do something a little different. Instead of giving out free printers (who wants to lug those around?), the company, in collaboration with the photo agency Wire Image, set up a portrait photo booth just off Main Street.

Celebrities came by and were shot by celebrity photographer Jeff Vespa. The autographed photos will be auctioned off on EBay starting Feb. 6. Proceeds will benefit Habitat for Humanity International. Those who stopped in included Jennifer Aniston and Catherine Keener.

A Young glow

On Tuesday night, Neil Young and Jonathan Demme were still basking in the afterglow of the premiere, a day earlier, of "Heart of Gold," Demme's intimate concert film of Young's "Prairie Wind" project, filmed last summer over the course of two days at Nashville's legendary Ryman Auditorium. A jovial Demme and his often reclusive subject were relaxed and chatty at a small dinner.

Young, whose new songs came out of two traumatic recent experiences -- the death of his father and emergency brain surgery -- looked the picture of health as he sat with his wife, Pegi.

Before dinner, Young chatted about his surgery. Doctors discovered not just one aneurysm -- which are bulges or weak spots in vessel walls, potentially fatal if they burst -- but nine. "One of them was so big it looked like Florida hanging out there!" said Young, who made a full recovery.

High-tech rocker

Jumping into a taxi van, you never know who you're going to share a fare with. One night Joel Madden, lead singer of the pop punk rock group Good Charlotte was in the front seat. In town promoting "Fast Future Generation," a doc chronicling the group's 12-day tour of Japan, the heavily tattooed Madden was of a mind to discuss all things electronic and Japanese.

"Japan is one of the most inspiring places I've ever been," he said. "I love 'Lost in Translation,' but I wanted to show the real place without the satire."

If the film is any indication, the "real" place abounds with screaming fans and eccentric fashion designers. Madden downloaded it onto a T-Mobile MDA, a wireless device being given away at a swag suite.

"You don't get the same experience you would get seeing it in a theater," Madden said. "But the phone thing is pretty cool. I keep saying, 'It's very Japanese.' It's awesome."

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