Friday, January 20, 2006

In honor of Sundance

Okay, I wasn’t there DURING Sundance. I was there in October.


Here’s a travelogue you thought you’d never see – me in Utah. Along with my partner David, and Peter Casey (one of the creators of FRASIER) I am writing a spec holiday movie. Peter has a condo in Park City, Utah and graciously suggested it would be a great place to sequester ourselves and really get some work done. So for four days I was in the land of the Osmonds and Gary Gilmore.

A stewardess was once fired for saying over the PA to passengers “Welcome to Salt Lake City. Please turn your clocks back one hundred years”. Landed in Salt Lake, did just that, then headed up the mountains to Park City, one of America’s premiere posh ski towns. I have never been to any ski towns because I do not ski. I know for many people skiing is an absolute passion but it’s cold, requires a lot of bulky equipment, is costly, and let’s face it: no one ever broke a leg sitting in a movie theatre.

That said, the panoramas were positively breathtaking. I can just see a Park City man coming home from a hard day, stepping out onto his balcony, gazing at the magnificent vista and saying to his wives “Hey, Trixie, Jane, Gloria, you gotta get out here and see this!”

There’s no snow yet so there are no tourists. Peter’s condo is part of a gorgeous lodge. You walk down the deserted hallways, past the cavernous vacant dining room, through the expansive empty lobby and realize…

You’re living THE SHINING.

All that’s missing is the maze. But the quiet was most welcomed and allowed us to get a lot of work done on the script. Thought you’d enjoy a preview. Here’s one of many scenes we wrote.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

I think we have a good chance of selling this one.

Took a tour of nearby Deer Valley. Peter pointed out the chair lift pole that an expert skier crashed into splitting open his skull. He also showed us the spot on the road where trucks spin off if there’s a little ice on the ground. Later I learned that skiers on certain runs must carry beacons so if they’re buried in an avalanche they can be found.

Charles Gibson of GOOD MORNING AMERICA owns a huge house on one of the hills. Circular and all in glass and chrome, it looks the Cat in the Hat’s hat. Jeffrey Katzenberg also owns an impressive chalet. So I guess when he’s not in Hawaii taking my lounge chair he’s up here.

Elayne Boosler says this about Utah: “My favorite store here is maternity gowns for Mother of the Bride”.

Girls in Park City all look like pioneer women.

REDRUM. I don’t know why I just wrote that.

David and I walked down Main Street in Park City (picture Knotts Berry Farm for rich people) and got a number of stares. I’m sure we were the first two Jews of the season. Kinda like the first robin of spring. Soon more Jews would follow and it would be ski season.


Favorite Main Store establishment: Bad Ass Coffee.

Moose sighting. No, wait, that’s just Merlin Olsen.

During the winter, reservations at most restaurants and emergency rooms are recommended.

Park City is the home of the Sundance Film Festival every January. So for two weeks any rustic or quaint charm is completely obliterated as Hollywood agents, deal makers, opportunists, sharks, managers, hucksters, lawyers, carnies, boot lickers, snake oil salesmen, and Katzenberg invade the area as if it were their personal Baghdad. But if you’re a skier that’s the time to come because no one is on the slopes. Which begs the question: why not hold the film festival in summer when it’s warm and there’s no skiing anyway?


During Sundance every theatre screens cutting edge independent films. The other 50 weeks they show DODGEBALL.

Not a lot of Sonny Bono records played on the local radio station here.

There are almost as many SUV’s here as in the parking lot of the Encino Gelson’s.

Events I unfortunately will be missing: “Howl-a-Ween Dog Parade” down Main Street featuring a whole pack of costumed canines. And the “Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Buckaroo Fair”. I’m upset about missing that one because who writes better poetry than Gabby Hayes and Chill Wills? Plus they’re going to have a colt starting clinic.

I can’t afford a place here but my agent has one. Hmmmmm?

Thanks again to Peter for being the perfect host.

It stays dark every morning till eight make Jack a dull boy.
The ski lifts carry nobody make Jack a dull boy.
Most restaurants are closed and no play make Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

Ken Levine


Anonymous said...

Have Peter Casey and David Lee split up?

By Ken Levine said...

No, but they're also working on separate projects. David is doing a lot of theatre directing these days. A very funny play called DIVA by Howard Gould opens this week at the Pasadena Playhouse and David Lee is directing.

Anonymous said...

Thank god (and thank you, Ken). For a minute there, I was worried.

cheeky said...

oh man, I'm a big fan of Frasier and Everyone Loves Raymond. But it's sad isn't it, there seems to be less and less sitcoms on TV and more and more reality series.

Anonymous said...

“Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Buckaroo Fair”

Actually, some of those cowboy poet gatherings are decent -- though there are getting to be so many of 'em that the talent has GOT to be vitiated at the lesser lights among cowboy-poetry venues, you know? This one, with its "Buckaroo Fair," sounds like one of those late-comer cowboy-poetry slams (or whatever they call 'em).

Now, there's a thought -- a cowboy poet at a poetry slam. Should be good enough for a reality show, you know?

Anyway, though thoroughly doggerel in nature, much of cowboy poetry is GOOD doggerel, anyway. At least it isn't cowboy music!