TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: Rock 'n rollers find it easier than mere mortals to do the Sundance

Getting publicity for independent films can be challenging for new producers. Unless you're already more famous than any other producer in the business. Unless you're more famous than anyone in your movie. Unless you're Mick Jagger.

The veteran rock 'n roller surfaced at the Sundance Film Festival last month to premiere his new film, Enigma. It's not a mystery about how Keith Richards' body is able to sustain life. The subject is British code-breakers during World War II. Code-breakers, I might add, who find ample time for romantic intrigue and sexual escapades. (I've been hanging out with the wrong code-breakers.)

Sure, Mick was once projected as a 90-foot tall hero on an IMAX giant screen, but as a producer he performed mundane, mortal tasks. Like securing rights to the Robert Harris book. Scrounging for development money. (No one wants to spend their own cash on filmmaking, no matter how much they have.) Hiring a screenwriter and director (Tom Stoppard and Michael Apted, respectively, which ain't bad). Wonder who he would have managed to get if he were just the lead singer of the Squashed Tomatoes, an old band from my college. (They used to wield chainsaws on stage.)

What's really surprising is that it took Mick five years to get the movie made. That's two tours, an album and a few rehabs for the Stones. Guess he initially couldn't 'get no back-end action.'

There's another famous rocker, Michael Stipe (of REM), who dabbles in filmmaking. His pledge in forming Single Cell Productions was to 'make films that don't suck.' I worked on one of them, Freak City, and, true enough, I'm proud to say, it didn't suck. Didn't rock either, but it was all right.

Mick hasn't set his sights quite so high. He has only pledged to make films that 'don't cause any undue trauma or psychological damage.' That leaves plenty of room, however, for making films that suck.

My pal Mike Gray, who runs the hottest club in LA, The Firm, attended Sundance and partied with The Mick. Gray frequently hosts another octogenarian sex symbol, Hugh Hefner, at The Firm, so he knows these golden oldies can still draw the ladies. Gray hit every major party, including bashes thrown by William Morris Agency, VH-1 (Everclear performed), and Trey Stone and Matt Parker's Lap Dance Party. (The South Park boys used to live next door to Mike until their show went international and they got all uppity and moved down the street to a place with two bathrooms.)

'I think it's a testament to how big this festival has gotten that people in other industries come here just to network,' Gray says. 'We partied till six, and never got up in time to see any movies.'

You mean they're still showing movies at Sundance?

Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer.





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