More About Christy Karras

Bill Gates! Grrr!

Bill Murray

My friend Clayton Chase Fullmer took this great photo of Bill Murray for WireImage, the festival's official photographer.

I never thought celebrity-seekers would be as excited about seeing Bill Gates as they are about starlets.

He made a couple events difficult to get into when he decided to go to them. Apparently, he was partying pretty hard this weekend, dancing and flirting with young women way past midnight. I know it’s hard to imagine. I’m glad he got the Sundance experience, but it meant a lot of people didn’t get into these events because they were taken over by Gates and his entourage.

The Roots performed with John Legend at a party for “Waiting for Superman.” Because Bill Gates was there, I didn’t get in to hear it. I was deeply, bitterly disappointed. The Roots are one of my favorite bands to see live, and since they joined Jimmy Fallon as his house band, they haven’t toured much.

So I stood outside, with snow piling up on me, cursing. “Stupid Bill Gates!” I said. And I trundled off to catch a shuttle home. On the shuttle, I ran into my dear friend Sean P. Means, movie critic for the Salt Lake Tribune. Like me, he was covered with snow. Also like me, he’d been waiting to get into a party and had given up. We shared a friendly gripe about our thwarted efforts.

I soon realized that if I’d gotten into that event, I would probably not have made it home. And as I slid along at 10 miles an hour through a sideways blizzard, gripping the steering wheel and gritting my teeth as cars slid off the road all around me, I thought about what’s really important in life. Not Bill Gates. Not even The Roots (though they’re up there). It was important to me at that moment that I made it home without dying or crashing my mom’s car. It was important that I made it back to my sweetie in Seattle. And chatting with Sean was a lot more fun than party conversation would have been. Friends and family, that’s what’s important. And good music, when you can get it.

Snowy Eccles

The snow was just starting when this photo was taken at the Eccles Theater. (Photo by Brandon Joseph Baker, courtesy of Sundance Film Festival)

January 26, 2010   No Comments

Hits and near misses

I’m about to go interview MTV honcho David Gale and stopped for some lunch, which ended up consisting of breakfast. I just realized those fried potatoes had a lot of garlic. Apologies to David in advance.

I was supposed to interview Bill Murray and Robert Duvall today, but they cancelled this morning due to knee injury (Murray) and altitude sickness (Duvall). They’re around here somewhere, but they’re not talking to the press. Sigh.

Nonetheless, their movie, “Get Low,” is pretty good, and lifted higher by Duvall’s performance. The guy doesn’t miss a step.

People keep asking me if I’ve seen any good movies. Usually by this time I haven’t seen many – too busy working! The one getting the best response so far is the one I mentioned yesterday, “Waiting for Superman.”

By the way, everyone seems to want to know whether Bill Gates is traveling with security guards. What do you think? I saw a couple, with Secret-Service-style, with clear headphone cords coming out their ears. My sources tell me he came to Sundance with a contingent of 14 security people. I’m guessing they go with him everywhere. You would have security, too, if you were Bill Gates. They also tell me the one movie he was interested in seeing at Sundance was “the one with the girl from Twilight” (that would be “The Runaways,” BTW). Maybe he’s not such a nerd after all.

Celebrity sightings: I saw Elisabeth Shue the other night. Not sure if she’s in a movie or just having fun. I also saw Ty Burrell from “Modern Family,” whose hometown is Grants Pass, Oregon (he also attended the U of O) and who now lives in Utah.

January 23, 2010   No Comments

Does the new Superman wear a pocket protector?

Bill Gates

My first crappy photo of Bill Gates (on the right, with producer Lesley Chilcott and legendary school reformer Geoffrey Canada)

Ever since we moved to Seattle, people have been asking Bill, my fiance, “Have you met Bill Gates yet?”

I suppose people think that since (my) Bill works in technology in Seattle, he might someday run into (the richest man in the world) Bill. And it will probably happen eventually. But I ended up meeting the software star first. Today, at Sundance.

Gates was here to support “Waiting for Superman,” a documentary about just how bad America’s public education is, and why. The Gates Foundation is a big supporter of efforts to reform failing schools, and Gates is also interviewed in the film, bemoaning the lack of educated American workers who could be filling the high-paying jobs he now has to recruit for worldwide.

In person, Gates was, well, pretty nerdy. During the post-screening Q&A, the filmmakers turned to him whenever someone asked a question involving numbers or obscure facts, and he happily rattled off percentages and program names.

I met him at a reception after the screening. I’m sorry to say I have no photographic evidence (he posed with fans and I did have a camera, but I just can’t bring myself to do something as cheesy as ask to have a photo taken with someone). I shook his hand and introduced myself and mentioned that my fiance works for a couple of his old buddies (which is true), and he replied with, “I love those guys!” and that was about it. He’s clearly enjoying his job as philanthropist, which he approaches the way he approaches everything: with an eye toward value and return on investment.

I did have nice conversations with a couple Gates Foundation folks, which I hope to print sometime soon.

The movie, directed by Davis Guggenheim of “An Inconvenient Truth” fame, is a touching and saddening look at families’ efforts to get their kids into better public schools, even as the odds are stacked against them. It looks at the ways some schools (often public charter schools) are blowing the notion that kids fail in school because they come from poor families or otherwise tough backgrounds. And it gives some reasons why it’s so difficult to make schools better (national teachers’ unions are big villains here).

Bill Gates was a surprise guest, as was Geoffrey Canada, a prominent school reformer. Musician John Legend, who composed a song for the film, will be in town tomorrow.

In related news, Microsoft is everywhere at this year’s festival – not that you’d know it, necessarily. The company’s search engine, Bing, is an official festival sponsor and hosts the Bing Bar hangout on Main Street and quite a few parties. Obviously, the company’s trying to distance itself from Microsoft’s staid reputation.

It’s probably safe to say that Bill Gates didn’t have much to do with “Waiting for Superman” getting into Sundance – I mean, Guggenheim has an Oscar, and all. And the movie itself is good. Paramount will be releasing it nationally, so make a point of seeing it. Just maybe not with an ardent teachers’ union rep.

Bill Gates

...and, my second crappy photo of Bill Gates, this time at the reception.

January 23, 2010   No Comments