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Sundance Day 2 Recap: Stargazing

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Ryan Reynolds at the Buried cast dinner at the T-Mobile MyTouch Diner at Sundance on Jan. 23, 2010.
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Cheers from Park City where I am enjoying an après ski cocktail and scoffing at the thin mountain air [cough, wheeze]. Ok, I haven't exactly skied yet... But I did spend Day 2 swagging. Not familiar with that sport? It's the fine and fabled art of working the celebrity-gifting suites to find out about (and ultimately to acquire) the absolute latest in luxury technology, services and products. (Later this week I'll spill all the dirt on who got what and give awards to the absolute best swag of Sundance 2010!)

At the Bravo Main Event Red Carpet Lounge today for example, purveyors were just setting up for the long weekend of nonstop gifting and giving. In other words, product placement, getting that right gadget or brand into the hands of the right actor or pop tart. And this often gives rise to yet another favorite Park City winter sport: Stargazing!

"Swagging" with Seth Harris, co-creator of Badcock Apparel. Yes, my shirt reads "I heart rooster." Why, what did you think it said?

"And then I saw Ryan Reynolds."

The plan was to merely pop by the Catfish movie premiere party before hitting the unofficial parties at actor Danny Masterson's Downstairs nightclub and former Las Vegas promoter Dustin Esson's afterhours charity event on Main Street. After meeting up at the High West Distillery in town, my publicist, friend and perennial Sundance partner in crime Kim and I hiked up up up a snow-clogged Park Avenue to reach a narrow metal staircase that went still further up and on seemingly forever.

At the summit, huffing and puffing at the now more than 7,000-foot elevation, we were presented with yet another hill to climb. A local even offered us his sled to go back down should we wish to give up. But no, after another 10 minutes of trudging through driving snow that was leaving sedans hopelessly stranded all around us, we found the address, marked only by the presence of a heat lamp and a guest-list-wielding doorman. Approved, we were directed to proceed "through the door and to the right."

What the doorman failed to mention was what lay beyond the door. And I failed to mention that this door was about 15 feet high and 10 feet wide. Inside, a concrete tunnel wound still further up and curved to the right, obscuring whatever lay at the terminus. The Bat Cave, I fathomed, or Bond's secret stash of souped-up vehicles? Cutting clear through the rock, the tunnel eerily was reminiscent of the mines that dotted the surrounding mountains.

Like something out of the movie 300, a creepy tunnel leads to two mountainside party mansions in Park City.

At the other end stood the first door's twin, equally large and able to accommodate a whole RV, not to mention the standard Utah all-terrain vehicle or Sundance SUV. Outside the tunnel in a clearing stood two houses. Two small mansions, to be precise. The flow of the people ahead of us told us that the one to the right was our final destination, so up the stone steps we followed young Los Angelinos and Hollywood types who looked far more comfortable with this unique situation than Kim or I.

Beyond yet another hulking wooden door was one of the coolest houses I've ever been inside. A rustic-but-elegant stone-and-wood manse with a chain-mail-enrobed elevator, Plexiglas floors showing the continuation of the party downstairs, a hearth befitting a pack of Vikings, and, outside, a fire pit and balcony overlooking the valley. To make this new reality even more surreal, the snow continued to fall in large, luscious flakes, the wind whipping up provocative mini-storms from the five-foot drifts that stood in every direction.

Trudging through this to see actor Ryan Reynolds in a double-secret mansion? No problem.

The couple hundred or so people talking, laughing and drinking signaled this to be a very exclusive party indeed as did the coat check lady's instructions to "bring it to the second coat check, beyond the kitchen." Two coat checks? Kim, we're not in Vegas any more...

The filmmakers, Ariel and Yaniv Schulman, brothers to a very close friend in Vegas, were hosting, working the room and even photographing the event themselves. Their feature documentary film Catfish was the subject of every conversation buzzing in the large foyer, kitchen and dining room. We wove in and out of the attractive, too-cool crowd to drop off our coats, trying all the way to look like we belonged. Casual, collected, not-impressed-by-anything. We do this all the time, right? Kim? Right?

Then I saw actor Ryan Reynolds, a game-changing development. It took all my strength to not morph into a giggling, raving lunatic fan-girl begging Ryan to sign something, anything. Kim turned on her heels to meet my eyes, wide as saucers. "I saw," I confirmed matter-of-factly and pressed on to coat room deux. For the remainder of the night, until he put his coat on and breezed out the door, Ryan was never out of my line of sight.

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Day 1 Recap: First things first!

How sad, I thought. Six years I've been doing this, and never has a celebrity sighting ruffled so much as a feather in my aforementioned casual, collected exterior. Lucky for me, it's only day two. I can't wait to see how many celebs I can spot yet completely feign disinterest in by the end of the festival. Rather than stargaze, I prefer to "star-acknowledge" — that's another Sundance winter sport, by the way. After all, if I'm really that impressed by you, girl from that reality show's eighth season who got thrown off after four episodes, then what does that say about me?

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