It was more Snowdance, but still Fundance!
Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group
PARK CITY, UTAH.–It was cold, crowded and crawling with film buffs once again at Sundance Film Festival. Occasional snowflake flurries were hardly noticed. Same with the snow-covered mountains surrounding bustling Main Street where daily temperatures were down in the 20s.
There was lots of excitement, however. Busy goings on. Screenings galore. I was in one of them, but not exactly part of Sundance. It was held at Homestead, a 20-minute drive away. That’s me. Ever Off Broadway. But ever hopeful.
Since I was last there, Sundance has grown tremendously! Spectacularly! Wow!
We’re still defrosting and catching our breath after my wife Rita and I are back in snuggly Florida after one of the longest red-eye’s in a long while, well over six and a half hours with the two-hour time difference. But it was well worth it. We had fun!
Still, each day I had to put on layers of clothes just to go to breakfast where we’d order the spicy bison chili to instantly warm ourselves up. Each day I’d put on a heavy top shirt over my thick undershirt, then a leather jacket crowned by my weighty overcoat, a wool scarf and felt hat.
Somehow, weighted down with clothes, cell phone, wallet and copies of my new book Love Boat 78, now available on Amazon, I’d make it to the door Rita was holding open for me. And we’d walk into the white of day as snow was everywhere. Those snow-capped mountains around us were so beautiful and inviting, but I don’t ski. Just gaze.
We were there because I had a small part in Terence Gordon’s documentary film about my friend Alfredo Versace losing the right to use his last name commercially. This was the result of a prolonged and costly court battle with Donatella, the sister of Alfredo’s cousin Gianni Versace, who was murdered in front of his Miami mansion.
In the film I spoke about how unfair this was to strip Alfredo of his last name after he had done so much to globalize the brand and he himself was such a designer genius whose exotic skin handbags and shoes were the rage from Beijing to Palm Beach until Donatella stripped him of his last name.
In my interview on the film I deplored the reckless outcome of a lawsuit spanning 15 years that cost my dear friend millions of dollars. The screening at the Homestead Resort was sponsored by African American Women in Cinema, an organization that has its work cut out for it judging from the upcoming, mostly snow white and masculine Academy Awards.
Though far from the action in Park City, the Homestead is a remarkable resort hotel. Next to it is a popular attraction known as the Crater, a cave containing a 65-foot deep pool of invitingly warm mineral water into which entire families in bathing suits, with oxygen tanks strapped to their backs would jump in. Standing there watching them in my hat, scarf and overcoat, I looked terribly out of place.
Another thing that resonated throughout Utah were the scary signs in the bars in what originally was a Mormon mecca.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL OR DRUGS
IS A SERIOUS OFFENSE THAT IS PROSECUTED AGGRESSIVELY IN UTAH
This sign was everywhere and there were no drinks served unless you ate food. As to the quantify of alcohol served, they were the smallest pours you ever saw.
About the Author: Madden is the founder and CEO of the public relations firm TransMedia Group. Books he has written include SPIN MAN, King of the Condo, Is There Enough BRADY in TRUMP To Win The inSUPERable Bowl? and Love Boat 78. His blog, Madden Mischief.com finds him “Looking at Truth through the prism of Absurd.” Madden started out as a newspaper reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, then rose to the pinnacle of network television as Vice President, Assistant to the President of NBC under then CEO Fred Silverman, for whom Madden wrote speeches when they were both at American Broadcasting Companies. Madden recently launched Madden Talent, a licensed talent agency representing actors, artists and models. Corporate titans like the Chairmen of Kellogg’s Company and AT&T looked to Madden to do crisis management and write influential speeches for them that were reprinted in The New York Times. Madden won the Public Relations Society of America’s Bronze Anvil for a PR campaign he conducted for The City of New York. Rexall Sundown Founder Carl DeSantis credits Madden’s publicity for the firm’s spectacular success, culminating in DeSantis selling the company in 2000 for $1.6 billion.