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Stars Pack It In at 'Swagdance'

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The Sundance Film Festival, a place to see great up-and-coming films, right? Perhaps – but by most accounts, this year the films became something to do in between picking up a seemingly unending array of freebies. And the mother of all swag at this year’s winter fest seems to be the aptly named, customized Ultimate Comfort Bag, worth more than $50,000 and grabbed by such celebs as Keira Knightley and Adrien Brody (whose movie The Jacket, opening in March, premiered at Sundance),Naomi Watts, Kevin Costner, Lisa Kudrow, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Selma Blair. So what’s in a $50,000 goodie bag? Glad you asked. It includes: A trip with private race-car and Indy 500 track access, plus first-class airfare and hotel ($15,000); a weeklong vacation to the Caribbean or Mexico from Sea Dream Yacht Club ($11,000); a weekend at the Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas, plus a $1,000 chip ($5,000); $4,000 diamond jewelry; a $400 silk comforter and more. Want one? Several stars autographed an Ultimate Comfort Bag, to be auctioned off on eBay to benefit A Place Called Home, which provides leadership and community outreach to at-risk youth in South Central L.A. (The auction ends Feb. 10, so warm up those wallets.)

No wonder Kevin Bacon nicknamed the festival “Swagdance.” Still, “I think the heart and soul of the festival is still the same,” said the actor, who received the 2005 Ray-Ban Visionary Award there. “It is a place where you can come with a film that is off the track a little bit, offbeat, more experimental, subject matter that is not dealt with in studio situations. It is about filmmakers. I think it’s a great festival.”

Joe Pantoliano (currently on the big screen in voice form as a goose in Racing Stripes) seemed to be of two minds about the freebies. “I’ve been coming up here for 12 years so I can say what I don’t like about it is the corporate takeover,” he told us. “You give me a T-shirt, leather jacket, you take my picture with it, sure. I get it. But I feel like it’s starting to take away from the purpose of what this festival is about. More people are talking about the free leather jacket they got than the movie they were supposed to see.” On the other hand, “it is amazing what they give you,” he said. “There are a lot of great companies here like Kiehls, Nintendo. They feed you. They really take care of you.” And in the end, “let me be honest with you – I come up here because of the skiing. I don’t see the movies. Everyone is seeing movies during the day so the mountains are totally empty. The skiing has been fantastic.”

Caught in the Act
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