Tony Danza wasn’t on the list.

I’m not really star-struck.

I’ve crossed paths with a few celebrities over the years. I’ve spent time backstage with My Morning Jacket more than once. Sandra Bullock bought my ticket to get into the Whisky in the 90s. I spent an interesting evening with a couple of the men of Melrose Place years ago. Bon Jovi took up the entire smoking section of the restaurant where I worked in high school. Lindsay Wagner ordered take-out and wasn’t very nice and was tall. Bill from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure also ordered take-out and was extremely nice and quite short. And once, as a cocktail waitress in Durango, I served Charlie Daniels the wrong drink three times before I knew who he was.

That was embarrassing.

But I’ve never been overly awed by seeing someone famous in person. Each time it happens, it just reinforces that these are people, just like me. They just happen to be far more wealthy and significantly better looking.

The Sundance Film Festival is in full swing here in Park City, Utah. The stars come out this week, to be sure. A simple stroll down Main Street is likely to find you saying, “Sorry!” as you bump into someone and then realizing it was the guy who starred in the movie you watched last night. In past years, I’ve randomly caught glimpses of people like Teri Hatcher and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. My dear friend, Vanessa, is visiting from Chicago. As soon as we picked her up from the airport, we were in the zone– happy hour straight into our first Sundance film, a collection of documentary shorts.


The next day, the sky was blue and we had a full day ahead before our next movie time. We thought we’d spend some time checking out The Scene. But before we left, I quizzed Vanessa and John on which celebrities they’d like to “bump into” on Main Street. John’s daydream was running into the pretty girls (shocker): Heather Graham, Reese Witherspoon, Megan Fox. He also thought it would be awesome to see Daniel Day Lewis. (I agreed!) Vanessa had a hard time narrowing down the celebs she’d stalk if she could, particularly the cute boys: James Marsden, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, Justin Timberlake. Ladies she’d be in awe of were Naomi Watts, Jessica Chastain, and Cameron Diaz.

As for me, I think Emma Stone seems like a fun person to know. I can’t deny my fascination with Zooey Deschanel and would love to sip whiskey with Reese Witherspoon. As for the boys? A Robert Downey, Jr. sighting would likely result in me going to jail for something.  If I spied Johnny Depp, Amanda would probably faint, even though she’s all the way in California. I knew Dave Grohl was in town- that would be a very cool run-in. And it would be dreamy to spot my favorite celeb crush: Mark Ruffalo. Preferably the version that rides a motorcycle, runs an organic farm, and owns a restaurant.

I mean, HELLO.


Vanessa and I drank brunch (that is not a typo) before hopping on the shuttle into the madness. For a local like me, it’s always interesting/weird to see a restaurant you frequent suddenly named something else, or a space that was an art gallery last week now serving martinis and wine as a bar. Main Street was packed with people, many wearing brand new Sorrels and a LOT of faux fur accessories (sure signs of out-of-towners). There’s a moment where you realize that plenty of famous people are probably all around you, but out of context or bundled up in Utah-appropriate clothing, you don’t recognize them. Suddenly, you scan every face for recognition. Is that guy someone famous? Why does she look familiar? That HAS to be SOMEONE…why else would he be wearing THAT?


My wedding coordinator, Melissa, let me know that she was hosting Nikki Beach parties all week and put us on the list. We started there, on the rooftop of the Sky Lodge near the bottom of Main Street. As we entered the lobby, we spied Bill Pullman lounging on the couch. Our first celebrity sighting was behind us! Upstairs, a handsome DJ was spinning dance music (loudly). Beautiful people were relaxing on white leather couches, sipping Veuve Cliquot. We shared an area with the owner of all Nikki Beach clubs on one side and the Stella Artois girls on the other. Pink bubbly in hand, we laughed and enjoyed possibly the best people-watching EVER.


A couple of times, the music would change and two men with sparklers ablaze would swoop in with a bottle of champagne for someone. At one point, two beautiful blonde girls and a guy with some serious abs cruised through the party in bathing suits, heading toward a hot tub overlooking Main Street. A saxophone player strolled through the party, playing along with whatever Top 40 dance hit was pumping through the speakers. There was a lot of energy. Some Prada and Louis Vitton. A lot of makeup. A lot of bubbly. And many, many iPhones, snapping and sharing photos on Facebook faster than you could say “papparazi.”

We were guilty of that. I confess.


At one point, I decided to check out the other side of the patio where people seemed to be gathered around a fire pit. There was an MTV News interview going on. And there he was, Joseph Gordon Levitt… sitting next to Tony Danza.

Truth: I didn’t notice Tony Danza.


In fact, it wasn’t until I showed Vanessa the photo that she pointed him out! Ooops. After a few “Who’s the Boss?” jokes and giggles, we watched the interview for a bit and then Joseph Gordon Levitt strolled past our table and out of the hotel. More celeb sighting success- and a double-whammy. Tony Danza totally counts.

The sun was fading and the party was intensifying. It seemed like a fun place to stick around for the night, but we wanted to stroll Main Street more before heading home. We had a meal prepared by John and a late-night film ahead of us! We thanked Melissa and high-fived the security guard on the way out. (Really.) The pumping bass of the music behind us, we boarded the small elevator with a handful of people. The last guy to enter had on stylish Rayban glasses. I was thinking I’d have to make a joke to Vanessa about people from LA wearing shades indoors when I realized who he was. I gave Vanessa a meaningful look and she turned to see that we were, indeed, sharing a teensy elevator with James Franco.

Guys, he wasn’t on our celeb-stalk lists. But HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN. 

We all had a moment of confusion where we got out of the elevator on the wrong floor and all had to pile back into it to head down to street level. Here we were, bumping into James Franco, giggling with him about being lost in the hotel. And then he strolled out onto Main Street, piling into an SUV with tinted windows with his little entourage. Vanessa and I had many minutes of OMG! What just happened?! It was the closest to feeling star-struck as I had ever been, maybe because Mr. Franco wears Raybans so well or maybe because we were sharing an odd moment in close proximity. Or maybe because he looks like this:


I felt a little sad not to have asked for a photo. Vanessa and I walked up Main, half-heartedly scanning the crowd for other famous faces. The lovely Keri Russell walked ahead of us for a block or so, stopping for fans once or twice. To be honest, Felicity was kind of an ‘aside’ after James Franco.


We popped into The Spur for one last cocktail before finding the shuttle stop. We heard later that we had missed Matthew McConaughey, Joe Pesci, Jane Lynch, Rebecca De Mornay, Paul Mitchell…various stars had dropped by the rooftop party. We hopped back on the shuttle, content with our own little celebrity sightings and laughing about our day. We didn’t see anyone on our dream lists of celebrity sightings, but we saw a few famous faces and had an absolute blast. Which is a better story- not noticing Tony Danza or moving over to make room for James Franco in the elevator?

It’s a tie. Except James Franco wins.

John worked his magic in the kitchen for us, making his spicy arrabiata pasta with shrimp for dinner. We finished up just in time to make it to our 11:30PM movie (which I wished we’d missed).


Before we hugged each other goodnight, Vanessa and I commented on the crazy, random day we’d had. We laughed about everything, including these characters from the shuttle stop.


Remember when I talked about making new memories with an old friend?
Mission accomplished.

And that was only Day One.

*celeb photos pulled from google images. except the ones of tony danza.*


  1. I think this calls for a hearty “OMG.” What a positively fabulous way to enjoy Sundance! I have never been (Chris and I were wistfully dreaming about getting up to Park City this winter… didn’t happen.) That party clearly rocked for a thousand reasons, mostly a combination of the swag sunglasses, celebrities and champagne paired with a backdrop of snowy hills.

    JAMES FRANCO, THOUGH? I am so incredibly impressed and proud that you handled yourselves with such dignity. I think my reaction would have included sweaty palms and shaky hands fumbling for that notorious “emergency stop” switch in the elevator paired with as many wide-eyed questions I could fire at him before security was called… “Are you REALLY James Franco? What’s it like? How do you juggle the million things you do in your spare time? did you know you were actually the most likable drug dealer ever in Pineapple Express? Do you think I’m pretty? Can I have your number?!”

  2. Perhaps you’ve heard of the show Freaks & Greeks? I was nine when it aired for one season so did not have the privilege until a month ago via Netflix. Anyhow, it stars the very young and very sexy Mr. Franco, who plays an extremely suave badass high school kid. So what I mean is, I am really jealous of you right now.

    And also happy for you that it was such a memorable visit with an old friend. Can I be your new one??

  3. A million years ago, I worked for a woman who had one of the world’s largest collections of vintage couture. She had quite a list of celebrity clients and we had a blast dressing them in stunning pieces from decades past. I had the chance to meet so many amazing celebrities, and for the most part, they were all so nice. The one time I got completely (probably visibly) nervous was when Reese Witherspoon walked through the door. She was down-to-earth and very sweet, but I think it freaked me out that we were almost the exact same age and she didn’t have to think twice before dropping thousands on a couple of vintage pieces while I would have to fret about spending $30 on a new top. Lesson I learned that day- fun for her to be able to buy some really cool expensive things without worry and fun for me that I cherish any little thing I buy for myself :). She did tell me that she loved the way we treated her like a “normal” person and that made her feel so comfortable. With that in mind, I’m sure James Franco enjoyed an elevator ride with a couple of beautiful ladies who didn’t ask him for a pic. Thanks for sharing your Sundance experience. I’ve probably said this before, but you seem to have quite the life!

    1. I bet a lot of non-famous people are like me: I think that certain stars would totally want to be friends with me. Or at least would be cool and not weird-famous. Reese is always someone who I thought would be thoughtful and nice! I’m just sure she’d want to hang out sometime…

      1. It’s COMPLETELY true. I looked down and was all, “pfft…there is NO WAY that HE was the boss!”
        We were on our way up the elevator for dinner at the Eiffel Tower restaurant. It was a crazy torrid affair that happened before I ever met Husbandio and I can never talk about it on my own blog because ACK! but it was aaaaaaawesooooooome!

  4. Really cool, Amber! Sundance must be crazy with all the tourists but totally fun. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of my celeb crushes so I would’ve freaked out to see him there!

  5. When I die, I’d like to come back as you. No, wait, maybe Cholula…I don’t know. it just all looks like fun! Like, way back before we had kids. it’s a decidedly different kind of fun for us now. Glad to see you’re enjoying it all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s