After a Fashion

Get ready for SXSW! Stephen is!

Monsieur Robert LaRoche and his magnificent wife, 
Patricia Vonne, burning up the stage at Jovita's
Monsieur Robert LaRoche and his magnificent wife, Patricia Vonne, burning up the stage at Jovita's

SUNDANCE SWAG FESTIVAL: "I can't walk down the street without getting bothered. I gave up my anonymity for this job. I deserve this stuff," said an anonymous A-list actor to the New York Post at the Sundance Film Festival, defending the piles of swag he accumulated. Dozens of reports from Sundance indicated that the celebrity competition for swag is more akin to children clawing at each other to get to the pi–ata – or else just plain looting. The New York Daily News reported that a "haggard-looking" Pamela Anderson was so enamored with a pair of Swarovski ski goggles from the Fred Segal salon that she decided to keep them – until a company rep ran after her, explained that they were a prototype, and insisted upon their return (this is the same Pamela Anderson who recently said she declined a role on Desperate Housewives, though creator Marc Cherry alleges that Miss A. is mistaken, and they never offered her a role at all). LA.com editor Laurie Pike said, "Today I saw Mary Steenburgen leaving the Volkswagen gifting lounge with three people behind her who looked like they were carrying her swag. A Mr. Coffee was poking out of one of the bags." A PR rep for an unnamed sponsor's lounge reported that "Minnie Driver made her rep call and ask to inventory the cost of the [$6,000] gift bag in order to determine if it was valuable enough to collect. She decided it wasn't and passed on it." The only person who seems to have the proper perspective is Imelda Staunton, who told E! gossip-euse Ted Casablanca, "It's obscene, isn't it? Just ridiculous. We don't need any of these things! Give it to people who need it. I'll never have to buy moisturizer again. I might start eating it soon."

LE CIRQUE: Celebrating 20 years of breathtaking entertainment, tonight (Thursday) is the opening of Cirque du Soleil's Varekai, running through Sunday, March 20, on the grounds of the old Mueller airport, between 51st, Airport Boulevard, and Manor Road. Of course you'll recognize Cirque's trademark blue-and-yellow Grand Chapiteau looming on the skyline, but in addition they have erected a village of tents, including the fabulous Tapis Rouge (Red Carpet) Lounge – part of the Tapis Rouge VIP Experience being offered (see www.cirquedusoleil.com for more info). As always, expect magnificence... On Wednesday, March 2, in conjunction with Texas Independence Day, the Uranium Savages band presents the 29th(!) annual Eddy Awards, 6-10pm at Jovita's (no cover). I am thrilled of course to be once again nominated as "Civic Personality of the Year," though I'm quite sure I only receive the award because I show up every time (last year I won it and was not even nominated). And I can't wait to see the awards themselves – always stunning and beautiful for display purposes – like last years can of Spam mounted on a stand and inscribed with nail polish. For more info call Kerry Awn at 480-9980. As always, expect madness...

SERIOUS SERIES: We attended The Austin Chronicle Songwriter's Series at Threadgill's – what a cool little showcase this is, featuring the wide assortment of talent that defines Austin. Hosted by singer-songwriter Neil Kaiser (of the Boxcar Angels), the night featured Trey Lanshe, Matt Williams, Zach Whitney, Jason P. Vallarta, Southpaw Jones, Robyn Ludwick (sister of Bruce and Charlie Robison), Kirk Wheeler, Mark Ambrose (he just recorded with Gillian Welch), and the headliner for the evening was Patricia Vonne. Performing with her husband, Robert LaRoche (they're so pretty together that you know their children will grow up to be supermodels), they wove magic on the stage. Patricia always makes me swoon anyway, and she is a consummate performer. With her spectacular personal and stage style (not to mention her gorgeous music), she should be a much bigger star ... and she will be, I'm sure. She has an in-store performance at Waterloo Records, 5pm, celebrating the release of her divine new CD, Guitars and Castanets, on Tuesday, March 8. The fun continues with a party Saturday, March 12, at the Continental Club at 10pm. See her Web site (www.patriciavonne.com) for more info. The Songwriter's Series has already completed its run but is expected to return in April. Keep your eyes peeled...

IT'S HEEEERE... That's right, it's SXSW time again – my favorite time of year, and this one's gonna be a scorcher. The chatter among the intimates at the 23rd annual Austin Music Awards say the show is going to sizzle; I'm just dying to tell you what I know, but, alas, I cannot ... yet. Suffice it to say, "Be there or be Cher." But I can scream about the Texas Film Hall of Fame – omigod, Lauren Bacall will be attending to induct Douglas Sirk's dazzling potboiler Written on the Wind into the HoF. I'm sure I'll need to be medicated before I meet her. Dennis Quaid and Robert Rodriguez will be honored; Ellen Burstyn will be inducting Marcia Gay Harden; the Coen brothers Ethan and Joel will be inducting Irma P. Hall; and of course the Honorable Ann Richards will officiate. As usual, the event will attract a bevy of other stars as well (I did not say Billy Bob Thornton!), and of course I'll be reporting every delicious detail!

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

SUNDANCE, Sundance Film Festival, Pamela Anderson, Fred Segal salon, Desperate Housewives, Marc Cherry, LA.com, Minnie Driver, Imelda Staunton, Ted Casablanca, Cirque du Soleil, Varekai, Austin Chronicle Songwriter's Series at Threadgill's, SXSW, Austin Music Awards, Texas Film Hall of Fame, Ellen Burstyn, Marcia Gay Harden, Coen brothers, Ann Richards

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