HE will be switching bases later this afternoon (Friday, 6.9) from Los Angeles to the Palm Casino in Las Vegas for a few days of Cinevegas, the “world’s most dangerous film festival”. I have, in all sincerity, a place in my heart for “the worst money-grubbing place in the world,” as Albert Brooks called Las Vegas 21 years ago in Lost in America .

I love the sun, the desert dryness, the babes at poolside, the artery-clogging breakfasts, the overwhelming sense of apartness from the real world…a place where Jesus and his disciples would surely feel at home. The image I have in my head is that of Willem Dafoe saying to the good sisters in The Last Temptation of Christ, “You gave me food, drink…a place to rest…you restored me.” What’s “dangerous” about Cinevegas exactly? The reason I’m going is because it’s “safe,” in the sense that Sundance programmer Trevor Groth is making all the calls. Because I feel fairly assured it will present an assortment of well-crafted, presumably disorienting, values-challenging films. Because it has the U.S. premiere of John Maringouin‘s Running Stumbled , an “unflinching family doc” that is repped, not incidentally, by always-in-front-of-the-herd publicist Mickey Cottrell . Because this year’s honorees are Helen Mirren , director Taylor Hackford, Laurence Fishburne, Christina Ricci and Sylvester Stallone (whom I once worked for, technically, as a publicist). And because director Abel Ferrara, Mr. Dangeroso Maximo Ultimo, will show Mary, his best film since Bad Lieutenant. And ecause it’s showing Paul Dinello‘s Strangers With Candy, a sardonic comedy with Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Because of Matt Checkowski and Kurt Mattila‘s Lies and Alibis, a faux Thin Man concoction with Steve Coogan, Rebecca Romjin, Selma Blair, James Marsden, Sam Elliott and James “sit down and write two letters” Brolin.