Sipping Sideways,” posted on or about 9.22.04: Fox Searchlight invited several press people up to Santa Barbara last weekend for a Sideways film junket. I accepted at the drop of a hat.

The deal included a suite at the Bacara hotel and spa in Goleta (about 12 minutes west of Santa Barbara, just past Isla Vista), a complimentary T1 line in the hotel room, too much food, a wine-tasting party, moonlight walks on the beach, all kinds of beautiful women everywhere, more food, and chats with Sideways writer-director Alexander Payne and costars Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Madsen. Paul Giamatti wasn’t there due to a family situation.

I drove up late Saturday afternoon. About 90 minutes, give or take. I checked into the Bacara around 6 pm. Swanky, expensive, built four years ago. Spanish mission style. A series of two-story buildings sloping downhill and all of it landscaped to death. The cheapest rooms go for $400 a night. The vibe felt a bit too rich for my blood.

The drive back to Santa Barbara for the Sideways wine party felt longish. If the Bacara were farther away it couldn’t be in Santa Barbara — it’s really out there.

Publicists at the door told me I’d missed a 5 pm screening of Sideways, which nobody told me about. I’d like to catch it again soon.

Payne was there without his wife, Sideways costar Sandra Oh. I asked him why his usually longish hair was cut short. “You have to cut back the rose bush every fall,” he replied. I spoke briefly to Madsen. I saw Church but didn’t approach.

Best part of the article:

I’m a particular fan of Church’s performance as Jack, an actor friend of Giamatti’s Miles who’s due to be married in a few days and is determined to get laid during their wine-country safari any which way. It’s one of those last-gasp, go-for-the-gusto-before-surrendering things.

Jack is a selfish, immature child, but Church gives him a kind of dignity because he takes hound-dogging very seriously.

You should have heard the journos at the table imparting their p.c. sentiments about what a despicable misogynist Jack is. Bullshit — he’s like 80% of all the engaged guys I’ve ever known or heard about. And for what it’s worth, I’ve been lucky twice with women who were about to get married. I know that the main reason they waved me in was because they knew this was their last shot before reciting marriage vows.

End of the best part of the article.

Update, posted today: I had totally forgotten about T1 internet connections.