I’m calling it the John Cooper-Trevor Groth pawprint effect. Longtime Sundance director Geoff Gilmore has gone east and Coop-Groth are the new co-honchos so they get to do things a little differently…wheee! And so some minor (but not insignificant) changes have been implemented as far as the Sundance journalist environments and screening ops are concerned. Nothing to get nuts about, but definitely less cool.

One, no more press screenings at the Yarrow hotel — they’re now being held at the Holiday Cinemas. Except the Yarrow was/is a really nice environment for hanging out between screenings, and there’s no schmooze or sit-down opportunities at the Holiday plex so that basically blows.

Two, there’s no more press lounge (a place with wifi, some tables, bagels-and-soup 4 sale) inside the Park City Marriot. The lounge had been there for years but no more. It’s been taken over and made into a cool-cat “filmmaker’s lounge,” or something that sounds like that.

Three, the new press lounge is apparently the balcony area above the main Marriott lobby. (Or so I was told.) One, it’s not big enough, and two, are they going to offer wifi in this area (as they did before in the old press lounge)? If they are it means free wifi will obviously be in the downstairs lobby as well, and will therefore be available to every Tom, Dick and Harry.

Four, no more Thursday press screenings, which they had last year. And no press screening tomorrow afternoon or evening for Howl, which is the opening night feature at the Eccles (along with a doc and a shorts program at the Egyptian). To see Howl you either have to score a ticket for tomorrow night’s opening-night Eccles screeening from MPRM or the producers, or you don’t get in and cant’ see it until the follow-up screening early Sunday afternoon. What is this?

The reason I’ve been arriving on Wednesday was an expectation I could start to see films at early-bird press screenings on Thursday. And that’s now out the window. The only way I can see films tomorrow is to go to Marriott press headquarters and sign out DVDs and watch them in one of the four little booths.