“The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” go to Sundance 2020 this week — although there’s no evidence in the episode that any of them actually attended anything involving the actual Sundance Film Festival.
The queen of Sundance?
Lisa Barlow and her company, LUXE Marketing, spend enormous amounts of time putting on events and throwing parties during the film festival.
“When it comes to Sundance, I am my most busy,” she says. “I have 10 days straight of nonstop events for multiple businesses, multiple companies, night after night after night. … It is hard. It is not for everyone, but I love it.”
Her husband, John, helps her, but “he’s so not loving this.”
“We own everything together,” John says, “but days that Lisa is my boss — I think that’s every day that ends in Y. I don’t mind it at all. I mean, she’s a great boss. We work really well together.”
(When an off-camera producers asks John if Lisa prepped him for that interview, he laughs and says, “I can neither confirm nor deny.”)
According to Lisa, “Some people call me the queen of Sundance. I just think I’m really good at what I do.” Later in the episode, she says, “The Sundance queen never disappoints.”
Lisa clearly revels in being royalty. But one of the other Housewives says Lisa isn’t the true queen.
“Kathryn [Burns] is very well connected in Park City,” Heather Gay says. “She owns Park City Live. It’s the main club. Anyone who’s anyone comes and performs there. She’s the queen of Sundance, but don’t tell Lisa.”
Another birthday bash
We meet the rival queen as Whitney Rose throws her annual monster birthday party for her husband, Justin — which was hosted by Kathryn Burns at her Park City home.
The party starts with Justin, who is turning 52, drinking shots out of Whitney’s navel, and proceeds to a party bus.
“This is why he married Whitney,” says Heather, who is Whitney’s cousin. “She can turn it up. She is decades younger, decades sexier, and she’s not afraid to show it.”
(Whitney and Justin had an affair when he was her boss at Nu Skin. He divorced his first wife and married Whitney, who is 19 years his junior.)
“Every year I go all out,” Whitney explains, “because he has sacrificed so much to be with me. His standing in the church. Strained relationships with his children, his ex-wife — all of it.”
An uneasy truce
Jen Shah is one of the revelers on the party bus; Mary Cosby is not. But Mary shows up at Kathryn’s home — where Mary vows to make peace, after their most recent fight.
“If I have to be around someone, I don’t want to have to be fighting,” she says. She approaches Jen, tells her she looks “cute” and asks how she’s doing. Jen clearly doesn’t want to talk about it at the party. “Jen, this is crazy. C’mon,” Mary says.
Jen tells Mary she hurt her feelings at the “Met Gala” lunch seen in the two previous episodes. Mary apologizes, and says she was hurt by Jen calling her a crude name at Whitney’s roaring ’20s party in Episode 2 and Episode 3.
(The name referred to the fact that Mary married her step-grandfather after her grandmother’s death.)
Jen completely denies having said anything of the kind — and then the show’s producers helpfully insert a clip of her doing exactly that.
“She’s straight up lying,” Mary says in a later confessional. “Do you have a twin? Or are you just not in reality? … You’re a fake.”
There’s another explanation, albeit not an excuse. “I’ll be honest. I was drinking that night. I don’t remember everything I said,” Jen says in a confessional.
Despite her disgust, Mary stops arguing and tells Jen, “Let’s move on.” Later, in a confessional, she says, “I’m done with her.”
The smart money is on this still being far from over.
Finally, a film
Turns out that filmmaker Tony Vainuku is Jen’s cousin, and she hosts a party at the Shah Chalet for a screening of his movie, “Sincerely 4ternity.” The show leaves viewers with the impression that this is a Sundance event, but the film was not part of the film festival and this is a private screening.
Vainuku’s film “In Football We Trust” was screened at the festival in 2015.
Heather meets a man
At Jen’s screening party, Heather is all over Carl, a guy who set up the projector. She has her hands on him and says, “Girls love men with big equipment.”
Before the party, she confides she’s looking forward to Sundance because it’s “a brush with the big life” and a chance to meet men who “have not been raised in Utah.”
“It’s total no strings attached. I’m always looking for sex, but I am not looking for love.” And, after a long pause, Heather adds, “That sounded horribly vulgar. Can you delete?”
Obviously, the producers did not.
She’d like to meet a guy and fall in love, she says, but she’s given up on that.
“There’s just not a lot of good, older, single men in Utah that don’t come from this Mormon perspective of what my role is and how I am, like, an affront to that on every level,” she says. “You know, I’m divorced, I drink, I have three kids. Like, no one wants to take me home to meet their Mom and Dad for Sunday dinner. Everything about me is wrong.”
At the party, she says,”I can feel the vibe with Curtis. I know what’s happening.” When they’re leaving the party together, she declares, “Mission accomplished.”
Whitney says she wants to “yell across the room, ‘Remember who you are! Return with honor!’ You know, all the things that our Mormon parents said to us as we were growing up.”
Park City Fashion Week
Meredith Marks says that Park City is “the cultural hub of Utah. Every year we have Sundance, which casts a(n) international spotlight on Park City. But this year, it’s even more exciting because we have the first-ever Park City Fashion Week.”
It’s yet another Sundance Film Festival-adjacent event. Meredith and Whitney are both going to walk the runway. So is Meredith’s 21-year-old son, Brooks, whose track suit designs will be featured.
Just getting out of the house proves to be a problem for Meredith and Brooks, what with an overflowing toilet, unceasing smoke alarm and Brooks’ facial treatments. They’re 45 minutes late, but Brooks is excited.
“I don’t know how I got this opportunity. I mean, I do. It’s from my mom, obviously,” Brooks says with a laugh.
The drama is that his father, Seth, isn’t there because (a) he’s working in Ohio, and (b) Seth and Meredith are separated.
“I wish he was here,” Brooks says. “It’s very disheartening that Dad isn’t coming and he couldn’t support my first show.” He adds: “It’s fine. My feelings aren’t important.”
Meredith appears to be even more upset than Brooks. “I wish we could’ve been a little more sensitive to what Brooks had going on,” she says. And she cries as she adds she “tried really hard to be a great mom.”
Mommy MIA • Lisa’s sons, 15-year-old Jack and 8-year-old Henry, say they haven’t seen much of their mother lately. And Lisa acknowledges that’s true. “During Sundance, Mommy is MIA,” Lisa says. “I do not answer my phone unless it’s work related. Like, the kids can fend for themselves.”
A ‘Vanderpump’ visit • Among the guests at Jen’s screening party are two “Vanderpump Rules” cast members — Lala Kent and Katie Maloney, who are both Park City natives. Whitney says that she and Lala are good friends, and they do have something in common. They’re both 19 years younger than the men in their lives.
Weak sauce • Dining out with Whitney, Heather complains about how weak her drink is. “This tastes like water,” she says. And she attributes that to Utah’s predominant religion. “Mormons aren’t supposed to drink alcohol at all,” Heather says. “The Mormon church is the biggest enterprise we have in Utah, so the entire Legislature is really run by Mormons.
“They can lobby for rules that keep their patrons in line. And one way to do that is to limit the amount of alcohol we can access. So you’ll get a single-pour, watered-down, can’t have two glasses on the table at the same time. And that’s to make it hard for closet Mormons like me to get a buzz on.”
Mary and her housekeeper • Turns out that Mary’s housekeeper, Charlinda, is also her first cousin once removed. Or, as Mary puts it, her grandmother’s brother’s daughter. And Charlinda has worked for her for “like, 20-something years.”
When Mary gave birth to her son, Robert Jr., Charlinda “came over to give Robert a present and fell in love and didn’t leave.” (Robert is 17, so the math doesn’t quite work out, but …)
Mary goes on to say that she and Charlinda are “not close at all. Like, I don’t know her life and what she does outside of what she helps me with. But, at the end of the day, we’re family.”
Episode 7 debuts Wednesday on Bravo — 8 p.m. on Dish and DirecTV; 11 p.m. on Comcast.