You Can Run, But You Can't Hide from Skippy
HE IS SKIPPY
Maybe you’ve seen him loitering on Lower Main or outside the Egyptian, pocket digital in hand, with a bright I SEE FAMOUS PEOPLE t-shirt stretched over his ski jacket and a blue hat reading, “Sexy, Single, Fun. IAMSKIPPY.COM.” Maybe he even handed you a SKIPPY IS TOO HOT TO HANDLE oven mitt.
Yeah, you’ve seen him. Dude’s kind of hard to miss.
His real name is Scott Jessop, a 31-year-old Orem, Utah native who’s been coming to Sundance for the past five years—not to see movies, but to take pictures of himself with celebrities, then upload them to his website (which, lacking ads, earns him nothing). This year he has taken 100 such pictures, and doesn’t discriminate between A-list and D-list celebrities.
“I’ll even take photos of the sluts from Brett Michael’s ‘Rock of Love Bus,’” he said, “because you never know who’s going to be a fan.”
How does he do it? First and foremost, perseverance. All day, every day, he’s out there looking for celebrities. His strategy is simple. There are four things, he told me, that all celebrities have in common in Park City: shelter, food, interviews, movie premieres.
“I find it creepy to go where they sleep,” he said. Which leaves the other three. Increased barricades, however, have it harder to get stars to stop outside their movie premieres. “[Sundance] corrals us and doesn’t make it accessible for [the stars] to stop,” he said. “For those of us who stand outside for an hour, we often leave disappointed.” That’s why this year he has stuck to Main Street, waiting for celebrities as they come in and out of restaurants or interview studios.
When I asked him about the biggest celebrities he’s met this year, he reframed the criteria, saying that Christie Brinkley was the nicest female celebrity, and that Billy Bob Thornton was the nicest male. Not everyone is as kind, though. “There’s always a group of celebrities that will not stop,” he said, citing Uma Thurman, Mariah Carey and Robert Redford. “They’re such big names that they will not stop.”
Skippy—a Mormon who voted for Obama, in case you’re wondering—first came to Sundance as a “gopher boy” for HBO’s “Project Greenlight 2” and spent one day driving Ben Affleck and J.Lo around town. “I knew then and there that I’d go to Sundance every year,” he said. “I was like, ‘I am never missing this again.’”
He has tasted fame himself. At 24, he appeared on a short-lived MTV reality show called “FM Nation,” and two years ago he got his 15 seconds—literally—when “The Tonight Show” interviewed him for a “Man in the Street” segment at Sundance. This year, he says, he met someone who wants to make a documentary about him.
When he’s not at Sundance, Skippy is a “gopher boy”—I guess he’s good at it—at the Hampton Inn, while also studying for an associate degree in communications at Utah Valley University. Once he graduates, he wants to intern for “Extra” or “Access Hollywood.”
Though he spends most of his time chasing down celebrities, Skippy still gets to see a movie or two, and he certainly has his opinions about the programmatic changes at the festival. He thinks movies like THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT and BE KIND REWIND shouldn’t have screened at Sundance because they were slated for release shortly thereafter. “Sundance should be for movies like MYSTERY TEAM,” he said, “where you don’t know if it’s going to get picked up.” But he’s also glad there are less “slit-your-wrist movies” than there used to be.
“How many movies about vaginal mutilation can there be about up here?” he asked.