We can learn a lot about how to spot celebrities at the 2008 Sundance Star Festival by borrowing from the behavior of a pack of wolves in a certain national park here in this country.

Researchers once studied the feeding habits of a pack of wolves living on Isle Royale, an island on Lake Superior just off the coast of Canada. What they discovered was that the wolves were watching for vultures circling above to get a location of where dead or dying moose were at on the island.

Hunting made simple, right?

It's apparent the same strategy is in on display in Park City during the, ahem, "independent" film festival.

People who claim not to be celebrity hounds will watch for small crowds, usually paparazzi with their camera gear, hanging outside of some building. And the paparazzi will look for each other, asking questions like, "Who's in there?" or "Who you waitin' for?"

If the paparazzi are the vultures, then the hounds are really the wolves. But it's how they feed that can make all the difference to a someone who is "somebody."

What separates the vultures and the wolves from those who are just doing their job or are in it for a little fun and excitement is the amount of room and respect they give their quarry. If it's an in-your-face attack on a celeb's personal space, it's paparazzi, it's stalking, it's rude, it's restraining order time. Let's face it, if you back an animal into a corner, it'll get mad and combative.

There's a juvenile-like silliness, particularly for media, to chasing after stars who are spotted darting in and out of bars, shops and lounges where they load up on free gifts. Media, including so-called paparazzi, can catch these people standing perfectly still and willing at some point during the festival, provided they pause long enough for a press briefing, a preview of their movie or a photo-op before they dash away with a stash of swag.

If you have Sundance media credentials and you RSVP to the right parties or get on the right door lists for lounges, the stars are right there at the water hole, sipping on drinks, chatting, filling gift bags.

So, if that approach would eliminate the paparazzi, aka vultures, then it would leave the wolves on the street to fend for themselves as they hunt for B- and C-list stars like, say, Kevin Sorbo.

That's not to say the Sorbos of Hollywood/Sundance are dead or dying. But if you have to ask or say, "Who was that?" or "What's his name?" then you're probably feeding on a field mouse instead of a moose, like a Bono or Tom Hanks.

In the end, though, it's all just good, clean frenzied fun to collect the prized photo or autograph. Just don't get in the way of the flock from Splash, TMZ and others — and don't be afraid to nip at their tail feathers if you think they're biting off more space than they should.

Happy hunting!


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