It didn't take long for the definitive verison of the restaurant tete-a-tete between critic John Anderson and "Dude" Jeff Dowd to reach the Sundance wires. Not that it makes any less mind-crampingly absurd.
Anne Thompson found her best festival story to date on the police beat of all places, tracking down both parties from this morning's Yarrow Hotel Showdown for an item recently posted to her blog. While the original details remain largely accurate -- Dowd is pushing a crappy movie about dirt, Anderson hated it, Dowd harangued him, Anderson told him to "fuck off and get out or I'll punch you" - it's what happened next that has us wiring our floor-bruised jaws shut:
[Dowd] returned ten minutes later with Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling (The Howard Stern Show) to speak on behalf of the film. Anderson had moved to a table for four and didn't recognize Martling, and wasn't having it anyway. Dowd "starts berating me," Anderson says. "He's a big intimidating guy hovering over the table. I got really pissed off."
Anderson said, "I told you to get away."
Martling said, "I just wanted to tell you..."
Anderson said, "Are you a friend of Jeff's? Can't you see I'm eating breakfast?" Anderson got up and said to Dowd, "I told you I would punch you."
Dowd kept talking and Anderson got up and walked four steps, says Dowd, clenched up and hit him in the shoulder, chest and chin, and then his lip. Anderson remembers pushing Dowd away and says he "popped his nose." What did his friends do, he asks, "to deserve him?"
We don't know Dowd, but it's probably not unfair to assume Martling's other associations disqualify him from that particular insult. In any case, there was no blood, and Dowd declined to press charges against Anderson, whom he's known for more than two decades. He did, however, propose a Park City peace summit - "a panel with Anderson, journalists and the [Dirt! The Movie] filmmakers to talk about these issues." Like, say, never bring jokes to a fistfight. Anything else?