Paris Hilton has a BFF in Park City | ParkRecord.com

Paris Hilton has a BFF in Park City

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The woman on the phone with Michael Kaplan during the opening weekend of the Sundance Film Festival was desperate as she was hunting for a place to rent.

Hotels and lodges were jammed during the busiest time of the festival, and when she called Kaplan she was seeking options for two nights. Kaplan had a duplex unit on upper Norfolk Avenue for rent, but he hesitated because he wanted a longer stay than the two nights. He normally rents the place for up to 10-day stays during Sundance.

But a deal was struck, and Kaplan went to let his guests in late in the afternoon on Saturday, not knowing much about the visitors. A limousine pulled up, Kaplan says, and out came 20 pieces of luggage. Half of them sported a ‘P’ monogram.

The ‘P’ stands for Paris, the first name of his guest.

In what is likely one of the more unexpected celebrity encounters in the annals of Sundance, Kaplan, a Park City man who is a professor, has owned a nightclub and unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the Park City Council, rented his place to Paris Hilton and her entourage.

Kaplan says Hilton and the others with her left at 6 a.m. on Monday. Between six and eight people stayed with Hilton, he says. Kaplan met her briefly, taking a picture with her, giving her a copy of a travel book he is writing and thanking her for staying there.

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"She was actually very sweet," Kaplan says, adding that he expected "a lot of attitude" before he met her.

The unit she stayed in has four bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths. It has a hot tub, a pool table and a sauna, among its comforts. It sleeps up to 10 people. Kaplan has owned it for seven years. It is a rental property.

Hilton is a regular at Sundance, long among the top celebrity-laden events on the film-festival circuit. Celebrities like Hilton typically leave Park City soon after the first weekend of the festival, enjoying the spotlight of the worldwide entertainment press that also is heaviest during the first few days.

The 2009 edition of the festival, held amid a recession and coinciding with the star-studded inauguration of President Barack Obama, did not seem as happening a celebrity event as it has in other years, but Hilton was among a cadre of big names who were in Park City.

Kaplan says the woman who called him inquiring about the duplex was part of Hilton’s entourage. She was persistent, he says, recounting that she called him back asking him to reconsider after he initially told her he wanted a longer rental term.

He quoted her $1,250 per night, but Hilton’s person declined. The two sides negotiated the price down to $1,000 for each night. He says her manager paid the bill with a credit card.

"She definitely could have afforded the full price," Kaplan says in jest. "I’m slightly pissed off I let Paris Hilton talk me down on price."

Tabloid reports in New York suggest Hilton was left without a place to stay during Sundance after a dispute with her sister, who had made lodging arrangements for the festival. The New York Post reported Hilton was sent scrambling for a place in Park City.

Kaplan says he was concerned Hilton and her entourage would leave the duplex a mess when they left. They opened gifts and left the wrapping paper and boxes around, but they did not trash the place, he says.

"She has a reputation, I’m told, of being a wild party girl, and I was worried about my property," he says.