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The three stars of the premiere of "Becoming Chaz" were, in order, Oprah Winfrey, Chaz's mom Cher, and Chaz's longtime lover Jen.
The documentary that premiered at Sundance last weekend chronicles the journey through gender reassignment of Chaz Bono, formerly Chastity Bono, daughter of Sonny and Cher.
But the buzz at the Park City premiere was all about Oprah, who, to the delight of Chaz and the film's directors, has bought "Chaz" for distribution on her new OWN Network.
"Oprah said last night that she has seen the film and she loves it quite a lot," said co-director Randy Barbato. Then he joked: "With Oprah approval, we don't even need a premiere. We're done."
Filmmakers all over the world, of course, are hoping that Oprah's network will, in the words of her newly appointed "documentary curator" Rosie O'Donnell, "do for documentaries what she has done for books."
O'Donnell attended the film's red carpet with Chaz, Jen and the directors. Oprah was in Park City but didn't attend the premiere.
"It's a huge thing for me," O'Donnell said of her OWN Network job. "It's like being knighted by the queen."
Because of the Oprah deal, Chaz was forbidden to talk about the movie or answer questions from reporters. He bent the rules, sounding like Oprah herself, when he told the applauding audience after the movie: "It's amazing. When you are true to yourself, everybody loves you."
But he also was charmingly down-to-earth when he told the audience it's harder to live as a man in a woman's body than to be a celebrity. "When you are born a man in a woman's bodyyou're pretty much screwed."
"Becoming Chaz" takes an unflinching look at the gender reassignment process, including endless hormone shots, breast-removal surgery and the inevitable clashes with family. In the film, Cher is obviously troubled by Chastity-now-Chaz's decision. She's depicted having difficulty in using the pronoun "he" instead of "she," and she's displeased when Chaz chooses to make public his quest for physical manhood. Cher laments she didn't save a last voice mail from Chastity made before the hormone treatments deepened Chaz's voice. "I'll never hear it again," she says.
Chaz asked the filmmakers to follow him through the last two years as the best way to deal with the inevitable publicity storm, while helping other struggling transsexuals.
"He used his celebrity to show people what it is like," said co-director Fenton Bailey. "Chaz is a metaphor for all of us. We are all going about finding ourselves. Chaz is just a regular guy. I hope people see how much they have in common with Chaz."
Chaz's girlfriend Jen watched her lover being transformed into a man. Through the film she acknowledged and struggled with the emotional trauma. As Chaz's testosterone gradually kicks in, her sensitive lesbian lover becomes increasingly assertive and sometimes angry and stubborn.
"He needs to be right," Jen complains to the camera. "I miss the person I knew five years ago. He's not as sweet."
Chaz seems to never waiver in his decision, while also admitting his fears. "Who is going to love a transgender man? Who is going to love a man who may never have a penis?"
We may find out because one thing was leaked at the premiere: Oprah plans a sequel to "Becoming Chaz," said Bailey.
Becoming Chaz screenings
Tuesday, Jan. 25, 9 p.m. • Holiday Village Cinema IV, Park City
Saturday, Jan. 29, 9 p.m. • Yarrow Hotel Theatre, Park City