Polanksi Under Chalet Arrest

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On-the-lam film director Roman Polanski has traded a jail cell for roomier digs at his Swiss chalet. But you have to wonder, what is better?

Polanski had to pony up $4.5 million bail to be sprung from a Swiss jail, which was clean and sparsely furnished with a sink, bed, toilet and television. Still, it was quiet and safe. Meals were delivered and guards kept reporters and paparazzi at bay.

Now he is under chalet-arrest at his three-story stucco-and-wood retreat in the luxe resort of Gstaad. It's a typically dull, secluded Swiss enclave in the Bernese Alps, populated by wealthy second home owners and the local business people who cater to their needs.With his electronic monitoring bracelet, Polanski can roam around the house and the 19,000-square foot property, and even shovel snow on the driveway. He can freely call or email his lawyer to discuss how to avoid deportation to the U.S.

But he can't go any further into town to shop at the local Hermes and Prada stores. He can't rub shoulders with Gstaad regulars like Naomi Campbell, Elizabeth Taylor and Roger Moore or dine at outrageously expensive restaurants.

Looking out the window he'll see mountains and snow and other chalets that look pretty much like his, because construction regulations in the resort demand that all houses be in the same monotonous, woody chalet style. He can't even take out his skis and hit the 150 miles of trails outside the door.

The Swiss have often given refuge to the rich -- and their money. But patience might already be wearing thin with Polanski, and appeals in the deportation case could take months. The locals "don't like media attention," Gstaad tourist director Roger Seifritz was quoted as saying. Their attitude on Polanski, he added, has shifted from "coolness" to "annoyance."

If townspeople advance on the chalet armed with pitchforks, jail might have been a better bet.
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