Friday, July 29, 2005

ODDBOB (not my fault)


The Top 9 Surprises in the New Willy Wonka Movie
9> Willy Wonka gets drunk and trashes a hotel room.

8> Huge duel between Willy and Count Chocula.

7> Archetypal "bad" kids with gold tickets now include an Xbox addict and a trenchcoat mafioso.

6> Charlie's first move upon taking over the company is to fire the Oompa Loompas and outsource manufacturing to a plant in China.

5> Augustus Gloop? Slimmed down on Atkins.

4> In the dramatic flying elevator scene, Willy dangles Charlie from the railing.EDITOR’S NOTE: I HATE MYSELF FOR GIGGLING AT THIS ONE.

3> Morgan Freeman as Willy Wonka's narrating best friend.

2> Willy Wonka has the Keebler elves locked away deep in his chocolaty dungeon. EDITOR’S NOTE: FINALLY!

and the Number 1 Surprise in the New Willy Wonka Movie...

1> At the end, the ship sinks and Charlie dies on a floating piece of graham cracker.

The Top 5 Cartoon Character Euphemisms for Death
5> Doonesburied

4> Lining the Bird Cage

3> Chillin' with Walt

2> Took the Ol' Kryptonite Suppository (Superman)

and Number 1 Cartoon Character Euphemism for Death...

1> Scooby-Done



Star Wars Science, and some nifty pics


Finding Utapau Sinkholes on Earth
In Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, General Grievous fled to Utapau after a failed attempt to kidnap Chancellor Palpatine from Coruscant. To this unusual planet dotted with enormous sinkholes, General Obi-Wan Kenobi travels in hopes of capturing Grievous and finally ending the Clone Wars.

The planet of Utapau itself is dry and desert-like, but at the bottom of the sinkholes are pools of water. Many of the intricate cities that stretch deep into caves and crevices beneath the planet's surface use this water its citizens and native wildlife, including Obi-Wan's trusty varactyl -- Boga.

However you don't need to travel to a galaxy far, far away to see a real sinkhole in action.

Here on Earth, numerous sinkholes exist (to some people's dismay) right in the middle of suburban neighborhoods in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Pennsylvania!

What exactly is a sinkhole?

Sinkholes are a geological feature that commonly appear in areas where the rock below the surface of the land is made from substances like salt beds, limestone, carbonate rock (which is referred to as a karst landscape) that can be dissolved by ground water flowing through them. This rock can also be weakened by acidic rain. When these rocks dissolve, large spaces develop underneath until it gets too big and the land above the gap collapses. Naturally-occurring sinkholes are also created by long periods of drought, or when caves with underground streams naturally give way.

But sinkholes aren't always Mother Nature's fault. Sinkholes can also result from human activity whether it be the collapse of old mines, or often by water mains or sewer systems that break when old pipes can't handle the water pressure. When construction begins for new housing developments and business parks in otherwise undisturbed areas, overpumping and relocating ground water can also provoke a rash of sinkholes.

Can you live in a sinkhole like Tion Medon in Revenge of the Sith?

In real life, the only thing living inside inactive sinkholes are insects, plants, birds, burrowing animals and wetland creatures (if water is present).

However, it is relatively safe for people to live near and around sinkholes as long as they aren't used as dumping grounds for trash. In the past, farmers used sinkholes to bury garbage, but stopped when they soon realized the trash was polluting the ground water. Keeping mindful of what pollutants may drain into a sinkhole and end up in the drinking water from wells, many communities living near sink holes ask residents to restrict the use of fertilizers or pesticides on their lawns to non-toxic varieties.

Is there anything good about sinkholes?

If you ask someone who's home or car just got swallowed up by a huge sinkhole, he probably wouldn't be too fast to give you the positive side to sinkholes.EDITOR’S NOTE: BUT IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE GUY WHOSE CAR GOT ‘EATEN’, WOOHOO!!!!

But believe it or not, there are. After sinkholes occur, they can often times trap water from the surface (from flooding or rainfall) and can create new much-needed habitats for wildlife such as ponds, lakes and wetlands.

If you would like to learn more about sinkholes, please visit your local library for more detailed books on sinkholes around the world. EDITOR’S NOTE: WELL I THINK WE ALL SHOULD RUN RIGHT OUT AND DO THIS!


Anakin Skywalker's Jedi starfighter leads an element of ARC-170 fighters on patrol high over Coruscant.

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) tries to stop General Grievous from fleeing the crippled Trade Federation cruiser.

Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) struggles with the bucking controls of the tumbling Invisible Hand cruiser.

Over a decade after their initial pact with a Sith Lord, Rune Haako (Sandy Thompson) and Nute Gunray (Silas Carson) finally get what's coming to them.

This early Ralph McQuarrie concept had the Rebel fortress on Hoth housed in an abandoned castle.

This digital matte painting captures the dramatic skies and distant landscape of the exotic world of Felucia.

Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) laments the enthusiastic cheers in support of the First Galactic Empire

Rebecca Jackson Mendoza plays Queen Breha Organa, Princess Leia's adoptive mother

Artist Dermot Power digitally painted this sketch of a fiery red dress with an open back -- part of Padmé's more procovative lake retreat collection in Attack of the Clones.

Star Wars...books and such

The Swarm War Covered

First revealed at Comic-Con International, here is the cover to The Swarm War, the final book of the Dark Nest trilogy.

In this explosive conclusion, Luke Skywalker summons the heroes of the New Jedi Order from near and far as the Star Wars galaxy teeters on the edge of eternal war. Yet even the combined powers of the formidable Jedi may not be enough to vanquish the deadly perils confronting them. EDITOR’S NOTE: YEAH YEAH YEAH….. OR AS THEY REFER TO IT IN THE STAR WARS GALAXY, TUESDAY.

The Chiss-Killik border war is threatening to engulf the entire galaxy -- raising the awful specter of the Killik sweeping across space to absorb all living creatures into a single hive mind. EDITOR’S NOTE: I GUESS THAT WOULD KINDA SUCK. (BE LIKE LIVING IN A RED STATE. OH, WAIT……) The only hope for peace lies with the Jedi -- who must not only end the bloodshed between two fierce enemies but also combat the insidious evil spread by the elusive Dark Nest and its unseen queen. EDITOR’S NOTE: NOT ME. NOT THE QOTD. A DIFFERENT, MEANER QUEEN. (RICHARD SIMMONS?)

Leia's Jedi skills will be put to the ultimate test in the coming life-and-death battle. As for Luke, he will have to prove, in a lightning display of Force strength and swordplay, that he is -- beyond a shadow of a doubt -- the greatest Jedi Master in the galaxy. EDITOR’S NOTE: OH. IS THAT ALL? NO PROBLEMA.

The Swarm War is scheduled for paperback release this December.

Great Star Wars Books on the Horizon

By the end of the year, it'll be covered in lavish, high-end Star Wars books. EDITOR’S NOTE: UMM…PEACHY!

Fans of Star Wars literature were given a look at some of the future tomes that will be lining their bookshelves and display cases. The second half of 2005 promises some of the most beautiful, elaborate and intriguing books to carry the LucasBooks logo. LucasBooks Senior Editor (and author) Jonathan Rinzler and authors (and Star Wars fans) Steve Sansweet and Pablo Hidalgo were on hand for an image-rich panel that peered at what was to come.

Chronicle Books adds two important art books for Star Wars aficionados.

Steve Sansweet is joined by poster authority Peter Vilmur in writing the definitive resource for fans of Star Wars poster artwork. More than 300 of most evocative and compelling posters are featured in The Star Wars Poster Book.

"One of the ideas in this book was to tell the stories behind the posters too," said Sansweet. "We interviewed more than 50 artists and executives at Fox and adverrtising people to find out everything. We tracked down the graphic artists who did the first Star Wars logo, and she tells the story of how she got direction from George. He wanted it to look sort of fascist, because it was the evil Empire."

Sansweet described the making of the Style-D poster, known as the "Circus Poster." He explained how its peculiar shape came out because the original artwork -- now surrounded by a red border -- couldn't accommmodate the size of the credit block of text. So, the artists expanded the artwork with elements that made it look like a wild posting -- with torn paper and exposed fence. "That's been the fun for both Pete and me to discover some of these stories," he says.

Star Wars: Chronicles
Coming out later this year from Chronicle Books is the follow up to what many fans regard as one of the best non-fiction Star Wars books ever made.

In 1997, Chronicle made what is possibly the heaviest entry in the Star Wars library, the original oversized and picture-packed Star Wars: Chronicles. The book explored the classic trilogy in detail, with many incredible photos from the Lucasfilm archives. EDITOR’S NOTE: A TRULY GORGEOUS BOOK.

The follow up to that book gives the same treatment to the prequel trilogy. With a study of each element of the prequels in movie-order, the book promises some never-before-seen photos of the popular characters and elements, as well as rare images of the background detail that fill out the frame. Given how visually dense the prequel trilogy is, this book is the ultimate celebration of that detail.

"What's great is that there's very rarely opportunity to run a photo like the belly of an [SPHA-T walker, for example]. No one really asks for that. It's not trading card material," said Hidalgo. "But it's still the sort of crunchy visual reference that fans love. EDITOR’S NOTE: ‘CRUNCHY VISUAL REFERENCE’? GIGGLE. This book is filled with taht kind of turn-around photography, because it's the perfect place for it."

Coming from Harry N. Abrams books is Dressing the Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars, the ultimate tribute to the skills of Trisha Biggar and the classic trilogy costume supervisors that preceded her.

The book will also be released in a Numbered Limited Edition of 2,500 copies, which includes an additional pages, inserts, gatefolds and even fabric samples. EDITOR’S NOTE: I KNOW I CAN’T AFFORD THIS…BUT FABRIC SAMPLES???!!! DROOL!!!

"The deluxe is a true limited edition. Trisha will be signing the first 1,000 copies," said Rinzler. "You can't turn more than 10 pages without getting a kind of insert or booklet. In the actual book you'll have upwards of about 20 fabric swatches of from the actual cloth that the costumes were made from. I think for those of you who make costumes, this will be a Godsend."

The deluxe edition also includes a booklet on CG characters, a Wookiee belt buckle, a DVD with costume documentaries, a headdress booklet, a footwear booklet, and an actual piece of Darth Vader's cloak. EDITOR’S NOTE: I THINK I HAVE TO GET A FULL-TIME JOB JUST FOR THIS BOOK!

John Knoll is well known to Star Wars fans as one of the Visual Effects Supervisors of the prequel trilogy. This fall, he'll add Star Wars author to his impressive list of credits with the release of Creating the Words of Star Wars: 365 Days.

The Harry N. Abrams book is over 700 pages thick, and packed with many never-before-seen photos from the making of all six Star Wars films. The book will also feature a CD-ROM of explorable images, well known to Hyperspace members as the Knollvision series. the disc will also have behind-the-scenes videos, many of which have never been seen before.

In October, DK adds to their glossy photo-and-illustration-intense hardcovers with Star Wars: The Ultimate Guide. Author Ryder Windham explores all facets of the Star Wars experience. The book not only offers a valuable primer to the sprawling expanded universe, but also goes behind-the-scenes on the making of the films, the world of Star Wars collecting and merchandise, and the fan experience. It features an introduction written by Ian McDiarmid.

DK will also explore the settings of Episode III in Star Wars: Complete Locations. This book compiles and updates the Incredible Locations series and adds locales from Revenge of the Sith. It features an introduction written by Gavin Bocquet.

As a companion piece to the forthcoming Star Wars: Where Science Meets the Imagination museum exhibits, National Geographic will produce a book, from which Rinzler showed the cover. Also part of Rinzler's presentation was some of the dynamic full color art that fills the pages of The New Essential Chronology by Daniel Wallace.

Dark Horse: Past, Present and Future of Star Wars
Lucasfilm's theme for Comic-Con International, as emblazoned in giant letters atop the booth, was Star Wars is Forever. As Dark Horse Comics celebrates their 20th anniversary, their recently revealed plans for their Star Wars titles stays true to that theme.

"Let's take our 20th anniversary as an opportunity to reinvent how we're presenting Star Wars and bring in some new ongoing series and change things around," said Randy Stradley of Dark Horse. "We're going to go into territories that we haven't explored before or haven't been to in a while."

Stradley cautioned that the presentation only covered to the first few months of 2006 -- there are big plans in the works for the remainder of 2006, but "It's just too soon to talk about it," said Stradley.

While some of the long-running Star Wars titles are drawing to a close, Dark Horse is launching a fleet of new ones. Star Wars: Republic will wrap up with issue #83, bringing the series up to the events of Revenge of the Sith and just beyond.

"In the aftermath of Episode III, Palpatine has called all of his captains and commanders back to Coruscant and it's time for a loyalty test. And one of the captains is Sagauro Autem, who you might remember from the very first three-issue arc of Republic... he finds out he didn't pass the loyalty test, and Vader has it in for him." This issue, #80, is written by Jon Ostrander, who also wraps up the series with three issues that jump back in time to the events just before Order 66. Fans can look forward to the return of the Devaronian grifter Villie.

Star Wars: Empire will end with issue #40, with its final issues covering the ill-fated recruitment of Jabiim into the Alliance fold in a five-part story currently playing out. There is also a one-shot Vader story by John Jackson Miller and Brian Ching. "Vader discovers his plans for catching and destroying the Rebel fleet are being thwarted not by a Rebel agent, but by someone within the Empire. He's got to ferret out who it is," said Stradley.

As Empire wraps up, Janek Sunbar returns in a Jabiim storyline. "It's the first part of a five-issue arc that will take Sunbar from Jabiim to Kalist VI and along the way will take him to a Rebel base on Thila," explained Stradley.

Before 2005 ends, Dark Horse will be returning to the fan-favorite top guns of the Star Wars galaxy: Rogue Squadron. EDITOR'S NOTE: FLYBOYS! WHOOHOOO!!!!

Wedge Antilles stars in X-Wing: Rogue Leader, a three-part miniseries written by Haden Blackman (who also penned Star Wars: Obsession) and illustrated by Tomás Giorello with covers by Gary Irskine. The series picks up from the end of Return of the Jedi and continues to the start of the previous Rogue Squadron comics series from 10 years ago.

Darth Vader was everywhere during the lead up to Episode III, but fans can't get enough of the Dark Lord. He will take center stage in Purge, a one-shot that takes place after Revenge of the Sith. Obi-Wan told Luke that Vader helped the Emperor hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights -- this issue depicts that kind of action. Purge is by John Ostrander and Doug Wheatley with a cover by Adam Hughes. "Much carnage," is all that Jeremy Barlow had to share about this intriguing one-shot. EDITOR'S NOTE: CARNAGE. YAY! (I'M ALSO BIG INTO SQUALOR).

In February of 2006, there will be a new ongoing series of five mini-series. "It's sort of how we've been doing Hellboy and Sin City over at Dark Horse," explained Barlow of its publishing frequency. A spin-off of Star Wars: Empire, Rebellion covers an Imperial plot to uncover the ever-roving Rebel fleet. Vader has his own schemes, and has enlisted the idealistic Lt. Janek Sunber to carry out a secret mission that puts him in the heart of the enemy. Rob Williams and Brandon Badeaux are the creative force behind this series.

In 2006, new ongoing Star Wars titles begin to appear. First up is Knights of the Old Republic, an ongoing monthly series by writer John Jackson Miller and illustrator Brian Ching. It's set just prior to the events of LucasArts' smash hit KOTOR series, over four thousand years before the events of A New Hope. It features Zayne, a young Padawan on the run after being framed for a brutal crime. To escape the law, Zayne must slink into the underworld of Taris. EDITOR'S NOTE: GAMEMASTERDAVE DAVE DAVE!!! NEW OLD STUFF IN YOUR FAVE TIME PERIOD!!!

"Just to let you know there's another ongoing series coming out," said Stradley, "There's another series of miniseries coming out. There's a big project that we haven't really done before. I don't want to say too much, because I don't want to give anything away, but it's a real and true graphic novel, and that will probably be late summer of next year. A long the way there may be more Clone Wars Adventures and a little something we're thinking of doing called a Star Wars Annual."EDITOR'S NOTE: NEW STUFF TO READ, NEW STUFF TO BUY. LIFE BE STILL QUITE YUMMYGOOD!

More on Uncle G's new digs, and some other LFL arcana


Lucas's New Headquarters Give Bay Area Film a Lift
SAN FRANCISCO, July 15 - Daylight streams through the windows of George Lucas's gleaming new $350 million headquarters, situated conveniently - and to some degree, surprisingly - in the middle of the Presidio, a former Army post on the edge of this city, where the public can mingle beside the Yoda fountain with company employees. EDITOR’S NOTE: SEE GROOVY PIC, BELOW.

For decades Lucasfilm, the director's privately held company, and its two main divisions - LucasArts, the video game producer, and Industrial Light and Magic, a leading designer of movie special effects - were tucked away in barely marked structures in northern San Rafael and behind the impenetrable walls of nearby Skywalker Ranch.

But as of last week, the company has adopted a new attitude, embodied in this four-building complex, the Letterman Digital Arts Center, in the federally owned park that once boasted an Army hospital and a 13-acre parking lot. Passers-by cannot enter the buildings, but they can press their noses up against the glass of George Lucas's world. And they do, literally.

"This is very public, and it's deliberate on our part," said Micheline Chau, the president of Lucasfilm, eating lunch in the company commissary, with its panoramic view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the TransAmerica building downtown. "We spent a lot of years hidden away, and I'm not sure if it was good for the company as a whole. The world has changed. To be the epicenter of the digital revolution, we have to be out here, evangelizing EDITOR’S NOTE: IS THIS A WORD? the cause."

City and regional leaders are counting on the new company headquarters to do exactly that, hoping it will serve as a highly visible symbol of the area's connection to the entertainment business and as a magnet for film production and expertise.

"There's something symbolic in it," said Stefanie Coyote, executive director of San Francisco's Film Commission, speaking of Mr. Lucas's decision to move his operation to the city from northern Marin county. "When he was in Marin, people legitimately bypassed San Francisco. He's putting San Francisco back on the map as the leader in film entertainment technology."

The Bay Area suffered a blow when it lost two beacons of its film community in recent months. Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope facilities shut down in December,EDITOR’S NOTE: ISN’T THIS THE 2ND OR 3RD TIME FFC HAS GONE BANKRUPT WITH ZOETROPE? and the Saul Zaentz Film Center in Berkeley, founded by Mr. Zaentz, the veteran producer of "The English Patient" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," has virtually ceased its activities since January.

But San Francisco and its neighboring city across the bridge, Oakland, have both been investing in renewed efforts to draw Hollywood studios back to the area by converting decommissioned military space and other unused real estate, like a former Amtrak station, for film shoots. The musical "Rent," produced by Revolution Studios, was shot here in part this year, as was the Fox Searchlight drama "Bee Season." Both films are to open in the fall.

Last week, San Francisco's mayor, Gavin Newsom, named a new task force to transform the city into a "digital Hollywood," as the city's announcement read.

And a former Army post, 70 acres along the Oakland waterfront, is being used as a "film incubator" for 23 small companies, including a special effects house.

But potentially the biggest new project in the offing is an ambitious plan by the Los Angeles-based Wayans brothers - the family of comedy actors, directors and producers - to convert that same 70-acre space into a film studio and entertainment complex. It would include a high-rise hotel, theaters and restaurants, similar to the popular Universal CityWalk at Universal Studios in Hollywood.

"We're very serious, we believe this is going to happen," said Will Adams, director of business development for Wayans Brothers Entertainment. "Oakland was not on my radar. I was talking to New York, Miami, Atlanta, when a colleague of mine from Oakland, Jane Green, heavily recruited me."

But he quickly became a convert. "I believe it's a sleeping giant," he said. "There aren't many places where you have 70 acres of waterfront property to develop."

This month, Oakland entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Wayans brothers to pursue the project, which could break ground as early as next year. The Wayanses estimate the overall venture would cost some $700 million.

In terms of cinema, the Bay Area has probably been most profoundly influenced by Mr. Lucas. From the 1970's onward, his interest in the technological possibilities of film led to the founding of Industrial Light and Magic, the creation of the THX Sound System at Skywalker Sound and many other innovations. Other local entertainment companies - the animation giant Pixar; the special effects company the Orphanage; and even DreamWorks' animation center, PDI DreamWorks Animation in nearby Redwood City - have historic connections, through friendship or employment, to Mr. Lucas.

And the 865,000-square-foot Letterman center (the name remains from the hospital that once stood here) creates its own benchmark. For the first time, the LucasArts gaming company and Industrial Light and Magic will be in the same location, sharing the same computer system - said to be the largest in the industry - and simultaneous access to a single digital library. Thus all the images created for "Star Wars" films, for example, can be easily reused by designers working on a video game, which was previously not the case.

"A lot of people talk about convergence, but we have the benefit of being under one roof, so we're doing it, not just talking about it," said Cliff Plumer, Lucasfilm's chief technology officer, who has had the unenviable task of moving both companies to the Presidio while not interrupting the vast flow of data in their daily work.

The broader film industry is trying to create links with the lucrative video gaming industry, and Lucasfilm is now well positioned to do so. Jim Ward, who is president of LucasArts and also head of marketing and distribution for Lucasfilm, said he expected the most growth in the company would come from the gaming division.

"We want to be a Top 5 publisher," he said, adding that LucasArts was currently eighth in size among gaming companies. "No other entertainment company has the expertise in theatrical, home entertainment, gaming, visual effects and sound effects. But we're not some big corporate studio. In terms of people and structure, we're still a small business." Lucasfilm does not disclose its annual revenues, but press and industry estimates put its 2003 revenues at about $1.2 billion.

Mr. Lucas has said that with the "Star Wars" epic complete, the film and television side of his company will focus on smaller films and work more independently of him. Ultimately the new complex in the Presidio will house 1,500 employees. The first 200 LucasArts employees moved in last week; Industrial Light and Magic and other Lucasfilm workers will move in August and September.

One person who will not be moving, however, is Mr. Lucas. The company's attitude may have shifted, but some things haven't changed, Ms. Chau noted. "He's staying at the ranch," she said. EDITOR’S NOTE: LOL! (WON’T HE BE LONELY OUT THERE BY HIMSELF? GIGGLE).

The Yoda fountain at the new Lucasfilm headquarters. "We spent a lot of years hidden away," said Micheline Chau, Lucasfilm's president.

The Lucasfilm Licensing Archives Revealed

The first floor entrance to the Licensing Archive is a staging area for incoming

The second floor holds the majority of the Licensing Archive's assets, including most of the items from the vintage era

Managing the Myth
By Pete Vilmur

In the minds of many fans, and especially collectors, the Lucasfilm Licensing Archive has long been a source of endless fascination, thought to reside in a secret location and to contain boundless volumes of toys and other wares from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and other Lucasfilm properties. Its relative lack of press compared to the more high profile buildings within the sprawling Lucasfilm complex in the hills north of San Francisco have only further mystified its status, evoking images akin to the expansive warehouse interior seen in the closing credits of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Actually, the Licensing Archive appears like many other storage facilities, with rows of shelves holding scores of cardboard boxes and containers, each dutifully labeled for contents and location. The entire inventory of the Licensing Archive was recently moved and organized in a new facility on the Lucasfilm property, pulling up stakes from a secret location within the industrial district of nearby San Rafael.

Overseeing this massive undertaking was Archive Supervisor Marc Wendt, who actually began his career with Lucasfilm in 1994 as a project employee.

"My job was described initially as a six month project removing stock from a room at Skywalker Ranch which was slated to become a Foley stage," explains Wendt. "During the course of my project George announced that he planned to make three more Star Wars films, which resulted in an increase in licensing activity and a subsequent extension of my project for another six months."

Eleven years later, that original six-month project has spanned into a career that has allowed Wendt to witness some of the most robust merchandising in the company's history. Wendt's honed organizational skills and strict attention to detail have made the Lucas Licensing Archive a model of efficiency.

Having what many collectors might consider to be a dream job, Wendt was never a Star Wars collector before taking on the position eleven years ago.

"Prior to 1994, I had never purchased or collected any Star Wars products," admits Wendt, "though I was well acquainted with the films and had seen them many times."EDITOR’S NOTE: YEAH. I HADN’T COLLECTED ANY OF IT BEFORE 1997. IT’S A SLIPPERY DARN SLOPE, AIN’T IT?!

In lieu of hands-on Star Wars collecting experience, Wendt did bring a set of skills and experience to the position that he'd gained while interning at the Bill Graham Presents Archive, a concert production company in the Bay Area. While there, Wendt became dedicated to the field of archiving by learning how to store and preserve an extensive collection of posters, tapes, apparel, and other concert memorabilia. With the monumental task of organizing, storing, and preserving an ever-expanding archive the size of Lucas Licensing's, clearly someone with Wendt's experience was essential.

Preserving the Legacy
For fans who are not collectors by nature, the need to store and preserve samples of the various product lines produced through the years by a company like Lucasfilm may not be immediately clear. Wendt explains that product samples are sent to Lucasfilm in order to give everyone in the development chain a final look at what is being produced for retail, and to assure quality and continuity throughout the product lines.

"We also use these samples for business purposes, like trademark protection," continues Wendt, "as well as to provide access to samples for the various departments for reference." The archive also serves in part as a personal collection of sorts. "Licensing provides copies of everything to George, so that he sees them and can request additional quantities of samples, for charities, gifts or other uses."

Even with his busy schedule, Lucas still finds time to enjoy the toys and other wares spawned by the various properties he's created. "George looks at final production samples several times a month," explains Wendt. "His name is first on my distribution list, so he sees everything I get."

Wendt recalls a rare instance where he caught Lucas at his office during a routine delivery of the latest toys. "He and I got into a discussion about a Chewbacca 12" figure which, for the first time, had real hair," remembers Wendt. "He clearly enjoyed talking about the items and looking at everything. It was a fun moment and the genuine enthusiasm he showed in the product has always been a source of inspiration and satisfaction for me." EDITOR’S NOTE: UNCLE GEORGE JUST MAKES THESE MOVIES SO HE GETS FIRST CRACK AT THE COOLEST TOYS! TEE HEE.

Fans have often wondered if Lucas keeps a personal collection of the items produced by the Lucasfilm properties. Early on, a separate "posterity collection" was actually established in the Lucasfilm Archive at Skywalker Ranch to house those items he wanted set aside. Items produced since 1994, however, have all been stored alongside the regular inventory within the Licensing Archive building. Wendt is responsible for preserving this collection by maintaining a fixed number of any given item so as to leave the posterity collection intact.

Aside from processing the scores of items that flood into the Archive on a daily basis, Wendt has had plenty of time to determine which items rate high on his own personal list of favorites.

"What I think is cool tends to be different than some of the more dedicated fan collectors," admits Wendt. "First and foremost I love the super-8 film reels for A New Hope and Empire -- those pieces just say so much about the time in history and the passion the audience had for these films. They pre-date VHS, and were the first way the public could actually own these films and watch them at home -- they demonstrate an important part of our licensing history."

"As far as unusual or unknown parts of our collection," continues Wendt, "there are the uncut Topps trading card sheets from 1977, and the vintage Takara Japanese action figures -- Darth Vader, C-3PO and stormtrooper. It's incredible to see Japanese language backing boards on vintage product -- it really drives home the scope of influence these films have had on the world."

Of course, Lucas Licensing's Archive is not limited to the Star Wars properties, although they do make up the vast majority of it. "Some of the more unusual items in our collection are the Indiana Jones action figures and vehicles as well as the Willow toys. Both are pretty rare and not so well known to collectors, which make them all the more exciting to me. Probably my personal favorites are the Fernandes Guitars, specifically the Yoda model."

But with so much in the way of marginally stable materials like photo-chemical film stock and paperback books filling the shelves of the Archive, certain measures must be taken in some cases to ensure their longevity. Therefore, some of the materials are stored in a humidity and temperature-controlled space. Wendt hopes that someday the entire collection will benefit from such measures.

"Eventually, these materials are going to graduate from memorabilia status to artifact status and the challenge until then is to apply the resources we have in a smart way. I am confident that as we reach the point where more proactive measures are necessary, it will be part of our budgeting process to fund some of the conservation projects."

In addition to conservation, the need to occasionally downsize the collection is another responsibility Wendt must contend with, as was the case with the recent move of the Archive to an on-site location.

As anyone who collects can tell you, downsizing can be a painful process, especially on the scale required to streamline a collection the size of Lucas Licensing's.

"I had some very difficult feelings about that move," Wendt confesses, "because when I set it up, it was completely empty, unlike the Skywalker Ranch Archives. There was something very satisfying and personal about the off-site archive. I had personally supervised the construction of the shelving, and the layout of where things went, so when we purged it and moved it, there was an inescapable feeling of attachment and resistance to change."

As a result of the move, some extraneous merchandise was allocated to charity outlets throughout the U.S. and to places as far as Indonesia and Afghanistan.

As the materials have been slowly surfacing in these markets, collectors have been buzzing about the potential of hitting the mother lode at one of the outlet locations. Wendt is just glad the product has been put to good use.

"Ultimately, I try very hard to avoid anything being wasted, so we'll donate to charity or recycle what cannot be reused. I've made several large donations to Toys for Tots over the years, and we recently worked on a project that put toys, t-shirts, shoes and bedding in the hands of people who needed them for just the reality of day-to-day living. I'm not sure it mattered that Luke Skywalker was on the warm blanket they slept under, but I know I sleep better knowing that blanket didn't end up in landfill. I am proud of the fact that my managers spent the extra dollars to implement that ideal."

As Episode III merchandise continues to pour into the Archive, and with the possibility of a Star Wars television series and a fourth Indiana Jones film in the future, the need for more space may again present itself, potentially requiring further consolidation of Archive assets.

"You can only purge so much," explains Wendt. "Eventually you get down to the limits of what the core collection is and ultimately it has a fixed size."

It is often asked if the Licensing Archive possesses one of every item ever produced by a Lucasfilm licensee. Almost, explains Wendt. "With so many products being developed in so many countries worldwide it is a challenge to track all the items produced, and a challenge for the licensees to make sure we get everything. Overall the licensees are really good about this part of the process, but we have had a few things slip. I don't want to single anyone out, so I'll just say that Sith Happens." EDITOR’S NOTE: GOSH. I JUST NEVER GET TIRED OF THOSE FUNNY DWEEB JOKES. (SMIRK).

Ultimately, the fact that an Archive exists at all is due to the foresight of Lucas himself, who early on recognized that keeping a physical record of all products bearing his company's trademark would be an indispensable resource for future days. A collector himself, perhaps it's not so hard to see why such lengths would be taken to preserve his merchandising legacy. Of course, he also just plain enjoys the stuff.

"I know that he is like many of the fans," muses Wendt, "in that he enjoys the feeling of getting that new Star Wars collectible or toy item in his hands. I know, because I have seen the smile on his face myself."

Thanks to Lucas and a curator like Marc Wendt, future generations should be able to share that smile for years to come. EDITOR’S NOTE: AMEN AND HALLELUJAH, BROTHER!!!

In the Blink of an Eye - 36 Frames in the Life of a Jedi
By Marc Wendt

Well, as the fans know over the course of producing the prequels, several different people have had the ultimate fantasy come true, that of being in a Star Wars film. In my case I was among several lucky people who got to play Jedi extras in the battle of Geonosis. As you can imagine, I could go on and on about this experience but, I'll try to be brief here.

A call went out for people who had martial arts skills. I was one of many to audition and was ultimately selected along with several others to perform for the cameras against the big blue screen. I remember being fitted for my Jedi costume several days before the shoot, putting on the tunic, finding boots that fit, a belt and a robe that was not too long. My adrenaline was pumping, I could hardly breathe for all the excitement, or maybe it was the doughnuts.

We had been rehearsing and practicing our fight moves for weeks, both at home and in the gym, then, on the day of the shoot, we arrived early for make-up and hair. My character was fitted with a long braid in the back, my eyebrows were extended and my skin and hair color were aged to give me a more mature look. As myself and all the other newly minted Jedi were lead out of the dressing area on to the set, we were given our choice of lightsabers. I picked out one that felt right in my hand, checked it for balance and moved it around swoosh swoosh humming the noise to myself unconsciously, it was not as heavy as what I had been practicing with which gave me a sense that my moves would look and flow even better than in rehearsal.

Moviemaking involves a lot of waiting, so each of us tried our best to practice our moves without disturbing the excellent work of the costume, make-up and hair artists. It was a great feeling to be walking around among my colleagues who had all been transformed into Jedi. You could feel the glow of excitement in everyone as they waited their turn. Then, one by one, each of us went up there on the field of blue under the hot lights, to face imaginary bugs and battle droids. Just like any fan, I had dreamed of and acted out being a Jedi as a kid watching the movies, but I could never have imagined then, that I would be on a Star Wars set, in costume, wielding a real lightsaber, but there I was, actually selected to be a Jedi. I still get excited and emotional when I think about it or tell the story.

One by one, we went through our routines under different lighting set-ups, using our imaginations and our lightsaber skills, we each fought against what were at that point, invisible forces of evil in the galaxy.

When it was all said and done, the compositing team at ILM used us to fill out the arena shots in this epic battle sequence. Ultimately, after the shoot all the Jedi extras would still have to wait for the film to see which of us made the cut. For this we had to wait months and months while it was finished.

Many months later, after the hard work of my colleagues at ILM the film was done. I remember the first few times I saw the film, I looked and looked but could not see myself in the sequence. I was disappointed, but I consoled myself with the fact that I knew I had been there, and held the saber, so I would always have that, but it was hard not be disappointed. Then, several long months after that, I got my copy of the film on DVD and decided to go through the sequence frame by frame and look again. For what seemed like an hour I scrolled frame by frame through the sequence looking intensely at each shot thinking please please let me have made the cut even in a small way. When I finally saw myself, I was ecstatic and let out a huge whoop and jumped up and down on my sofa. There I was, a small figure in the back ground to the left of Obi-Wan Kenobi, wielding a blue lightsaber against several lowly battle droids for all of about one-and-a-half seconds, or 36 frames. If you look at the film in real time I am unnoticeable, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment one bit.

When I reflect on my job in archives and my good fortune, I am filled with the wonder of it, the sense of how unbelievably lucky I am to have gotten to experience these things. Wow, what can you say, except, thanks George!

From the Lucasfilm Holocron:
Ichi-Tan Micoda

Ichi-Tan graduated near the bottom of his class at the Jedi Temple as a youth, but through persistent effort and countless hours of studying at the Jedi Archives, Ichi-Tan passed his early training exams with a thorough understanding of galactic law and treaties. His unorthodox fighting style meant frequent defeat in his sparring exercises against other more graceful Jedi apprentices. Yet, once in a while, to their great surprise, this style would result in a stunning underdog defeat of one of the top seated swordsman in his class. Striking swiftly and with a penetrating style, the matches were over quickly when he did win them. Adept at communications and negotiations, Ichi-Tan became involved in the Diplomatic Corps which kept him close to the Galactic Core. He resided in the galactic law section of the Jedi Temple archives, before being called to duty by Mace Windu for the Battle of Geonosis. His weakness in longer more protracted contests against multiple foes may have been a pivotal reason he was lost so early during the conflict.

Star Wars Shopping (including more info from Comic-Con)

The 2005 Comic Con T-shirt is now available from!

In the aftermath of A New Hope's debut in 1977, Lucasfilm sought to let people know that Darth Vader, and Star Wars itself, was here to stay. To promote this message, a t-shirt depicting the helmeted one with the simple phrase "Darth Vadar Lives" (yes, "Vadar was misspelled) was sent out to the streets, assuring fans that there was much to look forward to in the wake of A New Hope.

Because "Star Wars is Forever" was Lucasfilm's official theme at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, the cool retro graphic and phrase (with correct spelling) has been resurrected to once more deliver the message that Star Wars is alive and well and moving forward into the new millennium. Share the fact that "the circle is now complete" with this fantastic tee that brings the spirit of 1977 into the summer of the saga's final chapter, and beyond.

Also be sure to pre-order your copy of Star Wars: Empire at War available with a with a free Mousepad only at!

Internet Exclusive Wedge Antilles Carded Action Figure w/exclusive Collector Card and Case

For the first time ever, Rebel hero Wedge Antilles is available as a carded figure exclusively through online retailers.

What makes the offering from so special, however, is that each carded Wedge figure ordered will be accompanied by an exclusive Topps series card printed just for shoppers at our site. The two-sided collector card, which features a color portrait on one side and character specs on the other, is the premiere card in a planned series that will be exclusive to What's more, this added bonus is free!

Figure collectors have long asked for a carded version of Wedge, which originally came packed inside the 1997 Millennium Falcon Carry Case.

StarWarsShopcom has enhanced this limited online offer by including the exclusive Topps trading card and a StarWarsShop collector case -- you will not find this bundle offered anywhere else!

Remember, this figure cannot be purchased through traditional mass merchant retailers -- it is an internet exclusive. Make sure to get your Wedge Antilles figure with exclusive Topps card and collector case from StarWarsShop today!

Our Price: $15.99

Exclusive to our shoppers, each Wedge figure ordered will include an exclusive Topps collector cardIncludes exclusive collector star case EDITOR'S NOTE: I'M GOING TO ORDER MINE THIS WEEKEND. WEDGE ROCKS! (COME ON...DONCHA JUST LOVE FLYBOYS???)

Quantities are limited
Ships Oct 2005

Backpack Heroes
Can't stop playing with your Galactic Heroes action figures? Now you don't have to. EDITOR'S NOTE: PHEW! I WAS WORRIED I MIGHT HAVE TO GET A LIFE, OR SOMETHING!

Take your favorite Galactic Heroes with you anywhere you go. Just use the clasp to attach the most famous heroes and villains in the galaxy to your belt, backpack, or anywhere you like. EDITOR'S NOTE: ANYWHERE??? (DON'T LEAVE IT OPEN LIKE THAT......)

Look for Hasbro's "Backpack Heroes" this summer.

Jedi Mickey Strikes Back

There's a new Jedi in town, and it looks like he was trained by the best.

Jedi Mickey returns, paired up with Yoda for this Star Tours 2-pack.

Little is known about the set at this time, but park visitors would do well to keep their eyes peeled. We'll have more information on this set as it comes in EDITOR'S NOTE: MUST GO BACK TO DISNEY WORLD. MUST GO BACK SOON!

Hasbro Previews Plans for 2005 and 2006
At Hasbro's Star Wars panel, representatives provided the curious crowd of collectors information on the products shown in their Comic-Con booth and gave first looks at products coming later this year and into 2006.

Highlights for established lines include...
The kid-friendly Force Battlers line will have 12 figures in 2005

Attacktix series 2 will be available in September 2005, featuring 30 figures spanning the entire saga (including bounty hunters) with new attacks and abilities, like medical droids and other defensive-strategy techniques. Series 3 will come in January.

The Galactic Heroes line-up will expand to include backpack danglers. Beyond the Yoda, Han Solo, Boba Fett and Luke Skywalker danglers already revealed at Celebration III, the line will include Darth Vader and the Mr. Potatohead-inspired "Darth Tader" in Galactic Hero form.

The Evolutions assortment of action figure 3-packs will expand to include yellow and gray trooper repaint variations. EDITOR'S NOTE: FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO JUST CAN'T HAVE TOO MANY TROOPERS WITH DIFFERENT COLOR SHOULDER DETAILING.

There will be 12 new action figures in the 3 3/4" line for approximately in October
57 -- Commander Bly
58 -- Wookiee Commando with soft goods loin cloth EDITOR'S NOTE: BUT I BLUSH.....
59 -- Commander Gree
60 -- Grievous bodyguard (white)
61 -- Passel Argente -- mustard-colored outfit
62 -- Cat Miin (Shu Mai's aide)
63 -- Neimodian commander
64 -- R4-P17
65 -- Tactical Ops Trooper (501st)
66 -- Plo Koon hologram
67 -- Aayla Secura hologram
68 -- Wookiee heavy gunner

Among the first-look offerings were a number of retailer exclusives coming this fall.

The "Clone Attack on Coruscant" battle pack will be available at Target and will include five clonetrooper figures in a package that makes them appear to be riding a Republic Gunship into battle.

Also at Target will be three exclusive figures. Straight from their duel on Mustafar, lava-reflective lighting Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are specially painting to appear as they do in the lighting of the final fight of Episode III. EDITOR'S NOTE: I JUST ADORE IT WHEN MY TOYS FEATURE FAUX LIGHTING EFFECTS!

Drawing a loud gasp of enthusiasm from the crowd is the new super-articulated stealth trooper, an expanded universe clone that is promised to the start of things to come.

In the spirit of the greatly sought-after Cinemacast Vader of the past, will be a Wal-Mart exclusive new Cinemacast Vader with a dynamic pose and an Episode III-inspired base.

Rounding out the exclusives in the formal presentation were two K-Mart exclusive battle packs, a Toys R Us exclusive Hoth battle pack and two droid 5-packs that will come from Entertainment Earth.

The droids included in the later will include, R4-A22 (Dexter's diner), R2-A6, R2-M5, R2-C4 (3 from Ric Olie's starship), R2-X2 (Red 10's), R4-E1 (Bo Shek's), R2-Q2 (Biggs'), R3-T2 (Mos Eisley), R3-T6 (Death Star with clear dome), and R3-A2 (green droid on Hoth).

2006 will bring an exciting refresh of the 3 3/4" figure line with the "Saga Collection" and the return of silver-and-black packaging, amalgamated with some of the package design of the Episode III line.

The line will feature collector-focused figures balancing core and minor characters with waves themed by common battles and settings. All figures will have bases and other surprises Hasbro promised to reveal later. EDITOR'S NOTE: BUT OH YOU GUYS AT HASBRO DO TEASE.

Shown in the presentation were three all-new sculpt figures from the first wave, themed around the Battle of Carkoon: Leia as Boussh, Han Solo in carbonite and Bib Fortuna. The second wave will be based on the Battle of Hoth.

Hasbro confirmed the end (or hiatus) of the 7-inch Unleashed line, but announced a new 2-inch line that will carry the spirit on Unleashed into a smaller scale with Unleashed Battle Packs.

There will be four per pack with a suggested retail price of $9.99.

While main characters will be included, 75% will be trooper builders to allow collectors to stage huge battles in small areas. EDITOR'S NOTE: OH. YAY.

Not included in the presentation, but coerced by a clever question from a young collector, was the announcement of two figures themed as the "Separation of the Twins" available as Wal-Mart exclusives late in 2005.

Packaged in a unique look partly between the Episode III look and the new "Saga Collection" look, there will be one pack with Obi-Wan Kenobi and baby Luke, and another with Bail Organa and baby Leia. EDITOR'S NOTE: A GENUINE WOOHOO FOR THIS NEWS!!! I GUESS I HAVE TO GO AT LEAST ONE MORE TIME TO WAL-BLEEPIN-MART. (WHAT I DO FOR LOVE).









Ten New Droids to Roll Into Action
Entertainment Earth recently announced their next set of exclusive STAR WARS action figures at the 2005 Comic-Con International.

Hasbro will be adding ten droids to the STAR WARS action figure universe in two separate specially marked exclusive five-packs. Scheduled for shipment in December 2005, the Rebel Set includes R2-A6, R2-X2, R2-C4, R3-Y2, and R2-M5; the Imperial Set includes R2-Q2, R4-A22, R3-T2, R4-E1, and R3-T6.

While not all of the names will be familiar to fans, these droid represent some of the finest moments from the STAR WARS saga as well as bringing some highly requested figures to market.

An old droid hailing from before the Galactic Civil War, R4-A22 could be seen rolling around Coruscant around Dexter’s Diner. His uniquely-shaped orange dome and coloring set him apart from other units that have rolled out of Industrial Automaton.

R2-A6 was originally sold as a 1/6-scale action figure, but never as a 3 ¾-inch release. This green and white droid belonged to fighter pilot Ric Olie during the battle of Naboo in THE PHANTOM MENACE.

R2-M5 and R2-C4 served Naboo’s royalty and people under the rule of Padme Amidala during their conflict with the Trade Federation in THE PHANTOM MENACE. With similar designation and appearance to R2-D2, they are best identified by their colors. R2-M5 is a droid with red markings, while R2-C4 has orange coloring

R2-X2 is the original astromech droid of X-wing Fighter Red 10, Theron Nett. R2-X2 can be seen in the original STAR WARS movie, A NEW HOPE.

R4-E1 is a red droid seen rolling around in the background in Mos Eisley in the original STAR WARS, and actually belongs to the super-popular fan favorite character and Cantina patron BoShek.

R2-Q2 has had a storied past, making an appearance on both the Tantive IV at the beginning of the original STAR WARS and serving as Biggs Darklighter’s droid during the assault on the first Death Star.

The owner of R3-T2 exists only in whispers, as the red domed droid was seen haunting the dusty streets of Mos Eisely when Luke and his friends arrived in A NEW HOPE. As an R3 unit, his red and white dome seems to have been scavenged from a less lucky robot when R3-T2 needed repairs during his life in the desert.

Seen strolling the corridors of the very first Death Star was R3-T6, a clear domed droid with red markings and advanced computation power. While only one of many droids to inhabit the space station, his advanced abilities to calculate hyperspace coordinates made him a valuable tool in the fight against the Rebellion. He did not survive the assault on the Death Star at Yavin IV.

Nowhere were astromech droids more valuable than on Hoth, where R3-Y2 was a rarely seen clear-domed droid that served the Rebellion. Rebel records indicate his green body did not make it out of the conflict in one piece. EDITOR'S NOTE: DETAILED AND TRAGIC BACK-STORY ON DROIDS. LIFE IS GOOD.







FRIDAY!! Woohoo. And a smattering of Newsy items.


Comic-Con previews GOF movie
This year's Comic-Con convention gave visitors a sneak peek at the upcoming Goblet of Fire movie. AOL Moviefone has posted this description:

The trailer gave a sneak peek at the Tri-Wizard's tournament, Durmstrung's aquatic appearance, a perfectly creepy Mad Eye Moody, and best of all, even the tiniest glimpse of He Who Shall Not Be Named.

The footage looks dark and fantastic, a shame it'll only be shown once (in this incarnation, anyway).

What stood out most about the footage was how quickly the young stars are growing up. Newell wasn't kidding when he quipped the biggest fear Harry may have to conquer is girls! EDITOR'S NOTE: SOON, BOB. SOON. (SNICKER)

SURF'S UP for LaBeouf, Bridges and Deschanel
Sony Pictures Animation's has hired Shia LaBeouf, Jeff Bridges and Zooey Deschanel to provide voices for their CGI film SURF'S UP.

They will be joining a cast that already includes James Woods, Jane Krakowski, Jon Heder, Mario Cantone, Brian Benben and Michael McKean.

Bridges will voice the character of "the Geek," a washed-up, overweight and cantankerous King Penguin who becomes young Cody's mentor. Deschanel will play Lani, the penguin lifeguard of Pen Gu Island's South Beach. EDITOR'S NOTE: LOOK, JOEL....PENGUINS!!!

The story will go behind the scenes in the world of competitive penguin surfing. EDITOR'S NOTE: WHO KNEW????!!!! The film profiles up-and-coming surf penguin Cody Maverick as he enters his first pro competition.

Ash Brannon and Chris Buck are directing. Chris Jenkins will produce. The film will be released in the Summer of 2007.

Walker among 'Flag' raisers for Eastwood
Paul Walker has joined the cast of Clint Eastwood's World War II epic "Flags of Our Fathers."

The movie is based on James Bradley's book "Flags of Our Fathers: Heroes of Iwo Jima" and was adapted by Paul Haggis. The Battle of Iwo Jima, which took place in winter 1945, was a turning point in the Pacific theater. In one month, 22,000 Japanese and 26,000 Americans died, and the battle produced one of the most enduring images of WWII: a photograph of U.S.
servicemen raising an American flag on the flank of Mount Suribachi, the island's commanding high point. Walker will play Hank Hansen, a seasoned soldier and a flag raiser EDITOR'S NOTE: GOOD DIRECTOR. GREAT SCREENWRITER. WALKER IS GOOD. SO...ALL IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD?

VOLTRON in the Works for the Big Screen
Producer Mark Gordon and music producer Pharrell Williams will bring VOLTRON: DEFENDER OF THE UNIVERSE to the big screen. It will be based on the TV series that ran in the 80's. EDITOR'S NOTE: AREN'T WE ABOUT READY TO BE NOSTALGIC FOR THE 90'S AND LEAVE THE FRIZZY-AND-FRAUGHT 80'S BEHIND? (SHE ASKS....WITH HOPE IN HER HEART......).

The story centers on five maverick explorer-pilots who must travel to the planet Arus to learn how to operate Voltron, a giant mechanical warrior formed by five smaller robots.

Kidman in a remake of Body Snatchers?
The Nicole Kidman that had her eye on any impending statue, or, as is usually the case, the next deep and meaningful role - has been abducted by little green men.

In her place? a mildly engaging clone that's signing up for anything that pays in US Currency.

"Bewitched" may have already tipped some of you off. Or atleast that's one option. The former Mrs Maverick may also be letting sister Antonia play surrogate agent at the moment, or, a third option - her manager is in a hurry to get that new spray job on his beach condo - because she's signing up for some pretty so-so stuff.

In a rather surprising movie, Kidman has signed to star in a remake of the B-horror classic "Invasion of the Body Snatchers".

According to Production Weekly, "Invasion" will be directed by German director Oliver Hirschbiegel. It's shooting in Baltimore in October.

Kidman will play Carol, a woman who uncovers a conspiracy in a small town where the inhabitants' personalities seem to be changing. EDITOR'S NOTE: I HAVE ALWAYS SUSPECTED THAT KIDMAN HERSELF IS A POD-PERSON. HER EX-HUSBAND MUST ASSUREDLY IS ONE.

Newcomer Dave Kajganich has penned the script, which, from that three line synopsis, sounds pretty much like both the 1956 original and the 1993 remake.

Still - the "Body Snatchers" remake may be a way of Kidman - whose done some pretty heavy stuff over the last few years or so, like "The Hours" and "Dogville" - chilling out for a while.

Some do it by reading a good book on a beach, whilst sipping a wine cooler, actors may do it by jumping into anything that doesn't require too much pre-shoot research or physical sluggery.

Kidman's currently filming "Fur", about photographer Diane Arbus, and has also committed to Wong Kar-wais upcoming "A Lady From Shanghai" - so she's still got a bit of meat on her plate. So from the sounds, both "Bewitched" and this "Snatchers" redo may just be her way of taking a holiday from the norm. Hopefully. EDITOR'S NOTE: NOT THAT I CARE. BUT THIS GUY OBVIOUSLY IS TAKING KIDMAN'S CAREER CHOICES PERSONALLY.

Ridley and Russ have A Good Year
Ridley Scott has asked Russell Crowe, who starred in the director's "Gladiator" a few moons back, to star in "A Good Year".

According to Variety, it's based on Peter Mayle's novel about a banker who loses his job and moves to Provence to take over a vineyard. The vineyard was owned by his uncle - but is failing, and in dire need of a spruce. EDITOR'S NOTE: ONE OF MY MOM'S FAVORITE BOOKS. (I DOUBT SHE ENVISIONED CROWE AS THE LEAD, BUT I HOPE SHE WON'T MIND).

Scott is already scouting locations in Provence.

Ellen is the Pryde of X-Men 3
Beauties near and far have been testing for the role of "X-Men 3" mutant Kitty Pryde the past couple of weeks - replacing "Lost" star Maggie Grace who couldn't get a couple of RDO's from the series - and seems Fox has picked a winner.

According to IGN FilmForce, 15-year-old Ellen Page ["Hard Candy"] will be meowing it up as the super-feline.

Producers are now out to find Warren "Angel" Worthington's father in the film. Apparently a few names have impressed with the team - but no one has been chosen yet.

"X-Men 3", with Brett Ratner at the helm, starts shooting next week.

An Insider gets in on Alias

The pretty blonde has been enlisted to appear in the next season of "Alias". She'll play Rachel Gibson, a technical analyst working for a black ops division of the CIA.

Nichols also starred in the remake of the horror classic "The Amityville Horror," opposite Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George and produced by Michael Bay. She will soon be seen in "The Woods," opposite Patricia Clarkson and Agnes Bruckner.

A small town New England native, Ms. Nichols first caught the attention of a modeling scout while attending the prestigious Columbia University in New York City, from which she graduated with a double major in math and economics.

After campaigns with such brands as Guess, L'Oreal, Abercrombie & Fitch and Nicole Miller, she broke into the world of acting when her agent sent her out on an audition for "Sex and the City." Although it was the first audition she had ever been on, she was offered the role. She also appeared in the films "Autumn in New York," with Richard Gere, and "Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd."

"Alias" returns for it's fifth season on September 29th - with a very pregnant Sidney Bristow in tow.

'Jury' out but sets are in for Wolf's latest
"Law & Order: Trial By Jury" might have been canceled by NBC, but its set is getting a new lease on life now that the peacock is developing a new series from Dick Wolf about assistant district attorneys in New York.

The "Trial By Jury" set will remain standing for at least a year in New York via a mutual agreement between both Dick Wolf Films and NBC Universal, Wolf said Monday at the Television Critics Assn.'s summer press tour in Beverly Hills. The sets are expected to be used in the production on the planned ADA series, which was pitched to NBC brass late last week. "I fully expect to be in production within the time period" of the agreement on keeping the sets up, Wolf said. EDITOR’S NOTE: HOW VERY EFFICIENT OF THEM, EH?

'Hunters' brings Lynch to Lifetime
Kelly Lynch has been cast as the lead in the Lifetime pilot "The Hunters."

Lynch will play Joan Hunter, a former CIA operative who is now the matriarch of a family of spies who take on spillover cases from the CIA. The pilot for "Hunters" began shooting Sunday in Vancouver. The Touchstone Television project is executive produced by Efrem Seeger.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Star Wars and Comic-Con

From July 13 to 17th, San Diego, California continued its tradition as host of the biggest celebration of the popular arts -- Comic-Con International.

EDITOR’S NOTE: WHIMPER. MAYBE NEXT YEAR I CAN VISIT AGAIN. SNIFFLE. was there, providing the most thorough online Star Wars coverage of the event. With so much news coming out of Comic-Con, it's hard keeping up with all the new developments; here's a round-up of some of the bigger stories.

Star Wars Animation Begins. The theme for this year's Comic-Con was Star Wars is Forever. Lucasfilm's Head of Fan Relations, Steve Sansweet, revealed that Lucas Animation will be carrying on the spirit of adventure and excitement through a new animated Star Wars series set to debut in the Fall of 2007. Production has begun, and Sansweet announced several of the talented people behind the new endeavor, including Catherine Winder, Dave Filoni, Chris Kubsch, and Henry Gilroy.

Lucasfilm is Hiring. With Lucas Animation and LucasArts ramping up to produce new Star Wars and non-Star Wars series, features and games, now is the time to prepare that resumé and send it over. The next generation of talented digital artists is needed, and fans that have the skills are invited to apply at EDITOR’S NOTE: IF ONLY I HAD SKILLS. (SNARK DOESN’T COUNT I SUPPOSE).

Episode III DVD On Its Way. EDITOR’S NOTE: GIGGLING AND DROOLING!!!! The Summer of Sith is not over yet, but already there's more Episode III to look forward to at the end of '05. Though exact release dates and feature-specs have yet to be revealed, Sansweet did preview some of what was to come. Like the DVDs for Episodes I and II, the Episode III DVD will contain completed deleted scenes -- with score, sound and visual effects -- as bonus material. He even screened one of these lost scenes exclusively to the Comic-Con audience: the first clandestine meeting of concerned Senators Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, Padmé Amidala and others to forge an Alliance to restore the Republic. EDITOR’S NOTE: YAY! THE POLITICAL STUFF! (YOU KNOW I AM HOT FOR THAT POLITICAL STUFF). NOW I CAN BUY MY MON MOTHMA-AS-SEXY-SENATOR FIG WITH APLOMB, KNOWING THAT HER CUT SCENES WILL REAPPEAR!

Not a Decoy! Natalie Portman Drops By. For the first time ever, Natalie Portman attended Comic-Con to help promote her upcoming film, V for Vendetta. Not forgetting her Star Wars roots, she paid a surprise visit to the massive Star Wars pavilion on the exhibit floor. In the interests of security, her appearance was kept to a whisper. Fans in line to buy products from the store were randomly selected and asked to return at a specific time for a surprise. When they did, they found themselves greeted by Portman and posed for a keepsake Polaroid with the actress.

Dark Horse Comics. The 20th anniversary of Dark Horse Comics is just around the corner, and to celebrate, they are revamping their entire line of Star Wars comics. Several long-running series are drawing to a close, to be replaced by several new exciting titles. Dark Horse editors only revealed upcoming developments that start the year 2006 -- there's much more on the way. But to start, the biggest and most welcomed surprise is a return to the ancient Star Wars-past with the launch of an ongoing Knights of the Old Republic series. EDITOR’S NOTE: DAVE DAVE DAVE!!! YOUR FAVE, AND MUCH-YEARNED FOR TIME PERIOD! WE MIGHT HAVE TO DO A RPG IN THE OLDEN DAYS WHEN THIS SERIES COMES TO FRUITION!

And Much More... Editors and authors at LucasBooks previewed upcoming titles, many of them amazingly detailed high-end art books. Hasbro showed upcoming Saga packaging and unveiled their smaller-scale Unleashed line. Sideshow Toys announced that they're taking over production of the 12" action figure line. Many other licensees showcased upcoming products and convention exclusives.








Star Wars Spectacular 2005

Last year, he tore off his shirt to reveal the Revenge of the Sith logo.

Last April, at Celebration III, he dressed as a stormtrooper to sneak up on stage. So fans were wondering, what does Lucasfilm's Head of Fan Relations Steve Sansweet have up his sleeve for Comic-Con 2005?

"As I promised you a year ago, this has truly been the Summer of Star Wars," Sansweet proclaimed, as he recapped just what a momentous 2005 it's been. After all, it's the summer of Revenge of the Sith. "In the U.S. alone, Sith has joined A New Hope and The Phantom Menace on the list of the top ten grossing movies of all time... Many of us have been to the theater to see the film again and again... EDITOR'S NOTE: AND WE WANT TO SEE IT ONE MORE TIME, BUT I'M NOT SURE THE THEATERS ARE GOING TO COOPERATE HERE IN HOUSTON. (THE NERVE!)

Now all of us may think that we know Revenge of the Sith backwards and forwards, but how about inside and out?" Sansweet then showed an inside-out view of the movie with a special clip that deconstructed some of ILM's amazing visual effects from Episode III.

The biggest 2005 development at Lucasfilm, however, was not the finale to the Star Wars saga. The cutting edge company is looking to the future, and it's moving to a new locale.

Rather than be housed in scattered campuses set up throughout Marin County in Northern California, all of Lucasfilm's primary divisions -- Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic and Lucas Online -- are moving to a new state of the art facility at the Presidio in San Francisco.

"Just last weekend, LucasArts moved into new high-tech facilities at the Presidio. ILM will be right next door, and the two companies have already started working together to exchange digital assets and ideas," said Sansweet. He then showed previews of some of the hotly anticipated LucasArts titles, Star Wars Battlefront II, and Star Wars: Empire at War
A large component of the future of Star Wars and Lucasfilm is digital animation. Sansweet announced that the new Lucasfilm Animation division is open for business. "I'm very excited to be able to break the news to you here this afternoon that preproduction has begun on the next generation of the Star Wars saga, a cutting edge 30-minute, 3-D computer-animation series based on the Clone Wars that take place between Episode II ... and Episode III." EDITOR’S NOTE: DID I KNOW THIS? THAT IT TAKES PLACE BETWEEN 2 AND 3? SO IS IT THE LIVE-ACTION SHOW THAT’S GOING TO BE BETWEEN 3 AND 4?

The new series, Sansweet explained, is planned for a TV debut in the Fall of 2007.EDITOR'S NOTE: ALTHOUGH WE ARE ALSO HEARING NOT TILL 2008 RUMORS. "To get the series underway, Lucasfilm Animation has hired key production and creative talent to lead the development of its first animation project," said Sansweet. "Gail Currey, who's the Vice President and General Manager of Lucasfilm Animation couldn't be here today, but she asked me to tell you that the early episodic treatments for the series are absolutely amazing, and that she can't wait to share this treat with Star Wars fans."

Sansweet described the look of the new series as a melding of Asian anime with unique 3-D animation styling. He identified key members of the new television team. Executive Producer of the series will be Catherine Winder, whose credits include Ice Age, "Aeon Flux," and "Spawn."

Also hired is Dave Filoni, whose credits include "Avatar: The Last Airbender." The Head of Lucasfilm Animation's Singapore location, where a lot of the animation work will take place, will be Chris Kubsch. His credits include the ILM animated short Work in Progress, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets EDITOR’S NOTE: HARRY POTTER? NOPE. NEVER HEARD OF IT. and Titanic. EDITOR’S NOTE: IS THIS THE ONE WHERE THE SHIP SINKS?

"Also on board is a guy who is already familiar to many Star Wars fans," said Sansweet. It's Henry Gilroy, who wrote the Dark Horse comic adaptations of both Episodes I and II.

"Over the next several years, Lucasfilm Animation will be hiring a total of about 300 digital artists and others in both [California and Singapore] locations to produce not only the series and animated feature films in the years ahead," said Sansweet. EDITOR’S NOTE: ONCE AGAIN WISHING I HAD SKILLS……

Sansweet then brought a guest to the stage -- Episode III's Supervising Sound Editor, and the voice of General Grievous, Matthew Wood. In his first Comic-Con appearance, Wood described the tale of how he got the role of Grievous by sneaking his audition in front of George Lucas, and how he created the rough and raspy voice of the droid general. Wood brought with him sound equipment to demonstrate the process of transforming his pleasant speaking voice into a voice befitting a Star Wars villain.

"It's been a wonderful Summer of Sith, and I'm pleased to be able to tell you that we have more Sith to look forward to this Fall," said Sansweet. "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith will be released on DVD later this year." EDITOR’S NOTE: 6-PIC MARATHON. MY PLACE. BRING SNACKS. (PJs AND SWEATS WELCOME)

Though exact details regarding content and release date are yet to be revealed,EDITOR'S NOTE: NOVEMBER 1ST, ACTUALLY. Sansweet did drop some hints as to what to expect. "You can expect many of the features that we've had on our past Star Wars DVDs, including an engaging commentary from those most in the know, a brand new long-form documentary, and a load of shorter documentaries that will take you behind the scenes and show you the making of Episode III." EDITOR’S NOTE: I GUESS I SHOULD GO AHEAD AND WATCH ALL THE EXTRAS FROM AOTC BEFORE THEN? (BAD QOTD. BAD BAD).

Sansweet shared with the audience one of the eagerly anticipated deleted scenes. As with the Episodes I and II DVDs, George Lucas has overseen the completion of several scenes cut from the theatrical release of Episode III.

The one shown at Comic-Con is one that can be definitely appreciated by a fan audience, for it chronicled the birth of the Rebel Alliance. EDITOR’S NOTE: THERE SHE IS…THE FUTURE PRESIDENT OF THE NEW REPUBLIC….MON MOTHMA!!! (HUZZAH HUZZHA!!!)

"It takes place in Senator Bail Organa's office, and we meet Senator Mon Mothma, who, as we see in Return of the Jedi, is the leader of the Rebel Alliance." EDITOR’S NOTE: IS IT TOO SOON TO START UP A MON MOTHMA GROUPY CULT? TOO LATE?

Also on the DVD horizon, Sansweet confirmed later during a post-presentation Q&A session that the recently Emmy-nominated Volume 2 of Star Wars: Clone Wars will be available on DVD by year's end, complete with audio commentaries from Genndy Tartakovsky and his crew. EDITOR’S NOTE: AND IN A PACKAGE WITH VOLUME ONE, FOR THOSE OF US WHO HAVEN’T YET INDULGED IN THAT PURCHASE?

As Sansweet closed his presentation, he introduced a special Hyperspace video that caps off the behind-the-scenes look that Fan Club members have been enjoying since the start of Episode III production. The special two-part video, which won't be on the DVD and will only be available online for Hyperspace members, is called "The Journey EDITOR’S NOTE: IT’S REALLY GOOD, NATCH. I’M A HYPERSPACE MEMBER, SO I GOT TO SEE IT. TOUCH ME.

"I've been saying over the last year that as long as fans want Star Wars, Star Wars will be there for them," concluded Sansweet. "How else can you get this kind of rush?" EDITOR’S NOTE: HEAVEN KNOWS NOT IN THE REAL WORLD. WHATEVER THAT IS.

Natalie Portman Makes a Rare Appearance at Comic-Con

Promoting her new film, V for Vendetta, at this year's San Diego Comic-Con International, Natalie Portman paid a surprise visit to the Star Wars pavilion on the convention floor where she greeted and took photos with fans. These lucky fans were selected from those standing in line for the store in the pavilion!

Earlier in the day, the actress answered questions from fans about everything from her newly-shaved head to her choice in roles, including Padmé from Star Wars.

Eager fans celebrating Star Wars Day at Comic-Con stood in line for hours to ask Portman questions -- a special treat considering this is the her first appearance at the convention. One young fan anxiously asked Portman to confess her favorite movie role to date.

"It's hard to say which movie role is my favorite because I think that each one is the chance to do something new, and doing something new is most exciting for me," Portman explains. "I don't think I would ever want to go back and play any of them again because it's an experience in your life connected to something you are doing at that time. But for Star Wars I got to play the character at three different ages so it was a little bit different each time."

In her already-long list of film credits including The Professional, Mars Attacks!, Heat, Closer and of course The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith, Portman has worked with some of the most innovative and exciting directors in film today. When asked about the best cast and crew experience she's ever had in making a movie, Portman was hard pressed to pick a favorite.

"I really had an amazing experience with all the casts I've worked with," Portman reveals. "I know it sounds blandly to political to say I've liked everyone I've worked with, but I've really had such a nice time."

When asked what she does to prepare for her roles, and how she works with various directors, Portman was quick to point out that there is much more involved in working on a character than just memorizing a script.

"It depends on the role," Portman says. "Sometimes I don't do background reading because the role is more emotional than intellectual. So far I've been lucky enough to have directors who are collaborative and people I can trust," Portman confesses. "If they have a different opinion than I do, I'm willing to try what they want, because I think they're good enough to make a good decision."

Acting in both indie sleeper hits like Garden State and epic blockbusters such as the Star Wars prequels, Portman told fans that her choice in roles had little to do with the money backing the production and more to do with the storyline itself."

"I like entertainment," Portman says. "Money has so little to do with the intention of the filmmaker. Whether it's little money or big money, establishment money or so independently wealthy person financing it usually has little to do with the value of the project."

"I'm very political today, aren't I?" Portman laughs. "I wish I was more opinionated."

When asked whether she prefers to be involved in genre comic-book based films like Vendetta, and sci-fi action films like Star Wars, as opposed to smaller films such as The Professional and Garden State that gain their own cult following, Portman says she really likes to mix up her experiences as an actress by choosing roles that are different from one another.

"It's different working from a graphic novel because you do have images, and words and source material that are incredibly rich to draw from," Portman explains. "It can be both an inspiration as well as daunting because you want to be as good as the illustrations which is difficult when it's this level of art."

Gaining much of her fame as a child star, fan were curious to hear from Portman about her growth as an actress since her various roles pre-adulthood including the brave orphan in The Professional and the young Queen Amidala in The Phantom Menace.

"I was eleven years old when I started The Professional and when you're a kid you're sort of just obedient doing what someone tells you to do. And as an actor a lot of times you are serving a director's vision, but at the same time now I do a lot more on my own and not relying on a director necessarily to take you to an emotional place. I read on my own and come to the set with ideas, and suggesting things and disagreeing sometimes, and talking about stuff a lot more than just sort of being guided." During her career as an actress, Portman had taken a brief break from stage and screen to study Liberal Arts at Harvard University. One fan asked Portman what she took away from her college experience.

"My Liberal Arts education taught me how not to offend anyone," Portman jokes. "And how to be very PC in my answers to questions asked in front of 6,000 people."

"Actually, the most important thing for me was getting an amazing group of friends who are really interesting individuals and doing completely different things," Portman admits. "I feel like I have an idea of what people are like outside of the bubble I live in, which is really helpful for work because I always have a place to go to with people I love and am fascinated by and keep me learning for the rest of my life. I can ask them questions about things and ask them their opinions and they tell me the truth. They tell me when I'm being annoying; they're not kissing up to me. My friends from school are the most important thing I've taken away from the whole experience."

One hair-obsessed fan asked the question many had been pondering since making her first public appearance at the Cannes Film Festival sans her coveted brunette locks which she had shaved off for her dramatic role as Evey Hammond in Vendetta. How does it feel to shave your head?

"It wasn't really as traumatic as I expected," Portman laughed. "I learned that I'm not that connected to my hair -- which is an irrelevant, uninteresting conclusion to come to -- though I came to none the less. It wasn't emotional to me, but it's different to see how people reacted differently, or maybe that's what I'm just projecting on to other people that they're reacting differently to me. I've always felt like a really small girl, but for the first time I've felt a little tougher." EDITOR’S NOTE: IT HELPS THAT SHE LOOKS SO AMAZING AND BEAUTIFUL BUZZED. NOT TOO MANY WOMEN CAN PULL THIS LOOK OFF SO WELL, HUH?

A young woman in the audience also asked Portman, on a much more personal level, how she felt as a teen girl role model in a world where it seems everyone's worth is specifically focused on their looks.

"Most people look to actors as role models," Portman says. "But I don't want to ever criticize anyone's choices. I'm not in anyone else's body so I can't imagine what it's like to be that uncomfortable with yourself and what you need to be happy. But I think if women spent half the time they focus on their looks on developing their internal lives -- their minds, their souls, we would have a much better world."

When asked about this being her first experience attending Comic-Con, Portman says she was thrilled to be there among her fans.

"This is my first time here, and it's really exciting to be in a room full of people who are passionate about comics and graphic novels. It has such a mix of art and humor and politics that not a lot of mediums aspire to. It's amazing to be with people who appreciate this kind of wealth of stimuli from these graphic novels."