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Thursday, 30 December 2010

GOODBYE, GRANT McCUNE

The late Grant McCune works on painting details to an X-wing fighter for STAR WARS in 1976/77.

The sad news has come in States-side that legendary model-maker Grant McCune has sadly passed away from cancer at the age of 67. McCune was one of the top of his field, with one of his earliest jobs being for the John Dykstra led, newly formed ILM, then working on the first STAR WARS movie in 1976/77, and progressing on to many other famous film and TV projects with the APOGEE effects company, including the construction of legendary vehicles such as the U.S.S. Enterprise for STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE in 1979, and the warship Battlestar Galactica for the epic TV series of the same name.

McCune, an Oscar nominated technician, will be much missed by both STAR WARS fans and members of the effects and model construction industry. Our condolences and best wishes go out to his family.

Friday, 24 December 2010

SEASONS GREETINGS!

Yoda at Xmas. Lovely art by Tsuneo Sanda.

A very Happy Xmas and a prosperous New Year to all our readers and to STAR WARS fans across the globe. 2011 looks set to be an exciting year, what with Seasons 3 and 4 of THE CLONE WARS, the awesome terror to come of Savage Opress, some intriguing new merchandise projects, especially tantalising new behind the scenes books and, of course, those shiny Blu-rays of all six films!!

Bring it on!

With thanks to our friend Andy Dukes for forwarding this little STAR WARS related Xmas ditty: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMmaO6MzK4E&feature=player_embedded

Thursday, 23 December 2010

CANDID CARRIE!

Carrie Fisher. Image: CarrieFisher.com

A good friend/contributor to STAR WARS AFICIONADO, Robin Haggett has kindly sent me a link to a fun Carrie Fisher interview from the UK's CLIVE JAMES ON TV show for the BBC circa 1992 which he's put on YOUTUBE. There's no talk of STAR WARS, bar a mention in the introduction, but the writer/actress looks great and is on fine witty form, and its worth a look.

Cheers, Robin!

Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tEQwHVS0ls

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

CLASSIC IMAGE: "EMPIRE"s UNSEEN SEEKER DRONES


An intriguing design of one of the seeker drone balls (similar to the one from STAR WARS) used by Yoda in training Luke Skywalker on Dagobah during THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Sadly, these scenes, in which the Jedi Master would use them against his Padawan in unsuspecting moments, were cut from the script shortly before filming on the ELSTREE Dagobah sets, so as to keep the scenes on the planet tight story-wise, and to further help reduce the already escalating production budget. As far as we're aware, neither of the two seeker drones were ever constructed.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

RETURNING TO "THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL"


The UK's BBC 1 channel (and HD) sees in the New Year's Day at 5.35 pm with a healthy dollop of fun and action with Harrison Ford, who, if adventure had a name, continues to be known as Indiana Jones, as he and his new "family", wayward youth Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) and still feisty after all these years Marion Ravenwood (a fine return for Karen Allen), enter the legendary Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to unearth its possibly alien secrets, followed by a fine Russian villainess, Irina Spalko (the chameleon-like actress Cate Blanchett) and her army of dedicated soldiers, determined to conquer the world with the secrets they can steal. 

Harrison Ford, despite criticisms of his advancing years, has aged well as the iconic hero and carries the film well-looking good at a time of life when most people can barely climb on board a bus! Perhaps the adventure overall could have had a little bit more depth towards the end story and character-wise, and Indy himself could have have had perhaps one more major action sequence in which to shine, but I feel that KINGDOM is a much under-rated film and far better than most people give it credit. Ultimately, though, none of the Indy sequels, despite all their great and highly memorable moments of drama, action and comedy, have ultimately topped or fully matched the strong story or break neck, pitched to perfection pace of the original RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK-that film is still the best and remains unbeatable as one of the all defining action movies ever- but KINGDOM certainly holds up well alongside an Indy sequel like THE LAST CRUSADE in many places and, if there is no new film on the horizon next year for our archaeologist hero, proves to be an acceptable and generally satisfying conclusion to it all.

Remember this original trailer, and how the world was excited to see Indy return after such a long absence from our screens?:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5bvLbl-Ul0

Monday, 6 December 2010

CLASSIC ART: MORNING PATROL!


On an unknown alien swamp world, a squad of Clone Troopers begin their morning patrol in this intriguing pre-production conceptual art for what was planned as a major sequence of EPISODE III showing what was going on with the epic Clone Wars across a dozen or so worlds-both familiar and new.

With thanks to Chris Baker for the image.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

STAR WARS: BEHIND THE SCENES FILMING NOTES FROM "THE ENTERTAINMENT MEDIA SHOW" 27th/28th NOVEMBER 2010

Compiled by Ian Trussler and Scott Weller
It’s that time of the year again, and here’s some more rare STAR WARS behind the scenes info gathered from the event (previously known as COLLECTORMANIA) for you to enjoy:
Vivienne Chandler (X-wing fighter pilot (pictured above): EPISODE VI): Spent 3 days working on ROTJ. She only filmed scenes in the cockpit set, which she thought looked a bit cardboard, against bluescreen, and had at least a page and a bit of scripted dialogue. All the days she filmed she was with just one other actor, a male pilot, whom sadly she cannot remember the name of. She doesn't recall any other women filming as Rebel pilots. She enjoyed her time on the film and also stated that she attended a screening of the movie that did contain her scenes and was philosophical about their subsequent deletion. This was her first ever convention/signing and she found it fascinating and awesome.
Trevor Butterfield (Bossk, other roles – EPISODE VI): He spent 38 days working on ROTJ, much of which was spent as Bossk within Jabba’s Palace and within the Sail Barge interior sets. He was wearing the same Bossk costume as Alan Harris had previously worn on EMPIRE, he was lucky that it fit him. The well known photo of Boba Fett and Bossk from Jabba’s palace was not a posed publicity shot but was an actual scene he recalls filming. He also believes that in that photo/scene it may well be Alan Harris wearing the Boba Fett costume as he remembers Harris did some stuff as Fett on JEDI. Sadly, most of his Bossk footage was cut from the movie. Also on JEDI he played an Endor Rebel soldier in the Falcon cockpit scenes with Lando and Nien Numb, another Rebel during the Ewok Celebration and was also a Klaatu guard who escorts Luke from the Rancor pit. He previously had worked on EMPIRE for 3 weeks playing Stormtroopers and Imperials.
Matt Doran (Elan Sleazebaggano- EPISODE II): The very pleasant Matt recalled that he worked on AOTC for only one day. He got the job as he was originally in the casting process for various voice-over work on the film (though he was not involved in any of the auditions for Anakin Skywalker (later played by Hayden Christensen)), but then ended up being involved in the live action where he and several other selectees were slotted into certain parts of the film. Matt was lucky enough to have one of the classic scenes early on in the movie, and recalled enjoying working with Ewan McGregor.
Paul Weston (various stunt aliens – ROTJ): A long experienced stuntman and co-ordinator with credits as far ranging as TV's SPACE: 1999 and the JAMES BOND films, Weston worked on JEDI for about 4 weeks, filming only in Yuma location. He was contracted via Peter Diamond to shoot the whole movie in ELSTREE and Crescent City locations but broke his leg in Yuma doing the stunt where Lando and the Nikto guard fight and fall off the skiff. Prior to the accident, he played a variety of Jabba's alien henchmen for the Sail Barge scenes. The actual stunt he broke his leg on was performed with Billy Dee Williams stunt double. After the accident LUCASFILM honoured his contract despite his inability to work and he enjoyed a holiday in the Beverley Hills hotel after leaving Yuma.
John Coppinger (various aliens in EPISODE I, part of the Jabba the Hutt operating team for EPISODE VI): For EPISODE I he was working as part of Nick Dudman’s creature workshop re-creating aliens for the Mos Espa scenes. He was approached to play the part of the Wookiee Senator in the Senate scenes because he was the tallest of the crew. For the scene he wore a vintage archive Chewbacca suit that was modified with white hair and had a rebuilt face mask as it was in a fairly poor state of repair. He spent a day on the blue screen senate pod set being filmed by second unit, so George Lucas was not present. He was filmed in three separate segments so the composite shot could be created, so he actually appears as all 3 Wookiees in that scene. For JEDI he was hired by Stuart Freeborn who he knew from working on the SUPERMAN movies. Freeborn particularly liked the fact that John had previously worked at the Natural History Museum, recreating dinosaur skeletons. He was principally the clay sculptor for the Jabba puppet and went on to operate the remote control eyes as part of the team who bought Jabba to life.
Ahmed Best signs for the fans. Image: Ian Trussler.

Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks – EPISODEs I – III, THE CLONE WARS): The actor revealed that he will be in more Season Three CLONE WARS episodes upcoming, and has recently finished recording duties for Season Four, too. It was fans negative reaction towards the previous voice over work from another actor portraying Jar Jar (who didn’t want to do any more episodes for the character after his original commission expired anyway) that saw LUCASFILM cave in to pressure and bring Ahmed back – they realized that the character didn’t work without his unique voice skills. When making EPISODE I back in 1997, Ahmed had no idea how much a distinguished and popular actor Brian Blessed, playing Boss Nass, was, continually referring to him as “the Bird Guy” from the FLASH GORDON film that he had always enjoyed as a kid! He confirmed that there were other Jar Jar related scenes from EPISODE II that had been filmed but cut, but only one extra scene with him was filmed but deleted from EPISODE III, where he says “hello” to Anakin and Palpatine at the Senate Building as they are conferring about lies concerning Obi-Wan Kenobi and Padme.

Gary Kurtz (Producer - STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK): Gary revealed that he has not been involved at all on anything to do with the upcoming STAR WARS films on Blu-ray, though on the extras front, as far as he is aware, apart from the deleted scenes, the additional material will pretty much be all the documentaries and supplemental features found on previous releases in other formats.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

CLASSIC IMAGE: CLONE ARMIES


A great image seen only briefly in several early episodes of Season One of THE CLONE WARS, showing the legions of battle ready troops in their special staging area on Coruscant- a brilliant recreation of one of the closing iconic scenes of EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES

Friday, 3 December 2010

CLASSIC IMAGE: TO RESCUE A JEDI!


Navigating Coruscant's dangerous and traffic heavy commercial air lanes, Jedi Padawan Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) pilots his speeder in a fast downwards acceleration to rescue his friend and master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, from free-fall death, in this classic scene from EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

CLASSIC ART: TO SEDUCE A PRINCESS!


The evil head of the Black Sun criminal organisation, the reptilian Prince Xizor, prepares to use his natural pheromones to make Princess Leia (wearing her Boushh bounty hunter disguise) his next conquest, in this scene from the movie that sadly never was: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE. This great art for the LUCASFILM marketing and merchandise campaign, created to test and generate fan interest for the soon to be re-released Classic Trilogy SPECIAL EDITION movies in 1997, was one of many pieces done in TOPPS card form back in 1995/6 by the esteemed Hildebrandt Brothers.

We've got THE CLONE WARS series and its great. Now, c'mon Mister Filoni and the gang, make SHADOWS an animated reality!