Posts Tagged ‘Lucasfilm’

From My Point Of View, It’s A Problem: A Commentary

July 28, 2017

The upcoming anthology of short stories based on ANH–originally dubbed “Operation Blue Milk” then revealed as “A Certain Point Of View”–didn’t interest me much because I’ve basically given up reading Del Rey’s new wave of licensed fiction.  But if there was any glimmer of interest at all it was extinguished with the full list of people brought on to write for this thing.  I don’t dislike everyone on there obviously; some of them have been involved with stuff that I enjoyed.  Others I have issues with but the most galling was bringing on actor Wil Wheaton.  No Timothy Zahn or James Luceno or Mike Stackpole but they had pages to spare for this guy.

Really, Del Rey and Lucasfilm?  Really????

Whenever somebody at Lucasfilm tries to claim that they love the prequels equally and treat them with respect, you’ve got to ask why then are the most notorious prequel bashers rewarded with prime gigs?  Simon Pegg got to guest star on The Clone Wars and scored a cameo in TFA.  Now a prequel basher known for another franchise gets to publish Star Wars fiction while scores of experienced writers, both professional and fan, never get the call.  As someone who has been trying for two years to get in the market with my own stuff, it’s HARD.  But maybe to get a deal with Del Rey I should just start the Prequel Hate Society and bash the films every chance I get.

What’s problematic about this is that we all know that they would never do this for anyone who publicly bashes the original trilogy, TFA, or Rogue One.  Ever.  To the people in charge, the prequels are expendable in a way the others are not and they don’t care because the movies don’t mean as much to them as the OT does and the overlords in Burbank aren’t going to tolerate anyone bashing their films.

Look, people at Lucasfilm:  admit it.  The prequels are second banana to your company, loved by a tiny few, liked by some, tolerated with gritted teeth by most.  J.W. Rinzler’s late blog indicated a lot of people there were not fond of AOTC at the very least and you know what, it shows.  It has shown for years.  Stop gas lighting us and stop making excuses.

I’m half tempted to get a bunch of pro-prequel fan fiction writers to put together an anthology…

A Communications Disruption: Commentary

July 19, 2017

Former Lucasfilm employee and author J.W. Rinzler recently started blogging a popular series called “The Rise And Fall of Star Wars” on his personal website.  The entries were going to cover his time at Lucasfilm 2001-2015 where he worked in publishing and got a great deal of access, especially while working on his series of behind the scenes books for ROTS, the OT, and TFA, which was unpublished.  Up until July 14 2017, he had published twelve entries with vivid descriptions of life at Skywalker Ranch and Big Rock Ranch and anecdotes about various personalities like George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Lucasfilm execs, ILM players, the prequels cast, etc..  Shortly after his twelfth entry was posted, he edited it a couple of times, then the blog completely disappeared.  He abruptly canceled an appearance (“indefinitely”) on the Star Wars Junk podcast that was supposed to happen July 17.  He then posted on Twitter that he has had to discontinue his blog, with no further explanation given.  This tells me Rinzler was ordered to stop blogging and to take down all of his entries immediately through a cease and desist letter from Lucasfilm.  It’s likely they are alleging the blog violates a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that I’m certain Rinzler had to sign while an employee.

The July 14 entry was about his time on the set of ROTS in 2003 and he had noted that 1) Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman were “likely” affected by years of prequel bashing and weren’t terribly cooperative with his efforts 2) McGregor loudly and rudely rebuffed Rinzler after getting the green light to interview him;  McCallum allegedly said the actor was on “an emotional rollercoaster” and the crew claimed he’d changed since working on TPM 3) the difference between the way McGregor and Hayden Christensen took direction versus old pro Jimmy Smits and 4) Christensen talking about how Lucas wanted Anakin to be more understated than he wanted.  Given that Rinzler had been blogging away for weeks, even getting comments from former and current Lucasfilm employees as well as fans, there was something about this entry that made Lucasfilm uncomfortable enough to cry havoc and unleash the legal dogs of war.

 Now, let’s get one thing straight.  Lucasfilm doesn’t give a crap that you now know Ewan McGregor may have had a hissy fit on a movie set fourteen years ago.  Lucasfilm got nervous because of what Rinzler knows about a whole host of other things:  Lucas’s failed battle to build a studio at Grady Rock Ranch, when Lucas got the bug to do another Star Wars trilogy and why, what were originally Lucas’s ideas for the sequel trilogy, the sale to Disney, the decision to pull the plug on Clone Wars, the decision to cancel re-releases of the prequel trilogy, rebooting the spinoff material of books and comics, any falling out between Lucas and his former allies at Lucasfilm, the decision to dump Michael Arndt for Larry Kasdan and J.J. Abrams, what happened on the set of TFA, why Lucasfilm didn’t publish his book about TFA, and why he was let go shortly after TFA’s release.   If Rinzler wasn’t afraid to talk about cranky actors, he sure wasn’t going to be afraid to give his perspective on a lot of other things.  Maybe it wasn’t all sweetness and light on the set of TFA; maybe there was far more to the story of Harrison Ford’s injuries than what we’ve been told.  There were after all criminal charges filed against the production company.

The old Lucasfilm was more than happy to delve behind the scenes.  The new Lucasfilm seems to regard, beyond a few PR-friendly reels for cons and home viewing, Star Wars films the same as sausage:  you don’t want to know how they are made.  A book about the making of “Rogue One” was supposed to be published this year and that was abruptly cancelled.  Fans suspect it was because of the re-shoot drama late in the film’s production.

The old Lucasfilm had NDAs all along but let people like David Prowse, Gary Kurtz, Charlie Lippencott, etc. talk all they wanted even if what they had to say was score-settling along with the inside skinny of making Eps IV-VI; Prowse eventually got banned from official events but nobody has ever shut him up.  A former employee named Michael Rubin wrote “Droidmaker” several years ago that gave an insider’s view at Lucasfilm, American Zoetrope, and the early days of Pixar.  Today’s Lucasfilm will use NDAs to make sure nobody says anything to anybody ever.  There might be people who will shrug off or even defend this action but this means what we learn about Star Wars and about Lucasfilm now  will only be through tightly-controlled PR or from the Supershadows of the world.  Either way, you don’t get the truth.

They won’t be able to keep everyone quiet forever though.  There will be others coming forward to give their .02 as they leave the business and aren’t worried about burning any bridges.  Somebody will fight draconian interpretations of NDAs, consequences be damned.

In the meantime, we’ve lost a valuable time capsule capturing a part of Star Wars history that doesn’t get a lot of coverage.  It’s truly a shame.

The Complicated Relationship Between Official Fandom & The PT (Its Fans Too): Commentary

October 11, 2016

Nothing captures better the odd way Lucasfilm handles the PT than this:

Well-known Lucasfilm employee states for the second time or so that according to its internals, the prequels are as loved in the U.S. as Eps IV-VI. Before, it had also been noted that internationally, the prequels were slightly more popular.

Two successive episodes of the YouTube-based “The Star Wars Show” feature well-known personalities speaking positively about the prequels.

And then on the Sept. 7 episode of the same program, a couple of guys from IGN are brought on to discuss the late ‘90s arcade classic Star Wars: Racer. The IGN “personalities” make some comments that fans perceived to be jabs at TPM. Something by the way you would not see directed at Eps IV-VI or TFA.

On Sept. 13, they released a bunch of stickers for the iPhone and they were only from TFA and the OT.

I held off on posting this for the past month, until I see this today.  Padme Amidala isn’t mentioned in the text and the accompanying video only features two short clips.  It’s as though poor Padme got memory wiped from the saga due to the crimes of not being politically correct enough and failing to appear in a Disney production.  Forget Legion of Leia; how about People For Padme?  (While I’m at it, maybe at some point I’ll do a post on why fandom forgets about maternal figures like Shmi Skywalker or Aunt Beru.)

All of this occurred very recently, so I’m not cobbling together things that happened months or years ago. But it is a pattern that has gone on for a long time. One day it seems like they’re pro-PT, one day I wonder if they really are. I’m not putting all of the blame on the Disney purchase either since this sort of thing has been happening even while Lucas still ruled the roost. For instance, the official Star Wars Twitter account several years back retweeted a fan-made cartoon where Deadpool kills a guy for praising the prequels and Hayden Christensen. The retweet was deleted after this site and several other fans protested. (And to be fair, this was way worse than a couple of IGN jokesters on “The Star Wars Show.”)

Lately it’s become kind of a standard defense that nobody at Lucasfilm dislikes the prequels and that claims there is a “ban” on mentioning the prequels aren’t true. I know that no one issued a memo from the desk of Kathleen Kennedy or Bob Iger stating that all references to the prequels be halted immediately and offenders would be thrown off the Golden Gate Bridge. Obviously small mentions here and there are permissible in the films. Obviously mentions are permitted in Rebels, the books, and comics (all of which attract far less attention than the films). Obviously there are toys on the market. But it’s also disingenuous to act as though the prequels are treated and regarded equally, because anyone paying attention can see they are not. It’s always permissible to issue digs or jokes at the those films while everyone has to speak about Eps IV-VI reverently and TFA respectfully. Outspoken super critics of the PT are embraced, while I doubt the same would be extended to anyone who said anything offensive about Eps IV-VI or harshly criticized TFA.

It’s also not unreasonable to believe that while there’s no “ban,” there definitely had been a de-emphasis on the films. A big chunk of TFA’s pre-release campaign was based on basically saying, “Hey everyone, this isn’t like the prequels!” I was reading in various interviews about people working on the film being told to not do things the way they were done in the prequels; it’s right there in Allure magazine December 2015 as one example. Thankfully they haven’t gone that route with “Rogue One” so far. While it’s nice they brought in some prequel players and stuff in “Rogue One,” I’m waiting for them to really be brave and introduce crucial elements of the prequels, even the controversial ones.  I’m also wary that the anti-PT tone will be back with Ep. VIII. I don’t have to be the late Miss Cleo to predict they are going to rip on the Anakin/Padme romance to promote how theirs is so much better and they will “do it right this time.”

There’s also a big imbalance in what’s available for merchandising.  While there have been toys and collectibles consistently available, things like apparel, home goods, office decor/knicknacks, etc. have been sorely lacking.

So maybe it isn’t nuts to think that maybe the prequels aren’t all of that respected by the current castle keepers.  If that’s not what Lucasfilm wants us to believe, they have a long way to go to convince me and a lot of other fans otherwise.

Update:  The Force For Change International Day Of The Girl post has been updated to include Padmé Amidala.  High fives, prequel fans!  @prequelpositive deserves credit for  doing a lot to spread the word yesterday.



You Won’t Find The PT In 2014

December 31, 2013

In a calendar that is. If you’re old-fashioned like me and still use those printed calendar thingies, the pickings are slim for fans who like all of the saga represented. You’d think they were producing 1997 calendars!

For the U.S. market, your choices consist of the misnamed Star Wars Saga Wall Calendar which limits the saga to only Eps IV-VI; the Star Wars Saga Poster Calendar which at least has a single image of Jango Fett’s helmet, probably because some employee mixed him up with Boba Fett; the Darth Vader and Son Calendar, which is derived from the cute book of the same name but that is mostly Eps IV-VI; the Angry Birds Star Wars calendar which features only the Eps IV-VI Angry Bird characters; and the Star Wars Saga Desk Calendar, which is one of those things you rip out a page every day. That one sounds like it has some prequel stuff in it, but since I can’t look at all 365 pages, I can’t be sure. Clone Wars calendars? Don’t make me laugh!

Just another indication that after nearly a decade after ROTS, Lucasfilm isn’t doing a very good job really integrating the saga. Star Wars is still just two trilogies that have nothing to do with each other with opposing fan bases, and clearly the OT one is the more important.

Looks like we’ll just have to make our own.

Lucasfilm Layoffs

April 16, 2013

Rebel Force Radio reported of more layoffs within Disney and Lucasfilm today. TFN found a tweet from a Lucas Licensing manager who was pink slipped; apparently the layoffs were in licensing, publishing, and marketing. All of my thoughts on the issue are here.