Saturday, January 21, 2012

George Lucas Says ‘Nuking the Fridge’ Was His Idea

Remember how Steven Spielberg claimed full responsibility for having our favorite adventuring archeologist escape a nuclear explosion by hiding inside a refrigerator in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? Well, as it turns out, George Lucas is now willingly shouldering the blame for that much-criticized sequence.

In a recent New York Times profile detailing the Star Wars creator’s retirement from blockbuster filmmaking, Lucas said the questionable scene was his idea from the beginning.

“He’s trying to protect me,” Lucas said of his longtime friend and collaborator’s confession that it was his choice to “nuke the fridge.” Quite the contrary, it was Speilberg who “didn’t believe” that Indy would be able to survive the ordeal. To counter the director’s skepticism, Lucas reportedly provided a lengthy dossier detailing why the scene would make sense. Lucas affirmed that if the refrigerator was lined with lead, if Indy didn’t break his neck and if he were able to get the door open upon landing back down to earth following the explosion, there’s a chance he could survive.

“The odds of surviving that refrigerator—from from a lot of scientists—are about 50-50,” Lucas said.

Well, there you have it. For the full story, click here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

George Lucas Announces Retirement

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Star Wars creator George Lucas revealed he’s done with big-budget filmmaking, and that Red Tails—now in theaters—is his final epic filmmaking endeavor.

“I’m retiring,” Lucas told the Times. “I’m moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff.”

Although he’s given himself an “out” clause should a fifth Indiana Jones film go into production, the 67-year-old visual effects pioneer has vowed that his self-funded and distributed World War II Tuskegee Airmen biopic will be his last major blockbuster.

Directed by Anthony Hemingway (The Wire), Red Tails has been a story Lucas has wanted to tell for the last 23 years. Although one might think that someone with the money-making pedigree and industry clout of Lucas would have no difficulty in getting a World War II epic in theaters, but the film’s predominantly black cast reportedly made the studios nervous, with a majority of their profits coming from overseas.

Now that Red Tails is released, Lucas will concentrate on smaller, more personal projects—something he has tried to do for years.

“Once this is finished, he’s done everything he’s ever wanted to do,” said Rick McCallum, who collaborated with Lucas as a producer on the Star Wars prequels as well as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. “He will have completed his task as a man and a filmmaker.”

The Times piece is a great read, going into detail on the production of Red Tails as well as how Lucas deals with fan criticism over the alterations he’s made to the Star Wars films over the years. Check it out by clicking here.

Sex and Violence? In MY Comic Books!?

I caught this news report from a Washington, DC, Fox affiliate about an hour ago on Topless Robot, and I’ve been nerd ragin’ ever since. In it, inept “journalists” wag their fingers at DC Comics for the company’s recent “New 52” relaunch and all of the sex, violence and adult themes publishers have unleashed on the youth of America ever since.

“Batman and Catwoman having sex on the rooftop!” “A drunken Bruce Wayne!” “Blood-spattered battles with heads whacked off!” How dare DC Comics market overt sex and violence to children—clearly the audience that DC is targeting these days! After all, it’s not like Batman hasn’t dealt almost exclusively with adult themes since 1986, right? Wait, what year did The Dark Knight Returns come out?

Oh, by the way, Bruce Wayne isn’t drunk on the page featured in the report…he’s faking it and it says as much on the panel itself. Research, amirite?

According to one critic in the piece, Neil Bernstein, PhD, DC Comics is evidently selling “fictionalized Playboy for kids at its worst.” Keep in mind that the report acknowledges that many of the relaunched titles are responsibly marked as “Teen” or “Teen-Plus,” meaning that they’re NOT for kids and thus making this whole thing a non-story.

Furthermore, if these “fictionalized Playboys” are such an issue, why not go to the source and interview the editors at DC Comics and ask them about the company’s creative direction? Maybe this Fox affiliate could have some actual reporting and found out that kids aren’t even interested in comic books and instead gravitate toward superhero cartoons, films and video games? I know fact-finding is more difficult than manufacturing controversy, but it’s kind of what journalism is.

Anyway, here’s the report in its entirety.

Relaunched Comics Using Sex and Violence To Sell:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Rick McCallum Sheds Light on ‘Star Wars: Underworld’

At the Red Tails premiere after-party in New York on Wednesday, Entertainment Weekly caught up with Lucasfilm executive producer Rick McCallum to get some concrete answers about the highly anticipated live-action Star Wars television series, which was originally announced nearly seven years ago.

McCallum confirmed that the series currently has the working title Star Wars: Underworld, and that it will focus on characters that were relatively minor players in the films’ primary storyline following the rise, fall and redemption of Darth Vader.

“Expect a lot of smugglers, gangsters, bounty hunters and a few Wall Street-type power brokers,” McCallum told EW. “Nothing about Luke or the Skywalker saga.”

When can fans expect this series to premiere? Well, it’s still a few years off.

“I think we don’t have the technology yet to be able to do it for the level of money that it would have to be done,” McCallum explained. “Plus, the world of television is imploding. No one knows whether you should make a network show or a cable show. I’m really excited about it though, and I hope George does do it. I really do.”

For more on this story, click here.

Happy Birthday to Me

Since my life has become a whirlwind of sorts due to extensive work-related travel, I’m rarely afforded time to sit back and really soak in my experiences. One night I’m driving from San Antonio to Corpus Christi, TX, the next I’m embarking on a 3-hour journey to Laredo to stay at a hotel that literally hugs the Mexican border. I’m constantly in motion, and my free time is typically spent either planning my next move or fulfilling social obligations that I refuse to let fall to the wayside.

Fortunately, a YouTube-related work project has stationed me in San Francisco for the past few days, giving me the chance to not only reflect on the great places my career has taken me—both physically and mentally—but to truly enjoy what I do. Of course, when your work takes you to Lucasfilm and Skywalker Ranch, that enjoyment comes easy.

For reasons I can’t disclose here, this week I was able to tour the Lucasfilm offices and see firsthand where Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) has crafted some of the most spectacular visual effects of all time. Additionally, I was afforded the opportunity to visit Skywalker Ranch—the epicenter of George Lucas’ multimedia empire and arguably the Mecca of nerddom. As trite as it is to call my trip to Lucasfilm a “dream come true,” it really is the best way to describe it. I mean, come on: the original Yoda puppet! The Holy Grail from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade! A life-sized remote-controlled R2-D2! Such iconic relics from my childhood seemed to present themselves to me at every turn, and even as I write this blog entry two days removed from that tour, I’m having a difficult time wiping the smile from my face. Then again, why would I ever want to?

It was only appropriate that my trip to the hallowed halls of Lucasfilm and the lush landscape of Skywalker Ranch came on January 12—my 28th birthday. It was nearly 25 years ago to the day that my parents introduced me to the original Star Wars trilogy, turning me into a hardcore geek at an early age and instilling in me a passion for science-fiction and fantasy storytelling that has only grown in the quarter-century since. In a weird way, my first (and perhaps only) visit to Lucasfilm was a homecoming of sorts for me, reminding me why I love these films so much and why they helped turn me into the person I am today.

While looking out over “Lake Ewok” at Skywalker Ranch’s main house—where Lucas’ personal offices are housed—I couldn’t help but whisper a quiet “thank you” to the man that introduced the world to “a galaxy far, far away” on May 25, 1977, as well as all of the people and circumstances that made the trip possible. Heck, I’m still thanking them.