Welcome to the Homing Beacon Archives. The Official Newsletter of Star Wars.Com, no longer available. I have salvaged as much as I can but have only concentrated on the main part of the newsletter and not the peripheral stuff. I have used images where possible. Enjoy this blast from the past!
May 11, 2006
Their roles are brief yet important, for they suggest a transition that bridges the prequel Star Wars trilogy and the original films. For Keisha Castle-Hughes and Rebecca Jackson Mendoza, their singular scenes in Episode III meant not only a chance to be in a Star Wars movie, but also to be Queen for a day.
Castle-Hughes left her native New Zealand to arrive in Sydney for a single day of shooting on a very tight schedule. “We came to Australia only the day before filming,” she recalls. “We did the last costume fitting — which was only the second costume fitting — so it was very nerve-wracking for them just in case things didn’t fit. But it all went fine.”
As Queen Apailana, Castle-Hughes inherits a regal design legacy that stretches back to the first prequel, The Phantom Menace. Her robes display the style and elegance of peaceful Naboo. “I liked the whole look of the thing. It made me feel really proud to be wearing it.”
Rebecca Jackson Mendoza, who played Alderaan’s Queen Breha Organa, also had high marks for the designs of Trisha Biggar. “I felt like I was in a wedding — a green wedding gown,” she says. “It was originally going to be velvet, but then they decided that might come off too dark, so they changed it.”
Although a fan of the original films, Jackson Mendoza admits that it was her brothers who pieced together the significance of her role before she did. “To be honest, I was kept in the dark up until I got on set,” she says. “I knew I was Queen of Alderaan. My brothers are Star Wars freaks, and they said, ‘Oh, you’re gonna be the surrogate mother of Princess Leia.”
The significance of their roles are not lost on these young actresses. “When I found out this was going to be the last Star Wars film that was ever going to be made, I felt pretty privileged to be in it,” says Castle-Hughes.
“As a girl growing up and seeing Star Wars, of course you want to be Princess Leia,” explains Jackson Mendoza. “And to know that I’m actually playing her mother… I just kept thinking about those buns! I was the mother of those buns! Maybe I taught her how to do those buns!”
May 25, 2006
Lost Far, Far Away…
When producer/director J.J. Abrams and writer Damon Lindelof — creators of the hit ABC primetime drama “Lost” — bonded over a Bantha Tracks Fan Club t-shirt during their first meeting, it only made sense that the duo would have plenty to say about why they love Star Wars, right down to which character they most identify with.
“I’m definitely Admiral Ackbar,” Lindelof says. “Isn’t it obvious why? He’s the man! And by ‘man’ I mean ‘squid.'”
While Lindelof fancies himself part of the Rebel Alliance, Abrams thinks he measures up more as a sassy droid who always saves the day. “I’m probably most like R2-D2 because I am just about his height,” Abrams laughs.
Being lifelong fans of the saga, both Abrams and Lindelof have separate ideas of what they like to collect.
“I really don’t collect Star Wars toys or comics,” Abrams admits. “However, I do have my original Star Wars laserdiscs that I bought a while back and I also have the Star Wars portfolio which was the conceptual artwork done for the films.”
Lindelof is all about the plastic. “You better believe I played with Star Wars toys!” Lindelof says. “I still have my original Star Wars action figure set — Luke, Leia, Chewie and Artoo — which we mailed away for before Kenner was even packaging them! Of course, I’ve played with them many, many times over the years, but I’m happy to report their lightsabers still extend out of their arms!”
Star Wars is forever, and Star Wars fans are everywhere, especially in the world of celebrities. Check out the regularly updated Star Wars Rocks section, and you might find out what you have in common with rockers, athletes, and musicians who love Star Wars.
Emmy Award-Winning Clone Wars Now Available on iTunes
Joining the ranks of many hit TV shows available for convenient download on iTunes is the Emmy-award winning animated series Star Wars: Clone Wars Volume 1. Apple and Lucasfilm are making available the animated series directed by Genndy Tartakovsky.
Clone Wars proved to be a smash hit when it premiered on Cartoon Network in 2004, as the series chronicled the previously unseen adventures of the heroic Jedi Knights and their clone troopers against the evils of Count Dooku and his droid army during the legendary Clone Wars. As animated shorts, the micro-series is the perfect fit for iPod viewing!
Now, the first volume of Clone Wars — chapters 1-20 — is available for download from iTunes. Each chapter may be purchased individually for $1.99. Volume 2 will soon follow, so stay tuned for further announcements.
Jun 08, 2006
Blogging About Betrayal
Last week’s release of the hardcover novel Betrayal kicked off the start of Legacy of the Force, a nine-book series published by Del Rey Books. Eager fans of Star Wars expanded universe literature dove into this new era of adventure, set 40 years after the events of A New Hope. Those Hyperspace members that tore through the book the quickest began posting their thoughts on blogs.starwars.com. Here’s a sample:
“It’s like reading something out of the classics–it just can’t go wrong. And this one didn’t. Not even a bit. I was worried, though, when Vergere was mentioned and those weird ‘shades of gray’ implications of the Force started rising to the surface (didn’t we already go over this?), but I got over it. Jacen’s decision turned out to be much, much more interesting and in the end, more of an ambiguity (… I can’t decide who I believe!) that should prove to be fruitful no matter which direction he ultimately goes. Trust me when I say I’ll be following his career as a yo-yo of anticipation. I just can’t believe everyone’s all grown up…” — Mara Jade ©
“Allston has written quite the page-turner. I had an extremely hard time putting it down. The most interesting thing about this book, though, is that the book could also be considered a prologue to Dark Horse Comics’ upcoming Legacy series, set 100 years afterward. To quote Yoda, ‘Always in motion is the future.’ But, I believe that at least one of the discussions that characters have in this book definitely foreshadows and telegraphs events in that upcoming comic.” — Jedivan2
“It definitely felt like the beginning of something big. The story was interesting; the characters were perplexing and very human (both good things); and the events seemed important. I’m very glad I hopped on board Legacy right now, rather than waiting to finish all the other books first.” — rj_peters
“Comparisons with [Episode III] can be found throughout the novel, though most notably in its final, dark, epic chapters. As with RotS, Betrayal opens with something a little lighter: a Jedi mission, in which we find both Jedi action drawing on the tone of the prequels, and some classic Allston humor … But, drama is here in spades, too, with so many action sequences I’ve lost count.” — Borma Feng
Perhaps the most noteworthy post came from the author of the book, Aaron Allston. He is the newest VIP member of the blogs.starwars.com community. In his first blog, he discusses the use of humor in storytelling, and how the label “comedy” is often misapplied:
“Humor, again as I define it, operates under different laws. Sure, humor is about laughter, but I consider it to derive from the situation rather than to define the situation… Here’s an example not related to my work. In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones fights through obstacle after obstacle to rescue Marion. Being confronted with one last, huge, sword-wielding opponent, he casually shoots the man dead. This is funny… but it’s not comedy. It’s a moment bookended by action and death. It elicits a laugh, yes, but the moment obeys realistic rules, doesn’t impose comedic rules, and doesn’t alter the tension of Indy’s situation.” — Allston
Jun 22, 2006
Captain Antilles Speaks!
When actor Rohan Nichol first stepped foot on the Episode III set in Sydney, Australia, he was thrilled to be playing Captain Antilles — he just wasn’t sure which one. “Because I’m such a huge Star Wars fan, I already knew Alderaan is a peaceful place and that it was destroyed in A New Hope,” Nichol says. “My research basically consisted of reading a few things about Alderaan, and about Princess Leia and that sort of thing. But the rest of it is actually within me, because I’m of the generation that grew up with those films. So when I got the role of Captain Antilles I initially thought, ‘Oh man, I’m going to be an X-wing fighter pilot! And he’s the man; he survives. He’s great!'”
It wasn’t until he arrived on the Sydney set that he understood he’d be playing Captain Raymus Antilles, owner of R2-D2 and C-3PO. “I honestly thought I was playing a younger version of Wedge. Either way, it’s been an honor!”
Though the role wasn’t a major part in Revenge of the Sith, Nichols was excited to share the screen with actors Jimmy Smits (Bail Organa) and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO). “The first scene that I was in, basically I’m reporting to Bail Organa, and just letting him know that we’ve located a Jedihoming beacon,” Nichol says. “And it wasn’t without a bit of a scrap up — I’m sort of cut up a little bit. When I say it, my character is kind of stunned that the clones seem to be directionless; they don’t have a leader. And so Senator Organa tells me that we’d better intercept the Jedi before the clones regroup. In the second scene basically Organa entrusts R2-D2 and C-3PO to my care, and tells me to treat them well, and that he wants C-3PO’s mind erased.”
One of Nichol’s favorite memories of his role was turning an accidental shaving incident into a detail that built character. “I came on to the set and I had a bit of a nick on my chin from shaving,” Nichol recalls. “The nick was being very troublesome and it wouldn’t stop bleeding, so it had formed an annoying mark. So when I met George Lucas on the set, I apologized for the nick and he said jokingly that I must have gotten it in the Clone Wars! I said, ‘That’s right, I did!’ And that moment made me realize how relaxed Lucas was as a director. For a guy who’s got a lot on his shoulders, he’s always prepared. I suppose that comes with having a system of people around you who you’ve done stuff with for ages. Everyone knows their job; everyone knows what the score is. It really was a pleasantly surprising experience.”
Jul 06, 2006
Behind Binks: Buster & Bugs
As the multi-talented artist who provided the voice and real world reference for the computer-generated prequel character Jar Jar Binks, actor Ahmed Best used his expertise in physical comedy for the role. In addition to his dance training, Best says that he drew most of his inspiration from comedic icons both real and imaginary.
“The major influence for Jar Jar was a lot of Buster Keaton — his moves and antics,” Best says. “But as far as comedy and timing, for me it was Bugs Bunny. That’s where I got most of my comic timing. I’m a big Bugs Bunny fan, and a lot of the reactions and looks would come from the whole Looney Tunes kind of feel. But when we first started doing it, George Lucas wanted a Buster Keaton-like character for Episode I. And there were a couple of Buster Keaton movies that we were inspired by for some of the scenes, especially in the army scene in Episode I — the final battle with the droids and the Gungans.”
More than just comic relief, Best believes Jar Jar manages to exhibit many laudable traits. “I think his greatest quality is his honesty,” Best says. “Whether you like the character or not, he is what he is. There are no pretenses, and there is nothing else other than what he is. He just wants to do good all the time, and he’s not a character that has any secrets or a dark side.”
Having the one character known completely for his dark side as a close friend isn’t easy. “It’s hard to say what Jar Jar thinks of Anakin because he has been with Anakin ever since he was nine years old,” Best explains. “And he’s seen Anakin grow up to discover his powers and lose his family. They’ve been kind of like, dare I say, brothers, in the whole struggle. So when Anakin was being influenced by Palpatine, I’m sure Jar Jar was a bit put off, maybe a little scared for Anakin, maybe a little protective. But there’s really nothing that Jar Jar could do about it.”
Jul 21, 2006
Star Wars Spectacular
On January 1, 2007, denizens of a galaxy far, far away will march down the streets of Pasadena, California, in a one-of-a-kind “Star Wars Spectacular” during the 118th Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade®.
More than 350 Star Wars characters, including stormtroopers, Imperial officers, Ewoks and Darth Vader himself will entertain the nearly one million people expected to line the streets of Pasadena to see the Parade in person and the tens of millions of more around the world who tune in via multiple television broadcasts.
The massive Imperial stormtrooper contingent will comprise members of the international 501st Legion, a costuming and volunteer organization made up of Star Wars fans. Some 200 stormtroopers from more than 20 countries will participate in the Tournament of Roses Parade, showcasing the emblems and colors of their local garrisons.
“During the global premiere of Star Wars: Episode III last May, George Lucas was deeply impressed by the presence of 501st Legion members around the globe, and we wanted to honor them for their loyal support of Star Wars and their global philanthropy,” said Tom Warner, Senior Director of Marketing for Lucasfilm Ltd. Members of the 501st regularly volunteer their time to support local charitable efforts. Read more about the 501st in this article.
Providing musical entertainment in the “Star Wars Spectacular” will be the renowned Grambling State University Tiger Marching Band.
In keeping with this year’s Parade theme “Our Good Nature,” the “Star Wars Spectacular” will feature the Ewoks, residents of the forest moon of Endor, who will ride on a float showcasing their planet’s unique environment with a plea to “Save the Trees.”
The celebration of Star Wars — which coincides with the start of the 30th anniversary of the epic, six-episode adventure — will also showcase a float that depicts the romantic beauty of Naboo, the garden planet of the Star Wars galaxy.
“Being part of a grand tradition like the Rose Parade is a fantastic way to kick off this milestone year,” Warner said. Over Memorial Day Weekend 2007, a large fan convention, Star Wars Celebration IV, is expected to attract more than 30,000 worldwide fans to the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Aug 03, 2006
Thanks a Latte: Javva the Hutt
Look closely in the end credits of the Star Wars prequels and you might spot an unusual tribute. Listed amongst the cast and crew is Javva the Hutt, the employee-adopted cafe that has been fueling artists at Industrial Light & Magic since May 23, 1997. Since relocating from the Marin County facility to the new San Francisco campus, Javva proprietor Michael Smith brews coffee not only for ILM, but for employees at LucasArts and Lucasfilm, as well as George Lucas himself.
“George’s preferred coffee drink is a large mocha,” Smith smiles. “But most people here live for their lattes.”
While working at Skywalker Ranch 1989 to 1992, Smith became friends with corporate facility manager Ralph O’Rear who asked him if he’d like to officially caffeinate the visual effects artists responsible for the prequels. Smith jumped at the chance and has been the ILM barista ever since.
“My daughter Lily actually came up with the name Javva the Hutt,” Smith recalls. “She was six years old at the time. It took about three months to get approval from Lucasfilm to use the name and image of Jabba.”
Since then, fictional Javva the Hutt cafes have popped up in comics, cartoons and even films. But Smith doesn’t mind a bit. “I don’t care because I know there is only one real Javva the Hutt.”
Having the cafe immortalized on the big screen wasn’t too shabby either. “Along with all the great support I received over the years from ILM employees, one of my biggest patrons is producer Rick McCallum,” Smith says. “He was the one who pushed for me to be put in the end credits.”
When the company relocated to the Presidio, Lucas made sure Javva the Hutt was part of the move, much to the employees’ delight. Smith warns, however, that you probably shouldn’t thank the filmmaker by insisting on a free cup of Joe. “One time someone who had ordered a drink told me to put it on George’s tab,” Smith laughs. “The guy didn’t realize that George was standing right behind him. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone turn red so quickly.”