Scrubs star Donald Faison likes the Star Wars Prequels and is fine with Jar Jar

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In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Donald Faison says that he likes the Star Wars Prequels as much as the originals and that he’s “fine with Jar Jar”.

“When you hear the story of what Ahmed Best went through playing Jar Jar, you grow in appreciation for what he did in the movies”, he adds.

Click here to watch the video.

Faison is best known for his roles in the TV series Scrubs and The Exes. He’s also a voice actor of Star Wars Resistance.

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HuffPost: ‘‘Star Wars: The Phantom Menace’ Was The Prequel To Today’s Fan Culture’

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From HuffPost:

“It was 1:30 a.m. in Santa Monica, California, on May 3, 1999. Most people would be in bed at that point. But not Dan Callister, a photographer working for Online USA/Getty Images. He was on call that night when a tip came across the desk:

Leonardo DiCaprio is at a Toys R Us right now buying “Star Wars” merch.

This was “Phantom Menace” mania, and not even Jack Dawson from “Titanic” was immune to Midnight Madness, when Toys R Us stores were allowed to start selling the new “Star Wars” action figures. […]

After the first three films, franchise creator George Lucas had talked about doing other movies in the “Star Wars” universe, but unlike today, where the slightest hint of nostalgia is furiously mined in the search for box office gold, additional movies were never guaranteed. It’s telling that the working title for “The Phantom Menace,” the retroactive start of Lucas’ “Star Wars” saga, was “The Beginning.” The movie was in many ways a harbinger of fan culture as we know it now: expanded worlds, Easter eggs, canon tie-ins, post-credit teases, reboots and, yes, even backlash. The “Star Wars” prequels may not have done it all first, but they made it a part of our everyday lives.

Just look at the recent response to the final season of “Game of Thrones.” (Perhaps it was telling that Lucas visited the set.) Fans had speculated about the ending for years, hanging on every detail, only to be given a story they weren’t quite expecting. They didn’t think it matched the storytelling already laid out. All those passionate reactions mirrored what had happened two decades earlier with the “Star Wars” franchise, even down to the fan petition to change the writers. (Never mind the later fan petitions for Lucas to return.)

In 1999, it took a while for all the hype to reach Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, California, the pastoral home of Lucasfilm. “The Phantom Menace” was financed by Lucas outside the Hollywood system, so there were no shareholders or studio heads to answer to. For supervising sound editor Matthew Wood, the experience was like making an independent film, albeit “perhaps the biggest and most expensive indie film ever made,” as CNN noted in 1999.

Wood got his first real taste of hype toward the end of production, and it tasted a lot like Pizza Hut.

“They came out [to Skywalker Ranch] with a big pizza truck,” Wood told HuffPost. “They were giving out free pizza to everybody and the big cups had all the ‘Star Wars’ characters.”

The sound supervisor recalls that the crew members at Skywalker Ranch were treated to “Star Wars” cup toppers, including characters such as Mace Windu and Darth Maul. All the characters they had been working on were suddenly “plastered on everything,” according to Wood.

Thanks to a licensing deal with Tricon Global Restaurants (now Yum Brands), the trio of KFC’s Colonel Sanders, the Taco Bell dog and “Pizza Hut Girl” (Pizza the Hutt was already taken) joined forces to “defeat the dark side” of consumer spending. After the Pizza Hut cups, Wood started noticing more and more promotions all around Marin County. Other major licensing deals included Pepsi, Hasbro and Lego.

“Every single something had a licensing deal for it. And that was just that little version right out here in the county where it’s being made. Of course, it was happening worldwide,” he said. “It’s like dropping a rock in the center of a lake and watching the waves expand out to the whole rest of the world.” […]

The “Star Wars” prequels weren’t the start of the trolling or the toxic online fan culture of today, but they did boost those elements into hyperdrive. The pushback against the movie and the characters manifested itself in everything from bullying of the cast to websites such as http://www.JarJarMustDie.com.

In 2018, Best revealed that he had considered suicide due to the abuse.

“It came right for me. I was called every racial stereotype you can imagine,” Best said in a video interview. “There was this criticism of being this Jamaican broken dialect, which was offensive because I’m of West Indian descent — I’m not Jamaican. It was debilitating. I didn’t know how to respond.”

Perhaps the most poignant review when looking back on “The Phantom Menace” came from The New York Times, which said if you took away the unreasonable expectations, it was “up to snuff.”

A more measured take was offered at Skywalker Ranch, where Wood found himself in a position that any “Star Wars” fan in 1999 would have gladly been frozen in carbonite for. He was the first person ever to see the entirety of “Episode I: The Phantom Menace.”

According to Wood, editors Ben Burtt and Paul Martin Smith were each cutting half of the movie, and it was his job to go through the whole thing and find all the moments where digital characters needed to be recorded. But the significance of the task didn’t hit him until Lucas made a casual comment.

“I remember I had this big stack of three-quarter-inch videotapes when I was leaving the office, and [George] was just like, ‘You know, Matt, you’re the first person that’s gonna watch the whole thing together.’”

Wood immediately went into the cutting room and locked the door, jamming it closed for good measure. He also called his mom.

“I was like, ‘Mom! Mom! I’m the first person in the world to watch this movie!’” he said. “It was a very, very exciting moment.”

So what was his initial review?

“I remember thinking, ‘Wow. It looks visually different. And it was just telling a different type of story,’” Wood said. “But it was still such a world that you were being transported to, and everything felt like it had a history to it, and I just believed it.”

The sound supervisor deplores the personal attacks on Lucas and the cast, saying they don’t serve anyone. But he recognizes that when it comes to “Star Wars,” everyone has an opinion and for some people it’s like a “religion.”

Wood said that at the time, he didn’t think about the hype surrounding the film. He just wanted Lucas to be able to make the movie he wanted to make, and he believes Lucas achieved that.

“When you see ‘Star Wars’ being different than what I remember it being, that’s an adjustment. But then I put my focus and I made it into ‘I want to make the movie that George wants to make,’” Wood said. “Because I believe in his filmmaking and I feel fortunate to be part of it.”

While the prequels may have been criticized by the older generation of fans, who were busy putting phrases like “ruined my childhood” into the lexicon, for the younger ones, this was their “Star Wars.”

It’s easy to find stories from younger fans praising the prequels. These were the people now starting “Star Wars” fan clubs, imitating Natalie Portman’s Padmé Amidala makeup, using those Darth Maul cup toppers. (Hopefully, everyone was steering clear of the Jar Jar lollipop.)

After Best revealed how the bullying had affected him in 2018, he received a wave of support from fans and attended Star Wars Celebration in 2019, receiving a warm reaction from the crowd.

That brought a tear to Wood’s eye.

“The overwhelming positive vibes that came from the crowd were really rejuvenating. We put so much time and effort into those movies and seeing them 20 years later, and seeing the kids that grew up with them are now in their 30s, is fun to watch,” he said. “It’s kind of where I was when I came into working in the company. When I started here, I was a fan of the originals. That was my jam. And then to see that coming from the prequels has been really, really humbling.”

It’s been two decades since “The Phantom Menace.” Today, the hype is gone, as well as DiCaprio’s “Star Wars” collection, which he auctioned off in 2006. But from CGI characters who might not exist if it weren’t for the early tech used to create Jar Jar, to the ever-expanding serialized worlds of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to the passionate new fandoms finding space of their own on the internet, you’ll find a phantom presence around it.”

Warwick Davis looks back on his roles in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

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From StarWars.com:

“As a boy, Warwick Davis had lived the Star Wars dream, starring as Wicket the Ewok in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983) and two made-for-TV spin-off movies. In this exclusive excerpt from part two of Star Wars Insider’s in-depth interview with Warwick Davis, the actor reveals how he found himself returning to the galaxy far, far away….

Words: Mark Newbold

Star Wars Insider: 2019 marks two decades since the release of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999). How did you get involved again with the Star Wars saga?

Warwick Davis: There came a point in the early 1990s when George Lucas first mentioned the prequel trilogy, telling the origins of Anakin, and I sent a few faxes to him. They were always humorous and fun, but basically it was me saying, “I’m excited to hear you’re doing new Star Wars, and if you do, don’t forget me!” Eventually I got a call from the casting director, Robin Gurland, and she said George wanted me to play Wald, who was described as Anakin’s best friend.

I didn’t know what it was going to involve at that stage. I didn’t know there was going to be a rubber head and the Tunisian desert, but that’s where we ended up. At one point, George did say, “Oh, I realize what I’ve done. You’ve done Willow (1988) since Return of the Jedi and now I’ve stuck you back in a rubber head again. Why don’t you be someone else? You can be a spectator watching the podrace!” So that’s how I ended up playing Weazel as well.

Star Wars Insider: Weazel returned in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). Had you ever have imagined reprising the character almost 20 years later?

Warwick Davis: No, not at all. When we were working on Solo, we were looking at the design of this character, one of Enfys Nest’s gang, and we were talking about it for ages. We were trying different things, making drawings, and throwing ideas into the hat — scars and lenses, shaved head, all sorts of things — until someone picked out a picture of Weazel and said he looked kind of cool. The look then kind of dictated itself based on an older version of the character. I thought it was perfect, and then I started to think about what his journey could have been between those two points. He went from a gambler to a freedom fighter, trying to help Enfys make a difference. It all made sense.

Star Wars Insider: And his name began with “W” again.

Warwick Davis: Yes, we didn’t have to invent another character name that began with “W” because it was already there. I remember before we came up with the name Weazel, I was invited by George to go to the recording session at Abbey Road Studios and watch John Williams score The Phantom Menace. While we were there I said to George, “Is there a connection between your name and Wicket’s name, in that yours is George W. Lucas and his is Wicket W. Warwick?” He didn’t answer, but what he did say was, “We need to give your character in The Phantom Menace a name beginning with ‘W.’”

At that point, I wasn’t really making the connection that every character I’d played up to that point began with “W”. I said, “Well, he’s a bit of a sneaky guy,” and George suggested Weasel, but with a “Z” instead of an “S”. So that was when we named him, in the mixing room at Abbey Road Studios. We never imagined that he would have further life beyond.


The new issue of Star Wars Insider releases September 10 in the US (and October 10 in the UK), and is packed with exclusive features and interviews.

The issue also includes an interview with director of photography David Tattersall on bringing Star Wars back with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace […].

Jon Favreau: “The Star Wars Prequels are the bedrock on which digital production is built”

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From The Hollywood Reporter:

“The future of filmmaking is unfolding in a drab office park near a Whole Foods in Playa Vista. It’s where Jon Favreau assembled this summer’s $1.5 billion-grossing The Lion King using a gaming engine and a warehouse of cutting-edge artists and technicians, and it’s where the actor-writer-director-producer is sketching out season two of The Mandalorian, a Star Wars TV series set to debut Nov. 12 on the new Disney+ streaming service (and to be teased with a trailer at the D23 conference Aug. 23). Favreau, 52, invited Hollywood Reporter editorial director Matthew Belloni to a conference room lined with pictures of Tatooine’s finest to talk about his crazy summer (in addition to Lion King, he co-starred in the $1 billion-grossing Spider-Man: Far From Home and dropped The Chef Show on Netflix) and to unveil his new endeavor, Golem Creations, named for the man-made creature from folklore that represents an artistic creation brought to life by magic. […]

Let’s start with is the focus of the new venture. What’s Golem Creations?

Favreau: My fascination is with where technology and storytelling overlap. Méliès, the Lumière brothers, Walt Disney, Jim Cameron. It comes from the tradition of stage magic. When you have a tech breakthrough like Star Wars, like Avatar, like Jurassic Park, people’s minds go into a fugue state where they just accept this illusion as reality. What’s also enjoyable about it for me is that you’re not being tricked by it, you’re complicit in that you are agreeing to suspend your disbelief if the spectacle is sufficiently enjoyable. That’s why Star Wars is so enduring and why we’re surrounded [here] by artwork for Star Wars, why that’s a world I want to play in because it’s tech and myth coming together in a perfect way.

So what are your next steps?

A lot of it is focusing on the opportunities that new production technologies have to offer, and then also what technology offers in the form of platforms, distribution. It could be anything from The Mandalorian, where we’re using game engine technology, virtual camera work and virtual production that we developed on Lion King, applying those learnings to designing a project where you could use virtual sets and virtual set extensions using real-time rendering, which is something that people talk about but we’re the first people to actually apply it to a production. Getting that thing on its feet, from an idea through the screaming toddler phase into a place where you can actually have a responsible production that delivers quality is a very interesting part of the learning curve, so that’s something that I’m fascinated with.

There will be people who hear “digital production” on The Mandalorian and think “Great, we saw digital production on the Star Wars prequels and it didn’t look very good.” How is this different?

Well, I would argue that the prequels are — and [George] Lucas in general is — the bedrock that all of this is built on. He is the first person that had digital photography, he was the first person to do completely CG characters. The whole notion of not having even a print [version of the film], of having everything be 0’s and 1’s, was all George. Not to mention EditDroid, which turned into Avid, Pixar was spawned out of their laboratories at LucasFilm, so he is arguably the center of the Big Bang for everything that I’m doing. It’s building on the shoulders of what he was able to innovate.

So the answer is this is 20 years later than the prequels?

This is 20 years later, and also there’s been a democratization of the skill set too. It’s no longer a few vendors innovating in ivory towers, that information has been expanded and disseminated and democratized so that effects that would cost you millions of dollars, you can do it on a PC now, with consumer-facing filmmaking tools. When George came to our set and visited The Mandalorian, he said, “Oh, we did this,” and what he meant was, “We had green screen and we were building small sets and expanding upon it.” Now, we have video walls, NVIDIA video cards that allow a refresh rate that allows you to do in-camera effects, we’re in there taking advantage of the cutting-edge stuff.” […]”

JoBlo: “Everything about Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is great” (Video)

From JoBlo:

“Welcome back to The UnPopular Opinion! The UnPopular Opinion features different takes on films that either I hated, but that the majority of film fans loved or vice versa. We have always hoped this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Now, with us entering the visual world, you can get pissed off in a whole new medium!

This week, I decided to revisit the first prequel in George Lucas’ iconic STAR WARS franchise. EPISODE I – THE PHANTOM MENACE. Thanks to the technical prowess of editor Matthew Hacunda, this video will tell you all of the reasons why THE PHANTOM MENACE is an unheralded classic along with which characters are amongst the best in the entire saga set in a galaxy far, far away. You may remember EPISODE I as underwhelming or maybe even bad, but this video should set you straight as to why it is so much more than that. So, grab your blue milk and start rubbing your japor snippet and let’s do this! […]”

Video: “Every Padmé Look in Star Wars”

From Star Wars Kids:

“Padmé Amidala is a heroic queen-turned-senator of the Republic — and is very stylish! Find out how many outfits Padmé wears in Star Wars in this installment of Star Wars By the Numbers!

Star Wars By the Numbers is a series from Lucasfilm that counts fun Star Wars tidbits. Let us know what you’d like us to count next!”

The Blu-rays of the Star Wars movies will be re-released on September 22; here are the covers

The Blu-rays and DVDs of the first eight episodes of the Star Wars Saga and the two Star Wars Stories will be re-released on September 22, according to Blu-ray.com. There is no official announcement yet.

Here are the new covers (via Star Wars Leaks):

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