Star Wars At Citi Field

Not so long time ago in city not so far away, there was a legendary place called Shea Stadium in New York. Rumor has it that the evil Empire destroyed it. The Rebel Alliance helped to rebuild it and called it Citi Field. On September 13th, 2011 the Galactic Empire and Rebel Alliance called a truce and joined forces to Stand Up to Cancer as they raised funds for cancer research. They also celebrated the September 16 North American release of the nine-disc Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray, which contains deleted, extended and alternate scenes, new documentaries, interviews and more.

The New York Mets announced they were teaming up with Lucasfilm to host the first Star Wars Night at Citi Field when the Mets hosted the Washington Nationals. The evening started off with a costume contest for the young Padawans and creatures from throughout the galaxy. Celebrity judges included Darth Vader and his stormtroopers, Chewbacca, Boba Fett, a Tusken Raider and two Rebel pilots. Afterwards they all hung around for photo ops with eager fans.

As the characters left, we felt a disturbance in the Force, it guided us up to the second level where the characters reappeared for more photos with the fans. Between innings of the Mets-Nationals game, stormtroopers and Boba Fett appeared with three beautiful Earth women on the Kiss-cam. Many fans made a donation to Stand Up to Cancer and received a Use the Force for Good T-Shirt. Boba Fett captured a fan with a bounty on his head and then left with the other Star Wars characters to go onto the playing field and assist in the T-Shirt toss.

The Force then led us to the first base side of Citi Field where the Star Wars characters helped a Mets fan answer a Boba Fett-related trivia question. Darth Vader appeared on the Diamond Vision and threatened a Mets player, he then filled the screen with scenes from all six Star Wars movies.

The night was a success for both baseball and Star Wars fans, and helped raise money for a good cause.

 Article and Images by Jim McLernon with special thanks to Jennifer Drucker

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Meet The Alternate Star Wars Saga Cast, Part I

While many are complaining about yet more changes to the Star Wars films with the new blu rays, everyone should consider that the saga has always been in a state of flux. This thought leads to a nagging question. What if George Lucas had filmed the saga chronologically? That is Episode I was the first Star Wars movie to be filmed back in the mid ’70s while Episode VI would’ve been released in 2005. Aside from the f/x and the storyline being different, so would the casting. This rings especially true in the last three films because it’s hard to imagine Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher portraying their iconic roles in middle age.

So with that thought let’s imagine who Lucas would’ve cast in the Prequel Trilogy, which would’ve spanned from the releases dates of 1977, 1980 and 1983. Note that there isn’t any way to predict with absolute certainty who Lucas would’ve cast or if his picks would’ve even accepted the roles. It’s easy to imagine that Lucas might’ve gone for an unknown actor or someone out of left field to play any of these roles. This isn’t a criticism of Lucas or the actors just pure speculation based on who auditioned for roles and was available at the time.

The Prequel Trilogy: Star Wars Episodes I-III

Qui-Gon Jinn: As the seasoned, wise and worldly Jedi Master, Nicol Williamson would’ve filled that role quite well. Just look at his performance as Merlin in Excalibur, the actor would’ve been perfect for Qui-Gon. One reason for this pick is that Lucas wanted to use primarily unknown performers but he did use seasoned, established actors in his films like Alec Guiness and Peter Cushing. If he decided to cast a star then an excellent choice for Qui-Gon would be Sean Connery. Despite his advancing years, Connery was still a tough, rugged leading man with many of the qualities needed for Qui-Gon.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: One of the main contenders for Han Solo was Perry King. In fact, he played Han in the Star Wars radio plays. So with his handsome good looks and acting chops, King would be a solid choice to play the heroic, noble Jedi who’s forced to fight his apprentice by Episode III. Plus he probably would’ve reprised Obi-Wan years later in Episode IV.

Padme Amidala: A difficult part to cast along with Anakin. The reason being that Lucas might’ve decided to have Anakin in the first film be an older character, which would throw off the entire casting process. If that happened then Carrie Fisher could perform her as she did with Princess Leia and that in turn means the actor to play Anakin in Episode I would have to be older . But if Lucas decided to have Padme younger then he would need to pick someone else like Terri Nunn, now known as the lead singer of Berlin. She was 16 at the time of casting and originally read for the role of Leia. Alternatives would include Rosanna Arquette, Melanie Griffith and even Eve Plumb. Seriously.

Anakin Skywalker: Kurt Russell was in the running for the role of Han Solo. He could’ve easily played a rash Anakin in Episodes II and III with his boyish good looks and hint of menace in his eyes. Just look at his portrayal of Snake Plissken. In Episode I, a young Anakin might’ve gone to some unknown child actor. Or Lucas could’ve picked Noah Hathaway who was about the same age as Jake Lloyd was when he was cast as Anakin. Or the filmmaker might’ve decided to introduce Anakin as a slightly older child, maybe even a teenager. This of course would probably mean that the actor chosen would continue to play the role in the sequels and thus no Kurt Russell. Choices include Ike Eisenmann, or Lance Kerwin.

Jar Jar Binks: Robin Williams would’ve been perfect for the role. Imagine a young, spirited Williams in his comedic prime running away with this role under heavy makeup. His performance might’ve been the one to catapult him into stardom rather than Mork from Ork. The character might’ve really caught on back then and had a larger roles in the sequels.

Mace Windu: Billy Dee Williams was considered for the role of Han Solo and as Mace, Williams would’ve added a heavy dose of charisma. This would’ve complemented the overall character of the Jedis and added to their regal nature. Heck, if you see him wearing his cape as Lando Calrissian, the guy looks like a Jedi of sorts.

Palpatine: Ian McDiarmid hopefully would’ve been cast back in ’76 and played the scheming politician and Sith Lord. The makeup might’ve been different in the final films given his age but nothing else would be different.

Nute Gunray: This was a largely forgettable villain but Peter Cushing would’ve added a chilling demeanor and turned him into a true menace. Albeit he would’ve played a human without makeup. However given his ill health by the early 80s his involvement in the next two films might’ve been limited.

Count Dooku: To portray this dashing, elegant and calculating fallen Jedi an actor needed to have all those qualities. Christopher Lee had it and so would Ricardo Montalban. Although would he then reprise his iconic role of Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan a couple of years later? If not him, then Maximilian Schell would’ve been a viable alternative.

Jango Fett: Scott Glenn has that mean, ornery look of a mercenary and the character might’ve had more of a Western motif. Clues of this can be found in the original Attack of the Clones when Jango dispatches a hapless Jedi with a quick draw during the climatic arena battle. Plus, Glenn’s casting would mean that Boba’s role in the future films would’ve been more substantial.

Darth Maul: The role was limited requiring only someone with tremendous physical prowess. A young Jackie Chan , Chuck Norris or some other martial artist could’ve portrayed this acrobatic Sith apprentice.

General Grievous: Due to the limited CG technology in the early ’80s, the character would be presented as a more humanoid being, perhaps the actor’s face would’ve being visible. In any regard, Christopher Lloyd has shown in the past with Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, that he can make a convincing villain and would have done the same in Episode III.

Boss Nass: Brian Blessed would have played this role and be in makeup rather than some CG rendering as with Episode I.

José Soto

Coming Soon: Part II with the Original Trilogy Re-Cast!

Marty McFly’s Future Shoes Are Here? Great Scott!

Nike is about to announce tonight a new line of shoes that many believe will be a take of Marty McFly’s self-lacing high tops from Back to the Future, Part II. Called the Air Mag, these shoes will utilize a Nike patented technology that will reportedly allow the shoes to lace themselves. A press conference at 8:30 pm Pacific Time by Nike will unveil more details. There’s already a viral video commercial online promoting these line of shoes that resemble McFly’s muy cool shoes from that film.

This is the best news I’ve heard all day, and was actually wondering about this recently when I went shoe shopping. The next thing you know a company will announce the sale of that nifty self-size adjusting jacket he wore complete with drying mode! Better yet where are the flying DeLoreans?

José Soto

UPDATE: According to Nike, the shoes, while a replica of Marty’s shoes, don’t self-lace but they do light up as shown in the film. Too bad. They still look snazzy. 1,500 pairs will be auctioned off on eBay until September 18th, with net proceeds going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Regardless of the selling price, it’s for a good cause and who knows? It could take off and there are only four years left to develop the self-lacing feature. 😀

DC’s Digital and Print New 52: The Game Changer

DC  Comics unveiled this Wednesday their reimagined universe with Justice League #1, (written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Jim Lee and Scott Williams). This isn’t an ordinary reboot per se.

Variant cover to Justice League #1 by David Finch

Rather it’s the next evolution for comic books.  As every comic book fan knows, on August 31, 2011 DC simultaneously released print copies of Justice League #1 and digital downloads of the same issue. While comic book shops received their copies on Tuesday, they weren’t allowed to put them up on shelves until their stores opened the next day. With the digital downloads, however, they were ready for consumers at 12 am  midnight on Wednesday.

That already is one plus side for downloads and in theory this means that everyone, anywhere with Internet connections can get a copy of their favorite comic book.  If you lived in big cities like New York that have many comic book stores it’s fairly easy to find any kind of comic book. But if you live in small towns, often you’d have to travel many miles scouring the landscape for a new release and hoping that the small store you find still has a copy of the release. That is if they even carried it in the first place.

Upcoming Detective Comics #1, Cover by Tony S. Daniel

This could spell trouble for comic book stores. But if they’re smart they can re-tool their business model and possibly gear their stores more to sell merchandise based on the comic books. That’s just one idea. Either way, they need to adapt or go the way of travel agencies and record stores that were decimated by travel websites and iTunes. But for fans and publishers, digital downloads are the way to go. But it’s not without its drawbacks.

First of all, it’s one hundred percent web dependant. If your Internet connection is poor or the signal is cut off you can’t read the comic book. See, if I was living in the Legion of Superhero’s perfect 30th century world where technology was very advanced this wouldn’t be much of a problem. But today, it is still easier for me to walk five feet over to my bookshelf and pick up a print copy than to turn on a computer or tablet or smartphone and search for the same comic book in digital form. Also, there’s no interactivity with the Justice League download. The word balloons and art are static, but on a plus side, there are no ads and the images are hi-res. In fact, the final four pages consist of costume sketches by Lee and Johns.

Being that it’s a protected download, you cannot copy it and send or sell it to a third party. If your friend wants a copy, he or she can’t just borrow a print copy and give it back to you; it has to be bought. For publishers this is a godsend since I think this may help boost sales.

Speaking of that, I believe that the downloads will wind up selling five times more than print copies. Eventually we may see sales totaling about 500,000 per issue versus today’s dismal 20,000-30,000 figure. Of course, I doubt it will equal or top the World War II figures of millions of copies per issue and that’s because there is so much media for comic books to compete with.

Upcoming Action Comics #1, Cover by Rags Morales

A good ripple effect from downloads is that poor-selling titles may have a longer life. Ordinarily, a comic book with low sales would be canceled for economic reasons. But if it switched to being solely a digital download then production costs will be low enough to keep it going. While fans of that title won’t be able to own a print copy, they can at least follow the title on-line.

As downloads and new apps and technologies emerge and come of age, it will be easier for new generations already accustomed to the new technologies to buy downloads and actually prefer it over running down to the store to buy a print copy. This is truly a game changer not only for DC but the comic book industry at large. Now for the perfect connectivity, what’s the name of that 30th century Internet service provider?