This coming weekend is Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, where thousands upon thousands of lucky Star Wars fans will rendezvous to share their love and respect for the galaxy George Lucas built, meet other people who made it possible, and hopefully learn lots of news and spoilers about The Force Awakens. California is beyond our reach, but a few of our friends will be there and should provide us with lots of updates and photos or else.
I’ve been digging through our photos and writings from our experiences at the second and third Celebrations, which were each held here in Indianapolis in 2002 and 2005. As my own tiny way of marking the occasion and unearthing unshared items from our personal archives, presented above is a previously unreleased photo of me with my best friend Anne, onstage at a special tie-in event held two days before Celebration II. You may be familiar with the thespian in the middle.
The following writeup was previously posted online a week later for about five or ten friends. I’ve subjected it to a smidgen of Special Edition-ing to satisfy my own fussiness.
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Wednesday, May 1st:
On behalf of Celebration co-sponsor Suncoast Video, Anthony Daniels — the man behind C3PO, a SW convention mainstay — makes a live appearance at Castleton Square Mall from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thanks to rush hour traffic and an unplanned stop at Kinko’s that becomes one of my worst customer service experiences in recent memory, Anne and I arrive ten minutes late. Thankfully only about a hundred people showed up, so we’re not terribly far from the stage. Daniels speaks, answering the same questions he probably gets at every speaking gig (“Was it hot in the suit?” “Can you tell us about the next movie?”). A few times, he asks the crowd questions. He tells those who answer correctly that he’ll give them an autographed poster after the show. The second question he asks (“What was the first line in the first Star Wars movie?”), Anne quickly nails.
Among the usual stage patter, Daniels does get a few interesting questions (IMHO). When asked what he considers his favorite non-C3PO role, he selects a part he once had in a production of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, largely due to the striking parallels he found between those two characters and Threepio and R2D2. When confronted about The Star Wars Holiday Special, Daniels will say only that when production concluded, he was so delighted to be free at last that he laughed the entire way home.
When his designated stage time ends, Daniels volunteers to have his photo taken with any audience members who had the foresight to bring their own cameras. Anne and I do exactly that (see above). Afterward, a camera crew from the local ABC affiliate, WRTV Channel 6, corners Anne and asks her if she’d care to answer a few questions about Star Wars. We’d seen them chatting with other people in the crowd earlier, so Anne figured, what the hey.
When they’re done with her, Anne asks one of the Suncoast reps about the alleged “free autographed poster” Daniels mentioned earlier. They tell us to talk to one of Daniels’ reps. We do so; we’re told that no, they can’t just give away those posters. Why those posters were even brought along in the first place is never explained.
Anne and I walk away, mostly unaffected. As we stroll down the mall, we pass one of the Suncoast reps, who’s carrying a box on one shoulder. He remembers us and asks us if Daniels’ reps were of any help. In a rather nice move, he apologizes and offers us a free copy of the full-color thick, magazine-size Star Wars Celebration II official souvenir program (street price: ten bucks). It’s 90% articles and ads, but the practical convention info it contains would prove worthwhile.
When we arrive back at my place later, we turn on the WRTV evening news…and sure enough, one of their top stories is on Daniels’ mall appearance. Excerpts from Anne’s interview are used at two points in the story, and serve as her first official TV appearance:
1. One montage of people reminiscing about What Star Wars Means to Them, including three seconds’ worth of her much longer response: “…I memorized the [first] movie when I was 12, I saw The Phantom Menace twelve times…”
2. A second montage of fans quoting their favorite lines. Anne’s contribution: “If they find us, they will crush us, grind us into tiny pieces, and blast us into oblivion!”
Of course, they didn’t use the parts where she mentioned that she doesn’t exactly eat/breathe/sleep Star Wars, or the part where she lauded the series for its family-friendly appeal. Not to mention the cameraman’s lighting setup was terrible, so Anne and all the other interviewees appear to be filmed through a red lens filter, a la Joanna Cassidy’s nude scene in Blade Runner. And if you look closely in one faraway crowd shot, you can see…my back.
1. When Anne says she saw Phantom Menace twelve times, that was in theaters alone. It’s just this thing she used to do. If I’m not mistaken, Revenge of the Sith would later be one of her final multiple-theater-viewing experiences.
2. Anne and I were married two years after Celebration II. Longtime MCC readers should know this, but setting historical context is part of the fun.
3. Suncoast Video went out of business in 2009. They were the only places locally where I could buy movies in letterboxed VHS.
4. Photos from that era look totally weird to us today.
5. I have absolutely no memory of the bad Kinko’s experience, but I left that sentence alone to continue teaching them a lesson. I’m sure Past-Me would’ve wanted it that way.]