Winter 1995

London, England

Um, hello
There can be nothing more cruel for an artiste than for that person (she/he or perhaps he/she - this is a PC column, remember - though what my personal computer has to do with it, I’m not sure - abbreviations can get very confusing - look at C-3PO - what does it mean? But I’m sure you’ll understand TNWCIEIOTIFTMIC - it saves space*) to slave away, put in heart and soul, finally to see their fruits squashed into oblivion underfoot. Not merely Not Wanted On Voyage. NOT WANTED AT ALL! Very sad making. But this I have escaped - thus far at least - in The New Wonder Column. As to the rest of my life, that is another chapter - well, page. OK, paragraph.
Anyway, The New Wonder Column seems to have avoided the great trashcan in the sky and, to some extent, the censor’s editor’s blue pencil. (What pencil? Ed) I used to quite like editors before all this started. I learned that they can take a pile of mediocrity (on which you have laboured, as above) and make you look so much better by chopping you up and leaving out the bad bits, like Dr Frankenstein - on a good day. But oh, the horror of that phrase, The Cutting Room Floor - the place we all reach, sooner or later. I have been there - and survived - for now.

So remember! You might see it here first....

Gosh!
I made it!
Far from being edited out of Star Wars in any way, long after we’d finished filming, I actually recorded some extra lines, by myself in a broom cupboard in London. The resulting tape was biked to the airport to be inserted somewhere in LA (of course, I mean inserted in the movie in a studio somewhere ...etc - I was just making the sentence a bit shorter to save paper but now realise that I might have confused you - I certainly confused me). If you listen carefully there is a slight acoustic mismatch behind the new lines. It’s in the Control Room scene. I think it’s where I, sorry, Threepio, no, me, I say...

OUT OF CONTROL!

”The tractor beam that is holding the ship here is coupled to the main reactor in seven location.”(check it for me, would you).

I seem to remember that SOMEONE and certainly not THE MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING had forgotten to say what a tractor beam was actually for and the scene could have sounded like an item from Farming For Beginners. So they snuck in the explanation via me/him. What I had originally said was something like…

“Oh my goodness or possibly if we could just get on with this scene then I can take off this ridiculous costume and go home and play Shakespeare in front of the mirror.”

But no, sometimes there isn’t room for everything and everyone that got shot (moviewise, that is) to make it to the screen and even with the tightest shooting ratio (that’s a technical phrase that I once heard and have always wanted to throw into a conversation but somehow I’ve never met anyone to whom it might be a relevant remark - until now - hopefully. But what does it mean?

(Whilst we’re at it, what does crossing the line mean and pump the dolly ? And what does the best boy actually do that’s better than anyone else?) (must be rather odd when people ask you what you do for a living and you reply I’m a best boy. Bet that shuts them up! Mind you, when I tell people what I do for a living, it has the same effect), (then there’s a whole list of other words I’d eventually like to find a use for, like pulchritudinous and verisimilitude and oleaginous - but perhaps another time‡) anyway, where was I - Oh yes - some dearly loved items can get left out of even the humblest movie - not that humble is an option at Lucasland - ever - OK!

I suppose you might describe the trilogy as a great omelette (see Cantina Cuisine No 98 for more great omelette ideas) into which many eggs must be cracked but some get dropped on the floor and left there. But when I spotted this about to happen to some footage of me in TESB, towards the end of my first entrance scene - you know, when I’m telling-off R2 for warming-up the Princess’s ice chamber - I approached Paul Hirsch, the editor, in a fit of artistic pique. I had an axe to grind.

FROZEN OUT!

Paul sat there in the murk of the cutting room. His hands, wrapped in white cotton gloves, punctuated the shadows like those of some scrupulous serial killer. He lurked darkly against bins of film strips, including some of my favourites - strips of me. I faced him.

Why I boldly demanded, glancing nervously at THE FLOOR in case I was about to crush myself underfoot, why, when nothing of my gilded performance had ever been edited out before, had he removed the end of the scene where I had been magnificently angry with R2 and grand. How could he cut that and WHY? Silence.

Then suddenly a white glove moved towards me. Blinding light in my eyes.

“You were too angry and too grand.”

Paul smiled and reangled the desk lamp to illuminate THE FLOOR - was he making a point? I saw it was completely clean.

“It’s the first time we see you in this movie,” he said. “That angry - where do you go from there? “

Oh.” I said.
I think he was right.
I hate that kind of thing.
Wipe to:
INTERIOR TRASH COMPACTOR: DAY
Our gallant blond hero and friends are souping about in assorted debris. The walls are about to close in, crushing out all life as we know it, but we don’t know that yet because it’s on the next page. Suddenly. Strange stirrings underfoot. Liquids bubble. Blond hero disappears beneath boiling minestrone, sucked below by fearsome and utterly terrifying ... what?

The studio sculptors and designers had thought and created for weeks. On the way from my dressing room I had frequently walked past a giant, steel armed, mucus green tentacle, a football pitch long. Some design error perhaps, since the scene was set in the rather small Compactor and not actually on a sports field.

So then came Idea No.2.

Huge!
Ovoid!
BROWN!

THERE'S SOMETHING BROWN IN HERE!

We stared at it. Someone and obviously not THE MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING said it looked like a ....What was the word .... I think it began with a ‘t’. Anyway, that idea hit the pan. And what did we get? A fearsome and utterly terrifying ... toy periscope on a yard of plastic squid.

Later, I saw the big brown thing massively but forlornly dumped on the back lot. I think THE MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING was right, too!

But I digress (how unlike him, you cry) because those items never got onto film, unlike -

TATOOINE DESERT: DAY
Our band of noble heroes track manfully or in one case, womanfully, through blinding sandstorms whipped by offshore galactic winds as they struggle to the entry ramp of the Millennium Falcon. Unspoken emotions fill the eyes of the sensitive but fearless group. We know what dangers lie ahead. Will they ever meet again? We can only guess how they feel. We care.

We really do.

So there we were in the arid wastes of England’s Elstree studios again, but this time on Stage 2. The walls, painted a sandy - well, sand colour, I suppose, blended with the tons of real sand spread on the floor. In one corner stood the Millennium Falcon, symbol of freedom, truth and a million merchandise items.

On the other side of the stage, were huddled rows of bins filled with sand and powder From them, crinkled tubes of silver trunking snaked upward on a scaffold to vent themselves in front of an iron curtain of propeller blades, looking like an antique air force, smacked cartoon-like into an invisible wall, and numerous enough to vacuum a vertical lift to the binned debris and very likely, the building itself.

I was probably just being a wimp, but if there was nothing to fear, why were all the other actors being heavily muffled, goggled and protected from the oncoming onslaught? “The pieces of your suit will provide protection.” They said.

“What about the bits between the pieces?” I said.“

What bits?” They said.
“Bits of me.” I said.
Oh.” They said.
All we had to do was walk towards the Falcon’s ramp in a semicircle, in a group, in a sand storm and say goodbye and May the Force be With You. Easy. Two cameras. Camera A by the Falcon and B, way off in no-man’s-land, for a wide shot. Rehearsal discussion finished, I trudged through the sand to our start position near the bins, under the menacing blades.

The normally petite Carrie looked like Captain Doughboy in her bulky protective wrappings whilst Harrison (if it was he) was mummified to anonymity behind assorted bandannas, hoods and goggles. Which left me wondering whether the small piece of gauze taped over the mouth, on the inside of my mask was quite the thing. Would it actually stop me being choked to an early obituary? Hopefully.

I HAVE A BAD FELING ABOUT THIS

"ROLL CAMERAS A AND B. START THE FANS. MAR...”

That was the last I heard - apart from the magnificent roaring of a hundred planeless propellers trying to take off. The sound was deafening to anything other than itself - I do not exaggerate (I hate that kind of thing, too) - so I was left only with my sight to know that the others had begun to move off in a semicircle as planned.

FASHION VICTIM

I set out after them but, curse my metal body, I wasn’t fast enough. Where had they gone? I began to search. The air was solid with noise and thick with the choking junk spewing out of the tubes. Earth and sky merged into one mass of sensory deprivation (though I could still hear, unfortunately). With no compass bearings, I was flying blind, edging along in my suit, a dense sandy coloured fog clouding any sense of time or space, and that was on the inside. Forget unspoken emotions filling my eyes - I was working in the same room as Mount St Helens. But the show must go on††. I had to keep moving.

I HAVE TERRIBLE WIND!

To clear the plastic gels they had thoughtfully stuck over the eyeholes, I blew upwards, bouncing my breath off the interior of the mask and onto the eyes, thankful that I hadn’t eaten the garlic bread for lunch. It worked. The engines still pounded but I could see - just. I could see Camera B right there in front of me where it shouldn’t have been. Its deafened clapper-loader was kneeling before the lens, still waiting to mark his slate and as disoriented as was I, especially as he now saw me speeding out of the gloom, clearly about to road-accident him severely. Forgetting the Force, he panicked and dived left but was really saved from a good squashing by a scenic rock which fate or the set designer had placed between us. I never saw the rock, not even after I had careened over it and was lying pancaked on the sand at his knees.

I eventually made it to the Falcon. But the scene made it - to THE FLOOR

NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL A BRUSH!

But in happier times, when I first saw Star Wars, I was amazed to see Threepio (there is no way round that, I’m afraid) wandering about endlessly at the beginning of the movie. Enter desert right, exit desert left, enter right again, almost as if I were whipping round the back of the screen, like a hard-up theatre group trying to present a whole army with five increasingly breathless actors.

The intercutting scenes in the coffee bar on Tatooine that had so been beautifully acted and painstakingly filmed at Elstree had been assigned to the oblivion of THE FLOOR because, I suppose THE MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING couldn’t bear to have anything interrupt my brilliant performance. Quite right too.

Shame though, because there was a rather pretty girl in those scenes and some years later she dated famous British royal, Prince Andrew for a while. George really blew that one. Could have been Lord George by now. Or even King George. He was in a movie. Mad though.

Just like the time when the wompa ... Oh look. Mickey’s little hand is nearly touching his big one, so I think that must mean it’s time to say: That’s all folks!

Am I’m confusing my cartoons (or am I just confusing?) What do you think?

(Don’t push me! Ed)
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PS Who Ed ?
PS Why must the show go on?
PPPSSS Lucasfilm’s Vice President of Licensing, Howard Roffman seems worried in case I think he is stingy (stingy? Howard?). Has he not, in twenty years, presented me with a pencil case and Death Star eraser!! But Now! I have just received from him a spectacular talking Star Wars Electronic Bank - WOW - especially spectacular since I do the talking when you press my button or insert a coin (R2 says something too but I don’t think we need go into that) AND it plays the Star Wars theme. It is excellently modelled and is really rather special. I am going to write Mr Roffman a long thank you letter (who knows, he may have future gifts in mind). Meanwhile I am trying to find how you get the money out. I know Lucasfilm produces solid gold collector coins, so I can’t wait!
PPPSI'd also like to find a use for the word plectrum.
Pss You may remember that I told you in Number Two of tnwcieiotiftmic how publishing guru, Lucy Autrey-Wilson objected to my use of the hyphen. She now denies this. Well she would, wouldn't she.
Pss2 If not Lucy - who? I think we should be told.
PSS Interesting to read JB Snyder’s excellent piece in issue 27 (see! I do read other bits of the Insider) about the animated series DROIDS. All that technical info was just fascinating in its detail. Shame he forgot to mention the talented cast of voice actors who tried to breath life into the series. I was there too, by the way! Oh well, Sic Transit Gloria Et Anthony.
PPPS(iii) Fortunately Leyland E. Chee of Belmont, CA has not written with lurid ideas of where I might have a tattoo but Oona May Furter of Lubbock,TX has suggested an Ewok on each toe. Cute? Apt, certainly. I trod on an Ewok once - accidentally. Perhaps I won’t bother with a tattoo after all. Actually, if I were honest I’d admit I find them a touch unappealing (tattoos, that is).
*PPPPPPPPPPPPPPPs In the interests of using less paper I am attempting to adopt abbreviations like TESB and ROJ but am slightly uncertain what to do about abbreviating WONDER COLUMN. Naturally it would become WC. In England this stands for water closet or toilet - in America, The John or Little Girls’ Room. Either way, it’s unfortunate, don’t you agree?
PS My Electronic Bank doesn’t rattle at all when I shake it. Must be completely stuffed with gold coins. Still haven’t found my way in yet.

......STOP.. PRESS ... STOP... PREQUEL..... CASTING SENSATION... YOUNG YODA TO BE PALYED BY UNKNOWN DILL PICKLE RIOTING IN TALAHASSEE

YOU WRITE
Derek Maki, Winchendon MA, John Haller, Cold Spring KY & John Sherrell, Arlington TX
You three have a lot in common! Please see NUMBER THREE OF tnwcieiotiftmic for an answer to your fascinating question. (Just see above, OK. Ed) Can’t promise that the answer’s fascinating, though.
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John M Azarian, Wyckoff NJ
I cannot believe that my New Wonder Column is the only reason you are going to renew your subscription. Surely there must be other interesting and amusing items somewhere in the Insider. On the other hand, now I come to think of it ... Anyway, I am glad you like it.
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Carolyn M. Tellers, Erie PA
Yes! At the end of TESB Lando and Chewie DO leave Tatooine. Yes! At the start of ROJ, Threepio DOES say that Lando and Chewie “never returned”. But Yes! Leia DOES turn up at Jabba’s with Chewie in tow. And Yes! How DID they all join up, without Threepio and R2 knowing. I think we SHOULD be told!!! And we WILL be told the answers to this and other mysteries in Shadows of the Empire, Lucasfilm’s multi-media project, out soon. So, HOLD YOUR BREATH for this exciting release in just a few months from now.
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(Hold your breath is just a figure of speech. Please breathe normally. Ed)

John Sherrell, Arlington TX
Thank you for your interesting enquiry about a sand storm that never got used in ROJ. I’ll look into it and maybe even write about it in The New Wonder Column one day. But I can’t believe anyone would be so silly as to film a sand storm in a studio, can you?
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Walter Wu. Cary NC
Walter writes, thus: did you know that you and I share the same birthday? February 21st! Of course I’m somewhat younger than you are (I was born in 1964). Thank you for that information, Walter. Thank you very much indeed.
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John Wallace. Dundalk, Ireland
I can’t imagine why, as a child, you wanted to be Luke Skywalker rather than C-3PO. But I won’t hold it against you. And of course I would be happy to say hello to my many Irish fans. Ready? Um, HELLO. (Was that OK?)
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Maura Spitaliere. Franklin Square NY
The person who asked me to write in The New Wonder Column is the StarWars Insider’s editor, Dan Madsen. If he knew you said he must be a genius, he’d get big headed and impossible. So I won’t tell him, OK?
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(OK by me. Ed)

Bubba Bob, Mina Ak
Delighted to hear that Santa gave you Yoda - the Fragrance in its genuine Yoda Look-a-Like Spray-Dispenser. But I actually don’t believe it’s broken. I think it squirts out of the other end. Sorry.
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WARNING
No responsibility is taken for this WC. It should be approached accordingly at reader’s own risk.