When we last left off with my adventures from 1987’s Celebration “0” (or as they called it, “Starlog Salutes Star Wars: A 10th Anniversary Tribute to George Lucas and the Galaxy Far, Far Away Which He Created!”), I was anxiously awaiting the convention’s main event — George Lucas in person!
When the doors to the main ballroom at the Stouffer Concourse Hotel flew open, hundreds of fans raced in like a herd of stampeding rancors. I was armed with my eager anticipation, the fear of someone taller sitting in front of me and a mini tape recorder ready to record history.
The event started with a warm-up by Willow actor/comedian Rick Overton who performed a set of Star Wars stand-up comedy. His brand of humor got the energy in that ballroom worked into a frenzy.
Kerry O’Quinn, Starlog magazine creator and producer of the event, came out next and read several letters from the stars and crew who could not make it to the anniversary event. He read heartfelt letters from Carrie Fisher who forgave George for giving her those memorable hairstyles and making her into a shampoo bottle, President Jimmy Carter and producer Howard Kazanjian who hoped George would give his fans “six more wonderful, thrilling Star Wars films.” The crowd ROARED!
Kerry started reading an “unusual letter” when the lights began to flicker — then went out. Moments later the familiar chirping and beeping of everyone’s favorite astromech droid was heard and the place went NUTS! The lights came back on and there they were on stage: R2-D2 and C-3PO (played here by Anthony Daniels)!
The lights suddenly went out again. Heavy breathing echoed throughout the ballroom. The cheering and jeering from the crowd was deafening as Darth Vader came striding out. This was amazing! I was happy to hear the thunderous excitement in the room, however I would’ve been happier to hear the pre-recorded dialogue by James Earl Jones.
“If ever I saw one, this is a wretched hive of scum and villainy… I like you!” Who knew the Dark Lord of the Sith had a sense of humor?
After that very exciting warm-up, it was time to introduce the man that was responsible for shaping everyone’s life in that room. My heartbeat sped up. This was the moment… And here he is, the “Father of the Force”… George Lucas! The crowd whipped into a wild craze. “We love you, George,” the fans screamed. He made a few opening remarks saying that it was great to have such loyal fans, “who have made Star Wars what it was, is, and will be”. With that, the fans erupted with applause. However, their enthusiasm plummeted when he added, “…not quite sure when.” But at least, at that time, there was a confirmation of another Star Wars on the horizon! Up until that point I had heard we weren’t getting another film until way in the future — 1990!
The houselights went up and George began taking questions from the audience. One gentleman asked if there were going to be more Indiana Jones films. George said there will be at least one more Indiana Jones, then seven more Howard The Ducks.”
Then, it came around to me. George looked right at me as I asked my question.
“Does, or will, Lucasfilm ever have internships for young filmmakers?” The question got a round of applause. I was so proud of myself for not blanking out which is what I feared would happen.
I was just about to enter film school in Boston and eagerly awaited his answer. He said that they do hire, but, in other capacities, not as young filmmakers. I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be making movies at Lucasfilm any time soon, but then another realization hit me — I JUST TALKED TO GEORGE LUCAS. (Fun Fact: “I JUST TALKED TO GEORGE LUCAS” was my high school yearbook quote.)
After another 10 minutes of questions, George was joined on stage by many Star Wars alumni. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenbury also joined the party and admitted he could never do a film like Star Wars. Darth Vader brought out a cake with one tall candle and C-3PO presented George with a giant six-foot card that fans had been signing all weekend long. Having signed it myself, I felt like there was a piece of me in the Star Wars universe.
After this life-changing event, the world would temporarily say goodbye to Star Wars as it entered into the dark times. My childhood had officially come to a close. This convention experience was the perfect ending to a very important time in my life.
Thank you to everyone who commented on the first part of my Celebration “0” story. I can’t wait to hear your stories from Celebration Anaheim, which is now finally here.
- For tips on how to survive Celebration Anaheim, check out Skywalking Through Neverland’s Celebration Anaheim Survival Guide.
- Check out video clips of George Lucas at Celebration “0” in Skywalking Through Neverland episodes 22, 29, 38 and 61.
- Check out the Skywalking Through Neverland: An Interactive Fandom Adventure live show on the podcast stage Friday, April 17, at 3:00 p.m. in room 208AB at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Richard Woloski is a first generation Star Wars fan. He directed and produced the fan film TPZ and is now hosting the Star Wars/Disney podcast, Skywalking Through Neverland with his sweetie wife, Sarah.