Jon Favreau is looking to break-out of the Lucasfilm bubble and gives audiences a sneak peek into his production of Star Wars: The Mandalorian. Last week he set the Star Wars fandom on fire with our first look at The Mandalorian but also an incredible bullpen of Directors for the show. Tonight he didn’t disappoint with two new photos posted to his Instagram. First and foremost is a nod to Willrow Hood from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. One of the most famous backgrounds extra’s seen running within the halls of cloud city with a makeshift ice cream maker. The second image showcases the incredible artistry of the prop builders at Lucasfilm with the long rifle of The Mandalorian. This magnificent prop is what dreams and legends in sci-fi are made of. The kind of prop that the kids want in toys and costumers want to parade around with. It’s stunning and within just the last few minutes, this weapon will be iconic across all Sci-Fi.
The thrice New York Times Best Selling Author Chuck Wendig, took to Twitter this afternoon detailing his firing from the comics division of Marvel. The reason? Being generally uncivil in approach to his Twitter followers.
Today I got the call. I’m fired. Because of the negativity and vulgarity that my tweets bring. Seriously, that’s what Mark, the editor said. It was too much politics, too much vulgarity, too much negativity on my part.
The abruptness of this decision by Marvel, who just recently announced Wendig’s new comic venture of a Darth Vader series of comics at N.Y. Comic-Con is highly suspect. Moreover, their decision to terminate their contract with the accomplished Author for his persona on social media is also puzzling, given that he has presented himself in this manner for years. What changed in the past few days? There has been no outrage in the Star Wars Twitterverse on this announcement of the upcoming projects? So what gives?
Chuck Wendig’s entry into the Star Wars Galaxy has been fraught with drama with the release of Star Wars: Aftermath in 2015. Even before the novel hit the virtual shelves at Amazon, a vocal minority of Expanded Universe Forever deviants conducted a targeted campaign to overwhelm the book’s reputation by giving it a one-star rating. The group, angry at Disney’s sledgehammer approach to what would be deemed canon in the new era of Star Wars. The attacks were not just relegated to Amazon but to Chuck himself, via online threats of physical violence and non-stop harassment in his future works. Much of which has been detailed by Chuck on Twitter this afternoon. The groups that targeted Chuck were not only the band of Expanded Universe Sandinistas but also the Alt-Right and their anger against the introduction of gay characters to the Star Wars Galaxy.
These attacks which began in 2015 took a turn since the election of Donald Trump and the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. A perfect storm for some fans who didn’t like the film, and the opportunistic Alt-Right looking to make a buck on Youtube. In this swirl of thick festered hotdog water, the Alt-Right found the platform where they can cast a net to disgruntled folks, stoke the flames with buckets of gasoline and make gobs of donations in the process. This sewered stew of targeting creators to make a buck fostered into a whirlpool that engulfed not only Star Wars but the whole of the comics industry itself, known as Comics-Gate.
Individuals like Ethan Van Sciver, podcasts like Rebel Force Radio and Youtube Channels like Geeks and Gamers, employ the latest tool of the Alt-Right, the faux outrage. We see it not only in Star Wars and the comics arena but in our current state of politics. The faux outrage about bands of roaving Liberal Bandidos terrorizing the countryside or how Democrats are conspiring with fake allegations about the Boy Scout Brent Kavanaugh. Let’s not forget the national scandal of a President wearing a tan suit, and not wearing his flag pin. All of it bullshit, not based in reality and used as propaganda oxygen to fill their imaginary reality bubbles. The danger of this absurdity is not they these people believe in their own make-believe, it’s those regular folks in positions of power yield to it, in order to try to lower the heat because it feels icky.
The firing of Chuck Wendig by Marvel sets a terrible precedent that emboldens these bad actors to continue targeted harassment for profit. Because as in all things in life, it’s about money. Even when they say it isn’t about money, it’s about money. After researching individuals like Ethan Van Sciver on his Youtube channel “Comics Pro-Secrets” for the past several months, the gameplan is evidently clear. Put up daily livestreams about key individuals like Lucasfilm CEO Kathy Kennedy, Director Rian Johnson and Author Chuck Wendig, fire up the base and grab the cash. Keep up the intensity, sick your followers to harass these individuals on social media, drive the narrative and hopefully get a result to show progress.
The cash comes flowing in, not only by views and advertising on YouTube but more importantly through the direct-click donation button to Patreon. The amount I have personally witnessed watching just a few of these episodes is staggering. Folks donating $2, $5 and $20 was mind-blowing. Especially considering a recent episode where Sciver’s prediction of the firing of Kathleen Kennedy would happen at the end of September. Only to find out that her contract with Lucasfilm has been renewed for an additional three years. That night, I went out of my way to view his live-cast, hoping to bask in the glow how this fraud would be exposed to his followers, his inside-sources apparently all wrong. But of course, that didn’t happen. The followers were there, eating up his bullshit excuse and agreeing with him in the chat space. The sadness, soon to come as I witnessed individual after individual donating to the channel in droves. Like Fox News only turned up to 11 and milking the hate-watchers to the absurdity of it all. It still, after a week later still stuns me.
Marvel’s actions in firing Chuck Wendig will embolden these groups and solidify their resolve that this money making formula works. The biggest lost in this affair is how LGBT characters will now possibly fade away in future works in Star Wars by Authors who do not wish to get entangled with the Alt-Right. Shying away from the representation of real life on paper hoping to fly under the radar of those on the march with tiki torches. After this story fades away, you can be assured that they will find more targets and continue this warped workflow of hate-for-profit, clutch my pearls – where’s my fainting couch scheme. It’s big money, and now that they have a win, you can bet it will only get worse. Marvel must reverse this disastrous decision and Lucasfilm should front-and-center defend their creators.
A user on the Reddit Star Wars Leaks site has posted some amazing pictures of what looks to be a remote location film set for Star Wars: Episode IX. The user, YenaMagana also posted a detailed account of what he saw to match the wonderful visuals. The authenticity of this is going to be hard to corroborate but, damn if this doesn’t look authentic. There were rumors that Jordan could possibly be a remote site for the last chapter of our saga, as it has been used before. More recently for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The description of YenaMagana’s account is the following:
So, I was driving through Wadi Rum, Jordan (I live in Jordan) for some nice desert camping, and I happened to stumble across a big tent city with some props. Wadi Rum is a large desert nature preserve in southern Jordan. A brief overview of what we saw:
Saw several rigs that were supposed to be some sort of landspeeders (one looked a lot like Rey’s orange creamsicle speeder); these whizzed by rather quickly and I was not able to get a good photo.
Pretty sure we saw Daisy Ridley (or perhaps another actress) getting a guided tour on a camel, with a heavy police escort.
Drove past the film set you see in the photo album. There were all sorts of tents, a lot of cut-outs of alien figures (looked a lot like Neimoidians), and pylon-sort of things. Looked like Jakku.
There is a big tent city with trailers, large MSU-style tents, and shipping containers. I am guessing this is where they construct a lot of the props, etc.
While trying to leave Wadi Rum the next day, were told to take a different path as they were filming in a certain area using a lot of pyrotechnics (!!!).
I won’t share the exact location (Wadi Rum is a big place), but it will be interesting to see Wadi Rum in the finished product. Wadi Rum is used to film a lot of movies, including “Lawrence of Arabia”, “The Martian”, and “Rogue One” (a lot of the establishing shots of Jedha were filmed there).
I would also like to take the opportunity to plug desert excursions in Wadi Rum; a really nice place with stunning scenery.
One of the greatest thrills in covering the production of these films is the remote location shoots. The energy in the air, the paparazzi photos and the shots of the production from all kinds of sources. From TMZ to regular folks like YenaMagana. The question for today’s reveal is this, is Rey heading back home to Jakku or is she venturing to Jedha?
Fantastic job by YenaMagana, we all appreciate his hard work.
The news is coming in fast and crazy this week for Jon Favreau’s live-action series Star Wars: The Mandalorian. Tonight the official site, finally caught up with the rumor train and posted an incredible first look at the main lead- The Mandalorian. His armor-superb, the setting-magnificent, the buzz is taking off and this will undoubtedly make waves across the globe in minutes. What is equally amazing is the list of Directors that will lend their talents to this small screen production.
The series will be written and executive produced by Emmy-nominated producer and actor Jon Favreau, as previously announced, with Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels) directing the first episode. Additional episodic directors include Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones), Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), Bryce Dallas Howard (Solemates), and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok). It will be executive produced by Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, Kathleen Kennedy, and Colin Wilson. Karen Gilchrist will serve as co-executive producer.
This list is not only screaming with talent but the inclusion of Bryce Dallas Howard and Taika Waititi is shockingly awesome. Moreover, seeing Dave Filoni taking the helm for the first of what I am sure will be many episodes bring joy to this authors face.
Leave it to Jason Ward of MakingStarWars.net to find the set of the upcoming Jon Favreau’s Star Wars Live Action Series. Of course, after finding this lovely set, placed near some train yard, he’s going to take some photos. Heck, he just might have even done an episode for his award-winning podcast “Now This Is Podcasting!” to boot. The photos are about as great as they come and showcase what looks to be city dwellings on Tatooine. This is speculation of course, but we do know that Favreau’s new series will be focused on the Mandalorian plight to retake their homeward after the demise of the Empire.
Jason has also mentioned an important point that filming for this series will begin as early as next week.
“We have it on good authority that the live-action Star Wars television series begins filming next week…”
Pretty surprising since we haven’t even gotten an official word of the cast for the show or its title. But in the pictures don’t lie with the Director/Producer himself on set. Great scoop by our good friend Jason and I’m sure plenty more to come.
Head on over to the MSW story here for more pictures and insight from the master scooper himself.
Variety has just released confirmation that Gary Kurtz has passed away at the age of 78. The famed producer of “Star Wars” and “American Graffiti” was instrumental in getting our saga onto the big screen. Star Wars has always been a culmination of talents, but none so important as Gary Kurtz and George Lucas. The look, feel and the story of the Star Wars saga would not exist without Gary Kurtz and his prolific push to 20th Century Fox to make this film a reality. He will be remembered for his amazing contribution to film, his service as a Marine and his love of story.
Rest in peace Gary Kurtz, you will be missed.
Jason Joiner has posted a beautiful eulogy on the official Gary Kurtz Facebook page. His summation of Gary’s life and work is posted below.
1940 – 2018
Star Wars Producer
Gary Kurtz, Star Wars producer passed away on Sunday the 23rd of September at 4.47pm after living with Cancer for the last year.
In the 70s and 80s Gary Kurtz was a young film maker that revolutionized the Hollywood film industry at its core with his films like Star Wars, American Graffiti and The Empire Strikes Back. The agreements he closed altered the balance of power from the film studio to the directors and producers so they could, for the first time, make the films how they wanted to make them and control the process of the art of filmmaking.
In the mid 1960s Gary Kurtz was assistant director on a Monte Hellman western, Ride in the Whirlwind, starring Jack Nicholson, and went on to work on Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet with Basil Rathbone and Queen of Blood, with John Saxon, Basil Rathbone, and Dennis Hopper, and then on to another Monte Hellman western, The Shooting, starring Warren Oates and Jack Nicholson, and finally wore multiple hats as production manager, assistant director, and editor on the Harry Dean Stanton film The Hostage.
Then in 1966 Gary Kurtz joined the U.S. Marine Corps where he served his country in Vietnam. This led him toexperiences in his life that would later directly influence his film making skills and story telling ethos.
After leaving military service, Gary Kurtz moved into studio pictures, and became associate producer on Chandler and Two-Lane Blacktop with Monte Hellman for Universal Pictures, both in 1971. Kurtz’s well-rounded skills in directing, editing, producing and storytelling made him the perfect partner for the young upcoming George Lucas when they first met through Francis Ford Coppola in 1971. This meeting led to a collaboration of these two film makers that lasted over a decade.
Gary Kurtz studied religion extensively in his early years. In the early stages of development on “Star Wars” he suggested to Lucas that he might give the film a sufficiently universal religion to help to give it more depth. That led to Kurtz working on the “Star Wars” screenplay and developing “The Force” which would go on to influence generations of fans. Lucasfilm was born under their banner, and went on to make some of Hollywood’s most successful films of all time.
Gary Kurtz developed a good relationship with Universal Pictures off the back of Two-Lane Blacktop in 1971. Following that, George Lucas and Gary Kurtz brought a two-film deal to Universal for American Graffiti and a sci-fi film that was to be Star Wars. American Graffiti was a low budget movie and cost only $777K which was less than Kurtz’s last movie Two-Lane Blacktop at $850K, but American Graffiti went on to take $140 Million world wide which made it the lowest cost to highest profit ratio film of all time and that record held until The Blair Witch Project in 1999. Kurtz now 33 years old went into re-negotiations with Universal Pictures to make the the second of the two film deal which was to be the Star Wars film. In the end Universal passed on the project because the script was not fully developed.
Gary Kurtz later closed a deal with 20th Century Fox to make Star Wars for $11 million, and off the back of this Kurtz and Lucas set up the Star Wars Corporation. Gary Kurtz became Vice President of the corporation looking after the development of the film and also the film’s other assets such as merchandising rights and products. Star Wars was to become a troublesome production which was complicated to finish. It pushed special effects technology and the art of filmmaking to the limit.
In order to finish the film on time, Kurtz set up a second unit and directed many pick up shots, most of the cockpit dog fighting scenes, and most of the Star Wars opening scene interior fight sequences on Princess Leia’s ship. He then went back to the US to work on the special effects miniature unit at ILM as they were struggling to complete many of the shots that were promised in England. At this point, George Lucas was not confident that they had a film to release, but in the end Star Wars was finally finished and unleashed to the world on May 25, 1977, and became one of the biggest films of all time bringing in over 1.1 Billion Dollars.
Kurtz and Lucas carried on their partnership but they both started to have desires to make different sequels to the successful films they had already released. So, it was decided that Gary Kurtz would make the Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back and that Lucas would make the sequel to American Graffiti, More American Graffiti. Gary Kurtz would join up with longtime friend Irvin Kershner to direct Empire, the film again pushed all limitations in filmmaking technology. The film had twice the number of sets that the first Star Wars film did and a budget match of $18,000,000.
Gary chose to film in icy Norway where he had served out his basic training in the U.S. Marine Corps. They filmed there during Norway’s coldest weather in over 25 years. The production then came back to its UK home in Elstree Studios, but disaster struck when the the large soundstage there caught fire during Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining. Gary Kurtz again just got on with what was needed to make the film happen and negotiated with the studio to have a new soundstage built using Lucasfilm funding. The agreement allowed them to use the stage rent free and once the filming of Empire was completed the new soundstage was to be sold back to the studio. This saved on the production budget and only pushed the filming back by a few days. In the end, the film, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was released on June 20th 1980.
At this time Gary Kurtz started to feel that Lucasfilm had become too corporate as he often said there were too many suits in the production office that was supposed to be full of artistic people. That started to damage the strength of the Lucas / Kurtz partnership. Gary Kurtz was asked to produce Revenge of the Jedi (Return of The Jedi) and turned it down as he felt the script was too limited and that most of what was in the script had already been seen in the first two films (i.e. Another Death Star and the sand planet). He had worked on the Star Wars films for many years now and wanted to continue with changing the direction of filmmaking.
Kurtz was living in the UK at this point and had made several interesting filmmaking friends there. He had been talking to Jim Henson about a big film featuring only puppets. This felt like a real challenge to him, which is exactly what he was searching for, so he joined up with Jim Henson to produce and second unit direct The Dark Crystal, a technical filmmaking masterpiece.
Gary Kurtz’s next big film was again not going to be easy. A longtime friend, Walter Murch, had written the screenplay and was to Direct Return to Oz. Gary Kurtz Executive Produced it and it was critically acclaimed for its technical achievements with the room of mirrors. It was a very dark twist on the world of Oz and was released June 21st of 1985.
Gary Kurtz went on to produce more films such as Slipstream (1989) with Mark Hamill, The Steal (1995), 5-25-77 (2007) and stayed working in the industry developing projects around the world including the far east and China up until his death, at the age of 78.
Gary Kurtz was considered by many as a pioneer in the film industry and a master of the art of filmmaking. He found any opportunity to share his expansive knowledge of the film industry with budding filmmakers and those seeking knowledge. He was a real humanitarian and a gentleman; some have said that he is one of the gentlest souls in the film profession, modest and humble, and a very unique man.
Gary Kurtz’s art left lasting impressions on generations of adults and children across the world. We have him to thank for these wonderful memories that he made for us all. Gary Kurtz helped to create the force and it is with us always.
Gary Kurtz left behind Clare Gabriel, Tiffany Kurtz, Melissa Kurtz, and Dylan Kurtz. Our thoughts are with his family.