Last August, the Force traveled with me, first class (THANK YOU DELTA AIRLINES) to Orlando, Florida to cover Star Wars Celebration V for MTV.com. The locals renamed the city “Lando” in honor of the Star Wars Celebration. Here is a link to the MTV Geek footage: http://www.mtv.com/geek/event_coverage/star_wars_celebration_v/main.jhtml.
The weather in Orlando “has the same atmosphere as the Dagobah System” as Jon Stewart said, as sweat poured out from body parts I didn’t even know existed. I had a grand time mingling with like-minded Jedis, doing floor interviews as well as some celebrity interviews including Warwick Davis (so nice!), Matt Lanter (so cute!) and Dave Filoni (so charismatic!). I decided to give up my spot at the Star Wars speed dating event, for fear of being gang-raped.
I had mixed emotions about attending the conference, having worked at Lucasfilm for seven years, being entrenched in the Force. I wondered if I’d be one of those disgruntled ex-employees constantly pondering what George does with all that money. Instead, I had that first day of school feeling, as I entered the Orange County Convention Center with my mom, sister, MTV mic in hand and thousands of fans, waiting in line to be engulfed by the Star Wars Universe!
It was a Lucasfilm reunion as I ran into dear friends I worked with seventeen years ago at ILM like Joel Aron and Lorne Peterson. I dressed up as “Summer Leia”, a summer take on the Classic Leia costume, due to Dagobah-like temperatures. People sported the most amazing costumes, some taking three years to make! My favorite costume was made by this young chap named Adam who went as Yoda, with a paper mache Yoda helmet, green tee-shirt and burgundy bathrobe. He was more like a cross between Yoda and Hugh Hefner but nonetheless priceless.
I was blessed with several celebrity sightings which included:
– Seeing Anthony Daniels each morning as he snuck into the club floor breakfast to take away his tea and biscuits.
– Mark Hamill at our hotel bar, my mom and sister just froze, classic.
– Noticing Carrie Fisher notice me in the audience as she came out on stage to surprise George Lucas during his Q+A with Jon Stewart. This didn’t go so well, for more detail please see blog post here:
As far as the highlight of the convention? I can say, without a doubt, seeing how insanely excited the fans get; Mark Hamill refers to them as UPF’s, the ultra-passionate fans. This was most widely witnessed in the digital theatre where they screened both Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Mom and I sat down with our popcorn as the lights went down and the legendary opening scrawl came up on the screen. The crowd went wild, yelling at the humongous digital screen “Nooooooooooo! That’s your brother!” when Leia lays a wet one on Luke’s lips in ESB. Every time a light saber ignited on screen, those in the crowd with them ignited theirs as well. It was just like a Star Wars version of the midnight Rocky Horror Picture Show. It brought back memories of the first time I saw Star Wars in Ventura County when I was eight with my dad. He dragged my sister and me unwillingly to the film but when we came out we were bouncing with galactic gratification.
I took a look around the audience as tears welled up inside, realizing how incredibly lucky I was to have worked for the man in plaid — George Lucas. And to George I say this – thank you for not firing me when I approached you in my drunken and possibly slurry state at the 1993 Lucasfilm holiday party, limping because a large piece of sourdough was, unbeknownst to me, stuck on my stiletto heel. I am forever your Slave Leia.
And just for kicks and giggles, I’m doing a special call out to my favorite MTV Geek video with Carrie: