You may have seen the cast of Star Wars: The Last Jedi on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” last Friday night. I saw them, too…in person. From the front row of Kimmel’s show.
Our tale of kismet begins 12 months ago: December 2016. After securing ridiculously inexpensive airfare to Los Angeles, we purchased annual passes for Universal Studios Hollywood (mostly so we could imbibe in all the butterbeer deliciousness we could handle). As our year of wizarding drew to a close, we decided to make one last pilgrimage before our passes expired. That trip, booked several months ago, was scheduled for 30 Nov. – 4 Dec.
Knowing we were headed west again, I started checking 1iota for tickets to tapings of “Talking Dead.” And that’s when I found the Star Wars Super Fan search. Initially there weren’t any details about the event other than that it was on 1 December, perfectly situated during our brief time in Los Angeles. To enter, I just needed to submit a short video about why I’m a so-called Super Fan.
You know that feeling when confidence washes over you and you think, “Well, that’s in the bag!” Yeah, me neither. But this was about as close as I’ve ever come to feeling it.
I wrote an unimpressive script, tidied up my impressive (most impressive) Star Wars haven and stepped in front of the camera, awkward and unflattering as could be. After fighting with some video editing apps on my phone, it was done. I exploited a moment of bravery, posted it to social media and waited.
Wednesday afternoon I received word that I’d been chosen by the 1iota team as a Star Wars Super Fan!
After a day of travel and an evening at Universal Studios—the new holiday decorations and light show at Wizarding World are STUNNING btw—I found it impossible to sleep Thursday night. And so I arrived at the 1iota offices on Friday morning to film a Super Fan video interview with puffy eyes and a stomach full of butterflies… all before heading to the Jimmy Kimmel studio.
Guys, I can’t say enough good things about everybody I met at 1iota. They were every bit as cool as you’d expect from a team of L.A. creatives with the added benefit of being super nice, funny and relatable, too. I’m told the video will go live sometime next week ahead of the release of The Last Jedi. I’ll update here when it happens (unless I’m even more awkward and terrible than I thought, in which case we’ll just pretend it doesn’t exist).
The Kimmel taping was a really cool experience. We found ourselves seated in the front row, which ended up being somewhat uncomfortably close to the man of the hour when he filmed his monologue. It took every bit of my self control to keep from chasing down surprise guest BB-8 to take home when he rolled our way. And I couldn’t hold back the tears when Rian Johnson, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver and Mark Hamill first took the stage not 20 feet away from us. For better or worse, I managed to maintain some semblance of self-control; otherwise the watery eyes would have inevitably escalated to sobbing, which probably would have drawn unwanted attention and created a scene. I mean, I desperately wanted to meet them all but not like a blubbering idiot.
A few observations from the taping: the entire cast seemed so charming! I didn’t have quite the same visceral reaction when John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Laura Dern, Kelly Marie Tran, Andy Serkis and Gwendoline Christie came on stage—instead of crying, I wanted to fist pump. They were all flawless, of course, but Gwendoline Christie looked especially ethereal in person. I was a little surprised there was virtually no mention of our beloved Carrie; since the actors were unable to talk about plot points, I thought they might have engaged in a more lively discussion about behind-the-scenes interactions, which I assumed would have revolved largely around the late Ms. Fisher. The entire show seemed to go by so much more quickly than I expected, I was so engrossed. I’ve heard from friends and family that we were briefly spotted on TV but we still haven’t watched the episode.
Our 1iota pals caught up with us afterwards for another quick interview on Hollywood Boulevard, then we were on our way to the rest of our vacation adventures (read: more butterbeer and Disneyland). The entire day was absolutely priceless and one that will live in my memory for as long as genetics and brain functions allow.
I need to go stock up on tissues now because The Last Jedi happens in less than a week and I know I’m going to be a hot mess. May the Force be with you!
If you’re a fan of “The Walking Dead” and watch it on initial airing, there’s a good chance you stick around to watch the live show “The Talking Dead” afterwards. The guests sometimes flop (Marilyn Manson, for instance) and host/comedian Chris Hardwick occasionally veers into self-indulgence, but the show is generally a therapeutic way to unwind after TWD and learn some behind-the-scenes tidbits.
Having had the great joy of scoring passes to see the live filming of the mid-season premiere last month, I have some behind-the-scenes tidbits for “The Talking Dead” as well. Hopefully this will also shed some light on what to expect if you, too, luck into General Passes and spend hours scouring the interwebs to try and find out what to expect—I was sorely disappointed in the lack of similar firsthand accounts. So let’s start at the beginning.
You love the show and realize you’ll be in Los Angeles on a Sunday when a new episode is scheduled to air, aka just about any Sunday between late October-early December and mid February-early April. Great! Now make haste and get thyself over to 1iota.com and sign up for an account so you can join the watchlist for your favorite shows and request tickets when they become available. My experience with 1iota is that they open the Talking Dead for you to request tickets within about a week of the date you’d like to attend. We tried to get tickets for the mid-season finale back in December, and the “sign up” opportunity opened early morning on the Monday ahead of that Sunday (11/27 before the 12/3) show. We were probably relatively early in submitting a request but didn’t make the cut, which turned out just fine since I was miserably sick that entire trip. I digress…
I started checking 1iota’s Talking Dead page as soon as we knew what dates we would be in L.A. Early that Monday morning before the taping date, I checked and 1iota still hadn’t opened up for ticket requests. Kept checking throughout the day and around 1pm, it was open. I submitted my request and crossed my fingers.
That Thursday, I got an email saying they couldn’t accommodate my request. Bummer.
The next day, I happened to check on my 1iota account to see if they’d updated the guest appearance list for Jimmy Kimmel and noticed that I suddenly had Talking Dead tickets waiting for me. After I recovered from the shock, I followed the prompts and printed those babies as fast as I could (lest they discover their mistake). On printing the tickets, I learned that they were General Passes, meaning there are Priority Passes that some people manage to get their hands on and the General Pass holders get in on a first-come, first-served basis after those with Priority Passes. The passes also tell you to arrive at least 30 minutes early… I think you’d be tempting fate to arrive that late. Add an extra hour to that for a safer bet.
We tried to arrive 2 hours early but L.A. traffic and parking being what it is, we got in line 90 minutes early. 8 people in line already ahead of us. I’d suggest coughing up the money to park in the garage at The Grove. The $20-whatever is worth the peace of mind to save yourself time and hassle; and you can stop in at The Container Store on your walk to the CBS Studio lot if you need to use the restroom (you won’t get another opportunity until after you go through all of the security protocols).
Enjoy using your cell phone while you wait on the street, as it gets confiscated when you go through security. I totally understand why you can’t use your phone during the early screening of the unaired Walking Dead episode—you’ll watch the new episode commercial-free before it even airs on the East Coast!—but it was pretty frustrating being unable to take photos of the Talking Dead set before filming started. Specifically, it was annoying because there are other audience members (who get in by means other than 1iota) who are allowed to have their phones and it feels rather like a double standard.
Anyway, after going through security screening the group is ushered into a tight little room that’s like a garage or dock area on the lot filled with chairs. That’s where you get to watch the new episode. The few accounts I saw online said that they had to watch on a very small screen; I’m happy to report that they’ve upgraded and now you get to see it projected on a pretty good size screen. Sound isn’t theater quality, but you’re caught up in the episode enough that it doesn’t matter so much.
After the episode, audience members pose questions they might ask on the show. The staff choose a handful of those people (the ones who have the best confidence and stage presence, I think) and they go on a separate track for, presumably, screen prep. At our filming, the question asked live on the show was not any of the questions the audience actually submitted. It was in the same vein, but not the same.
Finally, you’re ushered into the set studio, and it’s pretty dang cool. Much larger than it looks on screen. We couldn’t figure out how they decided where to seat people, but we ended up a lot further back in the crowd than we had been for the screening. It really wasn’t a big deal since there is somewhat tiered seating but we ended up on the end behind the crane camera so it was a little hard to see sometimes.
Chris Hardwick comes out and films the little preview bits (they’re not really live) without any audience interaction; this surprised me, as I kind of imagined he’d address us a bit. Perhaps he was too busy being lint-rolled. Seriously, they had lint rollers on him during every commercial break. How much lint can one guy accumulate while sitting mostly still?!
I couldn’t have been more thrilled with the lineup we had: Greg Nicotero, Khary Payton (King Ezekiel) and DeAngelo Williams from the Pittsburgh Steelers. All 3 were a delight to watch interact during commercial breaks, though we couldn’t always hear what they said. As was alluded to during the show, DeAngelo kept jabbing on Khary being a Falcons fan, and Khary repeatedly got up to walk out (jokingly). I don’t remember if it was during a commercial or actual show but DeAngelo said something about also not liking the Patriots and Khary replied, “because you’re human!” Greg also got up at one point, saying “I’m out” during the football talk. Lots of laughter, much fun.
After the live show wrapped, they filmed several bonus segments for the website (here). We did end up getting audience-giveaway shirts, and I was pleased that we actually got to choose what size we got. All in all, a really enjoyable experience that could only have been better if we’d gotten to take pics.
If you haven’t seen Rogue One yet, consider yourself warned… ***SPOILERS***
Pardon the stream-of-consciousness post; it may get a bit messy. I’ve seen Rogue One five (yes, 5!) times in the theater now. The latest was on my 13th wedding anniversary (yes, 13th!), which happened to be the same sad day that our favorite Princess passed away.
Though I never had the honor of meeting her, Carrie Fisher always felt like a friend. It never occurred to me as a child that she was old enough to be my mom—she was Princess Leia, and she was my friend. As an adult, of course I appreciate the many facets of her career, advocacy and person. Her biting sarcasm and quick wit balanced with sincerity, something I will always admire. Watching Rogue One hours after learning of her death was harrowing (ironically, my 4th viewing was just hours before her heart attack). The public display of emotion got a bit uglier than I had hoped, what with the heaving shoulders and snot snorting. On the bright side, the Vader bit is impressive even with tear-blurred vision.
Things I loved about R1:
Literally everything in the last hour or so of the film. The battle, the tragic ends*, VADER. Seriously, when the lightsaber illuminates Vader in that dark corridor…ugh, I love it all so hard. That scene is everything I’ve ever wanted from Vader. And it all makes me cry. A. LOT.
*yes, even my Imperial sympathizing heart hurt over that. That said, this should lay to rest rumors of Jyn being Rey’s mom.
For me, the part in which the film really starts feeling like a Star Wars story is as they’re escaping Jedha. From there, I find myself far more engaged in the plot and connecting more with the characters. I really thought at least one of our heroes would make it out, but this ending was much better from an urgency and storytelling angle. That last scene with Jyn and Cassian is soul-crushing in the best way possible. Their chemistry was a brilliant mix of platonic and maybe-could’ve-been-more. I LOVE Cassian! I thought he was as well written as he was acted, which is impressive for a complex character. I would be compelled to watch anything with Diego Luna in it now. Really enjoyed Donnie Yen’s performance as well.
I so appreciate how Gareth Edwards worked it into a piece that’s so layered and nuanced that it feels like a sort of love note to Star Wars. The many thoughtful, lovely references in this feel less nostalgia-gimmicky than TFA (which I also loved but still). It’s a beautiful bridge between the prequels and original trilogy that makes both Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope better.
I think subsequent viewings really do make a big difference for this movie since there just so much to absorb. The first time around, I was delighted to see the original Red Leader and Gold Leader (if you haven’t seen how they made that happen, read this)…though I’m not sure I needed to know how/why Luke inherited the Red Five call sign. I also got a kick out of the complete-fanservice-but-still-fun cameos by Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba. Took me until the third viewing to finally notice the blue milk in Galen & Lyra Erso’s hovel. I think the CG is also less bothersome after the initial shock. Is ‘shock’ the right word? Whatever.
Except for the vaguely cartoonish mouth movements, I thought the CG on Tarkin & Leia was surprisingly good. My only complaint is that there was perhaps too much full-face Tarkin; it took away the “is it really him?” intrigue and turned it into “oh look, CG!”
K2-SO is probably my favorite droid now (he and BB-8 blow the originals out of the water for me). Not only is K2-SO better than C-3PO, but Alan Tudyk knocks the socks off of Anthony Daniels.
Things I didn’t love about R1:
Saw Gerrera/Forest Whitaker. His existence beyond rescuing Jyn as a child seemed overly contrived and almost entirely unnecessary. Every scene that he’s in makes me eye-roll, and I wasn’t sad when he ‘sacrificed’ himself to the imploding planet. In fact, I would have been glad that he bit it, except that I was eye-rolling so hard from his over-the-top acting that it really just annoyed me. Maybe part of the reason I didn’t like him was the way the character was written, but Whitaker’s melodramatic delivery of the lines didn’t help. His “save the dream” line was arguably the worst in the movie, too—even worse than Vader’s pun about choking on aspirations. And the “truth monster” was just awful. That was definitely the parallel to the rathtars in TFA that should’ve found the cutting room floor.
The score. I will say my frustration with this has diminished a bit with each additional screening. My understanding is that Giacchino had very little time to compose, and for that I am in awe with how relatively good it is. Nevertheless, it lacked a lot of the emotional weight of a John Williams score. It felt particularly lackluster in the title sequence after the prologue.
Speaking of the title sequence, I really missed the opening scroll and classic Star Wars theme. I do understand that Lucasfilm is trying to make it clear that these are not Skywalker-centric stories but I’m not sure how chopping out the expository scroll and iconic strains are supposed to do that.
R2-D2/C-3PO cameo. I guess I didn’t really dislike this, per say, but I think that scene felt really shoehorned on Yavin. Had we seen them on the Tantive cruiser, it would’ve made (more) sense. It seems Threepio has worn out his welcome with me.
Outstanding questions about R1:
Do Death Troopers speak a different language, or were they just suffering from Bane unintelligible syndrome? Friends have speculated they utilize a spy-code that scrambles their transmissions outside of their helmets. I’ll buy that, but I also would’ve liked to hear them speak actual words instead of garbled zombie sounds.
Just how did Evazan & Ponda get off Jedha so we could eventually meet them at the cantina? I assume they were already headed to their departing ship.
Also, why didn’t they show the Mustafar planet ‘tag’ like all of the other planets? Probably just trying to surprise everybody with Vader’s lair but the inconsistency bugged me ever so slightly. Regarding Mustafar, I LOVED seeing Vader’s castle and half expected it to be Hayden Christensen’s head in the bacta tank!
During Jyn’s flashback aboard the U-Wing, we saw her family enjoying drinks with Krennic. Did the view out the apartment windows look like Coruscant to anybody else? Started reading the “Catalyst” novel today and it mentions Galen & Lyra marrying on Coruscant so I think we can assume it was supposed to be.
I want to know more about the relationship between Krennic and Tarkin—I’m currently reading “Catalyst” and hoping to find out more about this. It seems a nice parallel to the dynamic of Kylo Ren and Hux in TFA; almost like a sibling rivalry.
And I guess that about sums it up for the moment…largely because my lunch break is over and I have to get back to work. What say you? Did you love Rogue One, hate it, feel conflicted? Let’s chat in the comments!
A new Star Wars movie came out yesterday!!!! So you probably think you know what I’m blogging about today, right?! Amazingly, Rogue One isn’t the topic. I did see it last night and really loved about 80% of it (the other 20% is up for debate), and I’m going again tonight so we’ll see if that number fluctuates before I post about it exclusively.
Instead, I’m sitting in front of a space heater, watching it sleet outside and reflecting on days spent at the beach. For many people, a day at the beach means hot temperatures, warm water and roasting oneself in sunshine. I prefer something a bit more rustic: rocky shorelines, pine-crested bluffs and the fewer people, the better. Foggy and overcast is A-okay by me, and I’m perfectly content not venturing too far into the waters of the Pacific (COLD!). So it should come as no surprise to anyone here that Washington and Oregon are my go-to happy places.
Back in September, I spent a week on the Oregon Coast with my momma; naturally, we had a fantastic time! Temperatures topped out in the mid-60s, and each day boasted a beautiful mix of sun and clouds. One very special afternoon was dedicated to visiting what is perhaps my favorite place on earth, Indian Beach at Ecola State Park. Just north of the bustling Cannon Beach tourist destination, Ecola is a divine mix of old-growth forest and pristine shoreline. Though hikers and surfers and casual revelers like ourselves typically flock to Ecola, this day was blissfully quiet. Our own perfect little slice of heaven, shared with only 4 or 5 other people and their canine companions. As the golden hour fell before sunset, the tide quieted and mirror-smooth water lapped against the shore, create exquisite reflections of the soaring landscape. I wanted desperately to capture the beauty through the lens of my camera, but I found it difficult to concentrate on that task…instead, I let the serenity of my surroundings wash away my self-imposed anxiety over capturing a perfect image, took in as many mental images as possible and left the rest up to my trusty iPhone.
It’s hard for me to overcome the feeling that every moment needs to be documented. Heaven knows I have enough photographs of even the most trivial bits of life stored on my phone, computer and external hard drives. But when you stand in the midst of natural splendor like Indian Beach, sometimes the strongest desire is to simply soak it all in sans camera. I hope you’ll enjoy the reflections I did capture, imagine the salty brine of crisp ocean air and unplug from the bustle of the season for a moment and do some reflecting of your own.
In stark contrast to the peace and calm of Oregon, my husband and I found ourselves in Los Angeles at the beginning of December. In addition to christening our new Universal Studios Hollywood annual passes—Wizarding World of Harry Potter with waaaaaaayyy shorter lines than Orlando!!!—I thought it would be great fun to photograph architecture and Hollywood landmarks and all of the things that make Southern California so different from my beloved Pacific Northwest. And then I got sick. Really sick: a 104 fever yielded a diagnosis of flu and pneumonia from the minute clinic in Burbank, CA. So the first 2 days of our trip included quarantine in the hotel room and even without having cable at home, it wasn’t awesome. The nurse practitioner had instructed me to wear a mask if I went in public, which seemed like a miserable option. Instead, we found a loophole: avoid people. As you may know, this is no small task in southern California. With a little help from Google, we drove an hour and a half north of Los Angeles to a quiet beach in Oxnard and were shocked to discover we were the only people there! A couple of fishermen showed up later, but the majority of the day was spent simply walking the shore and breathing in the healing power of the ocean.
Unlike the ragged cliff faces and thick vegetation that leads to Indian Beach, Ormond Beach is surrounded by flatlands that feature a U.S. Navy base to the south and an abandoned (I think?) power plant on the northeast side. Instead of the fairy-tale forest walk to the shore, it felt more like navigating a postapocalyptic wasteland, complete with signs for rattlesnakes. My illness kept my quest for adventure at bay, so I mostly just sat on a little sandy ridge as we waited for sunset over the beautiful, blustery Pacific. I would have preferred to be healthy for our little trip, but the limitations made me slow down and be deliberate about taking care of myself. If that’s not a worthwhile way to spend a “free” day from work, I’m not sure what is.
I’ve worked for Hallmark Cards 8 years now in various editorial roles, currently as a writer for the e-commerce team. This year, the Creative division decided to start at its core by giving each employee 5 days to use (apart from regular PTO) for finding inspiration and tapping into creative outlets that may not be leveraged in our everyday positions. A couple of days exploring the West Coast were just what I needed to refuel! #My5Days
Well, this isn’t new anymore (2.5 months already!) but I hadn’t officially shared it here, so…
My only regret is that I didn’t get it somewhere more noticeable. It’s great that I can cover it up so easily, but it’s also a downer not being able to see and show it off. But I’m already plotting my next addition…the Imperial insignia…much to the chagrin of my husband. Just doing my part to keep balance in the Force with all of the current Rebel Alliance cheerleading that’s happening ahead of Rogue One 🙂