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While being the host of "The Best Show on WFMU" provides its fair share of "benefits," it also dumps an ungodly amount of pressure to deliver on my back each and every week. So when a good friend who works in the film industry agreed to tell me all about his struggles on the set of the upcoming Star Wars movie, I jumped at the chance. With a fair amount of bitterness against Lucasfilm (and George L. himself), he promised he would reveal a goodly amount of plot points and details for Episode II--things unknown to all but those deep in the inner circle. The interview can be heard online in its entirety at

    The broadcast caused an uproar amongst hardcore Star Wars fans. The show received over 2,200 archived hits within a 36-hour period, grinding the WFMU Web site to a halt. The fanatics had plenty to say--some believed the show, others had their doubts (one guy even said I was "the laughingstock of!") Here are some discussion board posts and e-mails about the show:

  1. The title is cool, but I know I have heard it before, perhaps on Ternians plot summary? Just checked, it's not in Ternians but is in someone's plot summary. Virtual Edition? Prince of Aldera?

  2. I laugh in the face of anyone who believes a word of that load of Banthoo poodu!!!

  3. Hi there, are you the Tom that interviewed that guy a while back about the Star Wars Episode II movie? Are you guys going to do a second part to that interview? I have a couple of questions I'd like to ask him if it isn't too much trouble. Could I send them to you and you could forward them to him? I know you're probably not authorized to give me his e-mail or anything. I thought it was a great show by the way... for the sake of your own credibility, though, I strongly suggest you post a disclaimer pointing out the unlikelihood that this guy was telling you the truth, because a lot of people on the Net are laughing about how gullible you come off as in the interview (no offense)...If he truly had been a Lucasfilm employee, he'd have a lot more new info to tell you. He didn't, and the few new things he did tell you (such as Coppola's cameo, which I know for a fact is a lie since my wife knows Coppola's niece) were just plain silly. Bottom line: you've been had, and you'd be best off cutting your ties to this guy.

Star Wars Insider
The Best Show on WFMU: December 19, 2000

DJ: Okay, we have our guest, who worked on Episode I of the Star Wars movies, The Phantom Menace.

C: For your listeners out there, I worked on the latter part of The Phantom Menace. I came on at the end of production and all through post-production. And I worked on Episode II all through pre-production and through the shoot, well through most of the shoot, and then was unceremoniously let go from the process.

DJ: Now what capacity were you involved in the movie?

C: Well, without tipping too much of my identity, I was, in the vaguest sense, an onset

assistant effects supervisor. It's a job that requires a person to be on the set during the shooting of the film as a representative, as one of many representatives, for Industrial Light and Magic, the effects department, to make sure all the photography is lined up and we know what we are doing in terms of everything we need to put in to the numerous post-production for the movie.

DJ: How deep did you get into the second one?

C: I was on for the entire prep period of Episode II and then probably for, I would say, three quarters of the shooting at the new Fox studio in Australia before I was let go.

DJ: Why were you let go?

C: Well, Tom, I don't want to get into it too much. I think umm, I would say... I'm sorry Tom, I'm a little nervous. I would say, in the context of making a Star Wars movie, some opinions are valued more than others and some aren't valued at all and Star Wars is, and always has been, George Lucas' vision. It's either George's way or the highway, and I guess I got the highway.

DJ: So how much of Episode II are you aware of?

C: Well, in terms of the overall story, I am aware of quite a bit in terms of the specific characters and things. Now obviously one of the great mysteries of the movie so far is the film's title. I happen to know what the actual title is, and if you'd like, that's one of the things I would like to discuss tonight.

DJ: That's a huge bombshell for Star Wars fans.

C: It's probably the Number One bit of coveted Episode II information. Episode II strikes a balance between a love story between Anakin and Amadala and the rise of the Sith Lords. In all the drafts of the script it was always just called Episode II. I think in the last month of my involvement, a certain amount of the pages were released with the title Veil of the Sith. At one point, the title Hand of the Sith was thrown out and around, and that was incorrect, The Jedi Nexus was one, but Veil of the Sith is the official title of Episode II.

DJ: Well, why don't you give us something else?

C: The level of violence, and even the sexual content of the movie, is much more explicit than I ever thought I would see in a Star Wars movie. Now granted these movies will be PG or PG-13, there is no doubt it will be PG-13, but some of the stuff I saw--and I know with filmmaking you go as far as you can go and you can always take it back in the editing room--but some of the stuff they were shooting was... I think fans will be really happy to see that this is not the tone of Phantom Menace.

DJ: Because a lot of people were unhappy with the fact that Phantom Menace was kind of infantilized.

C: That was a real prevailing thought about the first movie, and they were right. One thing I will say in George Lucas' defense, he does listen to the fans, and I think George Lucas was very surprised at the negative reaction that Jar Jar Binks got. Is he rectifying that for this film? You bet he is, absolutely.

DJ: What is Lucas like to work with?

C: An absolute control freak! Are you asking me if he's a nice man? Is he a...

DJ: Well, is he a nice man?

C: Well, I can probably count the number of full-blown conversations I had with him on one finger. But I will say, again in his defense, he's listening more to other people on this film. He didn't leave the job of writing the movie to himself. But the most important thing is... I was privy to a conversation with Francis Ford Coppola, who is a longtime friend of George Lucas. Coppola was discussing this whole sort of breed of younger filmmakers, like Quentin Tarantino, and Paul Thomas Anderson, and the great energy and grittiness they had in their films. And I have to say the footage in this movie has that influence. It is a much grittier film. The word gritty doesn't even apply to Phantom Menace. DJ: Now when you say "gritty"... I can't even picture a gritty Star Wars. C: Well, there's nothing gritty about Star Wars, but if you go back to Episode IV and conjure up images of Obi-Wan Kenobi slicing off a guy's arm in the Cantina, or Uncle Owen and Aunt Baru lying scorched on the sand after the stormtrooper attack... the stuff that I've seen, some of the scenes that I worked on effects-wise were far grittier than that.

DJ: OK, let's take some calls here. FMU, you're on the air. Hello?

CALLER 1 (C1): Hi. I have several questions. Can the caller confirm any of the rumors that Mr. Lucas withheld food from certain crew members?

C: I'm sorry, Tom, what was that?

DJ: Can you hear the caller?

C: I think... Did he say "withholding food from the crew members"?

C1: Yes. I think I read that in Movieline.

C: Well, I think what that caller is referring to... that's an exaggeration of what actually happened. There was an incident in the first month of shooting at the new Fox studios. And the studio is literally a new studio, just built by Fox in an attempt to save costs. It's in Australia. There was a lot of trouble with the food service there, and it became sort of a joke on set that if you did something to piss off Lucas, or the movie that day, they were going to withhold your food. I think that's what he was referring to.

DJ: So it's kind of something that got blown out of proportion?

C: That's right. And that's the kind of fan rumor that's ridiculous, and what I'm trying to provide tonight is actual details from the movie. I think that sort of illustrates the case that it's ridiculous. But thank you, caller.

DJ: FMU, you're on the air.

C2: I've been hearing a lot about product placement. Specifically, Doritos and Lemon Pledge. I wanted to know if you could confirm or deny this.

C: There's no Doritos and there's no Lemon Pledge in the new Star Wars movie.

DJ: Again. See that's just where fans kind of get weird. Where people just believe anything anybody tells them. I noticed that in a lot of recent George Lucas work there's a lot of comedic elements.

C: Well I think the attempt here in Veil of the Sith is to create a love story. And it also starts to get darker. So I do think that the sort of humorous elements you're probably referring to, like some of the fart jokes in Phantom Menace... I think there's an attempt to tone that down. There are some other characters that may... There's a character in the film called Dexter Jetster who owns a place called Dexter's Diner. That to my mind is going to be probably the most controversial character in Veil of the Sith.

DJ: In what way?

C: Because he is the classic example of a character in the George Lucas universe who is designed almost exclusively for comic relief. Frankly, this is probably one of the reasons that I was let go. I may have been too vocal about my opinions of the characters in the Star Wars universe because I love them. I have strong feelings about them, and when you're there making the movie and you start to get into your head that maybe I can affect this for the better, it's very hard to hold back your opinions about these characters because they're real. Let me ask you this--if you could go back in time and have access to Adolf Hitler and have killed him, would you have done that? Well, it's similar in the sense that if you could've gone back in time and been on the set of Phantom Menace and talked Lucas out of creating Jar Jar Binks, would you have done it? Would I have done it? You're damn right I would have!

DJ: OK...

C: Tom, can I just reiterate one thing? I don't know if you have any more calls, but I am doing this for the fans. The fans want the information. You log on to the Internet, you go to any Web site, there's so much conjecture about this film. I'm just throwing things out there, tidbits, nothing that's going to spoil the movie for people.

DJ: I have to say, to your credit, you've given things that as a fan of the movie franchise, which I am, you've wet my appetite. You've got me thinking, but you haven't revealed plot twists...

C: ...and believe me, Tom, I've got information about the movie that would spoil things for viewers that I could give away, that I may give away, but I don't choose to now. It depends on how I feel, but my point is that it's my prerogative, and I think you asked before, am I doing this out of revenge? No, I'm doing this because I'm a fan, and there's no one more excited about seeing Veil of the Sith than I am.

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