Movie News

Moriarty's Adventures At ShoWest... The Fox Party and.... The Power of Star Wars

Published at: March 11, 1999, 11:47 a.m. CST

Moriarty sucks.... Ok, I had a blast up in Winnipeg, BUuuuut.... this sickens me. My whole life I've wanted to see John Williams conduct live, and... ARGH... Moriarty.... Curse your evil hide, I know what you did while you were here for QTIII, you and your evil henchmen put something in my beer that would let me let you go to ShoWest.... ARGH!!!! Anyway folks, ready to turn GREEN? Alright, here is that bastard aka Moriarty with his coverage of the big Fox event with John Williams and George "I am the Man" Lucas...

Oh... and remember as you read this... Moriarty SUCKS!!!!! He sucks sooooo baaaaad.. I hate him I hate him I hate him.... HE STOLE MY TICKET!!!! GIVE IT BACK... GIVE IT ALLLLL BACK!!!! Sigh... breathe Harry... good gooooooooood.... Ok. ok.... Waaaaaaaaaah!!!!! Blubber sob whimper.... Heres the moriar...ty....

Hey, Head Geek...

Glad to see you're back from the Great White North. Hope your extra insulation kept you warm, man. I also hope you saw something that made the trip worthwhile. You really didn't miss much here. ShoWest is, um...

OH, WHO THE FUCK AM I KIDDING?!?!? THIS IS AWESOME, MAN!!!

Excuse me. I didn't mean to do that. I really didn't. I meant to be calm and collected about this whole thing. I meant to report it in a way that's free of hyperbole and mania. It's not my fault the Germans poured that last beer into me. That on top of the adrenalin... well, I'm still collecting myself, and I think I'm doing a pretty good job of keeping it under control. I feel like... erk...

JOHN FREAKIN' WILLIAMS, MAN!!!!!

I apologize. Really. I won't do that again. I'm just going to go back to about 9:00 tonight, when I arrived at Bally's. I tossed the keys to the valet and practically sprinted inside. It said on my ticket for the event that doors wouldn't open until 9:30, but I knew that people would be lining up early.

Boy, were they. When I got to the hallway outside the Grand Ballroom and the Event Center (the two halls adjoin), it was already packed with people. Looking around, I saw they all had on exhibitor passes. These are different than the press passes, and the press is frequently admitted early. Knowing this, I braved the tangle of people and made my way up to the ropes that were holding everyone back. When I got there, I saw one of the people from my table. To explain, every event with a meal attached (New Line, Warner, the Awards, tomorrow's Miramax event) has been at the same table with the same group of journalists. It's a big damn table, though, and the hall is always noisy, so I still haven't really "met" everyone. This particular person I recognized always sits on the exact opposite side of the table, so we hadn't spoken. He seemed to recognize me, too, though, and we introduced ourselves.

Now, before I continue... it's 3:19 on Thursday morning in Vegas when I write this, and I'm still fairly buzzed (god, I love taxis). I am going to go ahead and confess the worst thing I can. I don't remember this guy's name. I'm almost sure it's Patrick. I know he writes for a paper in Australia. I talked to him all night. But I've met so many people in the last few days that I'm starting to embarrass myself. This sponge of mine can only absorb so much, folks, Evil Genius or not, and I apologize. For the sake of this story, I'll call him Patrick. If that's not his name, then I'm sure he'll kick me in the gear next time I see him, and I'll just have to cope, won't I?

Patrick told me that the rest of the media had already lined up further down the hall and was about to go in, but since he and I are both late, we have to wait. I pulled out my ticket for the event. "Doors open at 9:30." Right there, plain as day. We try to get the attention of several of the redcoated staff members, but they were running around like crazy. Finally, we spotted Jim Kozak, grand poobah of this thing, and asked him what was up. He was very gracious about calming the nerves of two obviously freaking STAR WARS maniacs. "It's the camera press, the TV guys... you don't want to be where they are. Hold tight. You'll go in soon." With that, he was gone, and we started chatting about STAR WARS. Patrick had a copy of the latest STAR WARS INSIDER, the one with the Darth Maul cover, with him just in case we had a chance to get close to Lucas. I'd heard so many wild rumors about what was going to happen that I was prepared for anything. I had the cover page of the script for Episode I in my backpack. I figured it would take balls of steel to ask George to sign it, but when am I ever going to get that opportunity again? We talked rumors, discussed the whole unfortunate CountingDown incident, compared reactions on EYES WIDE SHUT... the convention really gives you stuff to talk about. There's a lot of other film freaks here, and you can strike up a hell of a conversation if you give yourself half a chance.

There were a couple of people who were so worked up they hopped ropes to try and get in early. One older gentleman took a full on stage dive, taking out the ropes in the process. It was bizarre to watch him get up, dust off the tux, and just keep moving, face bright red. There was a sort of vibe in the air that everyone really, REALLY wanted to get inside. Finally, the ropes opened and we all did our best to look dignified and walk into the Event Center while still hauling ass. Finally I gave up with looking cool and bolted. Patrick stayed close. We were going to get down front no matter what.

One of the redcoats tried to stop me, but I used a mystical word I learned in India to render him unconscious without even breaking stride. Quickly, I made my way to the second row, center, right on the aisle. Great seat. Great view...

... but a view of what, Moriarty? An orchestra, actually. Decent sized one, too. They were seated directly under the Event Center's screen, the same place everyone's showing their clip reels. It's a surprisingly large screen, and even more so sitting so close to it. My table's normally on the other side of the room. We sat maybe fifteen feet from the conductor. At first he was just prepping, but after 15 minutes or so, he brought everyone to a ready and started them into "There's No Business Like Show Business."

The crowd was still working their way in, though, and everyone around us -- well, okay... us, too -- was talking noisily as they played a big-ass ANASTASIA medley, the TITANIC suite, the X-FILES theme, then (oddly) "There's No Business Like Show Business" again, just in case we didn't get it the first time. Finally, they cut loose with the full-length 20th Century Fox fanfare.

There was a brief presentation of an award from one Pepsi exec to another, and they talked about how excited they were about STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE. Everyone's using the whole trailer now, I've noticed. In fact, I've heard people drop the STAR WARS altogether. It's really grown on people, I think. One of them took the award and the other one (I'm sorry, gentlemen... no offense. I just didn't catch anything you said) said, "Well, we've got about 71 days, 12 hours, 28 minutes, and somewhere around 37 seconds until this man is our best friend."

Wow... my heart actually started beating faster. Here comes George, I thought. Suddenly I realized the guy was introducing Tom Sherak. Oh... okay... calm down. That's indeed Tom Sherak you see walking up there, and not Lucas. Sherak started by saying there were two things we should know about the Fox presentation: (1) it would be short (2) there would be no 4-letter words. This was obviously a dig at Adam Sandler, who was filthy the night before. I'll go into that more in my Awards show piece. Sherak continued by saying that there are two components that make any studio work. (1) movies and (2) people who make them. Okay, I thought again, this is it. Here he goes. He's about to introduce...

Peter Chernin. Okay. That's cool. I mean, these are execs I like, a rare enough commodity. I'm happy to see them. They're representing their studio. No sweat. Calm down, I thought. If he's here, you'll see him soon enough. Chernin kept my mind off Lucas for whole seconds at a time by talking about how Newscorp, the studio's parent company, has its fingers in everything -- publishing, amusement parks, TV, newspapers -- but movies remain the heart and soul of the company. He said it is movies that connect the studio to the audience indelibly. Films can be more than just stories. They can be the greatest igniter of human emotions. The key to that ignition, he continued, is the theatrical experience. Chernin said it was movies that had gotten him to where he is in his life. Despite all the responsibilities he's got in NewsCorp, it's still working with Fox on films that is his proudest accomplishment. "The touchstone of my career is the movies... oh, jeez... I guess I shouldn't say Touchstone, huh?" He recovered, saying he still loves to go to a theater, sit in the dark, and just lose himself. He considers it a privilege to be involved with the process. It was obvious that he meant it, too, and that's heartening. This is exactly the kind of guy who should have a hand in choosing what films to make. It's no wonder Peter Chernin is who he is.

Tom Sherak came back up to talk for a moment about his former boss, Barry Reardon of Warner Bros., and to wish him well when he retires this year sometime. He called Reardon his mentor. Sherak then launched into an intro that got me going all over again.

"Even though he attended USC, which everyone knows is a second-choice school, especially those of us who attended UCLA, this next guy sure does know a lot about film." USC, I thought? This is got to be George Lucas. I looked over at Patrick, who was obviously just as excited as I was. Instead, it was Bill Mechanic who came out. This time I gave up on being excited and just sat back to enjoy whatever Mechanic had to say.

Turns out, Fox decided not to bring clips from anything this year. Instead, Mechanic just outlined their schedule for the next few years, giving brief descriptions of films. NEVER BEEN KISSED with Drew Barrymore, ENTRAPMENT (which we saw a lot of at the Awards show), THE FIGHT CLUB which he claims will be the year's most talked-about film after opening July 9, THE BEACH and ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM, both in time for Christmas of this year, X-MEN next summer, TITAN A.D., a big SF animated movie which used to be called PLANET ICE for the summer of 2000, Steven Spielberg's MINORITY REPORT for June 30, 2000 with Tom Cruise starring, the Tom Hanks/Robert Zemeckis reunion CASTAWAY for Christmas 2000 along with Baz Luhrmann's still untitled next film. He kept going, though, pinning PLANET OF THE APES and the still undetermined next James Cameron film to the summer of 2001, followed by EPISODE II in summer 2002. Whew! There's some ambitious plans in there. Mechanic sounded confident that Cameron's next film will be for Fox, which sort of rules out SPIDERMAN. We'll see, but Patrick also reported that he bumped into Cameron at the DGA Awards the week before and asked Cameron about whether he would do the film. Cameron seemed to think it wasn't likely. This is a week ago, folks. Sounds to me like he's moved on.

Anyway, Sherak talked briefly about movies and people, then introduced many of the Fox execs. He then made a heartfelt plea that if we saw anyone videotaping while the next presention was on, stop them. He quoted Mel Brooks, who said once that it's good to be the King. Sherak said, "Tonight, I know what that feels like." He seemed genuinely jazzed to introduce a man who gives any film credibility if he's involved. He's a man who worked on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, SCHINDLER'S LIST...

... and I didn't hear the rest of what he said. I knew. I looked ten feet in front of me and realized the conductor from earlier was gone. The orchestra sat ready and waiting for someone, though, and I knew who. By the time I heard Sherak say the words "living legend," I knew who was about to walk out.

JOHN FREAKIN' WILLIAMS, MAN!!!!!!!!

And suddenly there he was. Right in front of me. The Maestro. The man who scored my childhood. He looked so unassuming, so mild-mannered. When he spoke, he was almost inaudible. He talked of working on SOUTH PACIFIC in 1956, his first job in films, which was actually a Fox film. He said he just flew back in from London where they finished the score. He beamed as he said, "I just have to say... the film is fantastic. You're really in for something special." He then talked about how STAR WARS is really a transgenerational phenomenon. Many of the members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra are young, in their 20s, and they would ask Williams to sign their soundtracks, telling him how he was the reason they got into music, how STAR WARS changed their life. He's happy with the "just over 90 minutes" of new music he's written. He called the whole experience a daunting, awesome, wonderful thrill.

And then he picked up his baton and the orchestra played the Main Theme to STAR WARS. Live. Right in front of me. Small fiber optic stars appeared in the walls around the screen, and I was truly transported. I couldn't take my eyes of John Williams. I was so close that I could have stood up, taken three steps, and tapped him on the shoulder. It just didn't compute. It STILL doesn't compute. I'm listening to STAR WARS, and John Williams is right there and...

... AND I LOVE SHOWEST!!!! I LOVE BEING HERE!!!!! I CAN'T BELIEVE I DIDN'T HAVE TO SELL MY CAR, MY FIRST BORN, AND MY SOUL TO BE IN THIS ROOM!!!!!

HARRY NOTE: Oooooh, but you did... you did....

And all too soon, it was over. Williams thanked the orchestra, the newly formed Las Vegas Philharmonic, then launched into an intro. "It is my privilege to present to you a man I've called a friend for many years, the kind of man our country should be proud of. He's unique... the likes of which has only ever been equalled by Walt Disney during his lifetime. This is a man who has created a modern mythology and given us all 20 years of dreams. He is a national treasure. So many people have jobs because of him now. Please... welcome George Lucas."

And I clapped and I clapped until my hands hurt, and I still felt like I wanted to jump up onto my seat and scream just to get the point across. I pictured myself acting like I was a little girl live at the ED SULLIVAN SHOW while the Beatles were on and decided it might not be the best course of action. Instead, I just applauded like everyone else as the standing ovation continued and continued.

Finally Lucas spoke. He started by discussing the success of the SPECIAL EDITIONS. He thanked the theater owners, saying that their support of the film proved that there is no substitute for the theatrical experience. He said that work on THE PHANTOM MENACE is going very well... so well, in fact, that he decided to move the film up to May 19th. "That way fans will get a headstart and families can go see the film that weekend and actually get in." He said that his favorite reaction from anyone who's seen the film so far was after the lights came up on the recent screening for all his friends. The first thing Steven Spielberg said was "I can't wait to see it again." "There's no greater compliment, " Lucas said. He said that the film is 100% digital since every single frame has been put into a computer, then printed onto film. He promised that he'd use the camera he's been developing with Sony to shoot EPISODE II on digital cameras completely. He announced that on June 19th, THE PHANTOM MENACE will screen in four locations using Texas Instruments new digital cinema system (which I saw at the digital cinema demonstration this afternoon that I'll write about soon). This is a test, but Lucas is confident.

He finished by saying, "Your faith in STAR WARS is important to me. I wish I could show you the whole movie... but I can't. The first trailer was such a success that we've decided to release the entire film in 2 1/2 minute installments.." Big laugh. George let it die down before saying, "And here's your first installment."

And then the trailer began. I know it's on ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT and it's on the Web now, but this thing was huge, and the sound was intense enough to sterilize frogs at 500 yards. The images are haunting, searing... that shot of the battle tanks cresting the hill, moving over the silently waving grass as wind whips across it, the intense Jedi fight scenes, our first look at the all-bubble architecture of Otoh Gunga and the rest of the Gungans, Destroyer Droids, Nimoudians, Darth Sideous, Sio Bibble, C3PO and his soon to be classic, "You won't catch me on a spaceship," more pod race footage, those incredible Naboo locations, and the way it builds to Obi-Wan's anguished "NOOOOOOO!!!!"

Goddamn, I love this trailer. After the lights came up (both Lucas and Williams vanished during the trailer), we moved into the Grand Ballroom for the Dessert Party, where Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was playing very, very loud. This is where I met up with the Germans. Yes, the first beer I had was my idea. Same with the second. But I blame them for anything after that. I may be an Evil Genius, but I'm a wicked lightweight when it comes to alcohol. The rest of the night, all the way up to this moment, is just a blur, filled with thoughts of the trailer. What a night. What a week. And it's not done. I have more reports to write, more events to attend. Tomorrow's Disney party will be an adventure to share immediately, I'm sure. Until then...

"Moriarty" out.

Readers Talkback

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  • March 11, 1999, 12:10 p.m. CST

    YOU LUCKY BASTARD!!!!

    by John McLame

    That sounded Awesome!!!!! What an event!! The TRAILER kicked ass!!!! I can't imagine a cooler way of seeing the trailer for the first time, then having Lucas himself introduce it!!! YOU ARE THE MAN!

  • March 11, 1999, 12:19 p.m. CST

    You lucky bastard.

    by JasBoy

    Burn in hell, Moriarty!! BURN IN HELL!!! Okay, not really. Nice re-cap of the evening. Thanks.

  • March 11, 1999, 12:38 p.m. CST

    Moriarty, you lucky bastard.

    by Pope Buck 1

    Maybe next year we can get you in again, but with a "Truman-Cam" implanted in one eyeball so you can beam your experience directly to all of us LIVE! PS -- I watched ET last night, but there was nothing about the trailer. Is it going to be tonight? Or have I missed it already?

  • March 11, 1999, 1:11 p.m. CST

    TRUE LIES 2 in summer 2001

    by ABking

    I guess that means Cameron and Schwarzenegger will have an EVENT summer BLOCKBUSTER with TRUE LIES 2. I'm guessing that's what he'll chose to do. I hope Jim does T3 and TL2 back to back.

  • March 11, 1999, 1:48 p.m. CST

    DARTH MAUL FACE PAINT !

    by Swampbug

    Go see what I've done to my face. Also Answer my new poll.. ARE YOU WEARING COSTUME To the Phantom menace ? http://www.lightstream.net/~swampbug

  • March 11, 1999, 3:13 p.m. CST

    digital revolution

    by L'Auteur

    What kind of camera is Lucas developing with Sony? I am very curious because I want to know if I should wait a couple years before buying a digital camera. I am currently in the process of accepting the fact that I, a hard-core IBM supporter, have to buy a Mac G3 if I want to be serious about having my own personal movie studio in my bedroom. The digital revolution is here. Whole movie studios can be owned and run for around $5000. I want in on the action, therefore I'm planning on making my next computer a Mac G3 (since the video/graphix are so superior). But the other half of a computer based movie studio is a digital camera. This is a subject [unlike the elitist snobbish ART of film! ;)] that I admit I know nothing about. Does anyone know anything about digital cameras or the "digital revolution?" If Episode 2 is going to be shot on a digital camera (will it be the first?) then that must mean that the cameras are of very high quality. How much do they cost? How much do the "everyman" cameras cost? How good are they really? What are the perks? Let's discuss this instead of STAR WARS. Everyone at this site has a permanent erection for May 19th so there's really no point in elaborating on how hard we are for it. I'm more interested in finding out how the "digital revolution" will help future indie-filmmakers like myself. Also, how will the fact that the cost of film, one of the main costs of movies, is now eliminated from movie budgets affect the Hollywood studio system? We're currently in the biggest technological change since the THE JAZZ SINGER. Movie-making is about to be completely democratized. What can anyone tell me about it?

  • March 11, 1999, 3:13 p.m. CST

    digital revolution

    by L'Auteur

    What kind of camera is Lucas developing with Sony? I am very curious because I want to know if I should wait a couple years before buying a digital camera. I am currently in the process of accepting the fact that I, a hard-core IBM supporter, have to buy a Mac G3 if I want to be serious about having my own personal movie studio in my bedroom. The digital revolution is here. Whole movie studios can be owned and run for around $5000. I want in on the action, therefore I'm planning on making my next computer a Mac G3 (since the video/graphix are so superior). But the other half of a computer based movie studio is a digital camera. This is a subject [unlike the elitist snobbish ART of film! ;)] that I admit I know nothing about. Does anyone know anything about digital cameras or the "digital revolution?" If Episode 2 is going to be shot on a digital camera (will it be the first?) then that must mean that the cameras are of very high quality. How much do they cost? How much do the "everyman" cameras cost? How good are they really? What are the perks? Let's discuss this instead of STAR WARS. Everyone at this site has a permanent erection for May 19th so there's really no point in elaborating on how hard we are for it. I'm more interested in finding out how the "digital revolution" will help future indie-filmmakers like myself. Also, how will the fact that the cost of film, one of the main costs of movies, is now eliminated from movie budgets affect the Hollywood studio system? We're currently in the biggest technological change since the THE JAZZ SINGER. Movie-making is about to be completely democratized. What can anyone tell me about it?

  • March 11, 1999, 3:34 p.m. CST

    Trailer Tonight

    by SegueZagnut

    Entertainment Tonight is going to show it. In California during thier 7pm broadcast. I'm going to tape it and if at all possible.. wait and see it on a big screen first this friday. I doubt I'll last.

  • March 11, 1999, 6:29 p.m. CST

    Avatar would challenge EPISODE ONE

    by ABking

    EPISODE ONE'S trailer is so FUCKING AWESOME, BREATH TAKING, WOW... If Cameron gets to make AVATAR, I'm sure it will challenge EPISODE ONE'S special effects though. This doesn't mean I'm saying anything bad, so don't attack me. Man, I'm going to watch the trailer a few hundred times.

  • March 11, 1999, 8:21 p.m. CST

    A Great Year To Be Movie Lover

    by mrbeaks

    I've seen the trailer twice, and am preparing to record them on CNN for further drool inducing viewings. One for the artist, one for the child. God, I love the movies!

  • March 11, 1999, 8:37 p.m. CST

    Driods and the Trailer

    by Vincent Vega

    I've only seen the original Star Wars, I haven't seen the others, and honestly, until I sae those kcik ass driods I didn't even want to see this movie, but DAMN PEOPLE DAMN IT!!! Those things even cool as fuckin' hell ya'll! The fire at the end, the trialer forced me to go buy two of the toys, because SHIT THOSE MOTHER FUCKERS RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • March 11, 1999, 9:39 p.m. CST

    Why you won't see Lucas & Williams at a con.

    by chant

    Because the answer is so plainly obvious from Moriarty's report from ShoWest: money matters more. Why go to a con? They know the masses will see the film. No, Lucas, Mechanic and Williams know who really matters when it comes to Star Wars: big business. Theater owners. Entertainment executives. The problem is, try telling that to the ones already camping out to see the latest commercial....oh! I mean, trailer!

  • March 12, 1999, 2:53 a.m. CST

    RE: Great year for movie lovers

    by Chewbaca

    I have to agree wholeheatedly with mbreaks heading. This is a fantastic year to be a cinephile. I mean, even beside the obvious: TPM, Eyes Wide Shut, Austin Powers. There is a hole lot coming outh is year. I mean if youre' really honest 98 was a pretty shite movie year, besides for one or two gems. So coooooooome on 99 !!!!!!!!

  • March 12, 1999, 8:25 a.m. CST

    Hey Talkback Asshole

    by Nihilon

    Whoever keeps posting talkbacks with long-ass words that make all the other posts extend past the side of the screen... STOP IT!!!!! For once i'd like to be able to read a SW talkback without scrolling the screen back and forth for every sentence. This is for the Trailer talkback, but im posting it here cuz i cant READ tthat damn talkback.

  • July 12, 2006, 7:45 a.m. CST

    Fun fact: He will die in Vector Prime

    by Wolfpack