Does it seem like everything is coming up Star Wars these days? It’s the movie that ate the universe and I’ve got some fun new Star Wars news for you today. We’ve also got news on the upcoming D23 Expo.

ANA’s BB-8 Jet Makes Inagural Flight

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Last September, ANA launched its gorgeous R2D2 Airliner, the first of three to salute Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which comes home on Digital HD April 1st and Blu-ray Combo Pack April 5th!

The cast flew on it to London the day after the Galaxy Premiere!
The cast and crew flew on it to London the day after the Galaxy Premiere!

 

The liner will fly mainly International routes, including Haneda, Narita and US – Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Houston, and Singapore. So…maybe if you’re here in SoCal, look up. You might see something really adorable in the friendly skies!

Here's the ANA Decal Imprinting Team - they do all the work to make the planes so beautiful!
Here’s the ANA Decal Imprinting Team – they do all the work to make the planes so beautiful!

 

On the inside, the plane has temporary decor, BB-8 napkins, cups, seat covers and the like.

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Invited guests and media got to spend a little time with the real thing and tour the inside of the plane!

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A Galaxy-Sized Surprise in Star Wars Rebels Season 2  Finale

Kanan, Ezra and Ahsoka (whom I’m still holding out for in the live-action trilogy) learn about a Sith temple on a foreboding planet, and decide to investigate to see if it will lead them to more clues about the mysterious Darth Vader. There they find an unlikely – and completely shocking – ally!  WARNING: Spoilers in the photos below!)

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We were invited to the Disney lot in Burbank Monday night to preview the episode. I wasn’t able to make it, due to a lingering illness, but Noe was, and sent back this report.

Actors in attendance: Vanessa Marshall – Hera Syndulla
Steven Blum – Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios
Tiya Sircar – Sabine Wren
Ashley Eckstein – Ahsoka Tano
Dee Bradley Baker – Captain Rex
Simon Kinberg – Creator Producer
Dave Filoni – Animation Director

STORMTROOPER, DEE BRADLEY BAKER, STEVE BLUM, TAYLOR GRAY, DARTH VADER, VANESSA MARSHALL, ASHLEY ECKSTEIN, DAVE FILONI (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER), TIYA SIRCAR, SIMON KINBERG (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER), HENRY GILROY, STORMTROOPER
STORMTROOPER, DEE BRADLEY BAKER, STEVE BLUM, TAYLOR GRAY, DARTH VADER, VANESSA MARSHALL, ASHLEY ECKSTEIN, DAVE FILONI (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER), TIYA SIRCAR, SIMON KINBERG (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER), HENRY GILROY, STORMTROOPER

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On Monday March 28 The Disney Studios hosted a special event to celebrate the season finale of Star Wars Rebels. A few hundred lucky guests, friends, family members and media were invited to attend. Going in to the second season, animation director Dave Filoni and series co-creator Simon Kinberg cranked up the drama and connected the various relationships of the series characters to established film characters. Star Wars fans went wild when Billy Dee Williams returned as the smooth talking smuggler Lando Calrissian. It wasn’t the only surprise that the series gave us this past year. Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tang from the popular Clone Wars series returned as well. She had been in hiding for years after Order 66 had the Empire wipe out most of the Jedi. Princess Leia Organa appeared at the start of this year. She was voiced by Julie Dolan who happened to do the voice work for Leia in the Star Tours attraction and the video game Star Wars: Uprising. Closing out the season was the appearance of Darth Vader, voiced by James Earl Jones.

It was a tremendous amount of work to get through two seasons and many of the people involved were there to celebrate this past Monday. Almost the entire voice cast was present as were the writers, producers and several animators. After the screening there was a 50-minute Q&A with animation director and co-crator Dave Filoni, screenwriter and co-creator Simon Kinberg, Ashley Eckstein, voice actress Ahsoka Tano and Taylor Gray the voice actor of the young Jedi Ezra Bridger. The topics varied from the creative decisions, to the writing process, how music gets selected for certain scenes and the connection between the live action features and the animated series. Dave made sure to highlight the importance of the fan community, the love of the Star Wars lore and the dedication of the animators working with him. He acknowledged the ASIFA members (International Animated Film Society) and reminded everyone what a powerful art form animation was and how even he gets inspired by the work of other studios. Disney did record the Q&A so hopefully it will appear on the DVD for the second season as bonus material. 

As for the episode itself, we cannot divulge anything other than we saw it and we urge you to see it tonight on Disney XD. The season ends with many, many surprises, most of which nobody saw coming, including the most die-hard fans. As a caution to parents of younger viewers this is a dark episode, there are a few scenes that might scare the younglings, so be prepared. Dave Filoni did promise that the more lighthearted episodes would return. Because of this story arc they had to end this season on a certain tone. We can’t wait to see it again and catch some things we may have missed. Check your local listings and as always May the Force Be With You!

Later, they sent us some photos as well. Thanks!

DAVE FILONI (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER), ASHLEY ECKSTEIN, SIMON KINBERG (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER)

TAYLOR GRAY, ASHLEY ECKSTEIN, SIMON KINBERG (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER)

From Shelly: One clarification: Ezra isn’t using the cross beam lightsaber; he finds it in the ruins of temple and lights it for a brief second. They called Kathleen Kennedy at Lucasfilm and cleared it – Kylo Ren, being an avid student of history, would have used an ancient form of lightsaber; it only makes sense that Jedi would have used it as well as Sith and other acolytes of The Force.

One final thing before watching: a lot – – and I mean a LOT of characters die in this episode, Including some familiar ones. If you haven’t talked about such matters with your kid and you’re watching this together, you might want to have that talk first.

The Lightning Round, 15 Quick Questions with Taylor Gray aka Ezra Bridger

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Q. Rebel or Empire?
A. Rebel.
Q. Sith or Jedi?
A. Jedi.
Q. Favorite Star Wars Live Action Film?
A. A New Hope.
Q. Favorite Star Wars Animated Series?
A. Rebels.
Q. Favorite Star Wars Attraction?
A. Star Tours.
Q. Never say what to the Seventh Sister?
A. I like your parrot droid.
Q. Zeb or Chewie?
A. Zeb.
Q. Favorite Star Wars Holiday Special?
A. Uh, Christmas?
Q. How many Jawas could Chopper take in a fight?
A. A hundred.
Q. What would your ship name be?
A. The Star Cruiser.
Q. Favorite alien?
A. Greedo.
Q. What one prop from the series would you want in real life?
A. A saber.
Q. Have you ever cosplayed yourself or somebody else from the series secretly at a convention?
A. I have not yet.
Q. The fastest way to a Madalorian heart is?
A. Through an explosion.
Q. What would your Squadron Name be?
A. Ezra’s Boys.

Here’s a heartbreaker of a featurette about Ashoka and her former master. One of the reasons I’d love to see her show up in 8 or 9 is to see what she’d make of Kylo Ren.

Oh, hey, Taylor Gray said he hadn’t cosplayed Ezra YET, right? I can think of the PERFECT place for him to blend right in if he does decide to give it a go:

D23 EXPO 2017 Dates Announced! July 14-16, 2017!!!

Also, I'm really liking this logo.
Also, I’m really liking this logo.

Okay, first the bad news – it looks like it’s just going to be a weekend again, boo. I was really, really hoping for an old-school NFFC-style week-long Convention. You kids might not remember, but back in the day, those were all the rage. We paneled all day and room-hopped and partied all night! And by partied, I mean dressed up like Disney characters and lip-synced to attraction audio. Wild, I know. We lived fast back then. The Show and Sale was full of Disney Legends and real Mouseketeers, merchandise was crazily off-model, and official Disney Pins had hinges on them. At least a solid Wednesday-through-Sunday would have been good, too. But, it is what it is…and it’s in July, the same time as our old conventions were. But the NFFC is now the Disneyana Fan Club and their convention is the week of the 17th, so people will probably attend the D23 EXPO 2017 and then stay for the Disneyana Fan Club Convention, if they are going to do both. It will save them airfare, most definitely, as this was a sticking point for people who wanted to do both in the past – flying out in July and then again in August. Now, they can do both. It’s win-win for Disney fans! (I’m not sure how their feet will feel about it!)

While San Diego Comic Con hasn’t  officially announced the date for their 2017 event, it is speculated that the date may overlap with the 2017 D23 Expo. That would cause a lot of folks to make a tough decision.

Expect favorites like the costume contest Mousequerade and Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives to return, as well as the Disney Legends Ceremony, the Expo Emporium, the Expo Design Challenge, and those badass pavilions from Parks, Interactive, Animation, Television, Consumer Products and more!

Hall D23 will be back (good!), as will Stage 23, Stage 28 and Center Stage, the MASSIVE SHOW FLOOR, the US POST OFFICE in the back that, seriously DO NOT MISS daily – short line, really cool, inexpensive, GORGEOUS souvenir, Michael’s outfits are the BEST.

StagePass and StorePass will also be back, as will be the Sorcerer’s Package, and tickets will go on sale one year to the day before the event. As with any large convention-type event, if you have a regular admission, you are not automatically guaranteed a seat into any presentation of your choice. Be prepared to wait in long lines and have second and third choices available. Maps and schedules will be available online ahead of the event; know ahead of time as much as you possibly can where and when the events and panels you want to attend will be held and schedule your day accordingly. Don’t hang your happiness on seeing or doing one certain thing. Have a backup plan. It’s Disney. It’s not like there’s not a gazillion cool things to see and do if you can’t get into the panel you want. I got into ONE one the three panels I wanted to get into last time. I did cool, fun stuff during the time those panels ran instead of feeling bad about it. I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in years, that I would have missed had I gone into the panel. I felt blessed. And I got all the poop from friends and the Internet during/after anyway.

You’re going to hear this over and over from me between now and High Holy Days: plan ahead, bring extra socks, drink lots of water, and keep a good attitude and a backup plan, and you’ll have a swell time at the D23 EXPO. Or Comic-Con. Or Wonder-Con. Or Creation. Or whatever. So much of it is what you bring into it. Honest.

Good Food, Good Wine, Great Art This Weekend!

Disney California Adventure kicks off its Food & Wine Festival this coming weekend, thank Bacchus.

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One of the great treats of the fest is that on weekends and a few other select days, Off the Page in Hollywood Land will feature some really fantastic artist appearances. This weekend, April 2 – 3, it’s Britni Brault, Daniel Killen and Jerrod Maruyama.

Britni does 3D paper sculptures, and she’ll be offering two pieces that I know of:

Under the Sea, a hand-embellished, matted print
Under the Sea, a hand-embellished, matted print
Jose, Juan the Barker Bird and Pierre paper sculptures
Jose, Juan the Barker Bird and Pierre paper sculptures

 

Daniel Killen will have four pieces, each one more gorgeous than the other. He tells me he longs to be “more sloppy”. Look how gorgeous and perfect his work is. He wants to be all messy. Sigh. I didn’t know until yesterday that my housekeeping was the height of artistic prowess. Now I know.

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“Springtime Wherever She Goes” by Daniel Killen
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“Lucky Hat” by Daniel Killen
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“Main Street Cinema Show-Off” by Daniel Killen
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“Hook, Time, and Tinker” by Daniel Killen

 

Last but not least, the Disney Prince of Adorbs, Jerrod Maruyama. I’m taking extra good care of my kidneys so I can sell one the day he does an adorable Kylo Ren Thing.

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It’s Available as Limited Edition (95) Canvas Wrap, Deluxe Print and Postcard.
Prices vary. LOOK AT HOW CUTE IT IS! AGH!!! BUY IT!!!!

Thank you!

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