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STAR WARS CELEBRATION IV RECAP

Well everyone, it's finally over. Star Wars Celebration IV has wrapped up at the Los Angeles Convention Center. I had a great time for the 3 1/2 days I was there, out of a total five. I bought a four-day pass a while ago (just around the pre-registration deadline of March 30) and with my Star Wars Fan Club membership, I was able to get in for the fan club-only day on Thursday, May 24. Here's an overview of my trip. At the end, I will detail my convention purchases.

DAY ONE: THURSDAY, MAY 24 2007
I arrived at the convention center at around 10:30AM, waited in line for about one and a half hours until the 12:00PM opening. When I got to the convention center, I was immediately overwhelmed by how massive everything was. I had heard good things about the Exhibit Hall, which at the time I had assumed was the area where costumes, props, and the like would be on display. Upon arriving, I discovered that it was actually an Exhibitor Hall. The huge room was full of different toy, book, comic, poster, costume, and prop merchants, some big-name and others that no one had heard of. I checked out the Exhibit Hall for a while, then I went to the Fan Club Lounge. This was probably the most useful room for me. It had comfortable couches and chairs, a game area, and a section for buying food and drinks. Even though the latter was highly overpriced, I accepted my fate as that of a convention traveler and decided to meet some new people.

Little did I know
that the crew of my favorite Star Wars podcast, called The Force-Cast, was hanging out in the Lounge. I walked over to the hosts, Jason and Pete, and asked, "Is this the Force-Cast crew?" They responded, "Yes. Are you Eric?" I was shocked. They explained that they had heard the voicemail message I left them and assumed that it was me. They said it was because I was one of the only young Star Wars fans to call in and tell them I would see them at Celebration IV. At this point, two of the other podcast crew members walked over, and we talked for a while.

After leaving the Fan Club Lounge, I headed over to the LucasFilm Archives. Here, I looked at real costumes, unused props, and actual concept art from the six movies. I stayed here for about 20 minutes and then I went down the hall to the R2D2 Builders Room. In this room, over thirty droids were on display that had been handmade by real fans. When it was about 4:15PM, I left the Builders Room and walked to the Behind the Scenes stage to listen to a panel by The Making of Star Wars author J.W. Rinzler. The man had some fascinating stories to tell, and after his panel, he went to the Barnes and Noble booth in the Exhibit Hall to sign copies of his book--which I promptly bought and had signed.

When I was done in the Exhibit Hall, I left to go to the Fan Fair Hall. In this area there were several booths and items of interest that related to the celebration of Star Wars fans. There was a life-size X-Wing on display, and several prominent groups--the D.C. Star Wars Collecting Club and the 501st among them--had booths in this room. This room also had the Jedi Training Stage, where younglings from around the world came to fight a man in a Darth Vader costume.

At about 5:45PM, I went upstairs to get in line for a special presentation of Star Wars Trilogy In 30 Minutes. Unfortunately, the line was so long that it snaked around several hallways, and I didn't make it into the first showing. Luckily, though only one was scheduled, the cast and crew decided to do a second show. The presentation was hilarious! The cast meshed so well on stage and managed to pull together the entire trilogy in just over a half hour. A funny moment I remember was that when Luke gets out of the X-Wing on Yavin after blowing up the Death Star, he screams "Carrie!" as he sees Leia, which is an homage to an old rumor that Mark Hamill said Carrie Fisher's name instead of his scripted line.

DAY TWO: FRIDAY, MAY 25 2007
When I arrived at the convention center on Friday, I immediately proceeded to the Laser Tag arena. Once there, I was suited up and placed on a team with about fifteen other fans, including a group of four stormtroopers from the Japanese 501st (who gave me a souvenir patch from their garrison afterwards). We played three games for a total of fifteen minutes, and my team won each time. After the games were over, I walked around for an hour or so and then went to the Fan Club lounge. I arrived a little before actresses Amy Allen (Aayla Secura) and Michonne Bourriague (Aurra Sing) were slated to arrive for a meet and greet.

After they left, Steve Sansweet, LucasFilm's Director of Fan Relations, showed up for an unscheduled visit. He talked with fans for a while, and then gave out trading cards of himself as souvenirs. I got a picture with him, and then he left. I stayed in the Fan Club lounge because at about 3:00PM, some cast and crew from the upcoming LucasArts video game The Force Unleashed were going to come in for a meet and greet. I asked a LucasArts representative about the possibility of the game being released on the Wii; his response was uninformative, but that was about all I could expect seeing as they're not allowed to release that information.

I had to leave the Force Unleashed group early, because my most looked-forward-to event was at 3:30PM: the Legacy of the Force Authors' Panel. This event featured two of Lucas Licensing's publishers, and the three authors of the series itself: Aaron Allston, Karen Travis's, and Troy Denning. The event was just as I expected: funny, informative, and laid-back. Troy Denning made some great jokes--when asked what character romance he preferred, Denning responded: "I'm a Jaina/Zekk shipper myself; you should have read the scene they made me cut from Dark Nest." At the panel, the authors also released some valuable information: the title of the last book in the series, Invincible.

After that ended, I walked around for a while in the Exhibit Hall. There we so many fascinating booths to see--and so many freebies to get--that I couldn't possibly see it all. But I came close. At about 6:30PM I left the convention center and headed outside to wait in line for the convention's Opening Ceremonies. The line was so long that it was 7:25PM before everyone got in! And that was cutting close, considering that the event was supposed to start at 7:30PM. But it ran late and ended up start around 7:45PM. The Opening Ceremonies were pretty spectacular, despite the negative feedback they received from many fans. The show featured speakers such as the Mayor of L.A., a U.S. Post Office executive, the hosts of each major room at Celebration, and even Steve Sansweet in an Ewok outfit. There was a Celebration parade of celebrities, a birthday cake for Star Wars (which all the fans got to enjoy), a welcome video from George Lucas, and a short performance by the cast of Star Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes performing "The Work of LucasFilm in 30 Minutes." There was also a preview of Charlie Ross' One-Man Star Wars Show, a memoriam for Star Wars cast and crew who have passed, and even a "not-so live" feed from George Lucas--which was actually a George Lucas sock puppet. The joke was that Lucas had decided to do the entire animated Clone Wars series with...sock puppets!

DAY THREE: SATURDAY, MAY 26 2007
This was the day that my dad came with me to Celebration IV. We arrived at about 10:30AM and got in with no problem. I showed him the Fan Club Lounge, we visited the massive amount of booths at the Exhibit Hall, and I answered his many questions including "How do you find your way around this place?" Then we went to the Autograph Hall, to get the ten autographs that I had pre-ordered. We got some of the minor people first (though only minor by Celebration standards; I was honored to get these people's signatures!) and then we waited two hours and twenty minutes for Anthony Daniels' autograph. We then got the rest of the minor autographs and proceeded to enter Carrie Fisher's line. Surprisingly, the line for Fisher (which was upwards of seven hours at CIII) was only about an hour and a half that day.

After getting the autographs, I showed my dad the Fan Fair Hall and we ate dinner there. We made it to the main entrance area just in time to see a parade of costumed 501st characters march by. Then we waited for a half hour until the Celebration Party was supposed to start. Not nearly as crowded as the Opening Ceremonies, this party was supposed to be a sort of "mixer" where fans could meet each other without missing out on events. It was very disappointing as I did not see anyone I knew and I was getting fairly tired. My feet hurt from standing for almost five and a half hours total, and I wanted to go back to the hotel and rest. I was not getting tired of Celebration, for that matter, but there was nothing else open at the convention center--the party was the only thing left.

DAY FOUR: SUNDAY, MAY 27 2007
Today I had to leave the convention at about 1:30PM, because my dad and I were taking a flight back to L.A. that day. So I got there at about 10:15AM and decided to wander aimlessly until I found a good activity to close out my C4 experience. I ended up running into two of the people from the Force-Cast and they asked me if I was going to the Clone Wars Behind-the-Scenes panel. I said yes without thinking, and then realized that it would actually be a good final event. So I went to line up, but as we got there, the podcast crew and I all realized that the line was too long--we weren't going to make the first showing. So I asked them if they would sign my Force-Cast T-Shirt while we waited to get in line for the second showing. They said yes, and one of them even called the rest of their group and told them I was here. The other two podcast guys showed up soon after, and they signed my shirt too.

We all made it into the second showing, and boy, was it awesome! The producer and writer of the team at LucasFilm Animation answered a lot of good questions. At the end, when someone asked a very specific question, the team "relented," and gave us a special, two-minute preview of the series, which debuts next year. I felt honored knowing that I was in a group of 900 that were the second group of people to ever see anything from this mysterious series. After the event, they gave out posters from the event that displayed the main characters in all their 3D animation glory. Feeling good about my last event at C4, I headed for the shuttle bus to take me back to the hotel. My dad and I left for the airport, and so ended my Celebration IV experience.


Now you're all obviously wondering what I bought at the convention, seeing as that is one of the biggest part's of a Star Wars fan's life--buying things, that is. Here's my list:

1 Lloyd autograph
1 Daniels autograph
1 Fisher autograph
1 Baker autograph
1 Bulloch autograph
1 Logan autograph
1 Mayhew autograph
1 Morrison autograph
1 Park autograph
1 Prowse autograph
1 McQuarrie Droids set
1 Celebration IV Commemorative T-Shirt
1 Celebration IV Baseball Cap
1 Celebration IV Keychain
1 Celebration IV Official Poster - hand signed
1 Celebration IV Official Program
1 copy of The Making of Star Wars - hand signed
1 copy of Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice
And MAD FREEBIES!

Well, there you go. I hope that anyone else who attended had a great time. MTFBWY!
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Just a few quick things:

1) I now have my own website, graciously hosted by Microsoft Office Live. You can find it at: www.ericjgeller.com

2) Wow! Only two weeks to go until Celebration IV! I have my convention packet (with my admission badge and fan club lanyard) and the receipts for all my on-site acquisitions such as autographs, photos, and collecting accessories. I have saved up tons of money, and my friends and family will be donating large sums as well.
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