"I WAS A KNIGHT OF REN"
A few weeks ago, a podcast called Popcorn Talk hosted a guest named Juan Batista. This fellow claimed that he played a Knight of Ren in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. On the show, he said that he saw a version of the film a week prior to its release and it had a different ending. In this ending, he said, Rey stays dead and Ben Solo lives to take the name of Skywalker.
Crazy, right? That's a big tweak! The only problem? This guy made it all up. Cast, crew, fans, and journalists at the premiere of the film saw the movie almost a week before release and it was exactly the same cut as we saw in theaters. And more significantly, Juan Batista has no actual credits on Star Wars and the actors for the Knights of Ren are all accounted for.
Actors from the Star Wars films who were there on set have been posting tweets like these to help debunk this guy's story.
I reached out to Popcorn Talk via Twitter to ask how this happened, but they have not offered a response. It's unclear if they were in on the scam or duped by a particularly bad con artist because they didn't do their due diligence. Their mistake, whether out of complicity or ignorance, has fueled speculation about the mysterious (and fake) alternate Abrams edit and caused a lot of consternation among fans.
Across social media networks, the debunked story continues to be shared as true and it just goes to prove the old adage that a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on.
BEN SCHWARTZ AND THREEPIO
Ben Schwartz, the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog, is known by Star Wars fans as one of the artists responsible for BB-8's adorable chirpy droid voice. For Star Wars: The Force Awakens J.J. Abrams brought him in as a consultant to help voice BB-8 and it was the cadence of his voice and lines that he wrote that established what the droid would sound like and how it would interact with other cast members.
Schwartz recently made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live and revealed that not only did he write lines for BB-8, he provided Threepio with some of his funniest moments in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. It makes sense — Threepio was one of the funniest parts of the movie.
A GLIMPSE AT THE UNDERWORLD?
Another video of dubious origin has been making the rounds on the internet this week. This one claims to be the early test footage and accompanying behind the scenes of Star Wars Underworld, George Lucas's long-in-gestation, never-produced epic Star Wars TV show.
The footage was put up on YouTube this week:
But where did it come from?
The footage was created by Stargate Studios, a California-based production and VFX house. They have a lot of legitimate credits and are definitely players in the same kind of real-time render filmmaking that The Mandalorian is making famous. There are reports that this video was on their Vimeo page and their website since 2010. Every mention of it has been deleted from their website, though Google has kept cached versions. Was this really a test shoot for Underworld? Or a high-quality VFX company making a fan film to prove some really cool new technology?
We don't have any clear answers at the moment.
Star Wars Underworld was in development with George Lucas running the show in the same manner he did with The Clone Wars. Rick McCallum was producing. It's reported that something like 80 scripts of the show were written and the only thing holding up production was the budget. Story elements developed for the show have since made their way into Star Wars canon in other places. This is where Level 1313 came from (as a location on The Clone Wars and the site of the infamous, canceled video game) as well as Emperor Palpatine's first name, Sheev.
When Disney initially bought Star Wars, it was said that they were looking at these scripts as a possibility to produce or adapt, so I don't think they're off the table. Whether or not this reel is from that shoot, though, is anyone's guess.
Two huge pieces of book news came out this week. First, it was announced that Alex Segura, co-president of Archie Comics and author of the incredible Pete Fernandez mystery book series, would be writing a novel about Poe Dameron's days as a Spice Runner of Kijimi. Poe Dameron: Free Fall is a YA novel that comes out in August and Star Wars fans are not going to want to miss it.
The other big piece of book news came from the official Del Rey Star Wars account. They are moving the first book in the new Thrawn trilogy to much later in the year, but they're also making it a little special. This edition of the book will have blue-trimmed pages to match the complexion of everyone's favorite Grand Admiral.
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK TURNS 40
2020 is the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back and what better way to begin that celebration than with one of the earliest trailers for the film:
Did you recognize the voice of the gee-whiz narrator? That's Harrison Ford doing the voice-over. True story.
Until next week, May the Force Be With You!