A Look Back at Star Wars Celebration 2015

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Recently I had the privilege of attending all 4 days of Star Wars Celebration 2015 in Anaheim, CA. It was my first Star Wars Celebration and going in I wasn’t sure what to expect. I love Star Wars – the films, the animated television shows, the expanded universe, the Christmas special, etc. And I’ve been to various conventions over the years (San Diego Comic Con, WonderCon, D23, and New York Comic Con to name a few). But I’ve never gone to one that focused primarily on a single franchise. How would occupying 96 hours of my life with all things a galaxy far, far, away go? Fortunately, once the final day of Star Wars Celebration ended, I concluded it was easily one of my favorite experiences ever.
My Star Wars Celebration experience began at 4am on that first Thursday April morning. This was all to line up for big kickoff panel with Star Wars: The Force Awakens Writer/Director/Producer J.J. Abrams and Producer Kathleen Kennedy. Fortunately, I arrived just in time to make it into The Arena room where the panel was being held and could experience it live in person (the panel itself was simulcasted in other rooms throughout the Anaheim Convention Center as well as on the internet for the world to watch.
During the panel, Abrams and Kennedy brought out some special guests.

Up first were R2D2 and BB-8.

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Then some new cast members from The Force Awakens

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Followed up the new First Order Stormtroopers and some familiar faces.

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Then the whole group came together.

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But that wouldn’t be all as the 2nd trailer for The Force Awakens debuted.

I have no words for this experience. The level of excitement in the room was unmatched, even by Hall H standards. The moment when Harrison Ford uttered those now iconic words “Chewie, we’re home” brought simultaneous cheers and tears in the audience (some that I may have shed myself). One woman was overheard saying, “I can’t believe this. I thought the story was over. I never thought they would bring it back.”

The rest of my Star Wars Celebration experience consisted of a run in with J.J. Abrams on the main floor and various panels hosted by James Arnold Taylor (voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi on The Clone Wars) and featured guests including Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine), Ray Park (Darth Maul), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), the cast of Star Wars Rebels, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian). Other panels and events I attended include the debut of the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront game, The Untold Clone Wars panel that revealed episodes that were unfortunately never finished due to the cancelation of The Clone Wars series, the One Big Story panel discussing what stories are now considered canon in the Star Wars universe, the premiere screening of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in 3D, an exhibit showcasing models and props from The Force Awakens, and various photo opportunities with past and current Star Wars sets and props.

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However, my favorite activity during the entire 4 day experience was when my fiancé and I took a family portrait with The Skywalker Twins.

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Star Wars Celebration 2015 will be an event I will always remember and one I recommend every Star Wars fan experience once in their lifetime. If you are interested in attending the next Star Wars Celebration, it will be held next year in London from July 15-17, 2016.

Top 5 Most Anticipated New Shows of Fall 2014

1. The Flash (CW, Tuesday October 7, 8 p.m.) – I had the opportunity to catch an early screening of the pilot episode and The Flash definitely lived up to the expectations. Set in the same television universe as Arrow, The Flash certainly feels grounded in that reality while maintaining its own tone and idiosyncrasies. Grant Gustin is admirable as the titular character/Barry Allen but the real casting highlight for me is Tom Cavanagh as Dr. Harrison Wells. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Cavanagh since NBC’s Ed and am looking forward to what he’ll bring in the coming weeks.

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via screenrant.com

 

2. A to Z (NBC, Thursday October 2, 9:30 p.m.) – Seemingly the heir apparent to How I Met Your Mother (even going as far to include narration from another iconic 90’s parent – Katey Sagal), this show stars The Mother herself Cristin Milioti, and Ben Feldman previously of Mad Men. Of all the new rom-com shows debuting this Fall season, A to Z appeared to be the most promising based on preview trailers alone. And luckily after viewing an advanced online stream of the pilot, I was able to confirm those assumptions. Milioti and Feldman have an undeniable charm and chemistry as Andrew and Zelda. My hope is that the writers will be able to sustain a consistent engaging narrative while further developing supporting characters like Stu, Stephanie, Lydia, Lora, and Dinesh into individuals we can invest in as well.

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via tvpromos.eu

 

3. Black-ish (ABC, Wednesday September 24, 9:30 p.m.) – Some of my favorite shows growing up were family comedies primarily starring minority actors. Family Matters, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and The Cosby Show were all programs that engaged me in a socially-conscious way and as pure entertainment. Over the years, however, there has been a sharp decline in programs predominantly starring diverse lead actors on all networks. Fortunately, ABC has remedied that this coming season and is coming out with 3 new comedies focusing on Mexican-American families (Cristela), Asian-American families (Fresh off the Boat), and African-American families (Black-ish). The story of Black-ish is described as “A family man (Anthony Anderson as Andre ‘Dre’ Johnson) struggles to gain a sense of cultural identity while raising his kids in a predominantly white, upper-middle-class neighborhood.” And on one of the preview clips we see Andre’s son discussing his desire to convert to Judaism in order to throw a bar mitzvah. Black-ish also stars Tracee Ellis Ross as Andre’s wife Rainbow and Laurence Fishburne as “Pops”. With a great time slot following Modern Family, a loveable cast, and a take on the family comedy looking at the ever-evolving meaning of being a minority in America, here’s hoping Black-ish can connect with all audiences like The Cosby Show did 30 years ago.

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via deadline.com


4. Gotham (FOX, Monday September 22, 8 p.m.) – I wasn’t sure what to expect from this show when it was first announced. Christopher Nolan’s trilogy recently finished and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is a short couple of years away. And despite The Dark Knight being one of my favorite super heroes ever, I’m a bit fatigued with Bruce Wayne and his alter ego. Still, serving as an origin not only for how James Gordon would become the Commissioner we know but also for the various villains Batman would one day combat, there is certainly a lot of fascinating material to be covered. Moreover, as a self-professed fan of The O.C., my interest was certainly piqued when Ben McKenzie was announced as Gordon (although Donal Logue signing on to be Harvey Bullock is my favorite casting choice). And as clips were released and reports began coming in about every episode in the first season featuring a character that could potentially become The Joker, Gotham eventually became a must see show.

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via moviepilot.com


5. Star Wars: Rebels – (DISNEY CHANNEL, Friday October 3, 9 p.m.) – It’s a new dawn for the Star Wars universe. With the previous established Star Wars Expanded Universe now no longer canon and new shows/books/films coming, we find ourselves in a period of civil war endless story possibilities. One of the new stories that will be told revolves around a “crew of the starship Ghost — cowboy Jedi Kanan, ace pilot Hera, street-smart teenager Ezra, the muscle Zeb, warrior firebrand Sabine, and cantankerous old astromech droid Chopper” set 14 years after the events of Revenge of the Sith and 5 years before A New Hope. Now one of the reasons I’m really excited for this show is that the animation style is inspired by Ralph McQuarrie original Star Wars concept art. That sets the animation apart from the previous (and unjustly canceled) Star Wars: The Clone Wars series that was on Cartoon Network. Nevertheless, the style and tone of Star Wars: Rebels is a welcome one.

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via starwarsreport.com

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Also recommended:

Foo Fighters Sonic Highways (HBO, Friday October 17, 11 p.m.)