May the fourth, er, the Force be with you.
If you ever needed proof positive that nerds are as funny as they are smart, that line is the reason that May 4 is now celebrated by all the cool kids as Star Was Day.
In a perfect storm of gleeful nerdiness, today also happens to be Free Comic Book Day, which is always the first Saturday in May. As previously reported, Free Comic Book Day is when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely FREE to anyone who comes into their stores.
Appropriately, this year’s free offerings include a Star Wars title, along with The Walking Dead, SpongeBob, Sesame Street, Superman, GRIMM, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Smurfs, The Simpsons, Archie, and the launch of a major Marvel Comics’ Event called Infinity.
A dozen stores in the Oklahoma City area are participating. To see a list, click here. For more information, go to www.freecomicbookday.com.
You can get plenty of ideas on how to celebrate Star Wars Day at http://maythe4th.starwars.com. But as this hilarious video shows, the Emperor will not be pleased by your apparent lack of respect for his absolute authority:
Happy Free Comic Book Day!
For the 12th year, participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely FREE to anyone who comes into their stores. Since its inception, Free Comic Book Day has given out more than 27 million free comics to nearly 8 million people. This year alone, more than 4.6 million comic books will be given away.
The goal of Free Comic Book Day is to promote the comic book medium to new customers young and old and celebrate independent comic book retailers and their stores. Comics are exciting and a great tool for introducing young children to the world of reading.
This year’s list of free comics includes mainstream titles such as The Walking Dead, SpongeBob, Sesame Street, Superman, GRIMM, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Smurfs, The Simpsons, Archie, and the launching of a major Marvel Comics’ Event called Infinity.
Since it’s May 4, which many celebrate as Star Wars Days (“May the fourth be with you!”), it’s appropriate that there’s a Star Wars title among this year’s Free Comic Book Day offerings.
My pal Matt Price of Nerdage reports that there are 52 total Free Comic Book Day comics from which to choose. Major characters including Superman, Batman, the Avengers, the Simpsons and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are featured in this year’s event.
More than one million people are expected to visit 2000 comic book specialty stores in 60 countries all over the world on Free Comic Book Day, according to Matt.
A dozen stores in the Oklahoma City area are participating. To see the handy-dandy list Matt has compiled, click here.
So, listen to Hugh Jackman and visit your local comic book retailer today. For more information, go to www.freecomicbookday.com.
Today’s featured event:
Listen to The Piano Guys — pianist Jon Schmidt and cellist Steven Sharp Nelson — at 8 p.m. Friday at Hudson Performance Hall, 2820 N May. Doors open at 7 p.m. Information: (866) 977-6849 or www.NWCFriends.org.
Hailing from Utah, The Piano Guys became an Internet sensation by way of their immensely successful series of strikingly original self-made music videos. They’ve made 35 since joining forces a little more than a year ago, including their most recent hit video, an innovative 10-handed version of One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful.” But it’s the Guys’ highly original blend of classical music with pop that has really been the cause of an Internet phenomenon that has now brought them to their major label debut album, “The Piano Guys,” which was released on Sony Masterworks in October.
The album features more of the imaginative mash-up arrangements that The Piano Guys are already famous for, including sources ranging from Michael Jackson to Mozart, The Bourne Identity to David Guetta. It also includes an original song and innovative takes on hits by One Direction, Adele and Christina Perri.
“Piano Guys 2″ will be released next Tuesday, also on Sony Masterworks.
But just who are The Piano Guys? Actually, there’s only one piano player, Jon Schmidt, and one other instrumentalist, Steven Sharp Nelson, on cello. Yet the other three – Paul Anderson, Tel Stewart and Al van der Beek – are equally significant members of the group. The Piano Guys’ name comes from Anderson’s piano store in St. George, Utah, which was called The Piano Guys. Looking for an alternative to low-yield conventional advertising, Anderson devised a Facebook promotional page and YouTube channel featuring the most famous pianist he could find – local pianist, Jon Schmidt. A self-described “New Age Classical” player, Schmidt was indeed well-established locally, thanks to eight albums and seven piano books of his song transcriptions. He also performed concerts throughout Utah, one of which featured a young guest artist, Steven Sharp Nelson, who adventurously combined traditional cello playing with percussion effects.
“I was 15 when I met Jon and started playing with him,” Nelson recalls in a news release. “I had to get a ride to shows! But we’ve had a great brotherhood that’s now lasted 20 years.”
When Nelson moved from Salt Lake City to the suburb of Sandy, Providence, if not serendipity, intervened. Al van der Beek, who came from a musical family and played several instruments and sang, lived down the street from Nelson’s new place and helped him move. “I suggested we ‘collaborate’ sometime and he hesitated because I think he didn’t want to disappoint me if I was horrible!” says van der Beek, laughing. “But,” says Nelson, “I checked out his home studio and started playing some of my unfinished songs, and he told me what the titles should be and their meaning – and finished them on the spot! The guy is music incarnate!”
In The Piano Guys, then, van der Beek is charged with the studio operations, as well as co-writing and some vocal texturing, music arranging, “and a lot of percussion work,” adds Nelson. As for Tel Stewart, he was a piano mover when he began working with The Piano Guys as its taciturn videography genius. “I wish people could get in Tel’s head, because I bet it would be an amazing place to explore!” says Nelson of Stewart, who relates that the average budget of The Piano Guys’ videos is a lot less than people might perceive.
Anderson was so taken by the music of Schmidt and Nelson that he closed his store at the end of 2011 in order to devote himself to the group, which only became a full-time operation in February 2012. “I had to let the piano store go!” he says, laughing. “Some of the pianos are still in storage and have been used in the videos.”
The spectacular Piano Guys videos, which have so far netted over 130 million YouTube views (and 500,000 new views a day), are essentially divined by Stewart and Anderson. “Jon had built up a fan base for 20 years, and we used that as a springboard for getting exposure,” Anderson notes, “but it’s all about the merits of the videos, and share-ability. People see them and then share them with their friends on Facebook, and before you know it, they can take off.”
And sure enough, The Piano Guys have over 250,000 Facebook fans who have shared videos like “Michael Meets Mozart,” which features over 100 tracks of cello textures, including a deep bass drum sound created by tapping on the cello body; a shaker sound made by Nelson rubbing rosin on his bow; and a record-scratch noise caused by his scraping a quarter on the strings. “Michael Meets Mozart” is on The Piano Guys debut CD, as is “Cello Wars,” the ambitious video which resulted from a six-month production required to realize its Star Wars-inspired light saber/cello bow concept, since rewarded by more than 8 million YouTube views.
“We try to put a ‘wow factor’ in every video,” says Anderson in the release.
For more events, go to www.wimgo.com. See some of The Piano Guys’ videos after the break.
Science Museum Oklahoma will host its first “Science Lounge” of the year from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday.
“Science Lounge: Science of Star Wars,” a Star Wars-theme event for grownups, will include costumed characters, hands-on experiments, complimentary appetizers, cash bar and music. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.
Guests 21 and older will have the chance to enjoy some Yoda soda and Obi-Won tons while channeling their inner Jedi. Some of the hands-on experiments include padawan training, Jedi duals, hovercraft lessons, crystal farming and collecting swamp goo soil samples from planet Dagobah.
“This Science Lounge is all about the science and fandom of Star Wars,” said Emily Rothrock, the museum’s director of Interpretive Programming and Events, in a news release. “Our goal is to encourage our guests to explore the science behind the Star Wars mythos and of course, to have a good time.”
In addition to experiments, food and adult beverages, Jedi OKC and the 501st Legion are donating their time and talents to make sure that everyone’s favorite characters are present, including but not limited to Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Yoda, multiple storm troopers, Qui-Gon Jinn, young Anakin Skywalker and many more.
“I’ve been producing SMO’s popular Bright Night program for the past two years, and during this all-night, family friendly event full of hands-on experiments, parents constantly ask me when SMO will schedule a bright night just for adults!” said Rothrock in the release. “Our museum patrons remind me that pressures of career and family don’t stop our curiosity and desire to learn, it just becomes more challenging to find the time to do so.”
“Science Lounge is a fun and exciting atmosphere where you can be a kid again, if just for a few hours,” said museum Vice President Suzette Ellison, added in the release. “This evening program for the 21+ crowd gives you the chance to play with hands-on science experiments and relax with a glass of wine while walking through your favorite exhibit.”
The museum also is planning its annual family-friendly camp-out “Bright Night of Star Wars” for 6 p.m. Friday, March 15 to 8:15 a.m. Saturday, March 16. Registration is $45 for children and $25 for adults.
For more information, go to www.sciencemuseumok.org.
Soon after Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger confirmed Tuesday that screenwriters Larry Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are working on stand-alone “Star Wars” movies that aren’t part of the new post-”Return of the Jedi” trilogy that’s in the works, speculation began about what characters from George Lucas’ “galaxy far, far away” might star in those spinoff films.
According to the Associated Press, Iger said the movies would be based on “great ‘Star Wars’ characters that are not part of the overall saga.” The films would be released during the six-year period of the new trilogy, which starts in 2015 with “Star Wars: Episode VII.”
Entertainment Weekly reports that one of the spin-offs will relate the origin story of young scoundrel/smuggler Han Solo, while another will be a bounty hunter adventure centering on fan favorite Boba Fett.
Several sources close to the projects confirmed, according to EW.com, although each cautioned it’s still very early in the process and, well, the deal could always be altered futher. Lucasfilm and Disney declined comment.
The Han Solo story would take place in the time period between the last “Star Wars” prequel film, “Revenge of the Sith,” and the first “Star Wars,” AKA “A New Hope,” AKA Episode IV.
EW reports it’s possible that Harrison Ford could appear as a framing device, à la Ian Holm’s Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” But the movie obviously would require a new lead actor, presumably one younger than Ford, then 35, was when he appeared in the 1977 original.
The Boba Fett film would take place either between “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back,” or between “Empire” and “Jedi.” As fans undoubtedly remember, the bounty hunter was last seen in Episode VI plunging unceremoniously into the Sarlacc pit, where he was presumably slowly digested over 1,000 years, although works such as Dark Horse Comics’ “Dark Empire” series detail his escape from the alien maw.
Since Boba Fett never took off his helmet in the original trilogy, casting for that spin-off could be pretty wide open. In the prequels, Boba Fett was the son of the original Storm Trooper clone Jango Fett. New Zealand actor Temuera Morrison played Jango, and EW.com reports he’s still the right age for the part if Disney goes that route.
Kinberg is known for writing “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and 2009′s “Sherlock Holmes,” while Kasdan penned “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and many other scripts, along with making “The Big Chill” and “Body Heat.”
Disney confirmed last month that “Star Trek” director J.J. Abrams will direct the seventh installment of the “Star Wars” saga, with Michael Arndt (“Little Miss Sunshine,” “Toy Story 3″) penning the screenplay.
Disney bought “Star Wars” maker Lucasfilm last year for more than $4 billion.
The last “Star Wars” trilogy, a prequel to the original films, was released from 1999 to 2005.
Two of the most beloved fanboy franchises – “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” – are reportedly about to have a common tie beyond all the space stuff.
According to TheWrap.com, J.J. Abrams, the director/producer/writer entrusted with rebooting the “Star Trek” movie series, will direct the next “Star Wars” film for Disney, taking stewardship of one of Hollywood’s most iconic and lucrative film franchise.
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has been eagerly recruiting Abrams for “Star Wars: Episode VII,” reports TheWrap.com. For good reason: He runs one of the Hollywood’s top production companies, Bad Robot, and directed the film spectacles “Star Trek,” “Mission: Impossible III” and “Super 8.” He also created or co-created television franchises like “Lost,” “Fringe” and “Alias.”
Abrams has been working hard to finish “Star Trek Into Darkness,” his second Star Trek film since he rebooted the franchise in 2009. The sequel opens May 18.
Disney has slated the new “Star Wars” film for 2015 release. “Little Miss Sunshine” screenwriter Michael Arndt is penning the script.
As pre-production on “Star Wars: Episode VII” begins, we’re already seeing synergy between Lucasfilm and its new parent company, Walt Disney Co.
Last week, Lucasfilm confirmed that award-winning writer Michael Arndt will write the screenplay for the new “Star Wars” film, due out in 2015.
The franchise’s creator and Lucasfilm founder George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy, who will serve as executive producer on new “Star Wars” features, have begun story conferences with Arndt, according to StarWars.com.
Arndt won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for writing “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006), and more recently he was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for writing “Toy Story 3,” the 2010 Pixar animated juggernaut. Like Lucasfilm, Pixar is owned by Disney.
In that vein, Screen Junkies speculate in this video what other members of the Disney family get involved in “Star Wars”: