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Coming Up for Fresh Air, I End Up Doing a Lot of "Fresh Air"... Today, George Lucas!
January 6, 2010  | By David Bianculli
george_lucas17.jpgMy first week of the New Year, what was supposed to be my first actual week off in about a decade (blame the book), has turned out to be a mini-marathon of guest hosting for NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.Terry has been sick, so I've been filling in - and today's show (Wednesday 6) features my interview with George Lucas, which I recorded yesterday afternoon...

And I just got the call from Danny Miller, the show's plate-spinning, indefatigable executive producer, to ask me to come in and host again today. So I'll be introducing my own interview, which is always fun.

The Lucas interview is pegged to the publication of his new book, George Lucas's Blockbusting, which contains his choices for the 300 most significant films in history (and in chronological order). The book is bursting with industry facts, figures and insights, and while it's written so enjoyably that anyone would have a good time flipping through it, it could double as a fantastic film-history textbook -- which made the interview especially delightful, because I teach film history now at Rowan University.

I don't know what, from our recorded conversation, will make the final cut today, but I suspect you'll be able to hear about the 10 most popular films of all time (a surprising list, after adjusting for inflation), and Lucas's early days as a filmmaker, and lots of stuff about everything from his own Star Wars to James Cameron's Avatar.

Tune in today for your local Fresh Air broadcast -- or visit the website after about 5 p.m. Wednesday and listen by clicking HERE.

Anyway, if you've been wondering what I've been doing this week, there's your answer...




mac said:

David, I'm listening right now (noontime, EST, via WDIY) and the bridge music at the half is the Meco disco version of "Star Wars". Gee,if this interview was just two weeks ago,they could have used "What Do You Get a Wookie When He Already Has a Comb?" from the "Star Wars" Christmas special. Then again,if Lucas knew that was coming on, he would probably never shown up. You did a great job really conversing (not fawning, or letting Lucas run the interview) with a true giant in his world.

[Thanks... and Fresh Air's Sam Briger gets credit for that particularly warped music choice. -- David B.]

Comment posted on January 6, 2010 12:35 PM

Rich said:

He certainly is enigmatic. I would've loved it if you asked him why he feels the need to 'tinker' with his own stuff to the point of pissing-off fans (Greedo shooting first?-"Star Wars redux") or why he keeps rehashing parts of "Star Wars" no one really cares about. Hey George, What happens after episodes #4,5,6?...just curious.

I will certainly listen. I will always give him credit as the man who invented "Star Wars" and his merchandising foresight & contributions to 'special effects' are legendary. I applaud his approval given to "Family Guy" and "Robot Chicken" (as well as the Kevin Smith movies) to make parodies of his "Star Wars" stuff.

I would've asked, "Hey George, Do you regret Ewoks & JarJar Binks?" or "Looking back, would admit it was You that screwed-up 'Indy 4' to make it less darker and fluffier than Frank Darabont's original script, which both Harrison Ford & Steven Spielberg LIKED! (It was posted on line that summer).

He's an industry titan, I am curious what he thinks were the best films ever. I think you're just the man to do it.

Comment posted on January 6, 2010 1:33 PM

Neil said:

Maybe you can explain something that has long puzzled me about Fresh Air.

Of all the NPR daily programs, Fresh Air is the least topical. While there is the occasional interview with a journalist relating to current events, or the mention of a musician who has recently died, it seems the wraparounds for the show could be pre-taped most of the time. In fact, they are, in a way ... the show goes out live at 12 Noon (I think), but most stations air it later. (Here in SF, I can hear it 4 different times on three different NPR affiliates.)

So why, when they have you fill in for Terry on short notice, don't they have you pre-tape the wraparounds for the next day too? If she gets better and is well enough to return, then no problem. If not, then the sound editor just stitches together a full hour out of the various pre-recorded segments, including your wraparounds.

Is there some logic to having every show, 90% of which is already in the can, have the veneer of being a live program?

Or do I have this all wrong?

[Today's show actually is a good example of why the last-second choices available with live hosts is a good thing. The Lucas interview would have run today whether Terry or I hosted the show -- but the salute to musician and record producer Willie Mitchell, who died yesterday, wouldn't have been possible without the producers pulling together old interview segments at the veritable last minute, and me writing new intros right before reading them on the live broadcast at noon ET.

So when all goes well, your point is well taken. But in the real world, all rarely goes well... which is why there's always a "live" element to the show. -- David B.]

Comment posted on January 6, 2010 1:46 PM
bryan grigsby said:

Congratulations on the book. Go Gators

Comment posted on January 6, 2010 4:19 PM

Jim said:

Re Rich's question: On the Colbert Report last night, Lucas said he has no regrets about JarJar Binks and he claims that today's youngsters like the most recent Star Wars trilogy -- including JarJar -- better than the original trilogy. And Colbert had to admit that his son loves JarJar. Go figure. I don't think Ewoks were mentioned.

Comment posted on January 6, 2010 7:19 PM

Joe Henderson said:


Could you suggest to the producers of "Fresh Air" that Terry interview Chalmers Johnson, author "Blowback" and other topical books.

Mille grazie

[Will do! I'm back in on Friday. -- David B.]

Comment posted on January 6, 2010 7:50 PM

Jim said:

Oops. The George Lucas interview was on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. As I now recall, it was Stewart who said his son loved JarJar Binks. I regret the error.

[And I regret not catching it, but we're all okay now. No harm, no foul. And thanks. -- David B.]

Comment posted on January 6, 2010 11:26 PM
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