Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #51, October 1981: They're Still Calling It "Revenge" of the Jedi

Sooner or later, George Lucas changes his mind and decides that Jedi don't go in for lowly things like revenge, so he changes the final Star Wars film title to Return of the Jedi, but as of this issue (in 1981, that is), it's still Revenge of the Jedi. On the Starlog company front, this issue also features the first mention of an exciting new publication (one of my favorites) from the company, Comics Scene (advertised on page 17 for just $9.99 for six bimonthly issues -- buy now!).

Starlog #51
68 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.50

A cool issue. It's not often that a screenwriter gets a cover story in Starlog, or any magazine, for that matter. But Lawrence Kasdan in 1981 was the hottest screenwriter in Hollywood, having penned the screenplays for Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back -- both smash hits -- and directing Body Heat. So, even though this issue featured such giant names as Gene Roddenberry, William Shatner, and Ray Harryhausen, it's the nerdy writer who gets his mug on the cover. Now that's the revenge of the nerds.

Kerry O'Quinn uses his From the Bridge column to solicit reader input on what kinds of science fiction films they like; Communications letters give feedback on Superman II, responses to Alan Brennert's behind-the-scenes article about his work on Buck Rogers, criticism of Arthur C. Clarke's pro-evolution comments in his fifth anniversary letter, and more; Log Entries includes short news items on a museum exhibit devoted to the work of Walt Disney, a different exhibit showcasing the work of space artist Bob McCall, an announcement of the upcoming launch of Comics World (soon to be renamed Comics Scene, but we probably can't blame that on the Fantastic Films folks, a la Fantastica/Fangoria), NASA news, Ross Martin's obituary, Caroline Munro's 'Last Horror Film,' and more.

The feature stories are kicked off with part one of Steve Swire's interview with William Shatner, "The Once and Future Kirk"; Howard T. Brody gives an update on an upcoming Batman movie (that would have involved Adam West); David Gerrold renames his column again, this time changing from Rumblings to Soaring, and he talks about other, more personal transformations; Don McGregor got the plum job of interviewing the great Ray Harryhausen, who talks about his career and Clash of the Titans; Bjo Trimble's Fan Scene talks up "The Ultimate Fanzine"; Susan Adamo interviews Alan Bean, a former astronaut who paints spacescapes; Jeff Szalay interviews Gene Roddenberry, who's in a bit of a purgatory after the middlin' response to Star Trek -- The Motion Picture, and is being kept at arms length by the producers of Star Trek II (the article includes a sidebar by Szalay in which he recalls getting the Enterprise model ready for display in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.); in another very rare foray into publishing fiction, Philip K. Dick's "Return Match" is reprinted, with illustrations by Walter Velez; Sam Maronie interviews Jerry Goldsmith, who wrote the film scores to such films as Alien, Star Trek -- The Motion Picture, and Planet of the Apes; James H. Burns interviews Raiders and Empire scripter Lawrence Kasdan; Quest publishes some extra-terrestrial art by John D. Sanders; and Howard Zimmerman gives mini reviews of Superman II, The Great Muppet Caper, and Escape from New York (not so hot on Supe, liked the other two) in his Lastword column.
"[Lawrence] Kasdan is working from a 'very rough first draft' script that George Lucas wrote. His screenplay is also being influenced by a week-long meeting he had with Lucas and Jedi's director, Richard Marquand (Eye of the Needle, Legacy) in San Francisco. 'Revenge of the Jedi's basic thrust is to wrap up the trilogy's story,' explains Kasdan. 'You can assume that Jedi's structure will be like that of Star Wars and Empire: cutting back and forth.'"
--James H. Burns, writer, "Lawrence Kasdan: Part 2: From Scripting The Empire Strikes Back to Writing and Directing Body Heat"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.
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