“Why did Gary Kurtz split with George Lucas?” I asked someone in Edinburgh just before the final session of the Guardian weekend event during which Gary Kurtz , producer of both Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, explained how the first movie was conceived, produced and marketed.
“They fell out over the plot of the third film, Return of The Jedi,” I was told. “Gary Kurtz wanted to show the more realistic after effects of war, with Han Solo killed and Luke Skywalker left alone. George Lucas disagreed. He said Han Solo toys are doing great business!”
It seemed impolite to probe Gary Kurtz about it, but he did admit George Lucas wanted more of a rollercoaster ride feel to Return of the Jedi and a more upbeat ending to the trilogy. The original script had seen Han Solo dead and Princess Leia going off to rule, accompanied by her two robots C3PO and R2D2, leaving Luke Skywalker to ride off into the sunset alone.
Gary Kurtz went off to produce The Dark Crystal for Jim Henson rather than Return of the Jedi for George Lucas and so the third Star Wars film got its rollercoaster plot ride and happy ending although, yesterday, Kurtz pointed out that the Han Solo character actually has no real effect on anything in the movie’s plot; the character was, really, just hanging around while things happened around him. And Kurtz did say the toy manufacturers had had an effect on the way the Star Wars trilogy developed.
Toy manufacturers and commercial factors affecting creative decisions does not worry me too much. After all, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle actually did kill off Sherlock Holmes but was forced by public opinion and against his better judgment to un-kill him.
We live in a commercial world, which brings me to farting.
Today is the birthday of my chum Mr Methane, the world’s only professionally-performing flatulist (a ‘farter’ to me and you). He has an entrepreneurial air about him and is quick to spot a new opportunity. He tells me he has now started a Personalised Fart Greetings service.
“I’ve had a lot of requests for personalised fart video greetings,” he claims, though I suppose it could all be hot air.
“Basically,” he says, “all you have to do is fill out a form with details of the special oral greeting that you’d like me to convey and this will result in a personalised and very special video greeting from my rear end.”
I can think of nothing warmer nor more meaningful than sending a fart greeting to your loved one(s) personalised in this way by Mr Methane.
And, talking of farts, that brings us to comedian Bob Slayer.
We have twice failed to meet up since he returned from out-drinking and outraging Australia (as partly-chronicled in this blog).
I got this e-mail from him last night:
“Just back from a lovely weekend of gigs,” it read.
“Swansea seemed particularly happy to hear about Australian bans and goats and mayhem and I ended up doing a two hour / seven pints of Guinness gig. During the opening acts, I popped to the shop down the road and was nearly mowed down by a fella on a BMX bike with a laptop under his arm. He was closely followed by a hot police woman at full sprint.
“The man on the BMX bike then did something which I just cannot fathom out. He was getting away from PC Hot Pants but, when he got to the junction, he stopped at the red light! Why? Juliet Bravo rugby tackled him and his BMX and then sat on him until reinforcements arrived.
“It is remarkable that a burglar could be caught for respecting the Highway Code!”
But then Bob ominously added:
“I am going to South Africa on the 6th of April. Can we meet up before then?”
If anyone reading this lives in South Africa and is of a nervous disposition, I urge you to leave the country for the whole of April, just for your own personal safety and sanity.
You have been warned.
To cheer you up, though, here is a video which Gary Kurtz screened in Edinburgh yesterday: