Don’t forget about A Force for Change – if you enter by today, you’ll also have a chance to win a trip for two to Celebration Anaheim! Maybe not as great as going to the Episode VII set, but still pretty cool.
We’ve already seen some evidence, but Lucasfilm and Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 announced today that they are indeed currently filming in the UAE. “We were very excited to start the filming of Star Wars: Episode VII in Abu Dhabi,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement. “It has been an incredible place to commence this journey.” J.J. Abrams “and cast” (we’re not sure who) flew to Abu Dhabi “in early May.” Hundreds of crew are working currently, and “key production staff” have been working with the locals since January.
The Hollywood Reporter’s sources say they’re recreating parts of Tatooine there, as one might expect from the clip, which bears a strong resemblance to the Mos Espa market in The Phantom Menace. Variety has a few more details on the financial arrangements.
Now on to important matters: What the hell is that thing on the right?
Mark Hamill has ten reasons to donate to Make-A-Wish and enter to win a chance to meet him, George Lucas and see Skywalker Ranch.
Would you like the chance to win a trip to meet The Maker and Luke Skywalker? There’s an interesting contest afoot that lets you buy chances to do just that!
For $10 an entry (which get less expensive the more entries you buy), you could win a trip for you and a friend to Skywalker Ranch on February 21st. (Cancel all plans.) There you get a tour of the Ranch with the ranch manager and get to meet George Lucas! Then you get whisked away to meet Mark Hamill at Nerdist HQ in Los Angeles. (That date is, apparently, more flexible, but they’re currently wanting you to do it the next day.)
All entries go to benefit Make-A-Wish. So even if you don’t win ::sob::, your money is going to a great cause.
There are perks to just entering. At various levels, you get everything from an e-card from Mark Hamill thanking you for entering to a t-shirt to a signed lightsaber and beyond!
What are you waiting for? This is actually a big event you can win without having to bid tens of thousands at an auction. How often does that opportunity come around?
Course of the Force, the lightsaber relay from San Francisco to San Diego raising funds for Make-A-Wish, kicked off on Tuesday with a special celebrity run at Skywalker Ranch, then proceeded on Wednesday around San Francisco, ending with a concert and conival. Ashley Eckstein, one of the co-hosts of Course of the Force, was at Skywalker Ranch to help start the relay and covered it for the Official Star Wars Blog.
One of the celebrity runners at Skywalker Ranch was Alexis Denisof (Angel, Much Ado About Nothing), who blogged about his experience running in a spandex Threepio suit, while being cheered by his wife Alyson Hannigan and kids. Other VIP runners included Kyle Newman, Chris Colfer, Todd Roy & Adrienne Curry, and Jared Eng. Check out the official Course of the Force Day 1 Recap by Nerdist’s Dan Casey, as well as a plethora of photos of celebrities and members of the 501st Legion and Rebel Legion up at the Ranch.
Day 2 started off in San Francisco’s South Beach neighborhood, and the relay continued along the bayfront, ending with a crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge, with 38 relay participants scheduled for the morning race. The Conival at San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza featured a concert by Journey Unauthorized, and had booths ranging from Otter Pops to Qualcomm and State Farm. Chris Hardwick joined co-hosts Carrie Keagan and Ashley Eckstein for the end of day dueling. My favorite costumes: a family dressed as the Avengers!
Today, the Course of the Force takes a little breather as the lightsaber flies to Los Angeles before picking up for the Southern California segments of the relay from Friday to Tuesday as it travels from LA to San Diego and Comic-Con. Check out the daily schedule of relay segments and conivals. And if you’re on the lookout for Team Hondo, you’ll find the three members of Team Hondo in motion on Monday, July 15 in the morning in the Oceanside and Carlsbad segments – I’ll give out exact details on twitter at @jamesjawa. (And there’s still time if you still want to donate to Team Hondo’s fundraising efforts for Make-A-Wish Foundation chapters in California! I’m currently aiming for $1,250 and I am closing in on it.)
And to put you into an even weirder Course of the Force mood, join Billy Dee Williams, Patton Oswalt and Chris Hardwick for some Star Wars Cantina Karaoke:
Tomorrow is the third annual Wear Star Wars Share Star Wars Day. To observe, either wear something Star Wars or donate a new, unwrapped toy to one of the many organizations out there that take donations for children in need – but make sure to specify that the toy can go to either a girl or a boy with a post-it.
George Lucas will be one of the biggest charitable givers ever when he donates his Disney billions, Forbes says. (via)
In other news, Mellody Hobson, who has been romantically linked with Lucas since 2006, has been named chairman of DreamWorks Animation. She’s been on the board of the company, which was co-founded by Steven Spielberg, since 2004.
A spokesperson tells The Hollywood Reporter that George Lucas plans to put most of the money he received from Disney – $4.05 billion dollars – towards “a foundation which will primarily focus on educational issues.”
This could mean a new foundation, but Lucas is already the chairman of Edutopia, a organization that fosters innovation in schools, part of The George Lucas Educational Foundation. He’s used the Foundation to make donations to various philanthropic causes in the past, including a record-breaking $175 million to USC in 2006. In 2010, Lucas was among the first to sign the Giving Pledge, vowing to give away at least half his wealth to charitable causes.