Arnold Swarzenegger

STAR WARS CONNECTION

STAR WARS - PHANTOM MENACE

STAR WARS – PHANTOM MENACE

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is finally out and predicted to bring in billions in ticket sales. I can’t claim to be a fanatic Star Wars fan, but I’ve got my own connection to Star Wars–I interviewed Jake Lloyd who played the nine-year-old  Anakin Starwalker in George Lucas’ Episode I – The Phantom Menace in 1999.

I interviewed Jake Lloyd, who is now 26, while he was making his first film, Jingle All the Way in 1996, with Arnold Schwarzenegger before he became Governor of California.  I have fond memories of the film  because I was invited to visit the 20th Century Fox set for this movie. I was writing a weekly column for the Los Angeles Daily News called “People and Places,” and I’d been asked to the set to interview Jake Lloyd, the then seven-year-old actor who was playing Swarzenegger’s son in the movie.

Original movie poster

Original movie poster

Jake Lloyd’s story is a mystical one of premonitions, believe it or not. He knew he wanted to make a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was two years old and living in Colorado. Here’s what the precocious youngster told me about seeing a drive-in movie: “When I was two my parents went to see Terminator. I was asleep in the back seat so they decided to stay for Terminator II. All of a sudden they look back, and my eyes were an inch wide.”

From then on, his mother Lisa related, Jake was entranced with Schwarzenegger. Although he couldn’t properly pronounce the superstar’s formidable surname, Jake would walk around their Colorado home declaring he would be in a movie with his hero. He would make up stories and try to imitate Schwarzenegger.

When the Lloyds planned to move to California so that Lisa could finish her college education, Jake asked his mother, “Isn’t Hollywood in California?”

Despite their skepticism, the Lloyds decided to give in to young Jake’s ambitions regarding moviemaking. They had photos taken and sent them to agents. An agent with her own talent agency near the Lloyd’s new home liked what she saw and took Jake on. In no time she’d booked him for three commercials.

It didn’t take long to acquire experience. Jake appeared in a Ford and a Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial and starred in Unhook The Stars, a movie with Marisa Tomei and Gena Rowlands; he also got a reoccurring role in TV’s E.R.

Jake Lloyd

Jake Lloyd

Jake’s dream became a reality in 1996 when he auditioned and won the part of Schwarzenegger’s son. Jake said that he was speechless when he first met his hero. He remembered Schwarzenegger asking, “How you doing, Jake?” After working with the star for three months, Jake said, “Now we’re really good friends.”

It’s been years since I did that interview but little Jake was hard to forget. He was an unspoiled kid interested in everything about the movie business. While I was there, he took me into the living room set and up some stairs to the catwalk to look down on the set. It was the last day of filming. Since movies are seldom put together sequentially, they were just then filming the very first scene.

After his first film, Jake went on to play in The Phantom Menace. Apparently, Jake became discouraged with his film career and he moved to the Midwest. I wonder if he had any visions about what career he would pursue when he got older.

MY CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS

In the 1990s I got to mingle with a few celebrities on a couple of magazines I helped co-create, write and edit. One of them, Westlife Magazine, featured Bob Hope for our initial cover. Alas, Hope was recovering from prostate surgery . The closest I got to him for an interview was visiting Ward Grant, his longtime publicist in his Burbank office, which was an obvious testament to Hope’s many movies with its framed giant blowups of movie stills going back to the 1930s.

In the mid 1990s, Beverly Hills Country Club, a posh tennis club, decided they needed a magazine featuring their members. My boss was an enterprising Iranian who spoke English but was not fluent in writing English. For our first cover, I interviewed Barbara Eden in her home along Mulholland Drive. Delightful and personable, she wore a cropped top and low riding pants, showing off her still fabulous figure and revealing the belly button that had been blocked out on “I Dream of Jeannie,” her famous TV series. Yes, the cover was “photo-shopped.” I wrote over 90% of the material in the magazine and enjoyed all of it.

World-Class Magazine cover of Barbara Eden

World-Class Magazine cover of Barbara Eden

Appropriately for a sports club magazine, I did stories on members, Rafer Johnson, the Olympics decathlon champion from the 1960s, and 1940s tennis champion Jack Kramer, who had remained active in the sports world promoting tennis and then golf. My first tennis racket was a Jack Kramer and I told him so. Both of these athletes were gentlemen and easy to chat with.

The 90s included a few years of writing a weekly column, People and Places, and local play reviews for the Daily News, a major newspaper that still exists. I must have seen and reviewed about 200 plays, performed by a range of talent of all ages. I was a positive reviewer; it was essentially community theater and equity waiver. I recall a production of “Mr. Roberts,” starring Harry Belafonte’s son-in-law. The still very attractive Belafonte was there and I was thrilled to shake his hand as he told me he loved community theater. Although I was sorely tempted (Remember those famous lines: “Day O, day O?”), I did not hum any calypso songs!

One of my weekly columns focused on Jake Lloyd, a seven-year-old starring in his first movie, “Jingle All the Way,” with Arnold Swarzenegger (before he became the California Governator). Jake was charming, easy to interview, and full of a little boy’s energy. On the huge sound stage at 20th Century Fox, he led me up to a sort of catwalk on the upper levels of the living room set, where I could have an overview and see where the cameras and lights were positioned. They were filming the last scene of the movie that day. As filming is erratic and scenes are not filmed in order, the last scene of filming would be the actual first scene of the movie. Jake went on to play Anakin Skywalker in a Star Wars movie, “The Phantom Menace.”

I left journalism when I had the opportunity to take time off and concentrate on writing my adventure/romance novel, Melaynie’s Masquerade, which I self-published. My historical fiction novel and several shorter books are all available on Amazon. http://amazon.com/author/victoriagiraud

WANDERINGS ON THE WARNER BROS. LOT

 

Warner Bros. Studios is about fifteen minutes from my home in the San Fernando Valley.   That area in Burbank is filled with entertainment industry icons:  Disney Animation, and NBC where the Tonight Show is filmed. Adjacent to the various studios is Forest Lawn Hollywood cemetery and the huge Griffith Park. If you’re hungry for a hamburger, there’s the famous Bob’s Big Boy, open in Burbank since 1949.   Over the years, for a variety of reasons, I’ve made several visits to Warner Bros. Studios.  I would venture to guess that a large percentage of Southern Californians know someone who is in, as they call it here, The Industry.  Be it an Accountant on a film set, a Grip, a Best Boy, a First Assistant Director, or a Second Assistant Director, a Unit Production Manager, or even one of the actors in television or movies.

During the years of “Designing Women” on TV, I became friends with Carolisa, one of the assistant producers. I had written a screenplay about English pirate hero Sir Francis Drake (It was titled El Dragon at that time, after Drake’s Spanish nickname). Carolisa gave the script to Meshack Taylor, one of the stars of the popular series, because there was a possible part for him. I attended one of the show’s tapings at Warner Bros. and got to meet Meshack in person. He told me he loved my script and commented enthusiastically: “It is beautiful.”  Who knows, some day that script may find its way to the screen.

Another friend, Max, worked on many films on that lot, like Barbara Streisand’s “Nuts,” which, apparently, drove many of the cast and crew nuts. During one of my low cash flow times, she tried to get me a secretarial type job on one of the many projects there, and I remember working at a typewriter for a day. One of the advantages of being on the lot was observing all the permanent sets, the office of Clint Eastwood, some of the filming action and meeting a few people. She introduced me to producer Paul Monash (“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”) in the parking garage and William Shatner during a break in his TV series at the time, “T.J. Hooker.” (I’ve written about that episode previously). Leading me around the streets and back lots, Max and I sneaked into the very private set of Steven Speilberg’s “Goonies”—the pirate ship in a cove!

A few years later I went to Warner Bros. to do an interview with TV and stage actor Lane Davies  (soaps such as “Santa Barbara,”  “Days of Our Lives” and various series). He asked me to come to the lot so I could watch him play Tempus, a psychopathic time-traveler, on the Superman series “Lois & Clark.” While they were filming a scene, I sat watching it with star Dean Cain’s stunt double. He was a friendly fellow and curious who I was. He asked if I had been in Arnold Swarzenegger’s “Terminator” films! Since I was not a Terminator fan and hadn’t seen them, I couldn’t even think of a plausible lie!

                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                    Warner Bros. Studios

A LOS ANGELES WRITING CAREER

In the 90s I got to mingle with a few celebrities on a couple of magazines I helped co-create, write and edit. One of them, Westlife Magazine, featured Bob Hope for our initial cover. Alas, Hope was recovering from prostate surgery . The closest I got to him for an interview was visiting Ward Grant, his longtime publicist  in his Burbank office, which was an obvious testament to Hope’s many movies with its framed giant blowups of movie stills going back to the 1930s.

In the mid 1990s, Beverly Hills Country Club, a posh tennis club, decided they needed a magazine featuring their members. My boss was an enterprising Iranian who spoke English but was not fluent in writing English. For our first cover, I interviewed Barbara Eden in her home along Mulholland Drive. Delightful and personable, she wore a cropped top and low riding pants, showing off her still fabulous figure and revealing the belly button that had been blocked out on “I Dream of Jeannie,” her famous TV series. Yes, the cover was “photo-shopped.” I wrote over 90% of the material in the magazine and enjoyed all of it.

World-Class Magazine cover of Barbara Eden

 

 

Appropriately for a sports club magazine, I did stories on members, Rafer Johnson, the Olympics decathlon champion from the 1960s, and 1940s tennis champion Jack Kramer, who had remained active in the sports world promoting tennis and then golf. My first tennis racket was a Jack Kramer and I told him so. Both of these athletes were gentlemen and easy to chat with.

 

The 90s included a few years of writing a weekly column, People and Places, and local play reviews for the Daily News, a major newspaper that still exists. I must have seen and reviewed about 200 plays, performed by a range of talent of all ages. I was a positive reviewer; it was essentially community theater and equity waiver. I recall a production of “Mr. Roberts,” starring Harry Belafonte’s son-in-law. The still very attractive Belafonte was there and I was thrilled to shake his hand as he told me he loved community theater. Although I was sorely tempted (Remember those famous lines: “Day O, day O?”), I did not hum any calypso songs!

One of my weekly columns focused on Jake Lloyd, a seven-year-old starring in his first movie, “Jingle All the Way,” with Arnold Swarzenegger (before he became the California Governator). Jake was charming, easy to interview, and full of a little boy’s energy. On the huge sound stage at 20th Century Fox, he led me up to a sort of catwalk on the upper levels of the living room set, where I could have an overview and see where the cameras and lights were positioned. They were filming the last scene of the movie that day. As filming is erratic and scenes are not filmed in order, the last scene of filming would be the actual first scene of the movie.  Jake went on to play Anakin Skywalker in a Star Wars movie, “The Phantom Menace.”

I left journalism when I had the opportunity to take time off and concentrate on writing my adventure/romance novel, Melaynie’s Masquerade, which I self-published. This year I plan to make my novel available as an Ebook .

 

 

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