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Howard Kazanjian

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As far as I know, he was only involved in one Star Wars movie as the producer of Return of the Jedi. However, there is a lot of interview footage of him in Empire of Dreams, and some of it is even well before Return. Based on his own testimony, it sounds like he was pretty well-entrenched in Lucas's braintrust at the time. Lucas almost named his third movie Revenge of the Jedi because of him. Kazanjian even advised Lucas which plot of land to buy for Skywalker Ranch. If they were so close, where did he come from? How did Lucas end up picking him to replace Gary Kurtz? And why did Rick McCallum replace him? What's the story with this guy?

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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In the Lucas biography "Mythmaker" by John Baxter, the story goes that during the filming of ANH the original ILM guys were a bunch of hippie stoners who would sit around and screw off all day instead of completing the shots they were supposed to be delivering. And the stuff they did manage to deliver was unusable crap. At that point, between various on-set disasters while filming the actors, overseeing the editing of the dailies, and driving to the ILM facility to try to motivate the special-effects team, Lucas was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

So, I think Coppola suggested Lucas hire this Kazanjian guy to be a hard-ass, no-bullshit, budget-nazi "enforcer", to make sure Rydstrom and the other ILM guys got the job done on schedule. He took up an office at the warehouse Rydstrom and co. were using for a special effects facility, and supervised their daily progress, and when he wanted something, he didn't say "please". Unlike Lucas, he was not a pushover, and for that reason he was resented by the crew. He was almost like the "Darth Vader" of the production. Feared, respected, and hated, Lucas' "sinister agent of evil".

Obviously, the relationship between him and Lucas worked, he got the job done, so Kazanjian was brought on again as a go-between for Lucas and Kershner during the filming of ESB.

He went on to work on Raiders of the Lost Ark and ended up filling Gary Kurtz' position on Jedi. For some reason Lucas and Kurtz had a fall out.

I don't think Kazanjian was brought in for any of the Prequels, but I could be wrong.

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Hmm, thanks for the info. That's some really interesting trivia about his personality. He really didn't seem that way from the interviews. He seemed kinda... bald. I'm not quite sure what I mean by that, but I guess it means he seems jolly. Okay, I'm just confusing myself now.

Anyway, I never really thought of him as a hardass because George chose him as a producer replacement for Gary Kurtz, who was disenchanted with George's direction in Star Wars. As such, I figured his replacement would be a little more pliant, much like the image Rick McCallum seems to have now. So does anyone else know what happened to cause their fallout?

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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Can anyone tell me Gary Kurtz is not in the prequels???

instead we have lame ass no talent clown Rick McCallum
"A Jedi can feel the force flow through him".
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Are you asking if anyone can tell you why Gary Kurtz isn't in the prequels? I remember someone posted a thread recently that directed to an interview with him. Long story short, though, by the time they got to Return, Gary didn't like the direction that George was taking the movies. He felt that George was more interested in action than story, didn't agree with things like the second Death Star. They fought a lot, so they just decided to go their separate ways.

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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he was right. i would have left LucASS.
"A Jedi can feel the force flow through him".
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Well, your response begs the question to be asked: Is it really better that he left? You have to wonder what Star Wars would have been like if George had kept Gary around.

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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I honestly don't think George kept Gary around...Gary knew the SW was starting to "go down the tubes". Granted, ROTJ wasn't too bad, but if you look at the prequels...bad news. Lucas probably started getting a big head after Empire and wanted everything done his way. And then after Jedi, his head got bigger. Now he's got a cash cow.

But I'm ranting. Gary says he's seen the 12 episode writeups. And its much different than the way its laid out now.
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Sorry, I didn't word that the way I meant to. I guess I should have said "if they had continued to work together." But my point remains the same. Things might have been different if George had continued to have Gary's influence.

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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Originally posted by: maddog00
I honestly don't think George kept Gary around...Gary knew the SW was starting to "go down the tubes". Granted, ROTJ wasn't too bad, but if you look at the prequels...bad news. Lucas probably started getting a big head after Empire and wanted everything done his way. And then after Jedi, his head got bigger. Now he's got a cash cow.

But I'm ranting. Gary says he's seen the 12 episode writeups. And its much different than the way its laid out now.


Interesting interpretation of events...I wonder how close this actually compares to what happened. Sounds pretty good to me.
  • Todd

STAR WARS: Symphony for a Saga

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Originally posted by: Jedikev
he was right. i would have left LucASS.


And yet, with all due respect, here you are posting on a Star Wars message board...
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Endor-a, is that you???? LOL
"A Jedi can feel the force flow through him".
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In addition to the creative differences between Lucas and Kurtz, one huge thing behind their falling out was that Lucas blamed Kurtz for allowing ESB to baloon overbudget so much that Lucas had to ask for Fox's help in financing ESB, much to his chagrin.
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Geez, you know Gary Kurtz is loved when even my thread about his successor ends up talking about why Gary Kurtz and George Lucas no longer make movies together.

So, again, anybody know why Howard Kazanjian and George Lucas no longer make movies together?

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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Well, in 1998 he became a chairman and majority share holder in an indie production company and a couple of theatres...maybe he just wanted a career change.

Either that or he was one of the guys boning Lucas' wife which got him fired.
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One of the guys? Who else was?

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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The guy who was doing the stained glass work on his house. George and Marcia shortly got divorced afterwards, right after Return of the Jedi was finished.

And Lucas and Kurtz split for the reasons Cassidy listed above. It wasn't altogether acrimonious, and it wasn't a total split, either--Lucas ended up finishing the financing for and helping organize "Return to Oz" when Kurtz went overbudget and way late with THAT film, as well. If I remember right, Kurtz had a breakdown on set in the last month, and physically couldn't do his job. That's when Lucas stepped in to help Kurtz. Didn't have to, but did it as a favor to Kurtz for all the work he'd done on Star Wars and Empire. Kurtz soon had to file for bankruptcy afterwards.

It wasn't at all that Kurtz saw "Star Wars" going down the tubes, and it wasn't that Lucas got a big head and wanted things done his way all of a sudden. Lucas ALWAYS wanted things done his way. His relationship with Dykstra (and the British crew) on Star Wars was strained because Lucas was acting as Cameron is known for acting--getting down in the muck and doing the crew's work FOR THEM if it wasn't just as he liked it. The heads of the departments didn't appreciate that, obviously But it does prove that Lucas was always very adamant about getting what he wanted when he could control it. And if he couldn't control it, he got frustrated.

And Kazanjian just left to fly solo. Lots of people did it. Hell, Joe Johnston, Frank Darabont and David Fincher all left Lucasfilm/ILM to do their own thing. It's not always some acromonious behind-the-scenes drama.

And McCallum isn't exactly a no-talent. He's very good with the money, keeps costs down, keeps the production moving fast, and after reading "The Making of Revenge of the Sith," the diaries show he's not at all the "yes man" people constantly cast him as. For the majority of the book, he's prodding Lucas to either a) get to work on the script or b) stop tinkering with the film unnecessarily.
The Best Show You've Never Heard
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Thanks, The Bizzle. I knew that George and Marcia split, but I wasn't sure under what circumstances. I didn't think she was having an affair.

There is no lingerie in space...

C3PX said: Gaffer is like that hot girl in high school that you think you have a chance with even though she is way out of your league because she is sweet and not a stuck up bitch who pretends you don't exist... then one day you spot her making out with some skinny twerp, only on second glance you realize it is the goth girl who always sits in the back of class; at that moment it dawns on you why she is never seen hanging off the arm of any of the jocks... and you realize, damn, she really is unobtainable after all. Not that that is going to stop you from dreaming... Only in this case, Gaffer is actually a guy.

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jedi would have been better is kurtz and kersh were not pushed away by a megalomaniac who shall be unamed, aka the man reponsible for everything.

kurtz left to do dark crystal by henson.

“Always loved Vader’s wordless self sacrifice. Another shitty, clueless, revision like Greedo and young Anakin’s ghost. What a fucking shame.” -Simon Pegg.

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Kersh wasn't pushed away, he declined to do Return of the Jedi on his own. he WAS the first choice. There was no ill will and it certainly wasn't because he worked with George. He declined for the same reasons George had Kersh direct ESB: He was tired and wasn't up to another big long shoot on a Star Wars flick. If I remember right, he was also initially thought of for one of the Prequels at one point. Kurtz wasn't "pushed away" either. The facts are pretty easily obtained via any library and any one of the three bigger biographies about Lucas: "Skywalking" which is the most accurate, although there's some contradictions from time to time, "Mythmaker" which seemed to take most of its research from "Skywalking" and Peter Biskind's book "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls" making the book feel at times like a copy of a copy, with all the inaccuracies that entails, and "Empire Building" by Garry Jenkins, which is pretty workmanlike but also gets a fair amount of details wrong.

Besides which, Kurtz and Kershner have their fair share of clunkers in their repertoire as well. there's no guarantee Jedi would have been magic once again simply because they're Kurtz and Kershner.

And Kurtz didn't LEAVE to do Dark Crystal. Kurtz was told they weren't going to use him for Jedi, due to his inability to keep the budget down and the movie on schedule, and he then went for and got the Dark Crystal job--a movie which also finished considerably overbudget and late, if I remember right.
The Best Show You've Never Heard
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Originally posted by: skyjedi2005
jedi would have been better is kurtz and kersh were not pushed away by a megalomaniac who shall be unamed, aka the man reponsible for everything.

kurtz left to do dark crystal by henson.


Wrong. Kershner was a member of the DGA, and when the shit storm erupted because Lucas refused to put the credits before the opening titles of 'Empire' or 'Jedi' he quit the DGA and the WGA. Basically Lucas was forced to hire a Bristish director who wasn't a member of the DGA to maintain the artistic integrity of the saga.

His original choice to direct 'Jedi' was Spielberg. Also, the Lucas bashing bandwagon is getting a little crowded.
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I'm pretty sure I read Spielberg was 2nd choice on Jedi after Kersh somewhere. but you're probably right. And I KNOW you're right on the second count

There's plenty to "bash" Lucas for without having to make stuff up. Like I said, it's in those biographies. There's plenty of ammo there if you want it, you dont' have to construct some soap opera villain and graft him onto Lucas body.
The Best Show You've Never Heard
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Yep. I know that a lot of the "fan base" has been allowed themselves to become alienated by the way George Lucas has seemingly handled their beloved franchise, and since the 1970's we've become the most cynical, sarcastic and cranky bastards on the planet, but enough is enough.

People seem to think that the way to fit in is to come up with the latest and greatest metaphors for blaming Lucas for wrecking their childhood. I got new for you - most of it is flat out incorrect and hurtful.

Who would ever dare to go to a dinner party, wolf down every morsel and then tell your host, 'Thanks for dinner, but it was shit.' Come on. Get over it already.
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*sigh*


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