One of the great things about social media is that it allows fans and creative talent to interact in ways that were largely unimaginable even a decade ago.
And for myself, as a fan and a journalist, it has been an unbelievable tool that has allowed me to combine my love of writing and, more recently, podcasting with my lifelong affection for Star Wars – in all its various mediums and forms.
Unable to break through the glass wall to secure interviews the more traditional way as a journalist, I took to Twitter and Facebook and managed to connect with several Star Wars authors, getting them to agree to be interviewed for our podcast, Star Wars Book Report (insert shameless plug here).
Eventually, our love of all things story led me to reach out to, among others, voice actors working on Star Wars: The Clone Wars. And in relatively short order, we secured interviews with James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan), Catherine Taber (Padme), Tom Kane (Yoda) and Stephen Stanton (Admiral Tarkin).
Now, as a journalist, I have been around celebrities before. Mostly, I have dealt with sports figures, from hot shot junior and university players to Hall of Famers and everything in between. I don’t fawn over many folks, which is what these people are. They’re regular people, just talented in ways that differ from many of us.
But the generosity of spirit showed by the four folks that appeared on our podcast blew me away. There was James Arnold Taylor, who we asked to voice a bumper for the show and to record a message for my children. My co-host and I were stunned when he sent us several bumpers, personalized voice mail intros and a message to my kids, who are both great fans of the show, that left them with their jaws hanging open when they heard Master Obi-Wan addressing them by name.
And Catherine Taber shared a recipe with our audience, as both she and my co-host and I love to dabble in the kitchen.
Tom and Stephen were equally wonderful with their time and talent. They made a hoser from Canada and a southern boy from Georgia feel like we were big shots in the world of Star Wars podcasting.
And so, with Monday`s distressing announcement that The Clone Wars was being wound down – a horrible way for a corporation to describe something that essentially amounts to the cancellation of a beloved show with a disdain that borders on insulting, let alone crass and uncaring – it wasn’t surprising that many of the actors took to social media to share their thoughts about the news.
Being a loyal guy, I’ve chosen to highlight the four people who took their personal time to give back to me and our listeners.
James Arnold Taylor (@JATactor) wrote a 2300-plus word eulogy that he posted online, praising his co-stars and thanking the fans for the way they embraced him as Obi-Wan. It is, in many ways, like something you would expect to hear presented at a wake. It is both sad and celebratory in turns.
Here are some of the many highlights:
* Obi-Wan has allowed me to be the host of world-wide events, from Disney’s Star Wars Weekends yearly to hosting the biggest Star Wars convention, “Celebration VI” last year, sharing the stage with the likes of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Jeremy Bullock, Seth Green and the Emperor himself, Ian McDiarmid. Yes, the Jedi Master has become a part of my life and I through him have been fortunate to be a part of the Star Wars universe and connect with tens of thousands of its fans through the years.
* After nearly a decade of production and five seasons on the air, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” as a television show, has been cancelled. My heart sank ... The Clone Wars (was) a one-of-a-kind production that will be impossible to duplicate.
* I felt a bit like old Ben Kenobi after Alderaan was destroyed ... hopeless and sad. A great loss, an end to a fantastic journey. And the worst for a person who makes his living with his voice... Silenced.
* I’ve seen a lot of shows and characters come and go, but Star Wars was always the top of the heap, “A-Number 1”. You get used to shows ending, but this one was different, for many reasons. Star Wars is not just another show or film, it is a part of history and the stuff of legend.
* Star Wars is just plain awesome, and I was fortunate to experience it from both sides of the spectrum, first as a fan, seeing “A New Hope” at the age of seven, and then as an actor getting to say the timeless line, “May the Force be with you.”
* For those that watched and followed the show you know how much it means to the overall picture of Star Wars and its universe. It bridged a gap between the first three films and the second three (and I’m sure will affect the upcoming trilogy), it gave us back story on characters that were sometimes only seen and not heard, it had the essence and romance of episodes 4, 5 and 6 and the fast paced intricate story lines and action of the prequels, without going over the top or playing to any one age group or audience. It brought families together on Friday nights from everyday folks to big name celebrities that told me they watched religiously with their kids, it gave the first generation of Star Wars fans the chance to share their love of the franchise with their children, making new generations of fans, it regenerated past characters we’d thought we’d never see again (sometimes to this Jedi’s displeasure) and it even brought us new characters and new depths of understanding to our favorite ones. It was and is a crucial piece of the Star Wars universe and it will be greatly missed by myself and thousands upon thousands of fans across our galaxy.
* Thousands of lines of dialogue recorded, over a hundred episodes and yet it still seems like we have said too little and that there’s so much more to add. And from what we can tell there will be more to come. Clone Wars will have a future, although we’re not entirely sure where or when, there are still stories to tell in what I consider the best animated program television has seen thus far.
* I don’t know if I’ll ever get to say again in the voice of my favorite Jedi Knight for anything Star Wars related but I say it to you now and mean it more than I ever have... “May the Force be with you all... always.” Thank you for letting me be your Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Stephen Stanton (@Stephen_Stanton), fresh from his trip to All-Con in Dallas, where he helped showcase the final instalment of the Pink Five fan film saga, was philosophical in a Facebook and Twitter posting about the announcement, recalling the saying that “all good things come to an end.”
“I want to thank you - the fans - for embracing all the villains and “off-beat” characters that I’ve played over the years. Now it’s time to turn our attention toward the many new stories yet to be told in the saga! So like you, I am looking forward with great anticipation of what is to come from this amazing franchise! ... I thank all of you for making this such a fun ride!”
Meanwhile, Tom Kane posted on his Facebook page:
“Mere words cannot fully express what The Clone Wars meant to me, not only as a performer, but also as a fan. ... everyone at LF Animation poured their souls into every frame of this remarkable series. And to my fellow cast members... You are the most talented folks I have ever worked with, period. My only regret is that I got to spend so little time with you. Of course all good things must eventually come to an end, and the Clone Wars was a very good thing, indeed. Thanks to all of you fans who gave us a chance, and embraced us as part of the amazing Star Wars family. You mean the world - no, the galaxy - to us, and you always will. The Force will be with you. Always.”
And Catherine Taber (@cattaber) added on her Twitter account:
“Today, as always, Clone Wars fans are the BEST. Thank you for your support & love, the feelings are mutual #theclonewars #starwarsISforever”
James and Cat even took to Big Shiny Robot! editor Bryan Young's podcast, Full of Sith, to discuss the end of the show.
For those of you who haven't seen the video from supervising director Dave Filoni (who hasn’t been on our podcast but would definitely be a most welcomed guest) you can check it out here.
* Wayne Chamberlain is the co-host of the Star Wars Book Report podcast, available on iTunes, as well as a contributing columnist and editor with Postmedia News in Canada.