Friday, December 19, 2014

KABC-TV Spark of Love Toy Drive 2014

Tonight, R2 participated for the second year in a row at the Spark of Love Toy Drive, held in the Honda Center parking lot by Los Angeles ABC affiliate KABC-TV.

Star Wars characters appear on the local newscast to help bring in viewers to drop off new, unwrapped toys and meet them. And it works!

Here's one of the news clips. Sorry if a short ad plays first. :(

And the behind the scenes version:

Meteorologist Garth Kemp hosts the event from before sunrise until well after sundown. Complete with elf suit.

R2 and various Star Wars characters helped promote the event live on the air, and posed for pictures with those dropping off toys.

Cameraman and event organizer Edgar is fond of R2, and would sometimes get a shot of him as the newscast would go into or out of a commercial break.

Here's a still of one of the shots that made it on the air.

Besides viewers, various organizations also donate literally tons of toys. There were even 200 bicycles donated!

They managed to fill 27 busses! I can't imagine a local kid not having a chance to get a toy this Christmas.

R2 wrapped up with a quick picture with Garth Kemp, and then it was off for home!

Three events during the week kept me pretty busy, but I think things look calm for the next couple weeks, at least. But you never know...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Empire Strikes Back Script Read

Tonight R2 joined several Star Wars characters to provide fun for attendees of The Empire Strikes Back Script Read, at the United Artists Ace Theater, in Los Angeles, CA. The theater sold out, with a capacity of 1,600.

The event was organized by film director Jason Reitman, and featured the following voice cast:

Aaron Paul as Luke Skywalker
Jessica Alba as Leia
Ellen Page as Han Solo
JK Simmons as Darth Vader

Rain Wilson as Chewbacca

Stephen Merchant as C-3P0

Kevin Pollak as Yoda

Dennis Haysbert as Lando Calrissian

Mark Hamill as the Emperor and Boba Fett (and more)
Jason Reitman as R2-D2 (whistling)

(That photo bears a striking resemblance to that at Entertainment Weekly...)

This was a "cold read," meaning the cast had not rehearsed together prior to performing. It makes for a fun and surprising show.

Gordon Tarpley was our C-3PO. The characters were mainly there for photo ops, although there was some talk for a while of having R2 be up on stage. That didn't end up happening, but we still had fun doing the pre-show photos.

JK Simmons, playing the role of Vader, was escorted into the theater upon his introduction by a few Storm Troopers, and Darth Vader.

Once we were done, we took a few group pictures outside the theater, before the characters dressed down in a room at the adjoining hotel.

Once everyone changed and R2 was stored in the changing room, we were able to see the show (we missed maybe the first 20 minutes).

It was totally great! The actors really had fun with their roles, and there was some fun, creative embellishment. Mark Hamill did a great job as the Emperor, as did Kevin Pollak with Yoda. But they were all good. I snuck a picture after the show had ended, as no photography or recording was allowed during the performance (unless you are Entertainment Weekly).

Afterward, we gathered our gear (or droids, as the case may be), and headed down to the front of the theater to wait for the valets to get our cars. The line was long as we were with 1,600 theater patrons.

I obliged a lot of pictures with R2, but I decided to duck back inside the theater lobby to avoid the crowd. A few minutes later, I was joined by actor Aaron Paul, who was also doing the same. He, Gordon Tarpley and I chatted for a good 10-15 minutes. He mentioned it was a bit stressful to play Luke Skywalker in front of the original actor who played him, but he did fine. He also said he was pretty impressed with R2!

It was a fun night. I didn't get home until around 12:30am and didn't get in bed until well after 1:00am, but it was worth it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

UC Irvine Health Child Life Holiday Party

Tonight R2 joined several other characters throughout the Disney universe to support UC Irvine Health's Child Life Holiday Party.

The event went from 5:00pm-8:00pm, and was was held at Pretend City near Irvine, CA. It's a place for kids to roam around as if it were a real city, with little models of a grocery store, bank, fire station and other buildings found in a typical city. It was well attended with lots of kids, but as usual with these things, no pictures with kids get posted.

R2 was joined by WALL•E and Mike and Amy.

The characters posed for pictures with all the guests, and with each other too. Even Santa had to take some pics.

We wrapped up with one last group picture with Santa before we headed home.

It was a good night, the kids really enjoyed it, and they got to go home with presents.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Combat Radio Children's Breakfast with Santa - 2014

For the third year in a row, R2 joined other Star Wars characters and other costumers for Combat Radio's annual Children's Breakfast with Santa.

I slept in a bit this year, and got up at 4:27am. When I hit the road around 5:00am, a full moon was in the sky to keep me company. (The bright white light, not the yellowish street lamp.)

I arrived around 6:15am and unloaded and set up for the 7:30am arrival of the kids. It was a lot less frigid than in previous years.

Many items were auctioned off to help raise money for meals for those in need as well.

When the kids arrived, they were greeted by all kinds of characters. Star Wars, Disney, Transformers, you name it. It was like mini-convention.

Michal McMaster was there with WALL•E.

And Gordon Tarpley as C-3PO.

At 8:00am the kids and guardians came in and met more of the characters, and were treated to good, hot, filling meal and toys!

After the kids were done eating, they got to visit some more with the characters. I managed to capture all three of Disney's recently acquired properties in one picture (Lucasfilm, Marvel and Pixar).

The droids joined legendary Disney Imagineer Bob Gurr, Star Wars Rebels voice actor Steve Blum (Zed on the show), and event organizer Ethan Dettenmaier on the red carpet for some pictures.

And of course, the kids got to visit with Santa.

Around 3:00pm we finally headed out. It was another good visit, and I expect we'll be back next year.