My Incredible Star Wars In Concert Experience.

Look, there's no real way to describe what happened to me last night. Not for a Star Wars fan at least. You should know, that what follows in a detailed report of what it felt like. This blog is not for the casual fan.

It's long. It's descriptive. It'll probably be filled with errors in spelling and grammar. I can only apologize and say that my frenzied mind is still reeling from what will forever be one of my fondest memories.

It's not very often you get to take a peek behind the curtain of the Star Wars universe. But for one day, I did.

Join me, if you dare...

But first, like all good stories, this saga begins in a galaxy far, far, away...

When you first come to Hollywood, you meet a ton of people. You're excited. They're excited. Quite frankly, it can be overwhelming. It seems that everyone is someone, and you're no one.

Because of that, or perhaps in spite of that; I never sought out friendships based on job titles. I have a deeper sense of what true friendship is, and it most certainly has nothing to do with someone's credits.

And so it was that several years ago I was invited to a private movie screening at the house of a fellow actor friend, Kerby Joe Grubb. Kerby and I had bonded over our shared sense of personality a few years before. Still, I had never met his roommate. All I knew about him was that he was an older fellow who wanted to make movies. You would think that would make an aspiring actor/writer like me salivate over the possibilities. But again, I didn't work like that. I thought it was cool, but I didn't seek out any sort of professional connection.

CUT TO- the first movie night I attended at Kerby's apartment some 10 years ago. His roommate held these private screenings for his various friends as a way for creative artists to get together and mix and mingle. I walked in and was immediately panicked with insecurity. The room was filled with all sorts of interesting and diverse people. I might as well have walked into the Mos Eisley Cantina, that's how out of place I felt. To put it bluntly, they all looked much smarter than me. I must have been about 24, and although a wide range of ages were represented, no one felt younger than me that night. They wore interesting clothes, spoke elegantly, and conversed over art. Art? To me, art was Ralph McQuarrie's early Darth Vader concepts.


Kerby introduced me to his roommate, and with a Texas drawl that took me more than a minute to comprehend, I met Kerry O'Quinn. Kerry was one of those people you meet that instantly makes you feel at ease. He welcomed me to his home and thanked me for coming. He asked if I had any difficulties parking and whether or not I wanted a beverage. Considering he was hosting an event with 30-40 REAL people working in the industry, I thought it was terribly gracious.

Kerry went about his bsuiness of hosting and the movie commenced.

Towards the end of the night, people started clearing out. Kerby and I kept drinking, as that was pretty much a given with Kerby and I at this point in our lives. The walls of the apartment became more and more visible with each head disappearing, and suddenly I spotted something familiar. In the back corner was a black and silver poster of immense proportions. The curves of the lettering were unmistakable, and the jet-black background might as well have been Darth Vader himself. STAR WARS.

Excited, I asked Kerby who owned the poster.

"Ahhh do." said the incoming Texas shooting star Kerry O'Quinn.

And with that, Kerry and I began a life-long friendship bonded on writing, movies, and most importantly... Star Wars.


I discovered shortly after that first encounter that Kerry was the creator and founder of Starlog Magazine, as well as Fangoria and several other cult magazine classics. He was an icon within the Sci-Fi and Horror industries. Kerry knew more people than I could ever hope to, and many of them were Star Wars-related. He was even personally responsible for producing the 10th Anniversary Star Wars Convention back in 1987, a precursor for the incredible amount of conventions that now take place annually.

In short, Kerry was a part of history, and always will be. He made it okay for dorks like me to buy action figures, and even for their girlfriends to buy those same dorks Wampa Rugs. He brought nerds together before the age of the internet, before the advent of facebook, and before it was cool to be outspoken in your zeal for things like Dagobah.

And while all of that is impressive, I like Kerry because of Kerry. He's a wonderful man with a big heart and big ambitions. He provides myself and his friends with endless laughter, as he's just so damn fun. Anyone that's ever met Kerry, loves Kerry. Present company included.

Through the years, Kerry has regaled me with his Star Wars tales. From meeting George Lucas to talking with Mark Hammil, Kerry is never short on stories. He once invited me to Skywalker Ranch for his birthday, but I unfortunately wasn't able to go.

He's invited me to several other excursions, whether they be Comic-Con or concerts, they're always greatly appreciated by me. Unfortunately, when you're trying to make your own mark in the industry, time alludes you. I've never been able to attend most of the events Kerry has invited me to, and that includes this past month's Star Wars In Concert at The Hollywood Bowl. I had to turn Kerry down several times, each time becoming more and more painful.

This Saturday was the last night to see Star Wars In Concert. Once again, obligations kept me from attending. Kerry, ever the sweet man, attempted to do something special instead. He asked me if I wanted to have lunch with Anthony Daniels and a slew of other people from the show.

daniels c3
daniels c3

Excuse me. Did I want to have lunch with Anthony Daniels, aka C-3PO? Did I want to meet other people involved with Lucasfilm and Star Wars In Concert?

Are you kidding me?

I was so giddy to meet "Tony" Daniels that I originally bought a gold tie. I wanted to look nice, while also wearing something symbolic.

I thought about what to ask, what to say, and what to have him autograph. I'm not an autograph collector, so the choice of merchandise had to be something special. I thought about an action figure, but ultimately decided on something more personally memorable (more on that later).

The morning of the lunch, I couldn't have been more of a girl. If you wanted to see the very definition of a Star Wars nerd, you would find it in me two hours before lunch. I tried on several outfits, with each one leaving me more and more frustrated. It wasn't the clothes, it was the idea of meeting someone from the original trilogy.

You need to understand, never in my wildest dreams as a kid did I think I'd meet a principle from the Star Wars universe, let alone the man who could rightfully claim to be THE voice of the whole damn saga. He's in every movie. Every cartoon. He narrates the rides. The games. Anthony Daniels and Star Wars are one and the same. This wasn't just standing in line for hours at a convention, it was totally unique. My geek neuroses were at defcon five.

I ditched the gold tie.

I picked up Kerry and his roommate Brian Lamberson a few minutes later. I was relieved to know Brian was attending with us, as at least I'd know one other person at the table.

We arrived and waited patiently as each member of our group appeared. There were about 15 people in all. As usual with Kerry O'Quinn's friends, they were all successful. It's not an easy group to be thrown into, and I found myself becoming more and more self-conscious with each word spoken. This is an odd phenomenon for me, as I'm usually quite gregarious. If nothing else, I'm definitely outspoken and opinionated. I know I'm smart enough to converse with these people, and worthy of even working with them, but it's all a matter of comfort. They knew one another. I might as well have been an Ewok. Foreign and amusing, but not someone to be taken seriously. At least not until I took down a few stormtroopers on my own with giant boulders.

But because I'm cognizant of my passionate opinions and their ability to divide people, I tried to lay low. It certainly wasn't easy. At one end of the table, a voracious conversation was taking place regarding the upcoming Green Lantern movie. Clearly, I had opinions on this. Not only was I a personal fan, but as a writer and actor, I have a lot of takes on what's about to unfold on the screen June 17th. But I had to bite my tongue, as I didn't want to disagree and make a bad impression.

Again, context is everything.

Kerry's close friend Howard Roffman showed up and sat in the middle of the table. Howard is the President of Lucasfilm Licensing, and his tenure there dates back to the Star Wars origins. As a Star Wars nerd, this was about as close as I could get to George Lucas.

The funny thing was, it's not like anyone ever announced his arrival or title. Remember, almost everyone there were friends. I was an outsider. And so when Howard sat down and Kerry mentioned that I had ridden the new Star Tours ride, I felt no need to filter my opinions. Basically, I had no idea Howard was behind Star Tours with every step of the process.

Of course, as noted previously here, I really enjoyed the new ride. It's a marked improvement on the last one. So in that sense, I'm sure I only reconfirmed Mr. Roffman's faith in the ride. On the other hand, I didn't exactly hold back on my disdain for the original Star Tours. And do you know who also had a hand in the old Star Tours ride? That's right, Howard Roffman.

Sigh. I am an idiot.

Luckily, I was polite about it. He asked me why, and I gave a short description of my feelings towards "Rex" and the lack of real Star Wars characters within the story. He surely had heard this before, as the new ride completely makes up for it. Kerry later told me that Mr. Roffman appreciates honesty and passion, so I felt comfortable I hadn't made too bad of an impression.

This was good. After all, I didn't want to burn the bridge that will eventually lead to me pitching my new Star Wars trilogy to George one day. Ahem. One can dream, right? Laugh. Out. Loud.

Twenty minutes into lunch, Mr. Roffman received a call that informed us Tony couldn't make it. Apparently, he had some business affairs to attend to. The table collectively deflated a bit upon hearing the news. Kerry, ever the loyal friend, looked at Howard and said, "But Howard, this is going to break Kurt's heart."

All eyes at the table focused in on me.

"Ummm, hey everyone. I'm Kurt."

It was the best I could muster up. I said something else to take the attention away from me, and lunch thankfully continued.

Kerry walked over to Howard and they had a private conversation. Howard made a phone call, and Kerry returned.

Nothing was said, though I had a suspicion what might be unfolding. Call it my Force powers...

For the next three hours, we feasted on all manner of delicious treats. I have to be honest, there were things said at the table that I wish I could share with you. There were things from a Star Wars' fan's point of view that I found incredibly interesting. It was fascinating.

The truth is, I have way too much respect for the people there to reveal things I heard. The conversation wasn't all Star Wars, but certainly that dominated the bulk of dialogue. There were a lot of stories I knew through reading other material, but many I didn't. And in many ways, spending a few hours with people who work closely with George will alter your mind.

Look, I'm a fan like the rest of you. I certainly have the same issues as we all do with various aspects of the prequels (though you should know, I still very much like them). But I can tell you this, getting a few hours with people from the inside can give you a new understanding of the process. It was eye-opening. Fanboys like me sit in a darkened room and anonymously critique every nuance that comes out of George's mouth, all the while proclaiming that if we were in the room with him, we'd shout out why something wasn't working.

Let me tell you, it's an entirely different experience when you're actually there in some capacity.

Besides, I've long held the notion that Lucas is going to come back and kick all the naysayers in the teeth one day with something explosive and awesome. It might be Star Wars related. It might not be. I'd love to see George Lucas return to something small and character-driven like American Graffiti. Not that I'm complaining if he wants to play in Cloud City one more time either... All I can hope is that someone deep within Skywalker Ranch is pumping George up and telling him that he's capable of blowing us all out of the water again with his unique vision. I want to see George Lucas return to filmmaking, and hopefully all the hipster trust fund kids going to film school will remember that George Lucas is one of the few visionaries that can rightfully claim he changed the medium forever. Call me a naive fanboy, but I'm convinced Lucas has it in him. He's like Vader. It's in there man. And I for one, have his back. He's friggin' George Lucas!

At any rate, lunch was fabulous. I didn't speak much, but did manage to tell Mr. Roffman and friends how The Angel bought me a Wampa Rug for Christmas and it was then that I knew I wanted to marry her. I was amazed that Mr. Roffman knew exactly what the Wampa Rug was and asked if I also had a Taun Taun sleeping bag. Yes, he's the head of licensing. But the fact that he knew two obscure items like that blew my mind. Do you know how many Star Wars products are on the market? Least to say, I loosened up a bit and my real energy came out.


There's a line between being cool while still being a fanboy, and I was deftly managing it.

The lunch ended and everyone said goodbye. I thanked Mr. Roffman for spending time with us and he coyly said something to the effect of, "well, I think I'm seeing you later so we'll talk then."

I turned back to Kerry and he quietly pulled Brian and myself to the side.

"Listen, I have to be a bit quiet about this. I talked to Howard, and he made some calls. I have two Star Wars In Concert passes. If you two can go, I'd like to go together. We can go backstage and meet Anthony Daniels and such..."

I didn't hesitate. I knew I had an obligation that night, but there was no way I was missing this again. Kerry had invited me to Star Wars In Concert three previous times, and I always said regretfully no.

I wasn't saying no this time.

I dashed home and showered up as quick as I can. Hollywood traffic is worse than Vader's force grip, but somehow I managed to arrive back at Kerry's apartment on time. Sitting there, staring me in the face, was my own VIP pass. We made small talk and then ascended the uneven hill en route to the Hollywood Bowl.

I've never been a VIP for anything, so I'm not going to lie when I say I was thrilled to bypass all the lines. The fanboy in me was no longer going to be held back. I'd be cool, but damn if I wasn't going to enjoy myself.

Maybe it was the wine, or the faint smell of Wookie in the air, but I was back to my old self... loud, giddy, and definitely not shy.

Mr. Roffman met us at the gate and immediately asked me if I wanted to meet the men behind Star Tours. He introduced me and I told them how much I enjoyed it. They seemed genuinely interested in a fan's opinion, and it was something that stuck with me all night as it quickly became a commonality. They wanted to know who I saw, what planets I visited, and how it compared to the old one. There was no question these men put a lot of thought and energy into Star Tours 2, and they were excited they had apparently hit a home run with fan and park goers alike.

It made me think of the immeasurable pressure men like these face from fans like me. It's something we forget about too often. It's not just us they have to please. There are major sponsorships. The companies they work with. And that bearded guy we call George. I spent a few minutes thinking about what it would be like to be in charge of something creative within Lucasfilm, and if you really imagine it, the weight of expectations can melt your mind.

Don't get me wrong, I'd still do it in a heartbeat (cough, cough NEW TRILOGY cough cough WRITING STAFF FOR ALLEGED TV SHOW cough cough), but it IS a mountain of pressure. I mean, we analyze the shade of skin on Bossk's feet for God's sake. "IT BETTER BE MUSTARD YELLOW!!!"


I also met the Director and Designer of Star Wars In Concert, Steve Cohen. He was at lunch as well, but I didn't really get much time to speak with him. He was very pleasant, and I got the impression he was the kind of guy who could bust balls with the best of them. A few drinks and I'm sure we'd be trading quips on various things Star Wars related and otherwise.

sunset director
sunset director

We were led to our seats and this is where the story really gets magical for me.

In what became a running gag of the night, I sat down in my seat and with shock in my eyes, exclaimed "oh my god, I'm literally in the best seat of the house."


Our group chuckled, but it's true. I simply can't understate it. If you were asked to pick one seat and one seat only in the Hollywood Bowl, it would have been mine. We were dead center, approximately fifty rows back, with no one in front of us. To give you some semblance of understanding, they were filming something that night... and the camera was directly behind me. Amazing doesn't do it justice.


Any closer and you'd have to look upward at the screen. Any further back and you'd be totally aware that you were surrounded by thousands. In my seat, it felt like you were alone.


Only I wasn't. As Mr. Roffman decided to sit next to me.

So, to recap... I'm sitting in the factually accurate best seat in the world-famous Hollywood Bowl. I'm watching Star Wars. I'm listening to an orchestra recreate the music live. And I'm sitting between the creator of Starlog magazine and the President of Lucasfilm.

Sorry Mom, but... "are you fucking kidding me?!"

As for the show?

It was incredible.

Really, it was. It was beautiful. It was dark. It was fun. And it was everything Star Wars is.


There were generations of fans there, and nothing warms my heart more than seeing little Han Solos and little Princess Leias dancing around with their parents. Harrison Ford can say whatever he wants, Star Wars IS IT MAN. It will never, ever, ever go away.


And yes, for those close to me and aware of my emotional tendencies, I did tear up at one point. During the Princess Leia portion of the show, the video surmised the relationship between her and Solo. Anyone that knows me pre-Nicole and post-Nicole knows how much the on-screen dynamic parallels ours. What can I say? She's my princess. And I'm her scoundrel.


The show featured lasers, lights, and dynamic cut-scenes. There's nothing quite like turning around and seeing a host of lightsabers glowing in the night. It made you remember, much like my dear friend Kerry O'Quinn had done years earlier in Starlog magazine, that we geeks are not alone. We are okay. We're not weirdos. Perhaps just a little strange.


And what I found most interesting of all was Mr. Roffman's reaction to the show. You would think a guy that spent nearly every day of his adult life surrounded by Star Wars would grow sick of the music and theatrics associated with it. Ummmm, you would be wrong.

Mr. Roffman bounced and bopped to EVERY SONG. It was totally genuine, and absolutely endearing. He laughed at my enthusiasm over Lando and smirked when I bellowed to him that they better damn well have The Cantina Song. They did, and he roared at my happiness when those unforgettable notes eventually queued up.

The night started to wind down and I prepped myself for meeting Anthony Daniels backstage. To be frank, it couldn't have gotten much better in my eyes. And then of course, it did.

Anthony hushed the never-ending applause and then announced that there was a very special guest in attendance tonight.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. John Williams."


As I write it now, listening to the indelible music of Star Wars, I get goose bumps. John Williams is arguably the most prolific and important composer of the modern era. His music is a part of our own personal soundtrack. Star Wars. Indiana Jones. Harry Potter. Saving Private Ryan. Jurassic Park. E.T. Superman. Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Jaws.

I really loathe when people in the film industry throw around the word genius, because I think by doing so, you demean the very definition of the word. That all being said, John Williams is a genius.

Watching Mr. Williams take the stand was a moment I'll never forget. It's very rare you get to see a Master of his work up close, performing the duties that make them iconic. I've been fortunate enough to see this moment once before, when I worked with Steven Spielberg on The Terminal. Watching Mr. Williams reminded me of how uplifting we can be when we're at the height of our abilities.


He launched into the orchestral for The Imperial March. The power of those first notes were not lost on me, as the music pounded with authority in a familiar, yet totally fresh way. My glee could only be contained for so long, and I wheeled around to Mr. Roffman and grabbed his shoulder, "you knew he was coming you son of a bitch, didn't you?!"

My fangs exposed with joy, Mr. Roffman laughed. Of course he did.


Mr. Williams finished and we made our way through the various clonetroopers in attendance to the backstage area. We were whisked inside, where dreams became reality. The first person I met was Dirk Brosse, the wonderful conductor of Star Wars In Concert. He was gracious, almost embarrassed by the attention. We chatted briefly and I went on my way.


Like the nature of The Force, I suddenly felt the air get sucked out of the room. Everyone was quiet. I looked around and there I saw Mr. John Williams. You don't really know how to describe someone of that magnitude, but I'll do my best. He was dapper, yet not so much that you felt intimidated. He constantly smiled, in the way someone with a warm demeanor has a habit of doing. He spoke soft, and made sure to look everyone in the eyes. He reminded me a bit of Santa Claus.

Now, instinctively I assessed the rest of the room. There were about 40 of us. I knew Mr. Williams was a special guest and he would most likely be on his way in a matter of moments. Taking that into account, I knew there was no possible way he was going to meet everyone there. And that's when years of baseball games and baseball autograph shows finally came into play. You see, procuring a moment with someone like that all comes down to body language and angles. You never step in front of people. You never alter someone's space. To do so would be rude.

I've also long established a personal rule when it comes to meeting someone special or famous, those that it would mean the most to should have first opportunity. Although that can be hard to gauge, it's a manner of personal assessment. I've seen famous people before that I'd like to meet, but not at the expense of a bigger fan. Usually, this scenario is fairly obvious.

And of course, it goes without saying that kids come first. Always. As an action figure collector, it has always baffled me how collectors gobble up everything in sight before kids get a chance. I don't understand it, and I remember fighting at a local Toys R Us for some new Power of the Force action figures in college, only to relinquish them to a much more deserving person... a little boy desperately seeking Luke Skywalker in Bespin fatigues. I handed it over without a blink.

Kids comes first.

Since there were no kids in the area, I surmised that no one deserved to meet John Williams more than Kerry O'Quinn. Kerry, the man that met nearly everyone from Tatooine and beyond, had never shook the hands of John Williams. Kerry had interviewed George Lucas, but never so much as had a photo-op with John Williams. So in my eyes, there was no way he wasn't going to be the first to break bread with the man who totally superseded the expectations of George Lucas those many years ago.

I positioned myself behind Mr. Williams, at precisely the spot he'd no doubt turn into. I'm a fairly tall guy, so no one was going to step in front of me. I waited for Mr. Williams to turn, and upon doing so, realized I needn't had tried to help Kerry. This is Kerry O'Quinn! Kerry will meet and talk to whoever he damn well pleases, and he certainly didn't need me to help him! I should have known... :)

Kerry walked up to John and everyone spread out as Kerry explained his history with Starlog Magazine. Brian and I, both on opposite sides, took over a dozen pictures. At one point, we even took dueling photo-bombed pictures.

photo bomb swars
photo bomb swars

Kerry was delighted, and I was even more pleased that he had met John.

But as soon as they parted ways, it was on!


Again, all thanks has to go to my Father for helping me learn to be in the right spot at the right time. You always have to be respectful of other people, just know where to be. Mr. Williams turned right into me, and I met him with a humongous and heartfelt grin.

He was so kind, and I did my best to politely ask for a picture and autograph. Not only did he oblige, but he had his own marker. Yup, pretty sure he's done this before. He asked me where I wanted him to sign and I replied that it didn't manner. I thanked him for his generosity and backed out of the way.

He greeted a few more fans until retiring into the moonlight. I would guess only a dozen of us met John Williams that night, and I was lucky to be one of them.


As if it couldn't get any better, finally the time had come to meet Mr. C-3PO himself, Anthony Daniels. "Tony" was radiant in his gold vest and perfectly fitted black suit. Here's what I can tell you I gleaned from the few moments I observed Mr. Daniels. The most obvious is, he's a star. He's a total professional, and yet a star. As an actor, I've been around enough sets and backstage areas to grasp the chaotic nature that can occur. With John Williams being present, with the tour ending... there was no question Mr. Daniels had a wealth of activity to take part in, all while under a small amount of time. But did he ever show this? No, he was nothing but lovely.

And he's a total actor. Make no mistake, there's a reason Tony made it. You look at him and know he's an actor.

I'd like to share with you one more moment I observed before meeting Tony.

At one point, he looked at Kerry and said something to the effect of, just hold on. He went into his dressing room and closed the door. When he emerged a few moments later, a beaming child and his family walked out with huge smiles in their faces. It was evident to anyone in that area that this child was sick. Not sure with what illness, only that he was.

But damn, you wouldn't have known it by that kid's demanor. He was smiling, a real hero. He was the happiest kid in the world, and no one wasn't moved by the moment. I know I was, and that is the power of Star Wars.

A bit later we finally had our chance to meet Tony, and clearly someone had prepped him that there was a tall goofball in a hat that had something special for him to sign. He seemed to tractor beam into me as he approached.

"Yes, I understand you have something for me to sign?"

He smiled, and I swear I saw C-3PO for half a second. I suppose that doesn't make much sense, as Threepio has no facial expression, but I saw it nonetheless. I handed him what I brought to sign and he laid it down in front of his makeup counter. He asked my name and took the most delicate time in signing it. I thanked him profusely and again, casually bowed out of the picture.


Kerry, Tony, and Mr. Roffman took a few more pictures and our time had come to a close.

I was the last one to shake Tony's hand upon leaving, and once again he couldn't have been warmer.

We walked outside, but before doing so, we all thanked Mr. Roffman. Because everyone in our group knew him personally, there were a lot of hugs. I had already thanked him profusely and shaked his hand, but as everyone waved goodbye... there was one last moment. I thought of what just occurred and said...

"Screw it, I'm giving you a hug too Howard!"

Everyone laughed, and Kerry later told me that Howard really enjoyed my total enthusiasm for the whole night. Here's a pic with the man that along with Kerry, made it all happen...


For the record, I don't hug many people. It's very awkward for me and has a lot to do with my upbringing. And even though it was a funny moment, I meant that hug I gave. The whole night was enthralling.

Walking back to the house, I had one last autograph I needed to get.

There, in his living room, I had Kerry O'Quinn sign what I had previously had John Williams and Anthony Daniels sign. You see, I had bought a 1985 issue of Starlog Magazine with C-3PO on the cover. It was my friend's magazine, and to me, Kerry is the biggest star of them all. Because it's his friendship that matters most. He could have brought anyone to Star Wars, and he brought me.

In an eerie bit of coincidence, his editorial from that issue's magazine mirrored a blog I just posted about what life really is.

I can assure you, living was what I did on Saturday at the bowl. I went home and admitted, this was literally one of the fondest memories of my life. I know a lot of people don't understand that, and that's okay. Because there's a whole slew of us Star Wars fans that do.

I took away so much from the experience, and most of all was what Star Wars meant to me. The next day, still beaming, I made a promise. I don't know how, and I don't know when. But there will come a day when I work with Lucasfilm in some capacity. It may be as a writer. Or an actor. Or someone in the mail room (not joking), but it's given me so much joy... that I can only hope to give it back in some way.

I'm sure the entire table at lunch thought I was just a goofy awestruck kid. Little do they know the professionalism and creativity I have. It's okay, because one day I'll have my opportunity to play in the Star Wars universe. It will happen.

Until then... May the Force Be With You.