Lining Up for Glory
April 17, 2002
On Thursday, April 4th, tents were erected on the sidewalk at the corner of Hollywood and Orange, just down the block from Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. The official line for Star Wars, Episode II, the Attack of the Clones, had begun, just about six weeks before the premiere. I wasn't able to get out there Thursday (oddly, Shannon doesn't think that "hanging out with the guys in the Star Wars line" is a good way to spend an evening), but I was able to get down there on Sunday (the 7th) and talk to a few of the folks sitting in line.
This year, the line is being run by a group called Lining Up (www.lingingup.com). When I got there on Sunday afternoon, I found eight or ten folks lounging under an open-sided tent. Mostly, I talked to Corey (a screenwriter and one of the organizers of the line), Alyse (webmaster of www.ewanspotting.com), Valerie (a student at Cal-State Long Beach), and Melanie, who managed not to get her name on tape, despite the fact that I asked the group for names about 6 times.* I found them relaxed and jovial in the warm afternoon sun. Of course, they'd only been sitting there for three-and-a-half days at that time.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Corey, are you the organizer of liningup.com?
COREY: I'm one of many organizers, along with Alyse and about ten others.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: So you were one of the original guys who was in the line 3 years ago for the Phantom Menace?
COREY: Yeah. I was in the Episode I line that was run by Counting-Down.com
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Right. And this year you've decided that, not only would the line give you a chance to be among the first to see Attack of the Clones, you'd also use the opportunity to raise money for a charity. You picked the Starlight Foundation. Why?
COREY: The Starlight Children's Foundation is a great charity. It was the charity that we lined up for for Episode I and we enjoy a great relationship with them -- they were very accomodating last time, they've been very accomodating this time, and they do great stuff, so we're happy to help them out, and we're glad to be associated with them.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Are all of you guys from Los Angeles?
COREY: I'm from Connecticut originally, but I live in LA.
VALERIE: Yeah, LA.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Are you guys living in line, or are you just doing shifts?
ALYSE: I'm doing shifts. My boyfriend, when he comes down, is going to be living in line. There's only a few people who are going to be actually living in line. Jobs and school and stuff, you know. But other people, unless you coun't leaving for showers and stuff, they're gonna be living in line.
COREY: Why aren't you here?
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Well -- I tried to add up the hours, figure out how I could make it work with work and slide it past my wife. It just didn't add up.
COREY: Well, it's double hours the first two weeks -- most of us are over 60 already.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: I'll let you talk to my wife later. So, all four of you have been here since Thursday?
COREY: Not straight through, but yeah.
ALYSE: My first day was Thursday, they [Val and Melanie] got here today.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: So, how many people were here on Thursday? Was it a mob?
COREY: We had a huge turnout on Thursday. We had about 30 people.
ALYSE: At one point, we had 30 people.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Now, as far as logistical support -- food, water -- how's that working?
COREY: Yeah. Josh's mom came down this morning. His parents came down, they brought a whole bunch of donuts and bottled water and stuff.
ALYSE: We have one line memebr whose girlfriend works in wholesale produce, so they are supplying fruit and stuff once a week. And the pretzel stand right here --
COREY: Those guys rock.
ALYSE: At the end of the night they just give us their leftovers.
COREY: They've brought us about 60 pounds of pretzels so far.
ALYSE: So everyone's been really supportive and really helpful.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: So, Hamburger Hamlet or Johnny Rockets?
COREY: Mostly, we go the Hamlet. Johnny Rockets wasn't here for the Episode I line, soŠ But we have no problem with them, you know.
ALYSE: They're both good.
COREY: We'd love to have some Johnny Rockets down in line.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: How has the new mall here at Hollywood and Highland changed the line experience?
COREY: It's about the same.
ALYSE: If anything, it's given us more options for food. Oh, and restrooms.
ALYSE: We were worried it might change things, but it really hasn't.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: How about media? Apart from the media powerhouse that is Clark Schpiell Productions, has there been anyone else here?
COREY: There was a flurry of media on Friday. Some on Thursday, but a lot of Friday. It;'s died downa bit but, if the Episode I line is any idication, there's an ebb and flow to the media coverage.
ALYSE: But it's big people. All the local news, CNN, Reuters, WireImage, etc.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Yeah -- the cover of Maxim. That's huge. Lots of Hollyood actors vying for that -- all of them pissed at you guys.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: When did the planning start for this line? I know you guys probably talked about it 3 years ago in line, butŠ
COREY: Believe it or notŠ
ALYSE: The real planning -- the idea that we were gonna do this, that this core group of people was gonna do this, happened as soon as the movie was over.
COREY: Yeah, basically.
ALYSE: As soon as we saw that first showing. The actual hard-core planning -- getting the site going, all of that stuff, was, what?
COREY: Six months or a year, maybe? About a year.
ALYSE: And then the last 2 monthsŠ
COREY: Yeah -- hardcore the last couple of months.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Okay. Now, I know this is highly unlikely, but you know the Chinese Theater hasn't officially confirmed they are going to be premiering Episode II at the big theater here. I'm sure they will, but should it happen that something like Lord of the Rings should happen --
COREY: That sucked.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Yeah. Should it happen like that, that something idiotic like Vanilla Sky is in the big theater, is there a plan B for all of you guys?
COREY: Well, we're quite confident that the movie will be showing at the Chinese Theater. If it's not playing on the big screen, we will see it on one of the smaller screens. It's got to at least be playing on one of the smaller screens. So we're not overly concerned about the movie not showing here. But, you know, if the theater collapses in an earthquake or a freak accident, we'll go see it somewhere else.
MELANIE: We'll move the line.
COREY: It's not even on our minds.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: What position were you in line 3 years ago for Episode I?
COREY: I was 75th in line.
ALYSE: I was 20th.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: How many hours was 75th and 20th?
COREY: The numbers are a little hazy. Really, the whole time is a little blurry. But, it was between 100 and 200 hours for me. I can't remember exactly.
ALYSE: I was lucky. I had 152 hours, but I ... met somebody in line, and we fell in love and everything, and he was living in line -- he came down from Canada -- and so we combined our hours and split them. He was like 4th in line, so together we ended up 20th and 21st.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: That's real love -- to give up 4th in line for a girl.
ALYSE: yeah -- he's coming back.
COREY: He looks just like Ewan McGregor.
ALYSE: No, he does not. No correlation there.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Okay. Now I'm going to tread on some trecherous ground. I'm a huge, huge Star Wars fan -- framed Yoda picture in my study -- t-shirts, toys, the works. But I was, well, disappointed with Episode I. Were I the editor, I would have cut 20 minutes from it. How did you guys all feel about the first movie?
ALYSE: Not enough Ewan!
MELANIE: I agree!
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Any other comments?
COREY: Admittedly, I was a little bit shaken by the fact that, in one of the first scenes, there were these rubber-heads whose lips didn't match the dialogue, and I was like, "wait a minute -- how long have they been working on this?" That bugged me and scared me, but ther're parts of the movie that I absolutely loveŠ
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: The lightsaber battleŠ
COREY: The lightsaber battle, of course.
COREY: I've watched the podrace a lot, which Ewan is not in at all, and, yeah, there are some kick-ass parts of the movie. Enough so that I don't dislike the film.
ALYSE: There was enough good to make up for the bad.
COREY: There was plenty of R2-D2 in action, and that's always good.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: How many of you guys were alive to see the first Star Wars trilogy in the theater?
ALYSE: I saw Jedi in the theater. I remember I was super-excited. I remember it distinctly.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: And it was enough to make you want to stand in line for weeks to see Episode I and now for Episode II?
ALYSE: Well, my reasoning for being in line was a little bit different from most people's. I ... um ... I run a Ewan McGregor website called ewanspotting.com, and I joined the line as a Ewan McGregor ambassador. Or, at least, that's kind of how I saw myself. I would say I'm a Ewan McGregor fan first, Star Wars fan second.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Now, is that considered blasphemous online? Is that a bad thing?
ALYSE: Actually, they're still pretty supportive.
COREY: We don't give a damn.
ALYSE: Hey, it's Ewan. He's Obi-Wan. How can they knock that?
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Anybody else around to see Star Wars in the theater the first time?
COREY: I was old enough, I guess. I was three when the original Star Wars came out, and I resented for years the fact that my parents didn't take me. They went to see it without me.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: That's horrible. 'Cause I'm about the same age as you -- I was 4 when the original came out, but my dad took me like 13 times.
COREY: Yeah. Thanks. Mine didn't take me.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: I'm sorry.
COREY: It was too crowded, and I was too young, so no Star Wars for me.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: So, are you living out your frustration as a child right now?
COREY: yeah -- I've been lining up for three years to make up for that. No. No. But, you know, I had always wanted to have seen the original Star Wars in the theater and I never got too... I'm pretty sure I saw Empire and Jedi in the theater, and I remember that I brought a bootleg videotape of Jedi to school, and made my class watch it. And that was before you could get any of that stuff on tape.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Fortunately, nobody from Lucasfilm reads my website.
COREY: And when I first heard ... you know, we had always all heard that Lucas was going to make more Star Wars movies someday, and, when it was actually starting to solidify, I just decided no matter where I lived, or what I was doing with my life, I was going to see Episode I at the Chinese theater. And, it just kind of fell into place a little over three years ago when I found out that people were lining up out here, and I was like, "I have to be part of that," 'cause I always swore I was going to do that.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: How many time did each of you see the movie in the theater?
ALYSE: 13 and a half.
COREY: About 5.
MELANIE: I've got about 5 or 6.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: I don't feel so bad. I've got 4, but I expected to be way further behind you guys.
MELANIE: Moulin Rouge, on the other hand.
ALYSE: Moulin Rouge!
MELANIE: Ewan MacGregr -- Moulin Rouge.
ALYSE: Tell him how many times.
MELANIE: I've seen it 40 times. My sister has seen it 53.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: That's counting DVD viewings, right?
MELANIE: No. In the theater. At home it is constantly playing. We met Baz Luhrmann a few times, and we've been congratulated by him. He talks about us in all of his interviews.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: So, sitting in line to see Star Wars for forty-odd days, that's not even the tip of the fan iceberg for you guys.
MELANIE: Oh, no. No.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: How spoiler-free are all of you guys?
ALYSE: Totally. I'm completely spoiler-free.
COREY: That's why she's code-red.
ALYSE: Red lightsaber.
COREY: I don't have my badge out, but I'm code blue.
ALYSE: I've only seen the first teaser-trailer, and that is it.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Nothing else?
MELANIE: Red as well.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Now, that takes dedication, to remain spoiler-free. How did you keep yourself from being exposed to any additional trailers, especially considering they were all over TV, movies and the 'net?
ALYSE: well, when I knew that they were playing the trailer, I quick left the theater. Or, I didn't go in until trailers were over.
COREY: Our friend, Josh, who's around here somewhere, when we went to see Harry Potter, one of the Episode II trailers was before it, and he got on the floor of the movie theater, and he put his hands over his ears, and was rocking back and forth, waiting for somebody to nudge him to tell him it was over.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Yeah. I've got no willpower -- I can't stop watching all of the trailers online.
ALYSE: I think being spoiler-free is going to make the movie experience more worthwhile.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Were you spolier-free last time?
ALYSE: No. And talking to people who were spolier-free, they had a better movie-going experience. So that's what I'm hoping for this time around.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: So, apart from Alyse's boyfriend, does anyone else have more friends joiningthem in line?
MELANIE: A lot of people from Alyse's site, ewanspotting.com, we all became frineds on the boards, and we said, we're gonna do this, we're gonna support the foundation. So, yeah, they're coming.
ALYSE: There's some other groups -- British Invasion is coming, a group from England. Who else?
COREY: We've got people from all over.
ALYSE: Another organizer from Connecticut, and one from Florida.
ALYSE: Yeah, so there are a lot more people coming.
CLARK SCHPIELL PRODUCTIONS: Was there one single event last time, three years ago, that made you really want to come back this year?
ALYSE: You can probably guess for me.
COREY: I just met all of these great people here and, you know, most of us are friends from last time. It's just as much a reunion as it is an event for this new movie. For me, it's just as much about all of these people as it is the movie itself.
ALYSE: In the end, though, it's about making friends, and hanging out with people you really care about. And raising money for Starlight, of course. And fun.
*I am the world's crappiest reporter -- thankfully, Alyse emailed me Melanie's name. Alyse also helped me to correct a handful of problems, from a misspelling of Corey's name to a couple of quotes attributed to the wrong voice, to a blasphemous misspelling of "Ewan McGregor." Thanks, Alyse.