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More than eight years after his death, he’s still making headlines. This time? Because he apparently auditioned for the role of a Jedi Master

Can you feel the force?

You know a film is going to be huge when even Hollywood studio executives are queueing round the block. But how would a theatre full of world-weary critics react to a film made for 12-year-olds?

Digital `Star Wars' heralds the end of flickery flicks

POPCORN, cuddling couples and the gentle whirr of the projector. A night at the movies wouldn't be the same without them. But the summer release of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace will mark a new era in cinema history. The end is looming for the film reel, that most potent of Hollywood symbols.

Games: Metal Gear Solid

Since its launch a few months ago, Konami's Metal Gear Solid (Sony PlayStation, pounds 39.99) has been a thunderous success, grabbing hold of the top spot in the bestsellers list and refusing to let go. If any game has been burdened with international hype, it's this one. Released last year in Japan and the States, the praise it collected in the press was unending. Indeed, its early release overseas created such interest here that it probably contributed heavily to the thriving disc-pirating industry. This raises issues about the wisdom of staggering release dates in different territories, and George Lucas has just announced that the tie-in game for the new Star Wars movie will be issued worldwide on the same day, even if it means the game appearing before the film in some countries.

The grand illusion

If `Star Wars' was the death of film, it must prepare to die once more. Andrew Gumbel reports from Los Angeles

Video Games: Star Wars: Droidworks

PC CD-ROM With the new Star Wars film imminent, more and more titles based on the number one sci-fi movie become available - like Star Wars: Droidworks by Lucas Learning. In this title, players get to create their own droids, like R2D2 and C3PO, and then put them to the test in training missions. The more missions you complete, the more droid pieces you collect, and the more missions you can play. This is really one for small children and early-learners, with nicely presented 3D graphics and very simple, easy gameplay.

Net Gains: The Last Crusade

www.angelfire.com/me/jakub/ijwebring.html

The Joys of Modern Life: 23; `Star Wars'

AMERICANS ARE such lucky bastards. I've spent most of my adult life envying their huge cups of coffee, low-priced electrical equipment and 24-hour showbiz news cable channels, but I have never envied them more than I did on 17 November. Because that day, anyone in America who could take the day off work, be in line by 10.45am and pay $7 for entry to an Arab-bashing Denzel Washington film called The Siege, got to be among the first in the world to find out whether Ewan McGregor really knows what to do with a lightsabre.

Comedy; Gig of the week: Phill Jupitus Fri, 12, 17, 18 Dec

Phill Jupitus reckons that "'tis the season to be Jedi", but his show about Star Wars is pretty good at any time of year. In "Jabba Jabba Hey", the likeable team captain from Never Mind the Buzzcocks devotes his act to a minute discussion of George Lucas' enduring sci-fi fairy tale. But just why is it that this one movie is so endlessly fascinating? "Star Wars has everything," he enthuses. "It's a classic cheap Saturday- morning action-film premise. George Lucas took on the mentality of a 10- year-old boy when he made it. It's whoosh-bang, but with no Arnies or Slys or goriness or swearing or post-modern references to other films. It's two hours of non-stop action with a happy ending." So how would he describe the show? "Imagine George Lucas is 35, fat, and living in Essex. He's had a couple of lagers and he's down the pub telling his mates about Star Wars. That's my take on it."

Kurosawa, samurai of world cinema, dies at 88

HE WAS the biggest name in Japanese cinema. But as the tributes following the death of Akira Kurosawa yesterday showed, his influence on Western culture was also significant.

INTERVIEW: PHILL JUPITUS: Force-fed comedy

Phill Jupitus, the comedian who is one of the team captains on BBC2's ironic pop quiz, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, is the first to admit that we're in danger of overdosing on TV panel games. "If the schedulers keep going 'panel game, panel game, panel game,' then it'll become tiresome," he concedes. "They're always looking for new subjects. How long before we get a panel game about gardening? I bet even now they're trying to find three comedians who know enough about gardening. What would they call it? Never Mind the Borders?"

Obituary: Leonard Matthews

Leonard Matthews did me a good turn, writes Jack Adrian. Thirty-odd years ago, as Editorial Director (Juveniles) at the old Fleetway Press (then the biggest fiction factory in the world), he wrenched me out of the comfy but terminally boring editor's chair of a glossy county mag (all balls, blooming Soroptimists and baying drunks in DJs) in Stoke- on-Trent to the sub's seat on Lion ("King of Story- Papers!") in swingin' London.

Advertising Reviews: Man, his best friend and their SuperNoodles

Men behave very badly indeed in the new campaign for Batchelors SuperNoodles - playing with their food, feeding dog-licked noodles to their girlfriends and licking plates clean instead of washing them up.

CINEMA `Star Wars' an intergalactic success

Luke Skywalker's return to Earth helped boost cinema admissions by more than 5 per cent, it was announced yesterday. The hero of the 20- year-old sci-fi adventure Star Wars, re-released in late March, boosted audiences dramatically.

A HEADY COMBINATION

Comedian MEL SMITH talks with James Rampton

Letter: Star Wars II

Your two correspondents seem to justify sending plutonium into space (Letters, 18 May). This deserves a reply.
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