George Lucas, the mastermind behind the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" sagas, can add another credit to his illustrious resume: Rose Parade grand marshal.
For a man accustomed to working behind the camera lens, Lucas embraces his latest challenge as the public face of the 118th annual Tournament of Roses on New Year's Day.
"There's nothing like being a grand marshal. It's a completely unique experience," said Lucas, sitting in the posh Beverly Wilshire hotel.
The 62-year-old director-producer took a break from his grand marshal duties this past week to reflect on the new year and practice his parade wave. He raised his cupped right hand and, with a flick of his wrist, turned it side to side like a beauty pageant model.
"I've done a lot of wave training," he quipped.
It seems fitting for Lucas to serve as the ambassador of the 2007 Rose Parade that will feature the three-piece "Star Wars Spectacular," which commemorates the 1977 release of "Star Wars," the first film in the sci-fi six-pack. The procession will include two floats depicting the moon of Endor seen in the "Return of the Jedi" and the garden planet of Naboo. Darth Vader will lead a group of 200 stormtroopers, assembled from around the world, who belong to a fan club called the 501st Legion.
Lucas will not don a stormtrooper costume at the parade, but he's not missing out. Earlier this year, toy maker Hasbro paid plastic tribute to the filmmaker by creating a limited-edition action figure of him with the snow white stormtrooper attire.
The 30th anniversary of "Star Wars" will be marked by conventions, festivities and the introduction of new video games in 2007. Lucas also is pursuing an animated 3-D TV series of "Clone Wars," a continuation of the Emmy-winning show by the same name that aired from 2003 to 2005. The new series has not been sold to a network yet, but Lucas was confident a deal would be reached next year.
Lucas said he will team up again with actor Harrison Ford and director Steven Spielberg for the highly anticipated fourth installment of the "Indian Jones" movies. Filming will begin next year and the movie will be released in May 2008.
He is relishing his grand marshal status. He gets to ride in a rare 1911 Pope-Hartford Model Y car and will flip the coin before the Rose Bowl matchup between Michigan and Southern California, his alma mater.
Previous honorees as grand marshal have included Dwight Eisenhower, Bob Hope, Tom Brokaw and Bill Cosby.
"It's always a great honor to be put in a category with other people you admire," he said.
Looking back at the galactic success of "Star Wars," Lucas said he is still amazed by the fanfare.
"It doesn't look like it's going to let up. It's as strong now as it's ever been," he said.
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