'STAR WARS' EASTER EGGS
Easter Eggs, a term usually applied to hidden features intended to surprise and delight DVD consumers, apparently happen in movies too -- at least in "Star Wars" movies.
Lucasfilm Ltd. posted a message on its starwars.com Web site calling attention to the features -- and perhaps coincidentally reminding readers that the goodies "require multiple viewings to soak it all in."
The posting advises audiences that the first time they see a movie just to watch the main characters and get the core story. Subsequent viewings are for catching the extras.
Some of the details are intended to remind viewers "how the galaxy fits together," while other goodies are unintentional mistakes that just go to show you "the complexities of filmmaking." For example, the Web site suggests that you "keep track of the color of the clothes that Padmé packs on Coruscant in 'Episode II.'"
If you haven't seen "Episode II" enough already, Lucasfilm suggests you look out for some of these phenomena the next time you see it.
"Trundling along the streets of Mos Espa as Anakin and Padmé go to meet Watto is none other than R5-D4, the grumpy astromech from 'Episode IV' that blows its stack in front of Luke.
"What has become a tradition of sorts is the 'Wilhelm,' the affectionate moniker given to a very distinct scream sound effect used in all of the 'Star Wars' films (and quite a few non-'Star Wars' films too). In 'A New Hope,' it's the stormtrooper that plummets down the Death Star chasm. In 'Episode II,' it's a Naboo soldier thrown in the opening explosion of the film.
The first shot of "Episode II" pays tribute to another sci-fi classic as the camera tilts up to the crowded orbital traffic of Coruscant.
"That shot had been executed in '2001: A Space Odyssey,'" said John Knoll, a visual effects supervisors on 'Episode II.' "I put an Orion space plane flying in there."
And, in a tip of the hat to a classic 'Star Wars' misstep -- wherein a stormtrooper bangs his head on a low-hanging door -- Jango Fett also smacks his head as he enters the Slave I after tangling with Obi-Wan in 'Episode II.'
DOES TV LEAD TO OBESITY IN KIDS?
According to a report in Daily Variety, the documented rise in obesity as schoolchildren watch more TV appears also to apply to preschoolers -- and the effect is exaggerated among kids who have TV sets in their bedrooms.
The findings were reported Monday by researchers from Columbia University and Bassett Healthcare in Cooperstown, N.Y.
"Our findings suggest that the previously observed association between TV viewing and increased risk of overweight extends to an even younger age group, one through four-year-old children," said the report. "Because most children watch TV by age two, educational efforts about limiting child TV/video viewing and keeping the TV out of the child's bedroom need to begin before then."
The study -- published in the June issue of "Pediatrics," the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics -- involved 2,761 white, black and Hispanic low-income adults who had preschool children.
"The prevalence of overweight children was significantly related to the amount of time (hours per day) that the children spent watching TV or videos," the researchers concluded.
The study found that kids with a TV set in their bedroom watched 4.8 hours more of TV or videotapes per week than those without. It also found that the amount of time children spent watching TV/video was "strongly influenced" by demographic factors, with black children spending the most time watching TV/videos and white children spending the least time.
Although previous studies have indicated that children of better-educated parents watched less TV, the new study found that "parental educational attainment was no longer related to children's ... viewing."
LOOK BUSY -- HERE COMES THE BOSS
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will release "The Rising" on July 30 -- their first recording of all-new material since "Born in the U.S.A." (1984), and the first set of new Springsteen songs since "The Ghost of Tom Joad" (1995).
Springsteen and the band recorded the album earlier this year in Atlanta, with Brendan O'Brien (Pearl Jam) producing. Rolling Stone reported that the 14-song set will include "My City of Ruins," the song Springsteen debuted on the "America: A Tribute to Heroes" telethon last September.
After "Born in the U.S.A.," the E Street Band was not fully reunited until 1999, when they played a summer tour that began with a five-night stand in New Jersey. Last year, they released "Live in New York City," a two-CD set from their series of sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden.
'QUEER' GETS TWO MORE YEARS
Showtime has wrapped up its highest-rated weekly series, "Queer as Folk," for 32 more hourlong episodes over two years.
Programming executives said the show, a graphic and highly-charged look into the sex lives of homosexual characters, is a hit because it appeals to both men and women.
The second season of "Queer as Folk" has it finale on June 16. The next new episodes are expected on the air in March 2003.