…well, not quite. But for those of you who keep kindly asking me, “What are you doing next?” . . . you’ll have your answer shortly. In the meantime, I’ll take a moment to address the next most popular question, which is: “What’s the first Beatles song to feature an Epiphone Casino guitar?”*
Ha ha! No, actually, it’s “What is this ‘Project Blue Harvest’ reference anyway?”
(My fellow Star Wars nerds can stop reading and come back tomorrow.)
Back in the early 1980s, when George Lucas was hard at work on Return of the Jedi — the final installment of the Star Wars series, until later, when it wasn’t — speculating on the plot of the final film was something of a parlor game. Would Han Solo survive? (rumors were that he wouldn’t, since Harrison Ford now had the Indiana Jones franchise and was on his way to making Serious Films) Was Darth Vader really Luke’s father? (many argued that Vader had lied, and that some sort of change-up was coming down the line in the final film) Who was this other hope Yoda spoke of? (Leia? Chewbacca? Or, god help us, the hopelessly cheesy Lando?) To keep information from leaking out — and to throw nosy reporters and fans off the scent — Lucas and his film makers began production on Jedi under a fake working title, a horror film called Blue Harvest (tagline: “Horror Beyond Imagination!”) As Jedi producer Howard Kazanjian said later:
When shooting Jedi in the United States, we called the film Blue Harvest. Camera slates, invoices, hotel reservations, call sheets, production reports, and crew hats and T-shirts all read Blue Harvest. So when a visitor would ask, ‘what are you shooting’ and we said Blue Harvest, they went on their way. Can you imagine what would have happened if we had said, ‘We’re shooting the next film in the Star Wars trilogy’?
In fact, if you watch the special features on the Indiana Jones DVD boxed set, you’ll see Steven Spielberg in one scene wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with a Blue Harvest logo. And I want one.
Anyway, since the publication of Washington Irving: An American Original in 2008, I’ve been pursuing another project, involving those Really Amazing People you keep hearing me talk about. But until we could all make it come together, I promised them — and myself, since like most writers, I’m a notorious jinx — that I would keep quiet about it. For a while, then, when asked what I was working on, I would hem and haw and deflect or say I wasn’t really sure. Eventually, however, I settled into admitting that, yes, I did have a project I was pursuing, which I started referring to as “Project Blue Harvest.” And it just sort of stuck.
So, given the origins of the name, then, you might rightly ask if my project has anything to do with Star Wars? Am I, perhaps, pursuing a biography of George Lucas?
The answer is: No. While there is a remote Star Wars connection, my subject is not George Lucas. It’s someone even more exciting than that. And I’ll tell you who it is this later this week.
* It was “Ticket to Ride,” and the jangly opening was actually played by Paul McCartney, on a left-hand strung six string. Now you know.