separating fact from fiction

The “Star Wars” prequels, which once seemed so “far, far away,” are tantalizingly close — “Star Wars Episode One,” will debut in theaters on May 21, 1999. As reported in EW, gossip about the films is in hyperdrive, especially on the Web: Yes, Steven Spielberg was bowled over by a rough cut of the film. No, a trailer for the prequel wasn’t intended to accompany the theatrical release of the “X-Files” movie two months ago.

On the Web, a fan’s last refuge for truth is the Official Star Wars site, maintained by George Lucas’ company. The latest skinny from the regularly updated reports: Cast and crew, including stars Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, and Natalie Portman, were called back to the set at England’s Leavesden Studios for some last-minute pickup shots that will be used throughout the film. Also valuable is the scrapbook of photos and drawings that offer a peek at some of the prequel’s scenes and sets. For example, fans can get their first look at young Anakin Skywalker (the Darth Vader-to-be, played by “Jingle All the Way”‘s Jake Lloyd) and his mother Shmi (Pernilla August) at the family eating table.

Those who want help counting the days (and hours, minutes, and seconds) until the first prequel hits theaters can check out the Star Wars Prequel Watch. May the Timeclock be with you.