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Saturn Awards: Frank Oz talks “Star Wars,” George Lucas and the possibility of a Yoda spinoff

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Frank Oz has worn many different hats in Hollywood. He’s a staple of the Jim Henson Company, voicing many memorable characters from “The Muppets,” directing “Dark Crystal” and even playing the Wiseman in “Labyrinth.” He’s directed “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Death at a Funeral.” Heck, he even voiced three of “Sessame Street’s” main characters — Bert, Grover and the Cookie Monster — for almost four decades.

But Oz’s work as the voice of Yoda will always be what we love him most for. The little green Jedi has become a staple of George Lucas’s “Star Wars” universe, and was one of the main reasons that Oz received a Life Career Award from the Saturn Awards on Thursday. IFC had the chance to speak with Oz on the red carpet for the event and asked him about the impact that “Star Wars” has had on his life.

“I’ve been blessed that George gave me the opportunity to do Yoda and to work with him. George and Lucasfilms, they’re like a second family, a professional family. You know, it’s not a day job. You do it every fifteen years,” he said with a laugh that had a hint of Yoda in it. “But every time you do it, George just wants to make it better and it’s just a joy to bring that character to life. I know that character inside out. I know that character. And working with George is always a pleasure. He’s very specific. He knows what he wants. And it’s a joy.”

When asked why he thinks that “Star Wars” has remained so relevant over the decades since its release, he said, “I think it’s the mythology. I think the underground current of that larger mythology, that touches us all. ”

Yoda is a character who has appeared in five of the six main “Star Wars” movies, but whose origins were never explained. Of course, fans got to understand more about the Jedi master thanks to “Star Wars” novels, comic books and games, but Oz admitted that he created his own backstory for the character.

“When I was creating the character of Yoda, I got everything in the script and I really marked everything down from the script — what people knew about Yoda, what Yoda knew about people, what others didn’t, etc. — and I created a biography for him. So I have it in my head, but there hasn’t been an opportunity to work on it if there was [a spinoff],” he said.

When we asked if he’d ever want to work on something that explored more of Yoda as a character, he said, “Oh sure, sure, but it’s not one of those things that you want to [force]. It’s one of those things that you want to sit down with somebody at a bar and talk about.”

Oh how we would love to be sitting opposite him in that bar.

Would you ever want to see a “Star Wars” project explore more of Yoda’s backstory? What is your favorite thing that Oz has worked on? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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Nick Kroll and John Mulaney To Host Spirit Awards

The Spirit Awards Air February 25 LIVE on IFC.

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The 2017 Spirit Awards have finally found their frontmen: Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. And it’s no wonder. Just marvel in their splendid chemistry back when they appeared on Comedy Bang! Bang!:

The pair are prolific within the performing arts community: television (Kroll in The League and The Kroll Show, Mulaney as a writer of IFC’s own Documentary Now!), theater (including Broadway’s current Oh Hello Show), and stand-up comedy. In fact, it’s entirely possible that emceeing an awards show is one of the few remaining line items on their professional bucket lists.

It’s important to caveat this announcement, however. Unlike the bigger and more ubiquitously known awards shows, the Spirit Awards are not, well…boring. (We’re talking to you, Oscar.)

They’re funny. They’re honest. They have quality to match the red-carpet fanfare. And that’s alarmingly special. Last year’s show included some legitimately historic moments, like when transgender actress Mya Taylor won best supporting female, or Kate McKinnon’s hilarious and timely parody of Carol. See more highlights here to get the flavor of the Spirit Awards and read all about Film Independent to dig deeper.

The 2017 Spirit Awards air live February 25 at 5P ET exclusively on IFC.

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Ho Ho Ha

Xmas Miracles You’ll See At Joe’s Pub

Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special Premieres December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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It’s just so tempting to bah-humbug the holiday season. And while there’s much we can’t wait to put behind us, one thing left to look forward to with pure and wide-eyed joy is Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special, starring Tony Hale. It’s a celebration in the true spirit of those splendid TV specials from the ’70s and ’80s, complete with special guests, musical numbers, awkward segues and an (intentionally) wafer-thin narrative through line.

As if you need more convincing, here are a few juicy nuggets to get excited for…

Tony Hale plying the captive audience with hot chocolate (and it working).

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Bridget Everett dressed like an ornament…

and in a state of nearly constant wardrobe malfunction.
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Matteo Lane hitting a crazy high note in a Snuggie.

Not a Slanket. There’s a meaningful difference.

Lisa Loeb creeping on Kurt Vile.

#hairlikeapony #whynotme
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Judah Friedlander getting replaced by a robot…

and it pretty much going as expected.
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Bottom line: the miracles abound. Grinches, Scrooges, and Tiny Tims alike will find their Holiday joy. And it’ll be awkward–in the most wonderful kind of way.

Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special premieres Wednesday December 21 at 10p on IFC

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