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August 17, 2008|Geoff Boucher; Randy Harvey; Tom Petruno

BEIJING — HERO COMPLEX

'Clone' director was a fanboy

I got to spend some time with Dave Filoni a few weeks back when the director was in L.A. putting the finishing touches on "Star Wars: The Clone Wars."

Then I ran into him (literally) backstage at Hall H down at Comic-Con International in San Diego as we were heading for the dais. My main impression of the guy? Wow, what a friendly and thoughtful fellow.

I like, too, that he's still showing his Pittsburgh roots even as he works the showbiz circuit in L.A. and toils in the refined artistic colonies of Northern California.

"I'm not a spa guy," he told me, "I'm a hockey guy."

It's good that he's not thin-skinned: It's an odd thing to stand in the shadow of George Lucas and try to deliver a fresh take on the "Star Wars" saga now entering its fourth decade, and the mainstream critics haven't been especially kind so far to Filoni's baby, the seventh theatrical "Star Wars" release and the first one that is completely computer-created.

I wrote a profile of Filoni that appeared in the Calendar section of The Times. Here's the start of it:

George Lucas, looking overheated under the midday sun, gamely worked the red carpet last Sunday at the world premiere of the latest cinematic installment to his space saga, "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." At one point, Lucas was photographed with one of his most avid fans, a grinning, chubby fellow from Pennsylvania who showed up at Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre wearing two-day stubble, a sweat-stained shirt and a brimmed frontier hat that Indiana Jones would admire.

That guy, Dave Filoni, also happens to be the director of "Clone Wars" (which opens Friday across the U.S.) and quite possibly the luckiest "Star Wars" fan alive.

Like Charlie inheriting the chocolate factory, the 34-year-old Filoni was plucked from relative obscurity two years ago and handed the job of using computer animation to create a "Star Wars" cartoon series for the small screen.

Filoni and his team did so well that Lucas (who, it goes without saying, is not easily amazed) made the decision to hand them the keys to the kingdom and let them make the seventh theatrical release in the chronicles of the Skywalker family.

-- Geoff Boucher

From Hero Complex: Breaking comic book news and the offshoots they inspire

To read the rest of this post, go to latimes.com/herocomplex.

TICKET TO BEIJING

Spanish ad 'was not a good idea'

-- Members of the Madrid committee that is competing against Chicago, Rio and Tokyo for the right to host the 2016 Summer Olympics were not pleased with the Spanish basketball team's advertisement in which they pulled back the skin of their eyes to make them appear slanted; the players said they thought it would endear them to the Chinese people.

Huh?

That was basically the reaction of the Madrid bidders, who said it wouldn't affect their efforts.

Madrid 2016 Chief Executive Mercedes Coghen told the Around the Rings website that the advertising for a Spanish courier company was a misunderstanding.

"It was not a good idea. They thought it was a friendly gesture," Coghen told the website.

"I don't think it's going to be important for us. Our countries have been friends for years and years.

"We talk about inclusiveness in our bid. It's the Games of the people, and we are trying to promote Olympic values," she added.

But this incident, along with others perceived to be racist in soccer and auto racing, are not going to help the Spanish cause.

Too bad, because Madrid would be a great place to attend the Olympics, perhaps even on the same level that Barcelona was in 1992.

-- Randy Harvey

From Ticket to Beijing: Daily dispatches on the Summer Games

For more, go to latimes.com/olympics_blog

MONEY & CO.

Apple tops Google for a day

Brief bragging rights: Apple's stock market value on Wednesday topped that of Google for the first time since Google came public in 2004, according to Bloomberg's calculations.

Apple was worth $158.8 billion to Google's $157.2 billion at the end of trading Wednesday. The next day, however, Google crept back on top.

Both of the stocks tumbled in the first quarter of this year from their highs reached late in 2007, as investors bailed on them amid the broad sell-off on Wall Street. But Apple's shares have staged a more impressive recovery since then compared with Google.

At $178.84, Apple is within 12% of its all-time closing high of $199.83 on Dec. 28.

Google would have to rise 47% to regain its all-time high of $741.79 reached on Nov. 6.

Apple's earnings in the quarter ended in June surged 31% from a year earlier, to $1.07 billion. Google's profit was up 35%, to $1.25 billion.

Both of the companies missed analysts' estimates, but the market has been much more forgiving of Apple than Google since the earnings reports -- suggesting that investors are less concerned about the outlook for sales of iPhones, iPods and Macs than they are about the outlook for Web advertising.

If anyone still cares about price-to-earnings ratios, Apple shares now sell for 34 times this year's estimated earnings of $5.21 a share. Google's P/E is about 26 based on expected earnings of $19.67 a share.

Both of the companies still far trail Microsoft Corp.'s stock market value of $255 billion.

-- Tom Petruno

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From Money & Co.: Tracking the market and trends that shape your finances

For more, go to latimes.com/money_co

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