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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Star Wars TV Series Coming Soon

A short time from now, in a galaxy not far from your living room...

With shooting wrapping up last week on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, George Lucas is finally ramping up production on those long-awaited Star Wars TV projects he has been promising.

The head Jedi confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that Lucasfilm has "just begun work" on a new live-action spinoff that will bring the Star Wars mythology to the small screen.

Additionally, Lucas Animation is deep in production on a weekly computer-animated 3-D series dubbed Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which the filmmaker expects to shop to various networks when finished.

Lucas considers the live-action program to be the more ambitious of the two, because it will be completely Skywalker free and instead center on supporting characters.

He admitted he was taking a risk that viewers—save the die-hard geeks who turn up at the Star Wars Celebration conventions in Greedo and Princess Leia getups—might not warm to Jedis, Sith and droids largely unfamiliar to them.

"The Skywalkers aren't in it—it's about minor characters," the 63-year-old Lucas told the newspaper. "It has nothing to do with Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader or any of those people. It's completely different. Nevertheless, the Star Wars mastermind maintained that "it's a good idea, and it's going to be a lot of fun to do."

Lucas characteristically refused to divulge details about the storylines or even which minor characters might turn up in either starring or cameos. (We're lookin' at you, Boba Fett.) Star Wars prequel producer Rick McCallum is currently auditioning writers for the live-action series, which Lucas envisions running for at least 100 episodes.

As for the new Star Wars CGI series, this is not your average Saturday-morning cartoon. Unlike its 2-D forerunner Clone Wars, an Emmy-winning series of shorts that aired on the Cartoon Network, Lucas says the 3-D Clone Wars will break new technological ground.

As a result, Lucas acknowledged that some network suits have been a little skittish about the projects—perhaps recalling the so-so ratings of Lucas' Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, which eschewed the thrills of its big-screen progenitors in favor of history lessons. (At Celebration III two years ago, Lucas said the live-action series will be similar in tone to those tube adventures.)

"They are having a hard time," Lucas said. "They're saying, 'This doesn't fit into our little square boxes,' and I say, 'Well, yeah, but it's Star Wars. And Star Wars doesn't fit into that box.'"
If old-school Stars Wars and high-octane action is what you're looking for, fear not, young Padawans.

Anthony Daniels, who played C-3P0 in the original trilogy and its prequels, has signed on to voice the protocol droid in Clone Wars, alongside animated versions of R2-D2, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Mace Windu, Anakin Skywalker, General Grievous, Princess Amidala and Count Dookoo. A trailer is now up at the official Star Wars Website.

In an interview with TV Guide last month, Lucas said his team of animators has completed more than 40 episodes and that he believed the CGI series needs "to go after 9 o'clock, and it can't be a kiddie channel."

These aren't the first Star Wars TV spinoffs. There were the animated Ewoks and Droids Saturday-morning cartoons, two live-action made-for-TV Ewok movies and, most infamously, the universally ridiculed 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special.

For fans of the big screen, Lucas is also planning to tweak his Star Wars movies yet again and release all six episodes in a 3-D digital format. No word yet on a release date.


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