Artwork courtesy of Joshua Stolte
Welcome back to the Star Wars HoloNet Digest, a weekly feature where I bring you a recap of the latest news from the world of Star Wars. Whether it’s an Episode VII rumor or a noteworthy author interview, you’ll find it here. Let’s check the HoloNet and see what happened in the past week.
We’ll start off with some Star Wars Celebration Europe II news. It was announced just as the previous edition of the HoloNet Digest was posted that Ian McDiarmid will be attending this summer’s show in Essen, Germany. McDiarmid, whose phenomenal performance as Palpatine lit up the Prequel Trilogy, attended Star Wars Celebration VI in August 2012, marking his first Celebration appearance. His lines reached record lengths then, and I expect he’ll meet with similar enthusiasm at Celebration Europe II, July 26-28, 2013. To promote his upcoming appearance, McDiarmid recently spoke to SciFiNow about his role as Palpatine and his experiences meeting fans, proving once again how much of a class act he is and how much admiration he still has for the saga after all these years.
I had the chance to meet Ian McDiarmid at Celebration VI, right as the show was wrapping up on the final day. I was backstage in the Official Pix (OPX) staging area, where, among other things, celebrity guests sign items that were sent in to Official Pix by people who couldn’t attend the show. On the last day of every Celebration, celebrities stop by the Official Pix area of the Exhibit Hall on their way to the massive loading dock doors at the back of the hall. On that day at CVI, we were breaking down TheForce.Net’s booth, which is next to the OPX staging area, when McDiarmid arrived to say his goodbyes to a number of OPX staff members. During a break in the conversation, I walked over, introduced myself, and asked if I could get a picture with him. As luck would have it, I was wearing a very appropriate t-shirt from the Celebration Store, and the resulting image is my favorite photo from the entire convention.
I asked McDiarmid if he had enjoyed his time at the show, and he said he definitely had. I’m really pleased to see him heading back out to another Star Wars Celebration, because now fans in Germany will get to have experiences like the one I had in Orlando. (Although I don’t see how you could possibly wear a better shirt for such an experience!)
By far the biggest Star Wars news in the past week was the announcement two days ago that Star Wars: The Clone Wars will not get a sixth season. It’s not all bad news, though; Lucasfilm promised that Dave Filoni and his team were putting the finishing touches on the handful of story arcs that were in production at the time of the series’ cancelation. In a video message that accompanied the announcement (check it out below), Filoni promised that “the best is yet to come” and showed off several minutes of action from an unaired episode that would have been part of Season 6. Also in the announcement were the postponement of Seth Green’s animated comedy series Star Wars Detours and the news that Lucasfilm Animation is “exploring a whole new Star Wars series set in a time period previously untouched in Star Wars films or television programming.” Exciting stuff!
The Clone Wars has had a monumental impact on the Star Wars saga, and Monday’s news was met with a variety of reactions. Over at TheForce.Net, I rounded up messages from the stars of the series and others who had been involved in the production process. If you’re interested in my thoughts on the situation, I wrote about the news on my personal blog.
Fans who are interested in the business of Star Wars will enjoy the cover story in the latest issue of Bloomberg Businessweek. Writer Devin Leonard explored Disney’s $4.05 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm from Disney CEO Bob Iger’s perspective. Disney’s previous acquisitions under Iger’s leadership form an important piece of the story too. Leonard explained how Iger’s decision to integrate Lucasfilm into Disney’s pantheon of properties reflected his interest in cultivating recognized properties within the Disney umbrella and deploying them in a variety of different venues –– theme parks, TV shows, merchandise, and so on.
Also interviewed in that Bloomberg Businessweek article was a recently retired man by the name of George Lucas. He confirmed that his company had been “in final stages of negotiation” with Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford for Episode VII around the time of the Disney deal. “Maybe I’m not supposed to say that,” Lucas quipped. “I think they want to announce that with some big whoop-de-do, but we were negotiating with them.” Perhaps in an attempt to reapply whatever thin veil of uncertainty still exists regarding the Big Three’s involvement in Episode VII, Lucas added, “I won’t say whether the negotiations were successful or not.” I should note that we are still waiting on an official word from Lucasfilm regarding these and all other casting decisions.
On the Expanded Universe front, one of the things I missed last week that I’d like to bring to your attention is the new blurb for Troy Denning’s novel Star Wars: Crucible. If the blurb from Random House’s product page is to be believed, we’re in for a wild romp of a novel, anchored by the ever-lovable, ever-dependable rogue Han Solo. The book will be out on July 9, 2013. Also in EU news, readers who enjoyed The Last Jedi can check out my interviews with co-authors Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff.
We here at Unbound Worlds like to poke fun at the Expanded Universe from time to time. We kid, as they say, because we love. That’s why I laughed when I read io9’s list of the twelve “worst” things in the EU. I put the word “worst” in quotes because that’s how io9 wrote it, but also because, in my opinion, they listed strange, not bad, elements of Star Wars. I’ve previously written for Unbound Worlds about some of the EU’s oddities. io9’s list includes a few crossovers with my own –– The Crystal Star and the Jedi Prince novels, for example –– but there are also some bizarre things that, thanks to my lack of interest in the comics, I didn’t catch. For example, there is actually a topographical feature in the old Marvel Ewoks comics called Mount Sorrow. Yep. Those jokes just write themselves, don’t they? (While we’re on the subject of weird, wacky, and wonderful parts of the EU: If you’re on Twitter and want some Crystal Star-related laughs, follow @ChurchofWaru. You will not be disappointed.)
This week’s rumor mill was certainly a mixed bag. Our first rumor, courtesy of FilmBuffOnline, claims that Billy Dee Williams has been approached by Lucasfilm about returning in Episode VII, but, says the rumor, Williams “hasn’t decided if he is going to do it or not yet.” That’s odd, considering that Williams has already declared he’d be game to return, but maybe he had a change of heart. Say it ain’t so, Billy Dee!
Our second rumor involves a little-known Star Wars video game project called Star Wars: First Assault. Gaming blog Kotaku has a source who claims that not only was the game supposed to come out this spring, but it was supposed to test the waters for the long-awaited Star Wars: Battlefront III. If you want details on First Assault, head over to Kotaku for their rumor report, as well as a few delicious-looking screenshots of the multiplayer first-person shooter.
We’ll wrap up with a return to the story of George Lucas and his proposed art museum. Last week, I wrote about his CBS This Morning, where he first mentioned the idea. That same day, Steve Sansweet provided more information about the museum on his Facebook page. He also pointed fans to a brochure on the website of the Presidio Trust, through which plans for the art museum are being coordinated. A few days later, Sansweet wrote about Lucas’ art collection and his plans for the museum on The Official Star Wars Blog. “[T]he Cinematic Art and Design area will include some fashion design, costumes, set design, props, and models from the two [Star Wars] trilogies,” Sansweet wrote in his blog post. “The museum will have strong public and educational outreach programs, blend in perfectly with the site, and be a major addition to the Golden Gate — the entrance to Northern California.”
Eric Geller is a college student majoring in political science whose interests include technology, journalism, and of course Star Wars. He reviews The Clone Wars TV series and manages social media for Star Wars fan site TheForce.Net. He also co-hosts The ForceCast podcast. He is originally from the Washington, D.C. area.