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.
The big news this week is that The Walt Disney Company and Electronic Arts have entered into a long-term partnership that makes EA the exclusive outside publisher of Star Wars video games. The deal was announced Monday afternoon. While Disney’s internal teams will develop games for mobile and online platforms, Electronic Arts will publish games aimed at traditional console and computer platforms. Three EA-owned developer studios –– DICE, Visceral, and BioWare –– will create these games. Titles were not announced along with the announcement, and an EA spokesperson told Kotaku that they weren’t ready to discuss specifics at this time.
In unambiguously great news, The Clone Wars has been receiving some great press lately thanks to recognition from two award-giving bodies. On May 1st, the show and the people behind it were nominated for several Daytime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Special Class Animation Program and Outstanding Directing in An Animated Program. The winners will be announced at the Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony on Sunday, June 16th. The next day, on May 2nd, the series’ cast and crew received even more good news: the show had performed well in the 20th annual BTVA (Behind The Voice Actors) Voice Acting Awards. James Arnold Taylor took home the Staff Choice and People’s Choice trophies for Best Male Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series – Action/Drama. Also winning awards were Ashley Eckstein, Corey Burton, Nika Futterman, and David Tennant. The show also received the People’s Choice award for Best Vocal Ensemble in a Television Series – Action/Drama. More information about the series’ wins can be found here. Congratulations to the men and women who put so much time and effort into creating this amazing television program!
Let’s switch gears to Episode VII. On May 4th, Mark Hamill made a surprise appearance at a screening of Return of the Jedi in Los Angeles. While on stage, Hamill told the audience that he had had only one creative meeting about the sequel, but that he had used the opportunity to suggest that the producers pursue a balance between practical and computer-generated visual effects. Hamill also said that Carrie Fisher would return for Episode VII and that Harrison Ford was probably onboard as well. Click the link above for more details of Hamill’s appearance, plus an interview he did with The Official Star Wars Blog.
Speaking of Episode VII, Bad Robot Productions’ Bryan Burk, who is co-producing the film with J.J. Abrams, has confirmed that they are progressing on a schedule that will hopefully allow filming to begin in early 2014. Now we have a clue as to when filming may start, but what about where? “The location is still kind of floating around in the air all depending on script and a whole bunch of other issues,” Burk told the website Collider.
If you, like me, enjoy following the new Star Wars films so closely that you scour every interview with their creators for hints at what’s to come, I’ve got a trifecta of interviews for you this week. J.J. Abrams spoke to the BBC and The New York Times, while spinoff writer Simon Kinberg talked to The Los Angeles Times. Neither of them gives away much about their respective films, and obviously since they’re in different roles, their influences on their movies will be different. Nevertheless, the more you learn about their opinions and their thought process, the easier it becomes to imagine what form their productions will take.
In book news this week, we’ve got a plethora of petite publishing posts. First up, the synopsis for John Jackson Miller’s novel Star Wars: Kenobi is now available on the book’s product page. The teaser for the book’s main conflict on sandy, remote Tatooine sounds very exciting: “blood is unjustly spilled, innocent lives threatened, and a ruthless opponent unmasked.” Who could it be? You’ll have to buy the book when it goes on sale on August 27th to find out! In the meantime, if you want free Star Wars literature, you can check out the first chapter of Troy Denning’s Star Wars: Crucible, which was posted on Unbound Worlds’s website as a May The Fourth freebie. Crucible will be released on July 9th.
Star Wars has always been a theatrical experience at heart, so it makes sense that some Expanded Universe fans prefer to listen to their books rather than read them. If you’re one of those fans, you’re in luck, because Random House Audio has announced that Allegiance, Specter of the Past, and Vision of the Future, all by Timothy Zahn, will be coming to audiobook form this year. Allegiance will be first out of the gate on June 11th, followed by the two Hand of Thrawn novels in September and October. All three audiobooks will be unabridged and read by veteran narrator Marc Thompson.
This last book item isn’t so much news as it is food for thought. Pablo Hidalgo has written more words about Star Wars for Lucasfilm than just about anyone else I know. ABC News once called him a “Star Wars guru.” That’s why when he shares his thoughts on Star Wars, I tend to listen. Hidalgo did so last Friday on Del Rey’s Star Wars Books Facebook page. You can read the entire Facebook thread here, or check out a transcript of the questions and answers on TheForce.Net.
Celebration Europe II news has been slowly trickling in. This week we learned that Michael Carter (Bib Fortuna), John Coppinger (Jabba the Hutt), Sean Crawford (Yak Face), Tim Dry (J’Quille), Mike Edmonds (Logray), Gerald Home (Tessek), Femi Taylor Ogilvy (Oola), Toby Philpott (Jabba the Hutt), Tim Rose (Salacious B. Crumb), and Simon Williamson (Max Rebo) will be attending the convention in Germany this July. The official CEII website also revealed the look of some of the merchandise that will be available at the convention, so you can start making your wish lists now.
In other convention news, we are drawing ever closer to Walt Disney World’s coolest Star Wars event of the year, the four-weekend-long Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. A few days ago, the Disney fan site Studios Central revealed the full guest list for the weekends. Alongside already-revealed names like Warwick Davis and Jeremy Bulloch are Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar) and Sam Witwer (The Clone Wars’ Darth Maul). Disney World on its own is a great place to spend a few days of your hard-earned summer vacation, but when you throw in a park full of Star Wars fans and some celebrity guests, it becomes even more enticing.
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.