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 huge news that’s dominating this week is Lucasfilm’s announcement of its next animated series. The show will be called Star Wars Rebels, and it will take place between Episodes III and IV, as “the Empire is securing its grip on the galaxy and hunting down the last of the Jedi Knights” and “as a fledgling rebellion against the Empire is taking shape.” We know very little about the show so far. The Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni will executive produce, along with Star Wars spinoff film writer Simon Kinberg and Gargoyles creator Greg Weisman. The premiere episode, written by Kinberg, will air on Disney Channel in Fall 2014, after which the series will move to Disney XD for regular airings. You can check out a video announcement from Dave Filoni over at StarWars.com. A first look at the series will debut at Celebration Europe II this summer.
I’m really looking forward to seeing this series. The “inter-trilogy” period is ripe for exposition in the animated medium, with all sorts of post-Episode III loose threads looking for resolution. Dave Filoni’s involvement emphasizes Lucasfilm’s interest in maintaining continuity of personnel, and given that Filoni garnered tremendous praise and received strong support from the fans for his work on The Clone Wars, we can be confident that Star Wars Rebels is in good hands. We’re at a point now where we’re about to be deluged with new Star Wars information, from Episode VII spoilers to details about Rebels to spinoff film announcements. I for one can’t wait to see how this all shakes out in the next few years. I’ll be tuning in to watch the premiere of Rebels for sure.
Speaking of The Clone Wars, you may recall that we’re still waiting on that promised bonus content composed of would-be Season 6 episodes. Well, attendees at the first of Disney’s Star Wars Weekends (May 17-19) were treated to another preview of that bonus content. This clip, presented by Dave Filoni via prerecorded video, showed Yoda enlisting Anakin’s help to break him out of the Jedi Temple. What could possibly be the context for such a scene? That’s still unclear. If you want to check out this bonus content preview, hit the link above.
Moving over to the business side of things, we have a report that suggests that J.J. Abrams will be more involved in the future of Star Wars than just Episode VII. Entertainment website TheWrap published a story detailing Abrams’ disappointment with his Star Trek creative freedom –– he’d wanted to revitalize the franchise’s merchandising and tie-in properties, but the Trek licensing rights are split across several companies –– and their article notes that Star Wars may offer Abrams what Star Trek could not. According to TheWrap, Abrams “has a deal that is believed to include creative and profit participation in “Star Wars” inspired merchandise and spin-offs,” thus giving him “more control in shaping the legacy of the Skywalker clan than he would have had with developing side projects” for Star Trek. I’ve long suspected that, while Kathleen Kennedy will be the driving force being the new era of Star Wars, it will be people like Abrams who are tapped to carry out specific projects for her, so this report makes a lot of sense.
Speaking of Kathleen Kennedy, remember when she said that Lucasfilm would try to keep fan interest in mind (and keep secrecy efforts in perspective) when making Episode VII? Well, Bad Robot Productions’ Bryan Burk –– who is co-producing Episode VII –– says he hasn’t yet discussed that conundrum with Kennedy. Speaking to /Film, Burk seemed to defend the need for strong secrecy measures; he also cited the need for a “balance” between competing interests that he called “a hard thing.” Hopefully Kennedy and Burk, along with Abrams and other key players, will get together soon to hash out a game plan for Episode VII. Burk is right that we shouldn’t be given too much ahead of time, but there comes a point at which overwhelming secrecy can be a turn-off to fans.
J.J. Abrams has been making the rounds lately to promote his new film Star Trek Into Darkness, and as you might expect, no interviewer can seem to avoid bringing up The Wars. Abrams’ latest round of interviews is with a Brazilian movie site, The Associated Press, and Jimmy Kimmel. The Kimmel interview is particularly noteworthy because Abrams answers questions not just from the ABC talk show host, but also from a selection of audience members, two of whom Unbound Worlds readers will undoubtedly recognize.
This was a light week for book news, but I do have two stories for you. The first is that Christie Golden (author of three Fate of the Jedi novels) will be writing a Star Wars Insider short story to tie into Troy Denning’s upcoming novel Crucible. Golden’s story, “Good Hunting,” which will appear in Insider #142, will star Jaina and Allana Solo as well as Tenel Ka Djo “on a hostile wilderness planet,” according to Del Rey’s Facebook announcement. Also on the literature front, yesterday The Huffington Post unveiled a new book trailer for The Making of Return of the Jedi, J.W. Rinzler’s upcoming behind-the-scenes look at Episode VI. HuffPo published an interview with Rinzler alongside the trailer, in which the Lucasfilm editor discussed George Lucas’ divorce, Harrison Ford’s attitude toward the third OT film, and…Ewok sex? Yeah…
Lastly, as I make this awkward segue away from my last sentence, we have some good news about Celebration Europe II. Fans attending the July convention in Essen, Germany will not only get to see a first look at Star Wars Rebels; they’ll also get to hear from Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy herself. This will be Kennedy’s first appearance at a Star Wars Celebration, and given George Lucas’ handoff of his company to her just months before Disney bought it, fans will have a lot of questions for the veteran film producer. With every CEII announcement, I get more and more bummed that I won’t be able to make it to the convention. If you’ll be out there in Germany for CEII, give Kathleen Kennedy a high-five for me.
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.