The Force Awakens News from Entertainment Weekly

jj-abramsSometimes, the best news is the kind that nobody was expecting.

Earlier this week, Anthony Breznican of Entertainment Weekly revealed on Twitter that there’d be no new trailer or footage from The Force Awakens shown at Disney’s upcoming D23 convention. This wasn’t much of a surprise, since director J.J. Abrams revealed prior to San Diego Comic Con that the next trailer wouldn’t be released until the fall.

Today, however, EW released a slew of articles and photos from the upcoming issue, featuring interviews with J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, information about character names, and a badass cover of Kylo Ren. Club Jade has an excellent roundup on what we’ve learned so far.  Here’s some of my highlights:

  • Kylo Ren is not the character’s given name. He comes upon it after joining a group known as the Knights of Ren. Also, his broadsaber is a weapon of his own creation. Could he be the Sith fanboy we’ve all been dreaming of?
  • Kathleen Kennedy persuaded Abrams to direct the film by asking him a simple question: “Who is Luke Skywalker?” While Abrams and Kasdan don’t reveal any new information about Luke’s role in the film, or even what he’s been doing up until that point in the timeline, it’s clear that he’s still a major influence in the Galaxy Far, Far Away.
  • Rey rescues BB-8 from a soccer ball style net, held by an alien named Teedo and his luggabeast. How does Teedo come upon BB-8? And does Rey have a history with the droid before rescuing him? That’s still unclear.
  • Yes, there’s a reason the surnames of Finn and Rey are still a mystery.
  • There’s a photo of John Boyega in stormtrooper armor next to the crashed TIE fighter, that can be seen in the Behind the Scenes reel from Comic Con. Odds are he’s the one flying that thing, perhaps out of the hangar that we see in the second teaser. “Fly, yes. Land, no!”

As if this isn’t enough new information for us to digest, Breznican teased more news coming tomorrow, featuring everyone’s favorite scoundrel-turned-general, Han Solo. Stay tuned….

J.J. Abrams Interview in Vanity Fair

daisy btsAs part of the June cover story, Vanity Fair sat down with director J.J. Abrams to talk about his work on The Force Awakens. Topics of conversation include how he and the rest of the creative team went about setting the tone and referencing the other films, and what it was like working on Star Wars as a lifelong fan.

On the podcast we’ve speculated a lot about the state of the GFFA 30 years after Endor, and Abrams discusses the appeal of dropping in the audience into the middle of the action with little explanation.

What was incredible about Star Wars, among other things, was that in that first movie Vader could’ve been his father, but he wasn’t, you know. Leia could’ve been his sister, but she wasn’t. You didn’t really know what the Empire was up to exactly. You didn’t really understand what it meant that there was a Senate or the Dark Times or any of the references, and yet you felt the presence of all these things and you understood because it was all being referenced in a way that allowed you to fill in the blanks, and that’s a very powerful thing.

I’m not sure about anyone else, but lately I feel very comforted reading and listening to interviews with Abrams. There’s no doubt he understands the importance of Star Wars, and knows that getting the feel right is just as important as the story itself. Combine that with the amazing new teaser and set pictures, and I absolutely cannot wait until December 18.

Rian Johnson officially confirmed for Episode VIII, first standalone to be Rogue One

Star_Wars_logoPretty much the whole world has known for a while that Episode VIII’s director would be Rian Johnson, but Bob Iger and Disney made it official today.

Iger confirmed that Rian Johnson will write and direct Star Wars: Episode VIII. The film, which continues the saga after the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is set for release on May 26, 2017 — forty years and a day after the release of Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977.

Of note is Star Wars returning to a traditional May release window. Looks like we’ll only be doing one holiday Star Wars episodic release. Believe it or not, though, this wasn’t the biggest announcement in this press release. We finally have the name of the first standalone film: Rogue One.

Rogue One is the title for the first film in a unique series of big-screen adventures that explores the characters and events beyond the core Star Wars saga. Rogue One will be directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla) and written by Oscar nominee Chris Weitz (Cinderella, About a Boy, Antz). The first actress cast is Felicity Jones, who garnered an Academy Award nomination and critical acclaim for her performance in The Theory of Everything.

Be still my heart! I mean, we don’t really know what the film is about, but it’s hard to see that title and not think Rogue Squadron and military science fiction. And, hey, there’s a lot of great written material to draw inspiration from.

Episode VII News Update

So, our Intrepid Leaders are on their honeymoon, which means the B-team is subbing in this week (we’re sorry).   Here’s what we’ve got:

J.J. posted another video for UNICEF’s Force for Change, and this time, he’s showing off an X-wing in the video.  Take a look at Mashable.com.  Personally, I’m thrilled at yet another look at practical effect props showing up here, and I’m looking forward to a comparison of this X-wing to those from the original trilogy.

Meanwhile, Badass Digest claims to have plot details for Episode VII.  I don’t think I need to note how very, very, very unconfirmed that is, but if you’re wanting to stay unspoiled, you might want to avoid, just in case.  (TOTALLY UNCONFIRMED, BY THE WAY.  And some of it doesn’t make ANY sense.  Like, at all.)

That’s the news for this morning.  Naturally, since The Intrepid Leaders are on a boat, Bria and I are expecting some sort of exciting news to drop at some point this week.  (You might remember that Brian and Nanci were on a cruise when Episode VII was announced.)  We will be exacting revenge for this later.

Rumor: Rian Johnson to write and direct Episodes VIII and IX

Normally we don’t do rumors, but this one appears to have some legs. Deadline is reporting that Rian Johnson will be writing and directing Episodes VIII and IX.

Johnson will take over the core film franchise, and he’ll get started quickly and this will be his preoccupation for quite awhile. Johnson made his directing debut on the respected indie Brick, and then jumped to mainstream science fiction by writing and directing Looper, an inventive time travel thriller that starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. It would be hard to imagine him taking on a higher profile challenge than two consecutive Star Wars films. I’ll tell you more when I know it. Johnson is repped by CAA.

As mentioned in that snippet, Johnson headed Looper, a time traveling film met with mixed but mostly positive reviews. His indie film resume (as well as some of his work on Breaking Bad) have won him acclaim.

This isn’t confirmed yet, but multiple major outlets are jumping all over this one.

Does this need to be said AGAIN?

Hey, it’s my turn to tag in.  *slaps Nanci’s hand*  I can do this.  If you look back in the archives, I’ve got a post called Why Star Wars Needs Women.  Why don’t you go read that while I drag out the soapbox?

You know, this soapbox keeps getting heavier.  It seems like it keeps getting more difficult to step on to, too.  I know it’s my own perception, though.  It has nothing to do with the actual weight of the soapbox or my own strength.  It has everything to do with exhaustion.  You see, I’m tired.  

You know why?  Because I have to keep repeating myself.  Because I have to keep shouting myself hoarse and jumping up and down and saying “HEY YOU, HOW ABOUT THE GIRLS?”

People conveniently forget that women invented science fiction.  (Haven’t read Frankenstein?  You should.)  They don’t know that the history of science has been rewritten to excise the contributions of hundreds of women.  They don’t realize that there are systematic social roadblocks in the way of women and minorities entering into science and technology.  Don’t believe me?  Maybe you’ll believe Neil DeGrasse Tyson in his response to the man who used to be the president of Harvard University.

Tyson points out that to have women and minorities in science, “[Y]ou gotta come up with a system where there’s equal opportunity.”  You know how some of that starts?  With representation in media.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look at the original Star Trek and the influence that its intentional representation had.  (And yeah, I’ve called JJ out on screwing that up in the Star Trek reboot too.)  Star Wars can’t do that?

Star Wars can do better.

So why am I so tired?  Because when we get a casting list like this, it seems like all the work I do, everything I work for, everything I try to teach my cousins and my students, everything–has been worth precisely a hill of beans.

But Tyson points something else out.  To become an astrophysicist, he says “I looked to become something that was outside the paradigms of expectation of the people in power. Fortunately, my depth of interest was so deep, and so fuel-enriched, that every one of these curveballs I was thrown, and fences built in front of me, and hills that I had to climb, I just reached for more fuel and I kept going.”

So here we go.  Yeah, it needs to be said.  Again.  And we’re going to keep saying it.

It’s Official: We Have Our Episode VII Cast

episode vii cast The official site finally put to bed all rumors and announced the cast of Episode VII.

“Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film.”

HUZZAH. Fandom knows Andy Serkis from the Lord of the Rings films, playing Gollum, while Domhnall Gleeson played Bill Weasley in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Oscar Davis starred in the film Inside Llewyn Davis, while Adam Driver is best known for his role in the HBO series Girls.

Also: MAX VON FRICKIN SYDOW? Wow, okay. On a diversity note, we’ve got two POCs in the main cast…but only one girl. Oh well, at least it’s some progress!

Finally, a fangirl note from the author of this post: JEDI MASTER LUKE SKYWALKER RIDES AGAIN!

Now, let the speculation of who they’re all playing begin.

Why the Sequel Trilogy Needs to Star a Skywalker

I’m a fan of the Expanded Universe. It’s what sucked me in to the saga, made me a fan, and made me stay a fan. Once the credits rolled on my first viewing of Return of the Jedi, I had to know what happened to the characters next. Little did I know that a book called Heir to the Empire had just been released, and coincidentally enough, it starred Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo.

Over the past 20+ years I’ve followed the EU pretty closely. I’ve gotten angry at certain plot developments and given up on it entirely. I’ve come crawling back with the promise of good Father-Son interaction, and a new X-Wing book. I’ve gotten tired of the Big Three starring in every story, and threw up my hands at the Crucible announcement. Before the Disney sale, I was optimistic about the future of the EU, and looking forward to more X-Wing books and a trilogy about Jaina Solo, Han and Leia’s daughter. It was about time she got her time in the spotlight, completely separate from her parents.

Now, with Episode VII on the horizon, I wholeheartedly believe that the Sequel Trilogy must star one of the next generation of Skywalkers, and I will argue this point until I’m blue in the face.

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Episode VII will begin 30 years, post RotJ, star new and old faces

We actually got some Episode VII news out of the Disney shareholders earning call today! Not a lot, but right now I’m willing to grasp at any and all scraps of news I can get my tiny fingers on.

Bob Iger confirmed that Episode VII will begin approximately 30 years after Return of the Jedi (or 34 ABY for us Expanded Universe folk), and will star some familiar faces along with a trio of new leads. However, the only confirmed cast member is still R2-D2. Le sigh.

Still! Some news is better than no news! I think. Hopefully, with filming starting in May, we’ll get some more substantial news–like casting!–pretty soon.

Tosche Station Radio #79: Teachable Moments

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On this episode of Tosche Station Radio, it’s learning moments from the Expanded Universe.

Kicking off the show, the hosts highlight what’s New on the Blog. Bria reviewed Darth Maul: Lockdown the first EU book on the 2014 calendar. In comics, Emily reviewed the new Serenity comic, Leaves on the Wind #1, while Bria reviewed Legacy #11 and The Star Wars #5. Brian reminds everyone to go watch Gargoyles. The Hondo Caravan visited Dathomir and Mortis, broke out of the Citadel and dove underwater with Captain Ackbar. Finally, we talked about Diversity a lot in the past three weeks. Nanci explained why Diversity for Diversity’s Sake is not a Bad Thing. Brian deconstructed Four Stupid Arguments Against Diversity. Bria discussed Diversity Among the Stars (And the Royals of Alderaan).

On Fixer’s Flash, the hosts weren’t up to much geeky stuff thanks to both Bowls of the Super and Puppy variety. They are planning to go see a sing-along version of Frozen.

Deak’s Dirt starts with Christie Golden reminding us that Sword of the Jedi is on hold. Episode VII stuff: According to USA Today, JJ Abrams says the script is done and filming is slated to begin May.  Carrie Fisher told TV Guide that she, Mark, and Harrison will begin work in March or April. Rumor – Judi Dench playing Mon Mothma? The Rebels movie rumored to air this summer. We also met the latest character from Rebels, Chopper the droid.

In Camie’s Concerns, the hosts take a look at what Rebels and the Sequel Trilogy can learn from the Expanded Universe. Both good and bad.

Tosche Station Radio is the official podcast of Tosche-Station.net and a part of Majestic Giraffe Productions. If you like what you hear, please leave a review on the iTunes Music Store. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Nanci and Brian are the co-founders and writers of Tosche-Station.net. You can find Nanci on Twitter with the handle @Nancipants and you can find Brian with @LaneWinree.

This podcast has been brought to you in part by Her Universe and Audible.com.

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