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14 ways of looking at J.J. Abrams' 'Star Wars'

News broke this afternoon that geek-franchise uber-producer J.J. Abrams has officially signed on to direct the next episode of Star Wars, therefore making him the official onscreen shepherd of not one, but two science-fiction mega-franchises — the equivalent of owning Coke and Pepsi, with Mission: Impossible playing the role of Dr. Pepper in this metaphor. Details are still scarce, as Disney and Lucasfilm have yet to release an official statement, but the news set our minds racing. Abrams’ participation is exciting news for many reasons. But a good Star Wars geek is also a skeptical Star Wars geek. Follow along as we track our 14-step reaction to the news about a J.J. Abrams-helmed Star Wars.

1. First takeaway, neither positive nor negative: This is confirmation that Disney is not going to scrimp on the Star Wars sequels. They need a reboot, and they went straight for the Reboot King. It’s a remarkably simple idea. The thinking goes: “J.J. Abrams took one decades-old franchise with the word ‘Star’ in it, rescued it from box office oblivion and fandom purgatory, and transformed it into a multi-demographic-baiting modern blockbuster hit. Why not let him do that again?” Indeed, it’s an idea so simple that pretty much everyone else on the Internet thought about it, but then dismissed it: What would Abrams do with Star Wars when he already had Star Trek? (By comparison, the rumors about Matthew Vaughn were a bit disappointing: Vaughn is a stylish director, but he’s a far more mercenary talent — you imagine him directing an off-brand Star Wars spin-off, not an epic three-part trilogy.) In a sense, this new Star Wars looks like a companion piece to The Avengers. In both cases, Disney didn’t just pick a beloved director: They picked a guy whose name is synonymous with the whole millennial rise of geekdom as a cultural force. READ FULL STORY

White House responds to petition to build a Death Star: 'The Administration does not support blowing up planets'

When the Obama Administration first created its “We the People” petition system — where a petition by an ordinary citizen requires a White House response if it gets 25,000 signatures within 30 days — they had to know they were inviting all manner of Internet shenanigans. Already, the president’s staff has had to contend with a petition to deport CNN’s Piers Morgan over his views on gun control, and MPAA chief Chris Dodd found himself the target of a White House petition after statements he made to Fox News seemed to imply that Obama’s re-election campaign had to play nice with the movie business if it wanted Hollywood’s financial support.

But those efforts pale in comparison to the petition, created on Nov. 14, 2012, demanding that the Obama Administration “secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.” It earned 34,435 signatures, more than enough to force a White House response, which was just posted to the White House Petitions website, penned by Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget. As the response’s title — “This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For” — makes clear from the get go, it. Is. AwesomeREAD FULL STORY

'Star Wars' appears on 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition': Corporate synergy, or just Christmas spirit?


Most Star Wars fans live in a state of perpetual anxiety and hyper-vigilance, defensive towards any perceived threats to the sanctity of their beloved galaxy far far away. So when I say that characters from Star Wars appeared on last night’s very special Christmas edition of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, there is a very real possibility that a nation of Jedi-heads — battered by a decade of prequel ennui and cautiously optimistic about the new Disney era — will explode. Home Edition is on ABC, which is owned by Disney, which now owns LucasFilm: Ipso facto, Star Wars has sold out to ABC, Luke Skywalker will soon be joining Once Upon a Time, the ladies of The Bachelor will henceforth dress as Slave Leia, and C-3PO and R2-D2 will be the new co-hosts of Wipeout. READ FULL STORY

This week's cover: 'Star Wars,' the once and future franchise


George Lucas shocked the entertainment world with the announcement of a $4.05 billion deal that would give Lucasfilm –including Luke Skywalker’s home galaxy– to the Walt Disney Company. The news flash represented far more than the latest checkbook chapter in this Disney empire-building era (Pixar, Marvel and the Muppets are already part of the corporate universe) or a colossal moment in the philanthropic world (Lucas will donate most of the money to charity); the Star Wars saga will strike back in 2015 with the opening installment of a new live-action trilogy as the new team–with Jurassic Park and Lincoln producer Kathleen Kennedy Lucasfilm’s president– tries to make magic for Disney shareholders.

Where will the plot go? What characters and actors might be feeling the Force? Who will direct? We offer an inside report on the future of the franchise — as well our own Yoda-like advice about the best path to Jedi glory and the slippery route that could send the Skywalkers tumbling into a conceptual trash compactor. Plus, A-List filmmakers weigh in on the big announcement (and one of them has a bad feeling about this).

For news and analysis on the future Star Wars movies, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands November 16th.

Read more:
Mark Hamill weighs in on the future of ‘Star Wars’ — EXCLUSIVE
Who should direct new ‘Star Wars’ movie? Christopher Nolan? Joss Whedon?
‘Star Wars’ reaction: Abrams, Favreau, Nolfi, and Rodriguez weigh in — EXCLUSIVE

R2-D2-inspired engagement ring is gorgeous in any galaxy -- VIDEO

Image Credit: Geekologie.com

Finally, an engagement ring has been designed that will put Jennifer Aniston’s rock on the back burner.

New Jersey tattoo artist Joe Pagani created an R2-D2-inspired ring for his Star Wars-crazed girlfriend. He commissioned jewelry designer Paul Michael Bieker to create the sapphire and diamond ring and proposed to Emily on Halloween. The force was definitely with Joe: She said yes! READ FULL STORY

Carrie Fisher says 'I like the idea of being Mrs. Solo' on 'The Talk' -- VIDEO

When Carrie Fisher popped up on CBS’ daytime coffee klatch The Talk on Tuesday, co-host Aisha Tyler could not help but ask about her feelings about the revival of Star Wars — and taking on the role that has defined her life one more time.

“I like to think of it as ‘old Leia,’ like, sway-backed old Leia the horse,” Fisher quipped. “I like the idea of being Mrs. Solo, and we’ve just fought and fought and I killed him.”

Check out their full interview below, along with how Fisher’s mother Debbie Reynolds made clear her recent hospitalization wasn’t going to slow her down:  READ FULL STORY

Making the perfect trilogy: What do you want to see in the new 'Star Wars' movies?

Image credit: Lucasfilm

The debates began about three nanoseconds after the announcement was made that there would be a third trilogy of Star Wars films hitting screens beginning in 2015. What should the new films be like? Who should direct? When should they take place? Which characters should be included? And should those characters — like Han, Luke, and Leia — be played by the original actors or recast? Should the new films incorporate some of the more popular people from the expanded universe of Star Wars books and video games, like, say, Grand Admiral Thrawn and Mara Jade? READ FULL STORY

How should Han Solo die in the new 'Star Wars'?

Image Credit: Lucasfilm

Sources close to the just announced Star Wars sequel told EW’s Geoff Boucher that Harrison Ford would be open to the idea of possibly returning to the film franchise as Corellian smuggler-turned-Rebel Alliance hero Han Solo. But we also know that Ford had lobbied during production of the original trilogy for his character to be killed. One might theorize, then, that for Ford to agree to come back, he may insist Solo bite the dust. (Insert despondent Wookiee howl here.) READ FULL STORY

What 'Star Wars: Episode VII' could learn from 'Star Trek,' 'Mission: Impossible,' and... 'Blues Brothers 2000'?

If all goes as planned, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill will reunite on the silver screen in 2015 for Star Wars: Episode VII, a movie set in the hours, days, years, decades or eons after Darth Vader’s torchlight funeral near the piney stomping grounds of the Ewoks. But when they reach the set next year, the actors will be 30 years removed from Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. A new generation of heroes and villains will clearly be needed to move the franchise on to Episode VIII and beyond, but how to accomplish that?

We’ve zeroed in on 10 movies that found themselves dealing with a similar generational predicament, and how their respective approaches could inform the future of the Star Wars saga.

Matthew Vaughn to direct new 'Star Wars'? Five things we could expect


Now that you’ve gotten over your initial excitement after hearing about the new Star Wars movie coming in 2015, it’s time to settle in for an exciting year of online rumormongering, as every piece of Star Wars-related gossip overheard on the streets of Los Angeles gains volume via the great Internet echo chamber. Collider got things off to a running start yesterday with a surprising claim: Matthew Vaughn, director of X-Men: First Class, is currently in talks to helm Star Wars: Episode VII. As far as rumors go, this one vibes with semi-possibility. Vaughn just departed the next X-Men prequel-sequel after over a year of development; maybe he knew the Star Wars deal was on the horizon. And although Vaughn has directed a couple successful movies, at this point, he’s a geek-friendly journeyman: Leading a storied franchise into a new generation could turn him into a directing megastar. (See also: Whedon, Abrams, Nolan.) READ FULL STORY

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