Star Wars Rumour Mill Keeps Grinding

Live-action TV, Saoirse Ronan and Disneyfication


Here we go again. Various new bits and pieces of Star Wars rumour are circling the interwebs today. It's like we're all blindfolded, and solid stories are that floaty ball thing we're trying to hit with our lightsaber of news. Or something. The Force is not strong anywhere here, but the snippets involve the long-mooted live-action TV series, the possible casting of Saoirse Ronan and Sullivan Stapleton, and a promise from JJ Abrams that the new Star Wars will not be "Disneyfied".

TV first. The last we heard about the live-action series was back in January, when the US ABC Network began to show an interest as Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. came together. Prior to that, Lucasfilm honcho Rick McCallum had talked up Star Wars: Underworld, which would have focused on the Star Wars universe's crime syndicates, but which stalled due to concerns over a potential $5m-an-episode budget.

Now, the apparently reliable Blue Sky Disney believe they have intel that, following S.H.I.E.L.D.'s premiere, a Star Wars series is very much on the horizon again. Nothing's been decided, but it's "a good possibility", though it will probably not be the darker Underworld concept. Disney are, we're told, "batting ideas around and seeing which ones work and which ones they want to pitch to the network", with a particular focus of discussion around when the series should be set. Should it be between the prequel trilogy and the originals, or, for maximum crossover potential, between Return Of The Jedi and Episode VII? A decision has not been made.

On to the casting of Episode VII, and there's been confirmation that Saoirse Ronan and Sullivan Stapleton (the Aussie star of the upcoming 300: Rise Of An Empire) have had auditions. "But so has everyone else," says Ronan. And she's right. Obviously the roles for which they auditioned for remain classified. Ronan joked that Disney would "cut my head off with a lightsaber" if she revealed anything.

That leads us to Abrams, and his response to concerns that the new Star Wars will be "Disneyfied", whatever that means. "The beauty there is that Disney doesn't want that," he says. "They are very sensitive to that. They're being very careful." He went on to compare Disney's Star Wars approach to its attitutde to Marvel, indicating that while the revivified franchise will be all-ages, it won't be just for kids. So don't expect gold-bikini Leia to show up in a box of princess dolls alongside Cinderella and Pocahontas anytime soon.