The boss: New Kathleen Kennedy profile, and about that slave bikini…

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Vanity Fair has a new interview and profile of Kathleen Kennedy in the wake of The Force Awakens. The most interesting part, perhaps, comes from writer Tony Kushner (Angels in America:)

“She talked about the way in which the conventional approach to these things is that a script starts from an outline, and that’s what everybody focuses on before there’s a word of dialogue.” In Kushner’s recollection, Kennedy was urging the writers to turn their focus to the characters. She kept saying to them, “Who are these people? I don’t know who these people are.” Kushner felt that “she was expressing an impatience about character being secondary to story line, which violated something very essential for her.”

He went on: “We had an interesting conversation about how a lot of playwrights start with outlines because it gives you something to hold on to, but that you know the characters are likely to derail the outline once they start doing what they do.” He and Kennedy talked about how “there’s no telling what will happen once you have invented a person. They may be willing to do what the outline says to do, but they may have very different plans in mind.” The sense Kushner got was that Kennedy “was pushing people to be unafraid of being lost for a while. It was good to see her holding the banner of complexity in the middle of this huge enterprise of Star Wars.” The machines, in other words, have not won.

She also addresses Leia’s slave bikini:

Referring to a notorious scene in Return of the Jedi, I asked Kennedy if she would ever have put Princess Leia in a golden bikini—the famous “slave Leia” costume that is embedded in the collective unconscious of legions of men who were adolescents in the 80s. “With a chain around her neck?,” Kennedy asked, arching an eyebrow and laughing. “I don’t think that would happen.” She quickly added that she didn’t think George Lucas would put her in that bikini today.

Lucas’ wife, Mellody Hobson, on the other hand, says “George is not apologetic about that bikini.” I don’t doubt it.

The article notes that there isn’t a ban on the slave bikini – but I’ve always suspected the real story is that there’ll be less bikini, as opposed to a blanket ban, considering the source of the ‘banning’ brouhaha is a pinup artist.

In any case, you’re going to want to read the whole thing.

Electronic music compilation Star Wars: Headspace, ‘Jabba Flow’ video coming later this month

star-wars-headspace-700I actually scrolled past this several times in my Twitter feed this morning, thinking it was just another less-than-relevant fan project, but no: Star Wars Headspace is an electronic dance music compilation executive produced by Rick Rubin with the full blessing of Lucasfilm. You can listen to a few tracks over at StarWarsHeadspace.com.

If you’re not an electronic music aficionado, though, there still may be something here for you: The Headspace site is teasing an exclusive premiere for a J.J. Abrams directed video of ‘Jabba Flow’ – apparently not the remixed version. The track by Abrams and Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda is heard during the sequence at Maz Kanata’s castle in The Force Awakens, but is missing entirely from the film’s soundtrack. Does this mean a single release? In any case, the video will debut February 18 at 8:15 p.m. on the basic cable channel Freeform (née ABC Family.)

Headspace will be released digitally February 19, with physical copies going to retail on March 18. It can be pre-ordered on iTunes now.

Star Wars out this week: Darth Vader #16

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A new story arc begins in this week’s only new release, Darth Vader #16, out Wednesday.

On the book front, February is a bust, and March brings only the paperbacks of Christie Golden’s Dark Disciple and Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath.

Our next new novel is out May 3, and we just got a cover and excerpt for it last week: Claudia Gray’s Bloodline. It’s the first post-Return of the Jedi novel to focus on one of the big 3 in the new canon.

Roundup: The Force Awakens’ box office will pass $900M domestic any minute now

Kylo Ren on JakkuThe Force Awakens will cross $900M domestic at the box office today, and $2B worldwide tomorrow, Disney announced.

In related news, Lionsgate said today that Star Wars is partially at fault for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2‘s less-than-predicted performance, lessening the November movie’s numbers by “somewhere between $50M and $100M.” Don’t blame the players, blame the game? And maybe even the ever-more-eye-rolling trend of splitting adaptions into two parts… I saw both Mockingjays in the theater, but I gotta tell you, by the second movie I was pretty much already over it.

→ The sound we hear in The Force Awakens when Kylo Ren uses the Force has an unexpected source: A purring cat, Dave Acord tells Nerdist. Matthew Wood also talks about recording Ren’s mask dialogue with Adam Driver. (Acord also reveals there’s a sound from Raiders of the Lost Ark in the mix.) At The Daily Dot, Wood gets into even more detail about the archival sounds used in the new film, as well as the ADR process and other details.

→ I’ve never been particularly fond of the autograph racket that goes on in this fandom, but I gotta say, the latest controversy – involving Daisy Ridley – really takes the cake.

The Force Awakens, Boyega, Ridley, and DK Star Wars book up for Kids’ Choice Awards

Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know (JTFA)It may be no surprise that The Force Awakens is nabbing a bunch of key nominations for the Nickelodeon 2016 Kids’ Choice Awards, but a Star Wars book has also earned a nomination, competing against both Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. DK’s Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know, by Adam Bray, Cole Horton, Michael Kogge, and Kerrie Dougherty, is one of six choices to be voted on in the Favorite Book category. Will it stand up to the likes of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Maze Runner? Anyone can vote as much as they want for the Kids’ Choice Awards at nick.com/KCA. Sadly, you can’t skip a category, like Favorite (Music) Collaboration.

In other categories, The Force Awakens has earned nominations for Favorite Movie, Favorite Actor (John Boyega) & Favorite Actress (Daisy Ridley). In the video games category, Disney Infinity 3.0 (which added Star Wars content) is a nominee. The Kids’ Choice Awards will air live on March 12, hosted by Blake Shelton.

Cover, excerpt from Claudia Gray’s Bloodline

bloodlineUSA Today has our first look at Bloodline, the novel by Claudia Gray that we learn will focus on Leia Organa “some years” before The Force Awakens. (We heard 6 years when the book was first announced.)

Read between the lines:

Leia is professionally at a good place, as a senator and leader in a peaceful New Republic decades after the fall of Vader and the Emperor’s stranglehold on the galaxy. However, Gray says that a new generation doesn’t remember the lessons of the Rebellion or recognize the wrongs of the Empire, and Leia begins to see the cracks in the foundation that could lead to a dangerous future for the galaxy.

Family is a major theme overall in the Star Wars films and it plays a key role in one of the book’s most significant events, “one that has pretty far-reaching repercussions for several characters,” Gray says. “However, this novel isn’t fundamentally about Leia as a wife, sister or mom; this is about the role she’s created for herself since the fall of the Empire, and the one she takes up by the time of (The Force Awakens).”

Some The Force Awakens characters will appear in the book – Korr Sella gets a mention in the excerpt – but there will be some new ones as well, including Ransolm Casterfo, a young senator who “collects artifacts from the Empire.”

It’s nice to see a Leia-centric book set in a pivotal point in the new era – and it looks like this may clear up a few questions left about the timeline and political situation leading up to The Force Awakens. Gray’s Lost Stars got a lot of praise – let’s hope she has similar success with movie characters.

Bloodline is due out in hardcover and eBook May 3.

Video: Unboxing Star Wars: Before the Awakening, Star Wars Half Marathon & Rebels

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Unboxing Star Wars is back, with a lot of catch up on. Baby Jawa, Yowie, and I briefly cover The Force Awakens and my Wear Star Wars Every Day fundraising campaign for Collateral Repair Project, before diving deeper into the Star Wars Half Marathon weekend, Greg Rucka’s Before the Awakening, and the first two episodes of Star Wars Rebels for 2016: ‘A Princess on Lothal’ and ‘The Protector of Concord Dawn.’

Check out the Star Wars Rebels episode guide for ‘A Princess on Lothal’ and ‘The Protector of Concord Dawn’ over at StarWars.com. Get more info on Wear Star Wars Every Day or make a donation at GoFundMe.

Checking in with Rogue One: Don’t expect anything at Toy Fair

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Just like they did last year, Hasbro won’t be showing any toys from Rogue One at Toy Fair this year, per a statement from the company. On the other hand, we do expect lots and lots of The Force Awakens stuff!

Meanwhile, for the rumor hounds, Making Star Wars has a pair of reports. The first pertains to an all-new villain and his striking wardrobe, while the second has to do with hero disguises and code names.

1 year in: Marvel’s Jordan D. White on Star Wars comics

Star Wars: Poe Dameron #1Just over a year out from launch, IGN interviews Jordan D. White, who’s in charge of Star Wars at Marvel Comics, about the line – including why they all began in the same time period at first – and what’s coming up in the future.

On why they chose Poe Dameron for the line’s first The Force Awakens ongoing:

Ideally, a miniseries tells a very specific, self-contained story. “Here’s this event.” You know, “Here’s the time when Lando tried to steal the Emperor’s yacht.” “Here’s the story of how Princess Leia dealt with the destruction of Alderaan in conjunction with her place in the Rebellion.” And then once it’s finished, it’s finished. If we were to, as some people have suggested, talk about turning that into an ongoing, it would be, “Well, okay, now we need to come up with a totally different story and direction for it to go in, because that is done.” Whereas as ongoing series, again, you want to come up with something that can generate story after story.

When you look at the main characters of The Force Awakens — all of whom are super awesome, by the way — Poe is definitely the one whose previous stories are adventure stories.

He also teases upcoming miniseries, “some that are going to surprise people” and “some that people are not going to be expecting.”

His Jar Jar idea – which remains vague, just in case – isn’t going to happen “any time soon.” But there’s stuff in the pipeline for “fans of every era of Star Wars.”

The article also previews some interior art from Darth Vader #16.vader16