ABC to Consider Live-Action STAR WARS TV Series

     January 10, 2013


This is a bit of a no-brainer, but now that Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm is complete, they are privy to a number of properties that have been developed by the George Lucas‘ former studio.  One such project is the ambitious live-action TV series iteration of Star Wars that has been in development for a number of years.  Produced by Rick McCallum, there are said to be 50 scripts written and completed for the show, but it has yet to go to the production stage because the effects-heavy series necessitates a larger-than-normal budget.  Well, the wait for the Star Wars live-action TV show could possibly be over sooner rather than later, as Disney subsidiary ABC will now be taking a look at the project to see if it’s something they might want to bring to fruition.  Hit the jump for more.

star-wars-episode-v-the-empire-strikes-back-posterFirst off, here’s a brief refresher for those of you unfamiliar with the live-action series.  McCallum has stated that there are 50 one-hour scripts written and ready to go, penned by writers like Battlestar Galactica’s Ronald D. Moore.  The stories take place in the 20-year period between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, but the focus of the series is on characters other than the main cast from the films.  McCallum previously described the show’s darker tone as that of Empire Strikes Back on steroids, with a touch of Deadwood.

The sticking point for getting this show off the ground was always money.  Each episode was budgeted at around $5 million, which is a lot in the world of television.  Moreover, Lucasfilm wanted to retain ownership of the series, giving whichever network aired the show a smaller cut of the profit.  Now that Disney owns both Lucasfilm and ABC, obviously the network is going to look into possibly making the show.  ABC president Paul Lee had this to say to EW:

“We’d love to do something with Lucasfilm, we’re not sure what yet. We haven’t even sat down with them. We’re going to look at [the live-action series], we’re going to look at all of them, and see what’s right. We weren’t able to discuss this with them until [the acquisition] closed and it just closed. It’s definitely going to be part of the conversation.”

Lee makes no guarantees of the series going forward on ABC, though, and says it would be tricky to juggle a television show and a feature film franchise set within the same universe, with a new Star Wars film due to hit theaters in 2015:

“It’s going to be very much up to the Lucasfilm brands how they want to play it,” he said. “We got to a point here with Marvel, a very special point, where we’re in the Marvel universe, and very relevantly so, but we’re not doing The Avengers. But S.H.I.E.L.D. is part of The Avengers. So maybe something oblique is the way to [approach the Star Wars universe] rather than going straight head-on at it.”

Again, this is all incredibly preliminary, but now that Disney owns Lucasfilm there’s a much greater chance of the live-action Star Wars series seeing the light of day sooner rather than later.



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  • Ash Talon

    The problem with a SW show is the budget, which has been mentioned. You can’t just say, “make a show about bounty hunters and their adventures.” You need to keep costs down, so you’re going to have to limit locations. All tv shows (including space-faring ones) have to have a central location to keep costs down. For science fiction shows, most of the show takes place on a ship. Occasional episodes go to a planet surface, but those are usually cheapish sets or a just-outside L.A. desert location.

    So you could have a bounty hunter show, but you’re going to need a recurring cast : bounty hunter(s) and their crew, nemesis to chase them around (Imperial forces), and target for each episode/arc. The show will never look like the movies, as the budget has to be much much cheaper. The scope of it has to be smaller. If you make it too small, it won’t really feel like SW. It’s not as easy as it sounds to develop a project like this and make it still fit into the SW universe.

    Of the top of my head, I’d say set it on 2 planets that are near each other an in conflict with each other. Maybe not in open war but always on the verge of it. The Empire has a Star Destroyer in the area to maintain the peace. Someone, a rougish type character (ex-Jedi) gets into the middle and starts playing both sides (like Yojimbo). They can design 2 different planets/cultures and build reusable sets for both. Also, they can build Star Destroyer sets to use for each episode. Having the Empire in it would allow them to use the familiar Empire designs with maybe an appearance of Darth Vader somewhere down the line. Think Deadwood but on a pair of planets. Political intrigue. Some forbidden romances. The threat of the impending doom. The occasional travel to some different landscapes.

    • dogg

      If it gets a following, it’ll pay for itself easily. Just think of the budget of Friends except all the money goes to the SFX instead of overpaid actors.

    • Ryan D

      Budget? This is Star Wars we are talking about. Network television is horrendous right now. They are getting beat out by Cable networks like AMC, FX, etc. They are cancelling drama shows left and right, the only network that keeps them running it seems is CBS (and we aren’t their demographic).

      I understand the need to keep the budget under but guys they will just use old school SFX like in the original movies along with lower paid actors (with the occasional guest star since they did sign in their contracts to do TV apperances).

      Networks pass on pilots and shows that are deemed too expensive because of the market they are going for. Star Wars has the largest base this side of Marvel to keep a television show going. If the writing on it is decent you can easily be looking at a mainstay network show.

  • Charlie

    Hope it gets made, but I hope they rewrite to remove the stench of McCallum and 90′s/00′s Lucas from the scripts.

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    Would love to see a between ROTS and NEW HOPE..

    Rise of the Empire, and Vader hunting down the last of the Jedi, aswell as the rise of the Rebellion.
    (Isn’t this what every true Star Wars fan on earth has been waiting to see? Its not rocket science.)

    And face it, VADER is the emblem of Star Wars, his face is iconic. And as Episodes 7, 8 and 9 will be many years after the OT. This concept could be the only way to ever see Darth Vader ever again. Plus, Palpatine needs more devious screentime too.

    Also, depending on Ahsoka’s fate in Clone Wars, if she survives and goes into hiding, it would be a great moment if one day Vader hunts her down, and just before slaying her, he reveals that he was once Anakin her master.

    • Kris

      This is a fantastic idea it would be great to see vader take out the last of the Jedi, it might also good to introduce his apprentice star killer from the forced unleashed games and the help he provides to the rebellion.


    Vader! Hardly saw him in the prequels, wont see him in the new sequels. This show just has to show him setting up the Empire etc…

  • Northern Star

    I think Disney should concentrate on bringing Episodes VII-IX to the big screen first, and then after that is done in 2019 or 2021 (depending on the time between each film), they can start on the series… by which time, technology will have progressed sufficiently to make the live-action show on an affordable budget.

    • HOLY SITH!

      One snag here, I wanna be alive to see it! The final part of this new trilogy will be out in about 10 years time if they spend 2 or 3 years making each one. I wanna see Vader doing his thing before then!

  • Lance

    They should put this show on HBO or some other high end cable channel. Why?

    Fewer episodes per season mean each episode gets more love and care. Like Game of Thrones — they managed to convincingly create a whole world there on a tv budget. Battlestar Galactica, which was on SyFy, shows how you could do some space battles now and then on tv.

    It can’t be epic scale Rebels versus the Empire, given the costs that would involve. But like mentioned already by another poster, you can’t go too small or cheap, because then what’s the point? Star Wars isn’t Star Wars if it doesn’t feel like a big universe.

    • Steve

      Battlestar is an excellent example of what you can do on a TV budget. Some of the FX work on that show was feature film quality. And they managed to work in some planet locations from time to time, keeping the show from feeling claustrophobic. With the right Art Design, there is no reason a Star Wars series couldn’t have the same blend of action, character, and story arc as BSG and still fill like it fits into the SW universe.

  • TJ

    Make Star Wars darker, grittier, and not have whiny characters and I’ll watch. Until such time Star Trek will carry the space stories and do a better job.

  • Radagast

    I understand that Star Wars has a large cult following made up of people who’d rather not see it fade into the background, but personally, I think Star Wars has its run its course. George Lucas should have never sold Star Wars. He should have let it die.

    • Jake

      Well said. I love Star Wars, too. But its had its day, and they need to just let it die.

    • Truth

      Totally agree with this. For christ sake, there are tons of other sci-fi stories that can be created. Let Star Wars die, it’s a dead horse they keep trying to re-animate.

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  • spongefist

    They should just make the entire 50 episodes about one of most important untold stories.

    When Anakin lost his shit and killed some sand people he also did the same to an entire Ewok planet which not many people realise.

    Each episode should follow Anakin as he finds an Ewok or two and then decapitates them in slo-motion.

    This simple formula would save on costs and provide an incredible amount of enjoyment.

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  • Fraspas

    A Star Wars series? It’s a no brainer! I can’t imagine any smart exec turning down this idea, it will have such a huge fan following it’ll be ridiculous. However, I do agree with some of the posts that putting it out on the ABC platform will be a bit weak compared to others.

    As for the show- definitely do not focus of glitz and glamour. SFX should NOT be the main priority. The strong selling point has to be the story. There shouldn’t be one main character, but have a couple of characters we can follow on a week to week basis that are somehow interconnected and perhaps lead up to a great big finale! This way, we can see the different facets of life as the empire slowly builds itself out.

    You can have:

    A young innocent Coruscant-based SENATOR who recently got appointed before the whole Jedi council collapsed and the Empire gained power. You can slowly see him lose his innocence as he carries out the Emperor’s orders while at the same time questioning his beliefs and morals as more and more denizens come under the grasp of the Empire.

    A BOUNTY HUNTER who gets hired by the Empire for “unique” jobs and we can follow him/her as s/he slowly weeds out the rebellion and other dealings in the seedy underworld.

    A SMUGGLER who was pretty comfortable with his business only to find his world turned upside down as the Empire tightened its hold on the galaxy.

    A REBEL FACTION against the Empire goes into hiding, and slowly sprouts ideas of revolution to different parts of the galaxy. We can slowly see the seeds being planted and this can easily be the predecessor for what we later see as the Rebellion.

    A PILOT, originally working for the Republic is now a squadron leader for the Empire and we see the Empire’s Naval power as it strikes helpless civilizations across the galaxy. Does he continue what he’s told or maybe a change of heart during one of his campaigns force his decision to become a double agent?

    And so on and so on…

    The main focus of this show would be to explore more about the political aspects and the personal interactions between the characters. In the movies, we saw a great saga unfolded before us with great big explosions and heroic adventures. In the series, we should see a more in-depth view of the universe George Lucas created for us.

  • MainFragger

    I want to see Mara Jade..that is all..

  • bubba

    The need to do what Abrams did with Star Wars: totally negate pre-existing canon up to the original series. ;)

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