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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

why can’t George Lucas get ‘The Clone Wars’ onto TV?

Ready for more Star Wars? It’s a pretty sure bet that audiences are. And we know George Lucas is always up for more. He’s got big plans for Fall 2008, which he hopes will see the debut of a new CGI-animated series The Clone Wars. This is not to be confused with the minitoon of the same name (which is a lot of geeky fun) that aired in three-minute bursts on Cartoon Network. That one hit the highlights of the Clone Wars — this one will tell the whole damn story in-depth. (I guess it’s kinda like the difference between doing a story about WWII that depicts only Pearl Harbor, D-Day, and Hiroshima and one that includes everything from the French Resistance and Tokyo Rose to the ghettos of Poland and the airlifting of cigarettes and chocolate to our boys on the front.) You can check out a trailer for the series at the official Star Wars site. It looks pretty cool … but then again, 90 percent of the new trilogy was animated anyway, so Lucas’s gang has had a lot of practice.
Why does Lucas only “hope” the show will debut a year from now? Even though 40 of the 100 planned episodes are already completed — which is not at all the process by which television series get produced; Lucas is sinking a ton of money into something that may never even get on the air — he’s having trouble finding a TV home for the series, as he told TV Guide last week:

[I]t’s a war picture. So it’s kind of a PG-13 animated TV series, which is something that has never been done before and obviously doesn’t fit in any of the conventional slots that these things fall into. In that, it’s very different, and I think it’s very exciting. It’s got a very, very sophisticated look to it. It’s very much like the features. We’re still trying to figure out how to put it on the air…. It’s out there to people, and people are talking about it, but so far, everybody’s got the same conundrums — “How do we program it? Where does it live? Where can we put something like this?” You know, it has to go after 9 o’clock and it can’t be on a kiddie channel.

I’m not so sure that’s the real reason. I mean, come on: this sounds ready-made for the Sci Fi Channel — there really shouldn’t be any problem selling it. I think there’s something else going on that’s keeping Lucas off the air. Possibilities:

= Coruscant Broadcasting Company fears competition with its new reality show, Who Wants to Be a Jedi Apprentice?

= Network execs across the galaxy are scared off by the bounty put on Lucas by Jabba the Hutt, who is rumored to feel the filmmaker used false pretenses to get that documentary footage of his Tatooine palace.

= A great disturbance in the Force accompanies Lucas wherever he goes, as evidenced by the fact that he is the only director in the universe to have gotten both Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor to come across as “dull” onscreen.

= No one can quite put a finger on it, but everyone who has seen clips from the new show “has a bad feeling” about it.

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