Look closely at this picture. You know what this is? Dead center in the middle is director JJ Abrams, sitting to his left is Harrison Ford, a couple seats over is Carrie Fisher, and next to her Peter Mayhew. On the far left we see the face of Mark Hamill, and he's talking to none other than Max Von Sydow.
Yes, the original trio, as well as Chewbacca (AND fucking Max Von Sydow), are in the cast for the TRUE sequel to "Return of the Jedi." Yes, you are looking at the first picture of a cast reading for Episode 7 (or VII as it will read in the title crawl) of the "Star Wars" saga.
Noticeably absent (thankfully, and somewhat sadly - I will get to that in a moment) is George Lucas, who gave over all rights of his precioussss to Disney and former long-time Steven Spielberg collaborator, Kathleen Kennedy. Look back to any Spielberg film in the 80s and 90s and you would be hard-pressed to not find her name in the credits, or alongside his own as executive producer on films such as "Gremlins", "Goonies", and "Back to the Future".
The most exciting thing for me about this entire production is the announcement of co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, who is not only my favorite film maker of all time but also the script writer for "The Empire Strikes Back." Another exciting addition to the cast is "The Lord of the Rings" very own Gollum, Andy Serkis (what part he takes in the film is as of yet unknown).
Going back to my sadness that George Lucas will not be included in the production....
While I despise everything about the entire process of production of getting the prequel trilogy up on screen (and the general laziness that was involved in everything from the acting, screen writing, and visual effects enhancement of the film), George Lucas' name is still a brand. Seeing the words "Lucasfilm" during the trumpets of the 20th Century Fox logo are something of great nostalgia. I have no doubt that Abrams, Kasdan, and the fresh new cast mixed with the old favorites will finally do the series some justice by giving us a worthy new trilogy of sequels, but I will still miss the George Lucas name. I just wish his eye for quality was the same as JJ Abrams.
P.S. I would love to see a Caleb Deschanel or a Roger Deakins shoot one of the "Star Wars" films. I feel their knack for color and quality shots would lend the new films a bit of gravitas that David Tattersall just couldn't achieve in the green-screen raped footage of Episodes I, II, and III. Dan Mindell will do just fine with Episode VII (he has already been hired for that one film, but is currently not attached to the other two) as long as he sticks away from a lot of the shaky cam that he used in "Enemy of the State" and "Spy Game", or the lens flares of Abrams' own "Star Trek" films.
P.S.S. JOHN WILLIAMS IS SCORING THE NEW FILMS!!!!