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'Star Wars': John Williams returning to score J.J. Abrams' Episode VII


Here’s some news worthy of fanfare: John Williams will return to compose the music for J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy announced today.

The news came out of Star Wars Celebration Europe II, a fan gathering in Messe Essen, Germany. The video above played for the crowd immediately after she revealed his participation in the intensely anticipated followup to Return of the Jedi.

Williams says he hasn’t learned any story details for the film, which is the way he prefers to work. “I’m waiting anxiously like the audience around the world to find out what the surprises are, and discover what my continued role is going to be,” Williams says.

The 81-year-old said the 47-year-old Abrams seems “for me, very young,” but praised his expertise. “He’s also very experienced. He’s had some great success with large-scale projects which are very difficult logistically and mechanically and photographically,” Williams said.

As a veteran of many Spielberg films, Williams has a long history with Kennedy, and said he’s grateful they are taking over for George Lucas on the Star Wars legacy.

“You couldn’t find better candidates for this opportunity,” he added.

Many fans were hoping the five-time Oscar-winner might return, after scoring all of the previous Star Wars films (and winning one of those Academy Awards for his music from the first one.) But it wasn’t certain. Abrams has his own favorite Oscar-winning composer, Michael Giacchino, who has worked on everything from the Star Trek reboots to Super 8 and Abrams’ Lost and Alias TV shows.

Perhaps someday the torch will be passed, but for now Williams is still carrying it forward into that galaxy far away.

CinemaCon honoree Kathleen Kennedy talks 'Star Wars'

You may not know her name, but you’ve likely seen it numerous times — on the credits of such films as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Schindler’s List, Seabiscuit, and Lincoln.

For serving in various production capacities on those and some 60 other big-screen movies, as well as for her humanitarian and philanthropic efforts, Kathleen Kennedy was named 2013 Pioneer of the Year Wednesday night by film exhibitors at their annual CinemaCon convention. READ FULL STORY

Welcome to 'Jurassic Park': An oral history

2013-Jurassic-Park

As a child, Steven Spielberg was captivated by dinosaurs. He collected cast-iron figurines of them and preferred them in starring roles on the big screen. “I was more interested in the dinosaurs in King Kong than I was in King Kong himself,” remembers the Academy Award-winning director. “I thought the T. rex was one of the most awesome dinosaurs of the fossil record! But I never knew how to parlay all my love for paleontology into a story until Michael Crichton came along and wrote his book.”

That book was Jurassic Park, which Spielberg adapted in 1993 into an exhilarating adventure and one of the highest-grossing movies of all time—not to mention a groundbreaking technological achievement. “It changed special effects forever,” the director says, “and for better or for worse, it really did introduce the digital era.”

In honor of Universal rereleasing Jurassic
 Park in 3-D and IMAX on April 5 and the movie’s
 20th anniversary, EW looks back at the film that so memorably shook the earth.

THE BEGINNING

Spielberg and author Crichton had been developing a feature film based on Crichton’s script Cold Case, about his time as 
 a medical resident (which would become the TV series ER). ­Crichton, who passed away from cancer in 2008, told the
 director about another idea he was working on: a novel about dinosaurs being brought back to life through old samples of
 their DNA. Spielberg was immediately hooked. When galleys 
for Jurassic Park made their way around Hollywood in May 
 1990, the sci-fi adventure became the It project to buy. According to Spielberg, other interested directors may have included ­Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon) and James Cameron (Avatar). Universal won the bidding war, thanks in large part to Spielberg’s relationship with Crichton. The director started ­storyboarding before the script was even written and quickly assembled an effects team. Creature master Stan Winston (Aliens) created the large-form models, including a nearly 20-foot-tall T. rex, and stop-motion artist Phil Tippett (RoboCop) would animate miniatures based on those Winston designs for the more elaborate action sequences. Then Industrial Light & Magic’s Dennis Muren, who had just designed the liquid-metal effects in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, brought up the idea of using CGI to animate the dinosaurs.  Muren invited Spielberg, producer Kathleen Kennedy, and Tippett to watch a CG demo of a gallimimus stampede.

STEVEN SPIELBERG Director Here’s what was scary: We were creating the title characters of a film. These were the stars of the picture, these dinosaurs. And if that didn’t work, nothing about Jurassic Park could have worked. So that was daunting, because I was using Universal’s money to basically make an experimental ­dinosaur picture. READ FULL STORY

George Lucas talks post-'Star Wars' plans

George Lucas is done with Star Wars, but not with filmmaking.

The Star Wars creator says he still plans to make his “own little personal films.”

Lucas spoke Friday night while attending Ebony magazine’s Power 100 Gala, days after announcing the sale of his storied Lucasfilm to Disney for $4.05 billion. The deal would allow for more Star Wars films. While Lucas will be a creative consultant, longtime collaborator Kathleen Kennedy will be in control.

When asked if he’d have a hand in picking a director for the films, he said, “I’ve turned it over to a wonderful producer, Kathy Kennedy, and I’ve known her for years. She’s more than capable of taking it and making it better than I did.”

Lucas admitted mixed emotions about letting Lucasfilm go. READ FULL STORY

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