This is ForceWatch, your as-needed check-in with the upcoming Star Wars reboot, including but not limited to Star Wars Episode VII. Full disclosure: Disney owns Grantland, and the rest of the universe.
Ever since J.J. Abrams was given the keys to the future of the Disney/Lucasfilm cultural property know as Star Wars, every subsequent piece of news about the 2015-slated sequel has started to feel less like the details of the movie event of the decade and more like press releases for a 40th-anniversary Great Performances Reunion Revue/Telethon. Harrison Ford's onboard. Sweet. So are Carrie and Mark. Radical. John Williams was eyeing that villa in Majorca and finally thinking about calling it a (decades-spanning, unparalleled) career when Abrams called him up and was like "A blood oath's a blood oath, man." Far out. But do we have any new ideas, gentlemen?
I'd say threat level: orange? Like a deep, Aquaman-style orange? Talk of a Justice League movie — the DC Comics universe's answer to Marvel's The Avengers, only populated with superheroes you heard of before 2008 — has been around in some form or another ever since the Batman movies were resurrected under Christopher Nolan. Now, with The Avengers making the kind of money that every studio salivates over, and with the Superman reboot Man of Steel gearing up for summer, the rumor mill is getting ever closer to that white column of smoke signaling that we have a new superhero franchise tentpole.
With Seth MacFarlane's unlikely debut as Oscars host a scant few months away, the Academy's designated lightning rod is now hitting the campaign trail and drumming up support. Which is how, on Wednesday, a class of UCLA undergrads found themselves mere inches away from the rich, luxuriously tanned of face of MacFarlane himself: As EW reports, the Mitt Romney of Animation (he's rich and successful with highly vocal detractors? Also he's technically wholesome but really very creepy? I don't know, this falls apart if you examine it any further) showed up unannounced to introduce an MTV-sponsored contest, the Oscar Experience College Search. (They're looking for kids who wanna work in the biz, and the winners get to present an award at the Oscars. This makes perfect sense as a prize, as presenting an an award at the Oscars is pretty much the only foolproof way left to launch a Hollywood career.) And while taking some questions from the kids, MacFarlane let it be known that a Family Guy movie is now "just a matter of when. It’s hard to do that while you have the series going on at the same time; I think that’s why it took The Simpsons 20 seasons to figure out how to do it."
Just after midnight last night, somewhere in the upper levels of the Doheny Plaza condos, before the glittering backdrop of the West Hollywood skyline, a dream died.
Bret Easton Ellis, the Internet's foremost self-declared candidate to adapt E.L. James's pop-smut best seller Fifty Shades of Grey, got on Twitter to announce to his 320k-plus followers that he was out of the race. For those of you who don't subscribe to this particular newsletter, when he hasn't been spearheading a vitriolic social media takedown of Deadline editor Nikki Finke, Ellis has been spending the summer of 2012 putting together his Team Fifty fantasy league, polling his followers for their favorites to play the leads Christian Grey and Ana (possible candidates: Matt Bomer, Ian Somerhalder, Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Tom Hardy, Ryan Lochte(!!). OK, he was really only interested in casting Christian Grey) and generally treating Twitter as his public pre-production diary for a film that he had never formally been attached to in the first place.