The Empire Strikes Back! Kasdan now penning Star Wars Episode 7!


I probably shouldn’t be this happy, because by all means this last minute change could spell some trouble for the new film, but to have Lawrence Kasdan writing the new “Star Wars” movie is the kind of pants-tightening news to make one’s week.

Kasdan, as my fellow Dagohbah regulars know, is the chap that penned the finest and most acclaimed of the “Star Wars” series, “Empire Strikes Back”. (Oh, and he also wrote another little film some of you may have heard of, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”).

What’s happened is that Michael Arndt, the “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Toy Story 3” scribe who was originally on scripting duties for “Star Wars Episode VII”, has been tossed out. Not sure why, and if Lucasfilm does offer up a response for his dismissal it’ll likely be a Porky Pie, but more importantly, JJ Abrams, who is directing the flick, and the aforedsaid Kasdan, are taking over, co-scripting the film.

I never had an issue with Arndt, after all, he won an Oscar for his work on “Little Miss Sunshine”, but to have Kasdan and Abrams – whose writing work, which includes, I also admire – taking over might just be the reassurance we “Star Wars” fans need. If anything, it tells me that Lucasfilm don’t want to just slap anything together, and won’t just settle for any old movie – so long as it has ‘Star Wars’ on the title page, they want this to be as good a film as they can possibly get. And I don’t think they can do much better than getting Larry Kasdan back.

Kasdan’s done some Sithy work over the years, too – “Dreamcatcher” anyone? How about “Mumford”? – but he has never let Lucasfilm down, in fact, he does his best work when the beard is paying him.

“I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script,” states LucasFilm boss Kathleen Kennedy in a statement posted on Thursday. “There are very few people who fundamentally understand the way a Star Wars story works like Larry, and it is nothing short of incredible to have him even more deeply involved in its return to the big screen. J.J. of course is an incredible storyteller in his own right. Michael Arndt has done a terrific job bringing us to this point and we have an amazing filmmaking and design team in place already prepping for production.”

Kasdan had been consulting on the film, and both he and Simon Kinberg are said to be involved in writing some of the other “Star Wars” projects in development, but obviously his meal ticket just fattened today.

“Star Wars Episode VII”, due for release 2015, shoots early next year with original matinee idols Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill reprising their roles from the original series.