We've heard rumors of trouble between Disney and Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy for several months now.
We’ve heard rumors of trouble between Disney and Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy for several months now, rumors that really heated up when Rise of Skywalker underwhelmed critics and underperformed at the box office.
Most of the moves being made around Star Wars lately seem to confirm Disney’s overall displeasure with the Skywalker trilogy. All their upcoming Star Wars projects largely ignore the new Star Wars movies and harken back to the original trilogy or in some cases even the prequels.
Adding fuel to that fire is the success of The Mandalorian which, most would agree, is the only really successful thing Star Wars has going right now.
The Mandalorian is the brainchild of noted Hollywood producer and director Jon Favreau, and it’s the one thing Star Wars has produced that Kathleen Kennedy had very little involvement in. As a result, word is that there is now a Civil War brewing at Lucasfilm, one which could end with Jon Favreau in charge of the entire Star Wars universe.
Kathleen Kennedy Fired?
Disney’s had good cause to axe Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy for awhile now. The new Star Wars trilogy massively underperformed and in a lot of ways it was a disaster. The best thing Star Wars has going now is The Mandalorian, which happens to be the one Star Wars product Kathleen Kennedy has nothing to do with.
As a result the latest word is from this frequent scooper is that Kathleen Kennedy is indeed done at Lucasfilm. They say, “At this point, I have been informed that Kennedy’s contract will not be renewed. She will be going on to create her own production company. Her leadership will be missed but Disney looks forward to what Kathleen will do with her new company.”
Kathleen Kennedy’s current contract with Disney expires in 2021. If she’s really done we may not get any official word on her status until then.
Firing Kathleen Kennedy makes sense. A lot of the upcoming Star Wars projects Kennedy is in charge of are in total disarray. Television shows like the upcoming Obi Wan series have been started, then stopped, scrapped, and restarted wasting time and money. And Lucasfilm seems to have no idea at all what they’re going to do with the franchise in the realm of movies.
In addition to her failure to generate the revenue they expected from the Star Wars franchise, Kennedy seems to have an agenda which goes counter to Disney’s overall corporate culture. The company appears to be trying to distance itself from social justice controversy, while Kennedy continues operating with a 2015 mindset that makes it OK to charge right into social justice causes.
If Disney fires Kennedy the Twitter blowback against them could be huge, but with the Coronavirus devastating the entertainment industry Disney is in dire straights. They can’t afford to waste time on projects they don’t believe will generate revenue.
The Lucasfilm Civil War
We’ve heard lots of rumors regarding Disney’s unhappiness with Kathleen Kennedy, but the most recent rumor from this source suggests that there’s now an internal battle at Lucasfilm.
This scooper, who has broken Star Wars stories before, says: “The ongoing battle over Lucasfilm’s direction continues, with Kathleen Kennedy and Jon Favreau factions fighting over the studio. It’s fairly well known at this point that the beef between Kennedy and Iger is real, given that Iger essentially ignored her in his memoirs.”
A George Lucas Takeover
One of the crazier rumors swirling around the possible firing of Kathleen Kennedy is that George Lucas might return to take back control of Lucasfilm. The rumor seems to have started on the Overlord DVD Channel where they have broken Star Wars stories before.
The claim is that Disney has been trying to get George Lucas to come back for several months, but Lucas has resisted. Overlord says, “Up until a few weeks ago, Lucas would change the subject when asked about returning, avoiding the topic, or responding in a noncommital way. Well, about three weeks ago, they asked Lucas point-blank, ‘What would it take to get you on board with heading up Lucasfilm?’ Allegedly, George Lucas said this: ‘If I were to return, I have four conditions that would have to be met.'”
Those conditions are…
- Condition #1: I get to make my Sequel Trilogy.
- Condition #2: I have full creative power until I decide to hand it off.
- Condition #3: Kathleen Kennedy is gone.
- Condition #4: Disney agrees to never ever mess with the original trilogy, leaving it untouched.
Disney is reportedly willing to agree to all of these and wants him to start immediately.
For now this is just a crazy rumor and to be honest, one that’s a little hard to believe. George Lucas is now 76-years-old and it’s hard to imagine he’d want to be saddled with running a huge, multi-million dollar studio division like Lucasfilm. Especially when he doesn’t even own it, he’d just be another Disney employee working in the cogs of their machine. That doesn’t seem like young George Lucas and it definitely doesn’t seem like something 76-year-old Lucas would do.
Jon Favreau’s Vision For Star Wars
Jon Favreau has a revolutionary idea for Star Wars and it’s something the franchise has never actually tried before: Listening to Star Wars fans.
In an interview with THR he says, “You put something out in the world, and then it echoes back at you. You have to listen. It’s not a one-way street. It’s a two-way street. You have to feel the energy of the audience. But when you come from comedy, and when I was doing improv back in Chicago, that’s it. You have to read the room, you have to feel the room. You have to be in community with the audience. You have to be part of it. The fact of the matter is, as much as we love working on Star Wars, we love even more making Star Wars for other people. And when other people are excited by it, dig what we’re doing and are appreciative, that’s as good as it gets for us.”
That philosophy would have prevented George Lucas from making the terrible Star Wars prequels and it would have prevented Kathleen Kennedy from letting Star Wars slip into a soft reboot with The Force Awakens.
To date, Kennedy has shown no sign of changing tactics to actually start listening to fans. That idea could be at the very center over the battle for power at Lucasfilm. On one side is Favreau and The Mandalorian, trying to listen to fans to give them a version of what they want. On the other is Kathleen Kennedy, using Star Wars to push an agenda which she thinks will court new fans, with little thought given to what her existing fanbase wants.
Kathleen Kennedy’s All In With Female-Centric Star Wars
In addition to all the other Star Wars projects coming to Disney Plus, there’s one more. This one is a closely held secret being developed by Leslye Headland, the co-creator and showrunner of the Netflix science fiction series Russian Doll. The only details about the show being confirmed by the Hollywood trades are that it’s a “female-centric” show.
We also know that this show will have no connection to the other Star Wars projects we know about. That means it’s not a Mandalorian spinoff and it’s not related to the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi show or the upcoming Cassian Andor show. In fact it won’t even be set in the same time period as any of these shows.
If I had to guess, I’d guess that this likely means this will be set in the time period after the end of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. All the other shows take place before The Force Awakens, so it might make sense to try setting at least one show in the time period after the end of the new trilogy.
All of this assumes the show actually happens. It might not, because there’s a huge problem with the person Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy hired to make it.
Controversy And Leslye Headland
In addition to being the mind behind the successful Netflix series Russian Doll, Leslye Headland was also serial rapist Harvey Weinstein’s personal assistant for six years. She once gave an interview to EW in which the opening words were: “Leslye Headland loves Harvey Weinstein”.
When her involvement with Star Wars was announced, Twitter exploded with tweets like this…
She also has some interesting views on race. In a video recorded at Variety’s inclusion summit she went on a tirade against white women saying, “I just want to say that I think white women need kind of to step up their game to be quite honest. Sorry, but I’m calling you b****** out. You really do. Cause like, I couldn’t agree more with everything these women are saying, but I’m also seeing the silent killer, which is a lot of white women at the top, who are kind of reinforcing a lot of old ideas.”
As you’d expect that went over well on the internet too…
Around the time she started getting notoriety for Russian Doll, Leslye deleted most of the tweets on her Twitter account. If the above was indicative, that was probably a good idea. She deleted even more when her Star Wars gig was announced…
Bottom line here: Leslye Headland is an extremely controversial figure and rumor has it that Disney is not happy she’s been hired by Kathleen Kennedy. A new post from a proven scooper claims that “both Bob Iger and Bob Chapek are unhappy with Lucasfilm and there is faster than normal movement going on to get high level meetings going.”
Filling in the blanks of their outrage, the scooper goes on to explain: “Apparently the goobers at Lucasfilm hired Harvey Weinstein’s personal assistant who comes with significant PR baggage, potentially legal baggage and did so without consulting Disney, or their legal department.”
There’s further speculation that the announcement of Headland’s hiring didn’t even come from Lucasfilm and that it was released to the trades by Headland herself. The idea being that Leslye feared Disney might pull the plug on her show once they got wind of what Lucasfilm had done, so she wanted to get the word out early to make it harder for them to fire her.
The same scooper who says there’s a civil war at Lucasfilm between Kennedy and Favreau claims this is all part of a master plan by Kennedy. They say, “But be ready, because it looks almost certain that a new narrative is being pushed by Kennedy loyalists in Lucasfilm… and that narrative is that Headland was ONLY a personal assistant for one year, and that being against her or her series is misogynistic, mean, and unfair.”