Lucas opens up at Paley Festival

'Star Wars' guru talks on the future of the franchise

George Lucas offered relatively few new clues Saturday about his plans to move the next generation of the “Star Wars” franchise into television, though he did spend much of his time denouncing the blockbuster mentality of the movie business, calling TV “a lot more fun than doing features.”

Interviewed as part of the Museum of Television & Radio’s Paley Festival, Lucas said that he’s currently in production on 100 installments of a 3-D animated series, “Clone Wars,” which is similar to the micro-series of shorts that Cartoon Network aired earlier. The plan is to complete the episodes in-house, he said, and only then offer them to a network.

As for a promised live-action series, Lucas said that would follow the animated program and was “still a few years away.”

The director also said that he’s still prodding Paramount to release his earlier foray into television, “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles,” on DVD, augmented by documentaries about the historical figures that the fictional archaeologist/adventurer encountered during the show, which ran for two seasons on ABC in the early ’90s. Lucas said that he’s been pestering Paramount regarding “Young Indy” through several regimes, seeing the project as a means of teaching early-20th century history to high school students.

The discussion — moderated by MTR President Pat Mitchell, who was as dutifully venerating of Lucas as those in the audience — followed a screening of “Young Indy” clips. Foremost, Lucas used the occasion to reiterate his disenchantment with features, saying, “The risks are so high, and the odds so great, it takes the fun out of it.” In TV, by contrast, “Nobody seems to care. You just get to do whatever you want to do” — an assertion that might come as news to some TV producers.

Regarding those long odds against success, Lucas counseled young filmmakers to pursue their careers out of passion, not a desire to strike it rich. “This is not a good way to make a living,” he said, adding, “I may be the exception.”

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