Lucasfilm gears up a new 'Star Wars' toon

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“Let us assure you this isn’t going to suck as much as you think it is.”

That was Seth Green’s message to “Star Wars” fans following Lucasfilm’s Monday announcement it is developing an animated “Star Wars” sitcom.

The show is in early development and Green, creative consultant on the project along with fellow Robot Chicken creator/exec producer Matt Senreich, admitted the announcement was made only to quash rampant rumors: “We’re trying to get ahead of it and say what it’s not.”Jennifer Hill, a Daytime Emmy winner for “The Backyardigans” who is producing for Lucasfilm, told Daily Variety the pair “will be shaping the type of comedy we’re looking for and the look of the show.”

Green promised: “We can’t guarantee its excellence, but we’re swinging by the fences.”

Skein will not be a sketch comedy show like “Robot Chicken,” and it’s not a spoof. Senreich said it will be a story comedy and “character driven.” It may include crossover appearances from the movie characters. But Hill said no crossovers with the hit “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” series are planned.

Hill told Daily Variety the length of the episodes have not been decided, but they will be no longer than half-hours. No network or start date has been set for the laffer. Todd Grimes (“Back at the Barnyard”) will direct. Brendan Hay (“The Daily Show”) will be the head writer and Lucasfilm expects to hire a staff of up to 10 more writers.

The animation will be done outside the U.S., at a studio to be determined — but not necessarily at Lucasfilm Animation Singapore.

“Robot Chicken” has aired officially sanctioned spoofs of “Star Wars,” as has “Family Guy.” But while the first “Star Wars” movie won legions of fans with its mix of humor and adventure, Lucasfilm has had spotty results seeking laughs with the rest of the franchise — most notoriously with the character of Jar-Jar Binks in “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.”

But Senreich promised, “We’re on the same page as the fans, because we are fans.” Green concurred: “We’re not talking about Jar-Jar electrocuting his tongue. It’s not that kind of humor. If George (Lucas) would have wanted to make that version of ‘Star Wars,’ he would have hired other people to do it.”

One early reaction suggests even skeptical fans may be willing to give the project the benefit of the doubt.

Among the most vocal critics of the later “Star Wars” efforts have been the makers of docu “The People vs. George Lucas.” But writer-director Alexandre Philippe told Daily Variety, the new series “is a great example of how ‘Star Wars’ is still able to connect with fans old and new, and we’re looking forward to seeing it.”

“Clone Wars” has been a success on Cartoon Network and Lucasfilm has long been in development with a live-action “Star Wars” series. But that too has yet to set a start date or begin casting.

Nonetheless, “Star Wars” remains a formidable franchise. During its 30-plus years it has spawned merchandise, videogames and spin-off series and has earned more than $22 billion, according to a 2007 report by Forbes.

(Liz Stinson contributed to this report.)

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