Hollywood Attention TV executives: The Force may soon be with you.
Filmmaker George Lucas said Tuesday that he had "just begun work" on a live-action television series rooted in the "Star Wars" universe, which is huge news not just for fans of the science-fiction epic but also for networks looking for a piece of the Lucas magic that has grossed $4.3 billion in theaters worldwide.
There is a caveat, though: The proposed series doesn't have anyone named Luke or Anakin in it, a story path that Lucas concedes is "taking chances" as far as connecting with an audience expecting the familiar mythology.
"The Skywalkers aren't in it, and it's about minor characters," Lucas said in an interview. "It has nothing to do with Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader or any of those people. It's completely different. But it's a good idea, and it's going to be a lot of fun to do."
Lucas joked that the series would be about "the life of robots" but wouldn't let any details slip about the true premise. The "extended universe" of "Star Wars" has come to life already in Lucas-sanctioned novels, comics and games that chronicle the history of the Jedi and tell the tales of bit players in the films, such as the bounty hunters in "The Empire Strikes Back."
Lucas already has another television series percolating: Lucas Animation has been working for months on "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," a computer-animated series that he hopes will introduce a new era of visuals to weekly episodic television. Lucas plans to produce it through his own companies before shopping the finished product to networks.
That model also might be used for the live-action show, but producer Rick McCallum said Tuesday it was too early to say for sure. McCallum is interviewing writers for the live-action series.
Lucas is confident he can find a home for his droids and Jedi, but he also knows the projects are unorthodox enough to give network executives pause.
"They are having a hard time," Lucas said. "They're saying, 'This doesn't fit into our little square boxes,' and I say, 'Well, yeah, but it's "Star Wars." And "Star Wars" doesn't fit into that box."'