Posted on Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 by Angie Han
For a while now, producer Rick McCallum has been describing his long-gestating live-action Star Wars TV series as “Deadwood in space.” And while that may sound like an awesome idea to people like us — i.e., grown-ups — it’s apparently turning out to be a real roadblock for execs who’d rather go for something with broader appeal.
In a new interview, McCallum pinpointed his series’ decidedly non-kiddie feel as “the biggest problem” he’s facing in getting his show made. Though it seems the premium per-cost episode required isn’t helping much, either. Read his update on the status of his show after the jump.
McCallum got into the topic in an interview with Den of Geek, during which he affirmed once again that he had some 50 hours’ worth of television scripted and ready to go — though oddly, this time he called them second-draft scripts instead of third-draft scripts as he did last year. But as before, McCallum points to the budgetary requirements as a major holdup, as well as the current TV landscape in general:
The episodes are too expensive and…well, we’ve got two things going on. Firstly, we’ve got television as we know it about to implode. You’ve got network TV, which is really where we should be because it has the dollars to pay for this and an audience, but you’re burdened by the fact you only get 42 minutes for an hour because of commercials. And then you’ve got cable, which has the most provocative and daring programming, but has audiences of 1 or 2 million people. They also have a very limited amount of money they can spend without wanting some sort of say or control over the material, which is absolutely repugnant to us in terms of the way we work.
But “we could get around” having less control on a Star Wars TV series than they would on a Star Wars movie, McCallum says. The real issue is that his series isn’t intended for the elementary school set:
Our biggest problem is that these stories are adult. I mean…these are like Deadwood in space. It so unlike anything you’ve ever associated with George before in relation to Star Wars. These aren’t for kids. I mean, we hope they’ll watch, but it’s not being targeted at 8-to-9 year old boys. The situation we have is that each episode – or if you put two hour long episodes together – is bigger than any film we’ve ever done. It’s on the Avatar level and we’ll only have about $5-6 million we can spend on each episode.
McCallum has also likened his Star Wars show in the past to The Godfather and “Empire Strikes Back on steroids,” to give you a better sense of what he’s going for.
While the thought of an adult-oriented Star Wars series definitely has its appeal, the Star Wars franchise has generally tried to keep things kid-friendly. With the exception of Revenge of the Sith, which earned a PG-13, all of the movies have been rated PG, and the animated show The Clone Wars is safe for the younger set as well. It’s disappointing that McCallum’s struggling to get a more grown-up series off the ground, but not surprising.
As for one thing that won’t be a problem, McCallum says that despite George Lucas‘ retirement, the filmmaker will continue to have a hand in the Star Wars TV series.
No, I think he would do what he did on Young Indy. You hire the best directors, you create the best story you possibly can and then do everything you can to support them in the editorial process. Again, if George wanted to be known as one thing it would always be as an editor. That’s his dream and that’s the part he loves the most. I think I’ve said this before, but writing is so painful for him and he certainly knows there are a lot of you who don’t like his writing (laughs). But they’re his stories and that’s the way he does it, but it’s hard for him.
For those of us who’ve lost faith in the Star Wars creator over the years, that can only be a good thing — though the point is moot if McCallum’s show never actually makes it to the air. Head to Den of Geek to read the rest of the interview.