Star Wars Bits: William Shatner Calls J.J. Abrams "A Pig," Plus: Simon Pegg, Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, Rian Johnson, Jane Espenson

In this edition, everyone has an opinion on Episode VII. After the jump:

  • No, Simon Pegg does not have a role in Episode VII yet
  • William Shatner calls J.J. Abrams "a pig" for booking Star Wars
  • The new issue of Wired pays tribute to the beloved sci-fi franchise
  • Damon Lindelof, Jane Espenson, Carlton Cuse, and Rian Johnson weigh in
  • Unsurprisingly, his response is far from definitive. "Well, there's no script yet," he said. "I've spoken to him and congratulated him, but it's not written so there's no casting or anything. That just hasn't come up."

    Pegg also riffed on the similarity of the franchise names. "I hope he does more films with 'Star' before the first word," he joked. "I think he should do Star Bucks. Just get them all. Star Man. Stars in Their Eyes." [Digital Spy via Comic Book Movie]

    Less thrilled with Abrams' decision is William Shatner, who offered a blunt and not-so-sweet assessment of the filmmaker:

    He's being a pig. He's collecting the two franchises and holding them close to his vest. He's probably the most talented direct of that ilk that we have, but he's gone too far this time. I think of him as a buddy of mine, I've taken him out for sushi, I think it's time for JJ and I to have another sushi and let me put him straight about two of the largest franchises and not employing me in either one of them, I think is just foolhardy.

    I can't tell if Shatner is being entirely serious (probably not), but it's definitely a change from the bland "we're very happy for him"s we've gotten from most of the rest of Team Trek. [MovieFanatic via Comic Book Movie]

    Several entertainment magazines have already delved into the return of the Star Wars franchise, and now Wired is getting in on the game as well in their latest issue. Among the standouts:

  • If you want to discuss why Star Wars is one of the most influential films of our time: Comedian Chris Hardwick on the Epic Story That Shaped a Generation
  • If you've wondered what the characters might do if they were bite-sized: Star Wars Meets Legos in Photo Fan Fiction
  • If you've ever scratched your head at the Empire's terrible military strategy: Inside the Battle of Hoth: The Empire Strikes Out 
  • If you're not convinced the nonsensical "parsecs" comment was just an error: How the Star Wars Kessel Run Turns Han Solo Into a Time Traveler
  • But the centerpiece is 74 Essentials Every Star Wars Movie Needs to Achieve Transcendence, a massive list compiled by everyone from Wired staffers to musician Reggie Watts and food writer Alton Brown. We've excerpted a few highlights from our favorite movie industry figures below.

    It should surprise no one that Damon Lindelof wants the series to retain some mystery:

    We forget how crucial the idea of mystery was to the original trilogy. Apart from the crawl, setting the stage for civil war, we were completely on our own. Our brains were exploding with questions. Who is Obi-Wan Kenobi? Why is he our only hope? What's up with this Lord Vader, and good God, what is going on under that helmet?

    His Lost colleague Carlton Cuse, meanwhile, hopes the new movies won't be too perfect:

    The new stories will most likely be better told, and the visual look, I'm certain, will be seamless. But to me it will be like the difference between a computer-generated film score and a live orchestra. Both can play Mozart, but it's the flaws and small imperfections of real performers that give it life. The combination of puppets, models, miniatures, men in monster suits, hand-painted matte paintings—and the imagination it took to meld them all together—added an intangible level of magic to the original Star Wars films that I will forever miss.

    Jane Espenson knows it's love that makes the galaxy go 'round:

    The two central couples that define love and marriage—who bump along squabbling but remain infinitely loyal—are Han and Chewbacca and R2-D2 and C-3PO. [...] So these droids, and this man and Wookiee, bicker like old married folks, find their way back to each other when separated, and on occasion do nice things like talk people into buying them as a set. But is that romance? I'd argue that in long-­established ­couples, a well-worn gripe is like a quick grasp of the wrist—it's an "I'm here," an "I remember."

    Whatever you call it, these pairs are central to what made the original Star Wars movies work. The sense that the characters have histories together, that they trust and rely on each other—that's part of what makes the world feel real and makes us identify with the characters—man, beast, or droid.

    And Rian Johnson just wants more behind-the-scenes books like the one that inspired his own movie career:

    I got a Super 8 camera, pulled out my Star Wars toys, and got to work. Richard Edlund, John Dykstra, Phil Tippett, Dennis Muren—their groundbreaking practical­ effects work was as important to my generation of filmmakers as the work of Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen was to theirs. But thanks to my treasured ILM book, the work wasn't secret. They told us how they did it, and that changed my life. But the biggest testament to their artistry is that today, when I put on my well-worn copies of the original, unaltered films, I am conscious of their historic accomplishments for all of 10 seconds before I'm 5 years old again, watching the magic and not the trick.

    Read the rest of their comments at Wired. More of their Star Wars pieces can be found here.