Small screen ''Star Wars'' moves ahead -- We update the fate of the space saga's live-action TV show

Though the last Star Wars film, Revenge of the Sith, lands on DVD on Nov. 1, the saga is far from complete, and more information is emerging on the two TV series that will continue the story. George Lucas and Episode III animation director Rob Coleman are moving forward on a CG-animated series set during the Clone Wars that will feature characters from the franchise (though execs are mum on which ones). And in early 2007, Lucas will focus on what trilogy producer Rick McCallum calls a ”much darker and edgier” live-action series with previously unseen characters that will span the period after Sith and before the 1977 original film; McCallum is just beginning to interview writers for the project. The projected budget for the live-action series (which will shoot in high-definition around the world and feature plenty of computer imagery) will be around $1.8 million per episode — about the same as a typical first-year drama. ”We’ll use that [production plan] as a blueprint,” says McCallum. Neither show is affiliated with a network. The series may well follow the model Lucas used with his films, wherein he pays the production costs and sells the distribution rights to a studio — offering a big upside for Lucasfilm (which is also working on the next Indiana Jones installment and a feature about the Tuskegee Airmen). ”Let’s say we make 13 episodes, try to sell them and nobody wants them, it’s okay! We’ll put them on DVD,” he adds.

Trilogy star Hayden Christensen (Darth Vader), for one, seems open to a cameo. ”Aside from that, I don’t know how I can really come back,” he says. ”The series is supposed to take place between the two trilogies and I’m in a big black suit. Does he want me to show up and act behind a mask?”