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Quick Takes: The Force is with Disney

February 06, 2013

Last month, news that J.J. Abrams would direct "Star Wars: Episode VII" took the entertainment world by storm.

Now a new conversation begins: Who'll direct the "Star Wars" spinoff movies that Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are writing?

In an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, Walt Disney Co. chairman Robert Iger confirmed that in addition to releasing "Star Wars: Episode VII," Disney will also distribute "a few" stand-alone films that are not part of the overall saga.

Kasdan, who co-wrote the screenplay for "Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back," and Kinberg are working on the scripts for two of those projects.

Online speculation has suggested Yoda would be the subject of one of the movies, but Iger did not specify which characters might receive stand-alone treatment.

—Gina McIntyre

New director for Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian Institution named a leading Philadelphia museum executive and art historian to be the next director of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington on Tuesday.

Kim Sajet, 47, the president of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, will join the Smithsonian on April 1.

She will oversee a collection of 21,000 objects, including such famous images as Alexander Gardner's "cracked plate" photograph of Abraham Lincoln and Gilbert Stuart's "Lansdowne" portrait of George Washington, among others.

The gallery's collection includes portraits of every president as well as influential Americans ranging from sports stars and entertainers to poets and civil rights leaders.

—Associated Press

Actor burned at opera rehearsal

The great-grandson of President Harry Truman is recovering from burns after the costume he was wearing as a performer with Lyric Opera of Chicago caught fire during a dress rehearsal of Wagner's "Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg" at the Civic Opera House in Chicago.

Wesley Daniel, 24, is expected to be OK and should be released from the hospital Thursday, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The actor, who was hired to fill in when another actor was injured last week, was rehearsing his role as a fireball-spitting stilt walker wearing a devil-like mask. The mask caught fire when, according to observers, Daniel spilled a bit of propellant on his upper body, then lit a torch.

—Deborah Vankin

Miami sound on Broadway

Gloria Estefan and her husband, Emilio, are hoping the rhythm is going to lead to Broadway.

The duo on Tuesday announced that they've teamed up with the Nederlander Organization to try to create a musical based on their lives and take it to the Great White Way.

The Nederlander Organization will be producing the new show in partnership with Bernie Yuman, who produced and managed Siegfried & Roy's show in Las Vegas. The show is still in its embryonic form.

The Estefans were both born in Cuba and together became musical luminaries in Spanish and English, winning Grammy Awards and fans across the U.S. with crossover hits such as "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You," "Conga" and "Words Get in the Way," in addition to helping the careers of other artists including Shakira, Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony and Jon Secada.

—Associated Press

Political pundit out at Fox News

Political commentator Dick Morris' prediction of a huge landslide for Mitt Romney didn't pan out. And now he's lost his job at Fox News Channel.

Network spokeswoman Dana Klinghoffer said Tuesday that Fox wasn't renewing its contract with Morris, who was steadfast throughout the campaign in his prediction of a big Romney win over President Obama.

—Associated Press

Rattlestick slipping into L.A.

New York's Rattlestick Playwrights Theater is looking to go bi-coastal and will make its Los Angeles debut in April with a production of "Slipping," starring Seth Numrich, at the Elephant Stages' Lillian Theatre in Hollywood.

The Rattlestick is a downtown New York company that produces works by emerging and established playwrights who have a certain aesthetic edge. Some of the notable writers it has produced include Adam Rapp, David Adjmi and Jon Fosse.

Brian Long, the managing director of the Rattlestick, said in a phone interview that the goal of establishing an L.A. presence is to give its playwrights exposure to people in the film and TV industries.

—David Ng

Finally

Winter Olympics: Prime-time TV coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, next year will start a day early, with NBC showcasing events occurring before the Opening Ceremonies.

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