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FEATURE: Who is Kathleen Kennedy, the woman now controlling Star Wars?

November 5th, 2012 by Irwin Fletcher 1 Comment

Earlier this week, the science fiction community was shaken to its very foundations in the revelation that George Lucas has signed a deal with Disney and is stepping down as CEO of Lucasfilm Ltd; he has approved Kathleen Kennedy as his successor. But is she the right person for the job or should we be worried?

Kathleen Kennedy is no stranger to the world of Lucasfilm, that’s for sure. First and foremost, she is an extremely well known and highly respected producer. Her illustrious career started as Producer on Steven Spielberg’s E.T., one of the biggest box office movies ever made. This alone should cement her place in the hearts of the fans, but take a closer look at her CV (or résumé) and you’ll notice so many other well known and highly successful motion pictures.

These include Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (her first association with Lucasfilm Ltd), The Back to the Future Trilogy, An American Tail (her first foray into animation), Amazing Stories (her first venture into a television series), Cape Fear (the highly successful re-make), Hook, Tiny Toon Adventures, Jurassic Park, Schlinder’s List, War Horse and the upcoming Lincoln to name but a brief few.

Glancing through the above titles you will no doubt notice that a large portion of her work has involved Steven Speilberg and George Lucas. Ok, so most of the films she has produced have been directed by Steven Spielberg, but don’t forget that, in most cases, George Lucas has had more than a hand in them. Whether it’s ILM (Industrial Light and Magic – the special/visual effects department of Lucasfilm) or maybe working directly with George whilst he was in an Executive Producer/Write (Indiana Jones).

One thing is certain; George Lucas, Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg have known each other in a professional capacity for over thirty years. So it is safe to presume that during that time, and working with someone for long hours over numerous projects simultaneously, you would easily build up a good working knowledge of someone both professionally and personally.

Now it’s safe to admit that the film/television departments are in Kathleen Kennedy’s safe hands, but what about the whole plethora of merchandising such as toys, books, games, collectibles and other items (such as Darth Vader bubble bath!)? Well, in that regard, I am more than sure that the good folks at ILM have their very own marketing and approval for production departments.

Personally, I believe that Kathleen Kennedy is a film/television producer first and foremost; that means that at the very least we are going to see some highly creative output over the next couple of years. Oh, and just in case some folks are thinking, “yeah, but she is only a producer, not a director or writer”, the role of a producer is a highly organised position. Especially on a large (and some might say over the top budget) motion pictures; think of the role as a general (and a guardian), leading a large scale army into battle as they are financially responsible for everything – granted some producers might just sit back, put up the money and wait for the receipts, but I doubt very much Kathleen Kennedy falls into this group.

Oh and if you are worried about her business acumen, simply look at any Dreamworks film and beneath the happy chappy with the fishing rod, you will notice “Spielberg SKG; the SKG stands for Spielberg, Kennedy and Griffin.

If there was any doubt in your mind before, then I hope I have alleviated some of your fears. However, only time will tell. But Star Wars aside, there are still a number of projects she is working on before Episode VII gets to the big screen. My advice will be to simply watch these first and then make your own judgement…

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I'm an LA journalist who really lives for his profession. I have also published work as Jane Doe in various mags and newspapers across the globe. I normally write articles that can cause trouble but now I write for FTN because Nerds are never angry, so I feel safe.