Is The Acolyte, Greenlit Afterall?

Is The Acolyte, Greenlit Afterall?

I had predicted that Lesley Headland’s The Acolyte would never see the light of day.  Yet this week there was an announcement of a casting selection for that Disney+ show. Amandla Stenberg who played the ill-fated Rue in the Hunger Games has been signed to be the lead.  Indicating that the project is moving forward… 


Or maybe not.  

Here is the big thing. There has been a major change with the Acolyte that went unremarked upon in trade media.

It is now part of the High Republic.  

As you all know, The High Republic was Kathleen Kennedy’s last Star Wars project and is the only thing the Lucasfilm Story Group still has on the table. Even though its book sales have remained abysmal, there has been a big push to move it forward from various corners of Disney in the past week.  The Star Wars Galactic Cruiser has been quietly retconned into being built during that era and the just-announced Eclipse game is set during the High Republic as well.

The Acolyte has become part of the effort to save SWTHR.

The big question about The Acolyte now is, have resources been redirected towards it, or is this casting decision another under the table effort to embarrass Disney into moving forward with any High Republic project at all?

Could be either one.

Its producer, Lesley Headland went around everyone’s back to publicly pitch her idea for a feminist martial arts action show, with Star Wars in the name, directly to Kathleen Kennedy.  In fairness to Headland, openly and brazenly appealing to “Queen Kathleen” as she called her, was a very smart move.

Kennedy had been looking weak at the time and needed something to assert her power. She publicly green-lit the show without consulting Chapek or Iger.  They were furious but Hollywood politics being what they are, they couldn’t humiliate “the most powerful woman at Disney” by countermanding her decree, and The Acolyte was added to the slate of upcoming Star Wars projects.

But while the Bobs couldn’t kill it, they could starve it of resources which is what they did.

It’s possible that either Headland or Kennedy herself made this casting announcement to push things forward on the project.  Iger is leaving at the end of the month, this means he’s disengaged.  The new COB won’t be installed until the new year, which means she isn’t engaged yet.  This is an excellent time to nail Disney’s color to the mast when there is nobody to say, NO.

Let’s take a look at the star.  Since you’ve never heard of Amandla Stenberg, I’ll fill you in.  She is a swinging for the bleachers activtress. She identifies as LGBT non-binary and claims she faced all kinds of racist backlash over her role in The Hunger Games, (despite the fact that no racist has actually heard of her or remembers her tiny part). You name the flavor of SJWism and she has a taste for it.  She is clearly someone who can be counted on to shoot her mouth off on command if that’s what’s needed.  

A Disney + Star Wars show is a $150 million proposition even if it’s only for six episodes.  Disney would normally like to minimize its risks on something like this and that means a lead with a known name.  Pedro Pascal was just coming off Game of Thrones and had been signed for Wonder Woman.  Ewan MacGregor was a known and reliable property.  While Temuera Morrison isn’t a star, he’s been the face of the Fett family of clones for twenty years.

Nobody has heard of Amandla Stenberg before now.

This casting announcement is likely an “if-come-deal.”  Meaning she has been paid nothing upfront and will be paid nothing if the cameras never roll.  What an if-come contract does, is allocate a block of her time for an agreed-upon amount, if cameras ever roll on the Acolyte.  

Now nobody is saying that is the deal officially, but the casting was announced very strangely.  Normally you try to make as big a splash as possible by telling the trades like Variety, Hollywood Reporter, and Deadline.  You don’t leak it to some third-tier fan rag with “nerd” in its title and hope the majors pick up the story. Which is how this was first announced.   

In theory, this shouldn’t change anything.  It could just be Headland trying another trick to get funding.  But given the coordinated push, I’m suspecting that Kathleen Kennedy is behind this.  

God only knows what was in that contract that Iger signed with George Lucas, but Lucas appears to have slipped as many poison pills into it as he could.  Disney would love to release the original versions of the first trilogy, but they are blocked from doing so by Lucas’ contract.  Likewise, Kathleen Kennedy appears to have an eternal right of first refusal whenever her contract comes up for renewal.  Who knows what other autonomies were granted to her when Iger in his desperation to close that deal, signed a terrible contract for Disney?

We know how Kennedy operates and how Leslie Headland operates.  However, we are also getting to know how Chapek operates.  If this is another cowboy project by Kennedy and was done without Chapek’s blessing, then they didn’t think it through.  Chapek is a very ruthless man.

If this was unauthorized, we can expect to see Doomcock to start making videos about how deeply concerned Disney is about Leslie Headland’s past as Harvey Weinstein’s personal assistant. To be eventually followed by tearful accusations of betrayal by some actress that Headland called in for a private conference with Weinstein.


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Comments (17)

  • Bill Reply

    The icing on the woke cake is that her name is “Amandla” with an L.

    December 13, 2021 at 2:11 pm
  • Chief_Tuscaloosa Reply

    I take your word that Chapek is ruthless; however, if he could have fired KK, wouldn’t he have done so several times over already? What can he do to her other than cut her budget for all projects to zero? She appears to have the dirt on Satan himself and is thus unfireable by any Devil Mouse employee.

    December 13, 2021 at 4:27 pm
    • furor kek tonicus ( guns don't kill people, Alec Baldwins kill people ) Reply

      Cataline didn’t say that KK would be fired.
      he implied that *Headland’s* prior association with sex pest Weinstein would likely be used to leverage Headland’s firing.
      maybe you can’t kill the Queen, but can the Queen actually do anything if she has no Court and no Army and no Budget?

      December 15, 2021 at 3:43 am
  • Cloudbuster Reply

    I was a hard pass all the way up at the top of the article when I saw Stenberg’s photo. You didn’t need force powers to predict the rest of the SJW-fest from there.

    December 13, 2021 at 4:54 pm
    • LGC Reply

      exactly my thoughts. The picture alone tells me all I need to know.

      December 13, 2021 at 6:22 pm
  • Pete Reply

    “They were furious but Hollywood politics being what they are, they couldn’t humiliate the most powerful woman at Disney by countermanding her decree”

    They could though, if they had any balls. Sorry to quote GRRM but power lies where people believe it lies. If KK just keeps getting everything she wants, people will keep assuming she has all the power and keep following her lead.

    As soon as Rise of Skywalker tanked they should have fired her, no matter how many millions it would have cost them to break the contract. Money is just a number but loss of credibility with the audience is forever. Who at this point is out there panting for another Star Wars show? The only way anyone might get excited for it, is if Dave Filoni has absolute creative control.

    December 13, 2021 at 6:05 pm
    • The Dark Herald Reply

      Firing her is way too dangerous. She has access to Disney+ real numbers and they can’t take that away from her becuase her shows and movies are on it. She knows what the subs and viewer numbers actually are. If that info gets out into the wild, Disney’s stock price will crater.

      December 13, 2021 at 7:05 pm
      • Pete Reply

        But then she would have done that anyway, if her contract didn’t get renewed. By that way of thinking, KK has Disney held hostage forever – or at least until she decides to retire.

        So they might as well just rip off the band-aid before she can ruin more properties.

        December 14, 2021 at 11:17 pm
  • Skyler the Weird Reply

    If Amandla doesn’t get this gig I’m betting they have her slated to play Maura Jade.

    December 13, 2021 at 7:00 pm
    • Chief_Tuscaloosa Reply

      Or Thrawn.

      December 13, 2021 at 9:14 pm
    • Talos Valcoran Reply

      The Hollywood Gingercide must continue.

      December 13, 2021 at 9:16 pm
  • Chris Lopes Reply

    The expanded universe of Star Wars took decades to create, and happened in a world between the trilogies. The books and games were substitutes for screen Star Wars, which is why they sold. People wanted to play in that universe.

    The High Republic has none of that going for it. You do not create a franchise overnight. The general public has no fracking idea what it is, nor would they care if they did. I can’t see a skin flint like Chapek giving this stuff any real money. I suspect he’s the reason the Halcyon ride sucks like Linda Lovelace.

    December 13, 2021 at 8:00 pm
  • Star Tripper Reply

    I await the spin off series Geode: Rock the Empire.

    December 14, 2021 at 11:28 pm
  • Erich Schwarz Reply

    “Disney would love to release the original versions of the first trilogy, but they are blocked from doing so by Lucas’ contract.”

    Really? What was Disney thinking?

    Anyway, crap. So we’ll *never* see the original, unbotched versions. Because reasons.

    December 15, 2021 at 4:59 am
    • WOPR Reply

      That’s what I was wondering. How can you negotiate to those terms? You’re paying billions and you don’t get the right to hire who you want and re-release specific versions of the product? Either Iger is an idiot or Lucas has actual Jedi powers.

      December 15, 2021 at 2:00 pm
      • The Dark Herald Reply

        That’s easy, Iger was an idiot.
        Each acquisition he made for Disney increased his personal power base. He was desperate to secure Star Wars because he felt (perhaps understandably at the time) that the franchise was absolutely bulletproof. And it wasn’t like Kennedy had a bad record either, it was just that the reasons for her successes weren’t obvious to everyone so it was assumed she was hyper-competent. It did allow Iger to become both CEO of Chairman of the Board, which is always terrible for corporate governance but he was able to do it on the basis of the LucasFilm buyout.
        And firing her isn’t ripping a band-aid off, it’s amputating your own arm with a Skilsaw. If the price of Disney stock drops to $50 a share or lower, the CEO, COB, and the Board itself are going to all be fired. Chapek dislikes Kennedy but it’s not worth cutting his own throat to be rid of her. Star Wars is already damaged, the money to buy it was wasted years ago. A pyrrhic victory is pointless from his perspective.
        Lastly, you have to remember that 18 of the 20 richest counties in the USA went for Obama. Corporate governance is very left-wing these days. Kathleen Kennedy is a hero to those people because they LOVED The Last Jedi.

        December 15, 2021 at 3:13 pm
  • Michael Maier Reply

    Is the pic in my email a chick or a dude?

    December 20, 2021 at 12:35 am

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