There's been a big shake-up among the writing team for "Star Wars: Episode VII."

LucasFilm announced that "Toy Story 3' writer Michael Arndt is out, and Lawrence Kasdan -- who wrote "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi," is now cowriting the film with director J.J. Abrams, according to E! News.

Kasdan also wrote a little movie called "Raiders of the Lost Ark." So I guess he'll do. The news will likely be greeted with open arms by "Star Wars" nerds, who widely believe "Empire" was the best of all the "Star Wars" films.

Kasdan was initially brought aboard as a consultant on Disney's re-ignition of George Lucas' beloved franchise. He was also supposed to write a new stand-alone "Star Wars" film involving one of the characters of the original films.

Darth Vader (inhabited by David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones) urges young Luke Skywalker to the dark side in the original ``Star Wars.
Darth Vader (inhabited by David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones) urges young Luke Skywalker to the dark side in the original ``Star Wars. ( Lucasfilm Ltd.)

"I am very excited about the story we have in place and thrilled to have Larry and J.J. working on the script," LucasFilm boss Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement, posted on the Star Wars website. "There are very few people who fundamentally understand the way a Star Wars story works like Larry, and it is nothing short of incredible to have him even more deeply involved in its return to the big screen. J.J. of course is an incredible storyteller in his own right."

Arndt, who won an Oscar for his "Little Miss Sunshine" screenplay, reportedly wrote a 40-to-50 page outline for the next film, as well as the first draft, according to E!.

No reason was given for his departure.


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"Michael Arndt has done a terrific job bringing us to this point and we have an amazing filmmaking and design team in place already prepping for production," Kennedy wrote.

Sounds like someone tried bringing Jar Jar Binks back.

There hasn't been any official change to the schedule, which reportedly has filming set to start next spring in time for it to make its targeted 2015 release.

However, film site Badass Digest supposedly quoted insiders saying the story has changed significantly to focus on "a whole new set of characters being followed than in the Arndt script." The site also said Abrams wasn't satisfied with the screenplay as a result and wanted to overhaul it.

Well, that could be good news. After all, the thing needs to be good. Nobody needs a nerd revolution.

Contact Tony Hicks at Facebook.com/BayAreaNewsGroup.TonyHicks or Twitter.com/insertfoot.