by Staff Writer Michael Brown

May 20,2013: Star Wars: Episode VII will blast its way into theaters in 2015, but a new animated series is coming to a small screen near you next year. Disney has begun production on the new animated series, Star Wars: Rebels, to be launched in fall 2014 as a one-hour special on Disney Channel before debuting as an actual TV series on its permanent home on Disney XD.

Star Wars: Rebels will take place between Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope, which spans about two decades. The series is set “in a time where the Empire is securing its grip on the galaxy and hunting down the last of the Jedi Knights as a fledgling rebellion is taking shape.”

“The entire team at Lucasfilm has provided extraordinary creativity and innovation for over three decades, and we’re thrilled to be bringing the expansive and imaginative world of Star Wars to Disney XD’s viewers,” said Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer of Disney Channels Worldwide.

Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, said, “I couldn’t be more excited to explore new corners of the Star Wars universe. I think Star Wars: Rebels will capture the look, feel, and fun that both kids and their parents love about Star Wars.”

The news of Star Wars: Rebels comes two months after Lucasfilm announced that it would be canceling Star Wars: The Clone Wars after its fifth season on Cartoon Network and hinting that it was working on “a new direction in animated programming.” At the time, Lucasfilm said it was interested in a new Star Wars series that would take place “in a time period previously untouched in Star Wars films and television programming.

Simon Kinberg (X-Men: First Class, Sherlock Holmes) will serve as executive producer and will write the pilot episode. Dave Filoni, who was supervising director on Star Wars: The Clone Wars (which ran on Cartoon Network from 2008-2013), and Greg Weisman (The Spectacular Spider-Man, Young Justice) will also executive produce. Casting has not been announced. Star Wars: Rebels is produced by Lucasfilm Animation.