IT'S NEARLY 40 years since George Lucas made the original "Star Wars," and there must be something in the waters of Tatooine that Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Kenny Baker (R2-D2) are all still alive to star in J.J. Abrams' "Star Wars: Episode VII."
Joining the franchise alongside "Lord of the Rings" star Andy Serkis and "Inside Llewyn Davis" actor Oscar Isaac will be Swedish actor Max von Sydow, "Girls" star Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson and newcomers John Boyega and Daisy Ridley.
"It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again," Abrams said in a statement. "We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud."
Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4.05 billion and announced three new films in the "Star Wars" franchise. "Episode VII" is scheduled for release on Dec. 18, 2015.
Newspapers in Dubai are reporting that James Kottak, the American drummer for the rock band Scorpions, has been sentenced to one month in jail after being convicted of offensive behavior.
The government-backed National newspaper reported yesterday that Kottak was convicted of insulting Islam, raising his middle finger and being under the influence of alcohol while in transit at the Dubai airport.
The Gulf News daily says that he was arrested April 3 en route from Russia to Bahrain, where the German band was scheduled to perform at a Formula One race. Kottak was a no-show at the April 5 concert.
Kottak reportedly admitted to drinking but denied other charges.
* Police in Copenhagen say that they are investigating claims that an employee at a Danish IT company passed on details about celebrities' credit-card transactions to a Danish gossip magazine.
The investigation follows statements by several former employees at the magazine Se og Hor that reporters used credit-card information from the informant to find out the whereabouts of Danish royals and celebrities between 2008 and 2012.
The publisher of the magazine said that it has started an internal investigation into the affair, which has been compared to the British telephone hacking scandal at News of the World.
* Saying that it's bring your own weed, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra will play a series of fundraising concerts sponsored by the state's burgeoning pot industry.
In a statement yesterday, symphony CEO Jerome Kern says that they're part of efforts to reach a broader audience and help close a budget gap.
Listeners are encouraged to bring their own marijuana to smoke or eat. Smoking will be allowed at the private venues where the first two 21-and-up concerts will be held.
Roll over Budthoven and tell Highkovsky the news.
* Prince Harry has split with girlfriend Cressida Bonas.
Good news for those of you who still hope to marry a prince.
Or get a Christmas Bonas.
* In other split news, Us Weekly says that Olivia Munn and Joel Kinnaman are finito after two years.
The problem was distance.
"He's back filming in Toronto and she's now in L.A. for good," said an unnamed source.
* TheWrap.com reports that Warner Bros. has emerged triumphant in a complaint brought against it by Thomas Althouse, claiming that the idea for "The Matrix" was swiped from his screenplay "The Immortals," which he began writing in 1992.
In a ruling issued by federal judge R. Gary Klausner, the judge determined that all of Althouse's examples were either too general for copyright protection, are scenes that are customary to the genre or are commonly used, unoriginal ideas.
Likewise, when it came to the two projects' plots, the judge found that there were "no substantial similarities" and that "the basic premises of the Matrix Trilogy and 'The Immortals' are so different that it would be unreasonable to find their plots substantially similar."
But other than that . . .
* TheWrap.com also reports that Starz has given a 20-episode order to the series "Blunt Talk," which will be executive produced by Seth MacFarlane, with Patrick Stewart starring. Jonathan Ames ("Bored to Death") will write and run the show.
Stewart will play Walter Blunt, a British import intent on conquering the world of American cable news.
Hello, Piers Morgan.
Through the platform of his nightly interview show, Blunt is on a mission to impart his wisdom and guidance on how Americans should live, think and behave. Besieged by network bosses, a dysfunctional news staff, numerous ex-wives and children of all ages, Blunt's only support is the alcoholic manservant he transplanted from the U.K. to join him in Los Angeles.
* DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. reported a first-quarter loss, compared with a year-earlier profit, as the company took an impairment charge related to the weak financial performance of the movie "Mr. Peabody & Sherman," released in early March.
"Peabody" did $108 million domestic and more than $260 million worldwide. How big a box office was DreamWorks expecting?
* "Jeopardy!" is starting a sports version of the popular game show, with Dan Patrick as host.
"Sports Jeopardy!" will begin this fall on Crackle, a Sony-owned digital service available on mobile devices and services such as PlayStation, Xbox, Apple TV and Roku. Crackle also will offer an online version of the game played through an app, much like "Jeopardy!" has now.
Can we get "Racist NBA Owners" for $1,000, Dan?
- Daily News wire services
contributed to this report.