George Lucas signs Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard to WWII film

Few, if any, of the most influential directors of all time can say they've only directed six films. Yet, after four Star Wars movies, the very influential American Graffiti and his first effort, THX 1138, George Lucas can claim just that. And really, he was part of this category after his third film, Star Wars, which, besides setting the standard for modern special effects, spawned companies like Skywalker Sound and Industrial Light and Magic, as well as the single most important merchandising campaign in film history.

So, with all the money Lucas has from his companies, Star Wars action figures, and oh yeah, his film ventures, he doesn't really need to be too active in film. (He ranks #205 on Forbes' 2009 list of "The World's Billionaires," worth an estimated $3 billion.) But alas, Lucas will be executive producing—not directing—the upcoming Red Tails, a WWII movie about the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American fighter pilots. The big news this week is that Lucas has signed Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard and Bryan Cranston to the years-in-the-making project. Others who have already signed on include Method Man and Ne-Yo. Anthony Hemingway will make his film-directing debut.

Says Lucas, "I've been wanting to do Red Tails for 20 years, and we've finally got the means to showcase the skill of the Tuskegee pilots. We're working on techniques which will give us the first true look at the aerial dogfighting of the era."

Crazy, isn't it? He mastered the craft of the intergalactic spaceship battle 30 years ago, but this is just coming in.

Related links:
News: George Lucas not directing Red Tails
News: George Lucas talks live-action Star Wars TV series
News: Star Wars Holiday Special, Lucas' Dark Secret

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