The dish: Pop culture news and notes

  • Updated: August 23, 2014 - 2:00 AM

Cause and effect

J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars:  Episode VII” will have less CGI and more traditional special effects, says Rian Johnson, who is set to take over the franchise from Abrams. “I think people are coming back around to [practical effects]. It feels like there is sort of that gravity pulling us back toward it.” Of his own “Episode VIII,” he says, “I don’t have the terror I kind of expected I would, at least not yet.”

Failing grade

Tina Fey’s pilot for Fox, “Cabot College,” has been killed. … The first season of “Mom,” starring Anna Faris and Allison Janney, will be rerun on TBS just before the second season premieres on CBS. … Renewal news: “Masters of Sex” and “Ray Donovan” (Showtime), “The Strain” (FX) and “Halt and Catch Fire” (AMC). … Billy Crystal will present the tribute to Robin Williams at Monday’s Emmy ceremony.

Animal magnetism

Benedict Cumberbatch will voice the villainous tiger Shere Khan in “Jungle Book: Origins,” joining Christian Bale as Bagheera the panther and Cate Blanchett as Kaa the python. … Daniel Radcliffe laces up his spikes as British track star Sebastian Coe in “Gold.” … Paul Giamatti will play N.W.A.’s manager in the biopic “Straight Outta Compton.” … Debbie Reynolds is set to receive the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award at January’s ceremony. … Jill Freud, who as a child inspired the character of Lucy Pevensie in C.S. Lewis’ “Narnia” books, has been cast — at 87 — in the biopic “Tolkien & Lewis.”

Ebony and Ivory redux?

Kanye West and Paul McCartney reportedly are collaborating on a number of tracks that “could develop into an album,” according to the New York Post. … A biographical musical produced by Gloria Estefan, “On Your Feet!,” will premiere on Broadway in September 2015. … Sorry, Weird Al: Rihanna, Katy Perry and Coldplay reportedly are the finalists for the Super Bowl halftime show.

CYNTHIA DICKISON

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