Sunday, May 26, 2024

Reality Check: James Earl Jones Did Not Give the Rights to Darth Vader’s Voice to Anyone — Because He Doesn’t Own It


I don’t know where people got the strange idea that James Earl Jones gave the rights to Darth Vader’s voice to anyone.

Darth Vader is owned by LucasFilms. So is Jones’s memorable performance as the character.

In a Vanity Fair article posted by the excellent Star Wars expert Anthony Breznican, the word “rights” does not appear once. Yet, this erroneous idea has replicated like Star Trek Tribbles all over the internet.

Breznican’s story is about how a Ukrainian AI company takes pieces of Jones’s old speeches from “Star Wars” movies and remixes them to make new dialogue for Star Wars spin offs set a the time.

Jones, Breznican says, “signed off” this idea, meaning he gave his blessing. He bequeathed no rights. He didn’t own any to begin with.

The story is actually about how the Ukrainian firm, Respeecher, is able to operate during wartime and still fulfill its work for Skywalker Sound and Lucas Films. It’s pretty interesting.

Jones is 91, and not really appearing in public anymore. He didn’t attend the renaming of a Broadway theater recently in his name. He remains one of the greats of all time, even if he never owned the rights to Darth Vader. He also doesn’t own the rights to his CNN announcements. If he did, he might considered retrieving them.

Also, Woody Allen did not announce his retirement last week. Are there any fact checkers left out there?

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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