HOLLYWOOD, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy lauded J.J. Abrams as "the perfect director" to tackle the next "Star Wars" film after signing him to a deal earlier this week.
Disney announced Friday it had landed Abrams to direct the seventh installment of the "Star Wars" franchise after months of speculation as to who would helm the epic sci-fi film.
Abrams had previously denied to EW.com plans to take over the series.
Kennedy won over the "Star Trek" and "Mission Impossible III" director in early January after visiting him at the Santa Monica, Calif., offices of his Bad Robot production company, sources told The Hollywood Reporter
"It's very exciting to have J.J. aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new "Star Wars" movie," Kennedy said. "J.J. is the perfect director to helm this. Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an intuitive understanding of this franchise. He understands the essence of the "Star Wars" experience, and will bring that talent to create an unforgettable motion picture."
"Little Miss Sunshine" scribe Michael Arndt is writing the script for the next "Star Wars," which is set for theatrical release in 2015.
Tina Turner considering Swiss citizenship
KUESNACHT, Switzerland, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Singer Tina Turner is on her way to becoming a citizen of Switzerland, where she has been living since 1995, Swiss newspaper Zuerichsee-Zeitung reported.
The newspaper said Turner has already passed the civics exam and interview, the only things standing between her and a Swiss passport.
Turner, born Anna Mae Bullock in Nutbush, Tenn., moved to Kuesnacht, a suburb of Zurich, in 1995 with her longtime manager and romantic partner, German record executive Erwin Back, The Hollywood Reporter said Friday.
Jo Matherne, the mayor Brownsville, Tenn., which encompasses Nutbush, said she was surprised to hear the town's favorite daughter had decided to renounce her native country.
"I think anytime a person, whether they're world-renowned or the most meek and mild, makes the decision to change their citizenship, we need to step back and think what causes that decision," she said.
Turner's representative said she has no comment until she contacts Turner to clarify the matter, TMZ reported.
Turner's change in citizenship must be approved by Swiss federal officials before she is handed her new red passport, The Hollywood Reporter said.
Palin's contract with Fox not renewed
HOLLYWOOD, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin is no longer under contract as a contributor at Fox News Channel, the network confirmed.
Palin first became a contributor to the top-rated cable news network in 2010 after unsuccessful run to be vice president in 2008.
Fox News Channel president and chairman Roger Ailes said the reason he brought her on board was because "she was hot and got ratings."
Palin's screen presence on the network had diminished in 2012, and she hadn't appeared on air since mid-December, The Hollywood Reporter said Friday.
Palin had publicly spoken out against the network in August on Facebook.
"I'm sorry Fox canceled all my scheduled interviews tonight because I sure wanted to take the opportunity on the air to highlight Senator John McCain's positive contributions to America, to honor him, and to reflect on what a biased media unfairly put him through four years ago tonight," she said, referring to the night of vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's Republican National Convention speech.
Fox News Channel executive vice president of programming Bill Shine confirmed Palin's departure Friday.
"We have thoroughly enjoyed our association with Gov. Palin," he said. "We wish her the best in her future endeavors."
It is not clear if the departure was Palin's or the network's decision.
Randy Quaid appeals Canada refugee ruling
OTTAWA, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Canadian immigration officials denied a request for permanent residency from American actor Randy Quaid.
Immigration Canada said Quaid did not qualify for residency under the refugee protection despite claims his life was in danger from a Hollywood cabal of lawyers and talent agents involved in racketeering, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
CBC News said Quaid and his wife, Evi, filed an appeal on the grounds their lives were in danger. Evi Quaid is a Canadian citizen and had sponsored her husband's residency request.
While the Quaids contention they were being targeted for death was not accepted by Immigration Canada, the couple faces confirmed legal trouble in the United States in the form of arrest warrants.
CBC News said both were wanted after failing to appear in court to face burglary charges for allegedly vandalizing a California home they once owned in 2009.
2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]