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Disney+ releases 'Ahsoka.' How do you market a TV show during a strike?

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

It's the dawn of a new "Star Wars" series. Last night, Disney+ began streaming its new live-action story, "Ahsoka."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "AHSOKA")

ROSARIO DAWSON: (As Ahsoka Tano) When the stakes are this high, we have to do what's right.

MARTÍNEZ: Rosario Dawson, who stars as a warrior from a distant planet, cannot promote the series during the actors and screenwriters strike in Hollywood. But as NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports, fans are still celebrating.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: At the heart of "Star Wars" are stories about training to control the powerful energy known as the force.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS: EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE")

FRANK OZ: (As Yoda) Always two there are - a master and an apprentice.

DEL BARCO: Way back in 1977, Jedi masters Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi instructed Luke Skywalker.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS: EPISODE IV - A NEW HOPE")

ALEC GUINNESS: (As Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi) Remember, a Jedi can feel the force flowing through him.

DEL BARCO: Obi-Wan also coached Luke's father, Anakin Skywalker.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS: EPISODE IV - A NEW HOPE")

OZ: (As Darth Vader) When I left you, I was but a learner. Now I am the master.

GUINNESS: (As Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi) Only a master of evil, Darth.

DEL BARCO: And before becoming the villain Darth Vader, Anakin guided Ahsoka Tano.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "AHSOKA")

HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN: (As Anakin Skywalker) Trust your instincts. I know you can do this, Ahsoka.

DEL BARCO: Ahsoka started out in 2008 as an animated character in the series "The Clone Wars," and a few years later, she was part of "Star Wars Rebels." Then she became a live-action character played by Rosario Dawson in "The Mandalorian" in 2020 and in last year's "The Book Of Boba Fett." Now Ahsoka has her own series with her former protege, Sabine Wren.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "AHSOKA")

DAWSON: (As Ahsoka Tano) There is nothing easy about being a Jedi.

DEL BARCO: In a video taped long before the Hollywood strikes, showrunner Dave Filoni talked about the character he developed with his guide, "Star Wars" creator George Lucas.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DAVE FILONI: I'm telling the story about this mentor-student relationship that passes from Anakin to Ahsoka to Sabine.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Are you ready for "Ahsoka"?

DEL BARCO: A special showing of "Ahsoka" in Hollywood last week was packed with costumed "Star Wars" fans waving lightsabers. Among them was 62-year-old Marine safety specialist Patricia Burns in a custom-made Sith empress gown.

PATRICIA BURNS: Yes, I've embraced the dark side. Come on and join us. We have cookies.

DEL BARCO: Trevor Grant, a fire chief in Canada, was dressed as the evil Grand Admiral Thrawn with blue face paint and red contact lenses. Eight-year-old Julio Guzman (ph) was a pint-sized Thrawn, and his 2-year-old sister, Kira, was a baby Ahsoka. And 25-year-old Claire Pukszta painted her face orange with white markings and wore a blue and white headpiece.

CLAIRE PUKSZTA: I am dressed as Ahsoka from "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," Season 7, "The Battle Of Mandalore." She first premiered when I was 8 years old. She unfortunately wasn't particularly popular when she came out, but I think that was the genius of Dave Filoni. He created a character that was flawed and needed time to grow from this, like, impetuous young woman that was a little too brazen, a little too all over the place to a very confident and strong warrior.

DEL BARCO: Fans like Anna Ferrer Jenkins, dressed as a space witch, said they understood why the cast of "Ahsoka" couldn't join them while on strike against the Hollywood studios for higher pay and residuals and protections from AI.

ANNA FERRER JENKINS: They're doing the right thing. I think the fandom themselves will do what they can to promote and support this series. And clearly, as you can see with the turnout here, the force was with everyone.

DEL BARCO: Mandalit del Barco, NPR News, Hollywood.

(SOUNDBITE OF LUDWIG GORANSSON'S "AHSOKA LIVES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.