After weeks of rumors, Lucasfilm has confirmed that Jimmy Smits will indeed play a major role in the upcoming "Star Wars: Episode II," which is filming in Australia. According to the official Star Wars Web site (www.starwars.com), Smits, he of "L.A. Law" and "NYPD Blue" fame, will play Sen. Bail Organa of Alderaan, an important figure in the "Star Wars" mythology.
Although it's unknown what course the new film will take, in the "Star Wars" novels, Bail Organa shelters Princess Leia from her father, the evil Darth Vader.
Further "Star Wars" casting announcements, including possible confirmation of rumors about Gabriel Byrne joining the cast, are expected as production heats up in coming weeks.