For decades, the extraneous stuff on the sides of Star Wars has confused many and drove many more away from tipping their toe into anything besides the movies. But in 2014, Disney wiped everything off the table in order to start anew. It was a controversial move, but the best thing for Star Wars going forward.
Yeah, Mara Jade is a badass and it would have been awesome to see Timothy Zahn's Thrawn book trilogy made into movies, but a lot of crap was cleared, too. Does anyone really want to abide by goofy shit like Chewbacca dying when an entire moon hits him in the face?
By sweeping away the Expanded Universe, we get a whole new lease on Star Wars. Lapsed fans will have a place to start, and a well-oiled corporate machine will preside over the continuity. If anyone can use fear to keep the systems in line, it's Disney.
And it's not like the old stuff no longer exists, or that Disney won't support it. When the rights for Star Wars comics reverted from Dark Horse Comics back to Disney, Marvel picked everything right up and made sure all of that stuff was still available to those who want it. As long as the legacy content is still out there in some format, you can enjoy your own special version of the Star Wars universe and no one is going to stop you. Sort of like how I pretend Alien 3 and 4 don't exist and that R2-D2 is a reincarnated Robocop.
Lucasfilm lucked out with the cast of A New Hope (especially Harrison Ford), but Disney knows there's no match for a good caster at your side. For one, they're not decking it out to the brim with A-list stars. Granted, they have the original cast, plus some dependable supporting players like Max Von Sydow and the motion capture chameleon Andy Serkis. But for the next generation of Star Wars hero, Disney went with mostly unknown or at least lower-key stars.
Though it might seem like a decision made with their small paychecks in mind, it will also probably make for a better movie. Think about it: When you go see a new Star Wars, you want to explore strange new worlds and meet brand-new characters. It's a lot harder to do that if all you're thinking is "Oh, that's Jennifer Lawrence with a lightsaber."
Shit, that's a great idea. Nobody take that, I'm pitching it to Disney.