A Disturbance in the Force (2023) Movie Script

[logo music]
Because of the following
special program,
Wonder Woman and
the Incredible Hulk
will not be presented
this evening.
[star wars-like music]
Let me ask you something.
And this is a question I've
wanted to ask you for a while,
and I've always
restrained myself.
A Christmas special came
out that was produced
by George Lucas in which all of
the participants in Star Wars
--came together.
And they made this Star
Wars Christmas Special,
and the tape's been
passed around for years.
And the rumor is that Lucas
is trying to suppress it.
It all started in 1978 when I
let people make a Star Wars TV
special without me.
The Holiday Special.
I remember.
It came out so bad.
I hate it.
I hate it.
I hate it! I hate it!
George, George.
Do you remember making
this Christmas special?
No, you don't remember it?
[laughter and applause]
I-- nobody is allowed
to mention this.
It is so bad.
It's not good.
You are about to see the worst
half hour of television ever.
[tie fighter lasers]
Star Wars.
Star Wars is going to be on TV?
And it's a new thing?
Oh, I see.
It's the Star Wars
holiday special.
We popped it in, and my
life was never the same.
Come on, Malla.
Let's see a little smile.
It will provide
many years of fun.
I felt a great
disturbance in the force.
We rolled a doob and
sat back and watched it.
And we thought it was fabulous.
I feel something
terrible has happened.
To explain the Star
wars Holiday Special is
like trying to explain to
someone how the pyramids were
built. It's kind of impossible.
All you have to know
is it was the '70s.
There might have
been some cocaine.
Happy Life Day.
I saw it as a kid.
I thought it was great.
They didn't tell the people
this was not Star Wars
the movie two.
You can say that again.
It seems we've landed on some
sort of comedy variety show
The Star Wars holiday special
is sort of like the holy grail.
It's completely mental.
It's so funny, and
it's so stupid.
I love the holiday special.
The holiday special
is definitely canon.
You probably wouldn't
think that Maude would
be one of the guest stars.
And I was never into the
whole Star Wars thing.
I love all of the awkwardness.
I am your fantasy.
So experience me.
The whole production was
fraught with problems.
Oh, no.
--the ship you seek.
Follow me, friend.
That Boba Fett cartoon rules.
Settle down!
The Star Wars special
sucked so bad,
I was amazed that
I wasn't in it.
I would really like to
know what CBS was thinking
when they greenlit this thing.
But now, let's get
started, shall we.
[triumphant music]
There are always better stories
about failure than success.
It's much more interesting.
It's much more compelling,
and it's much more human.
Supposedly a TV movie
existed, and no one
knew where they could get it.
I had never seen it.
You couldn't convince
me it was true.
To me, it was all urban legend.
Now that I was a
ninth grade man,
I wanted something you
couldn't find in any store.
Yo, Goldnerd, come here.
It was like finding this
artifact of something
that I was such a fan of but I
had no conception ever existed.
And for a while I believed
that it was impossible to get.
It became a currency of
sorts in geek culture.
You know, talking about it,
dropping references to it,
producing a copy to watch.
Christmas came early.
He had a bootleg copy of the
Star Wars Holiday Special.
Holy Kenobi!
The legend is true!
I had to get like a tape
of a tape of a tape.
You know.
The Zapruder film
was easier to watch
than the copy of the
holiday special that I got.
On the back cover, it said,
if I had a hammer in time,
"I would destroy every copy of
the Star Wars Holiday Special,"
George Lucas.
And I was like, sold.
That was so cool.
Were we watching two
different things?
You don't know Star Wars.
This special is really
for the true fans.
So the true fan wants to watch
Dorothy from The Golden Girls
flirt with an alien?
We have seen something that
we weren't supposed to see.
Clearly, something
had gone wrong.
You were in the area
because you were
in Hollywood making a
Star Wars special that'll
played around Thanksgiving.
Got all the characters
from Star Wars
and it's got quite a few
extra people as well.
For one thing, you meet
the whole Wookiee family.
And the Wookiees lived
up in the tree house.
And that's where we met
Chewbacca's family--
Itchy, the little kid, and--
what was her name--
Itchy is the grandfather.
Itchy is the grandfather.
Who's the-- oh,
Lumpy is the kid.
I'm so sorry.
It's only been 40 years.
Chewie's family had
to be name something.
Lumpy and Itchy?
Couldn't they have spent 15
more seconds on the names?
And we meet Chewie's
family, and we
realize that, oh, they're just
going to all chew it and not
[mimics wookiee sounds]
And so, you're literally
watching a bunch of mimes.
(LAUGHING) But you just
have zero dialogue.
Zero dialogue up until
this point for 15 minutes.
Like, have you timed it?
I would love to know that stat.
How much of the Star
Wars Holiday Special
has absolutely no
discernible dialogue?
[tape whirring]
[r2 beeps]
R2, look.
It's Chewbacca's family.
Let's never speak of this again.
So you didn't love it.
Who cares?
I care!
I love Star Wars!
It's my life.
It makes no sense why
I didn't love this too.
You know, we spent
years of two weeks
at a time working directly
with George developing what
would become this
animated series,
and we had access to
the theater downstairs.
And we made a date--
all the writers.
Hey, we're going to watch
the holiday special.
And you tap out
any time you want.
Like, we're going to see who
can make it all the way through.
And that's what we did.
And like, one by one, like
flies, people were like,
"I'm out."
I like to watch bad stuff, but
that's a hard watch making it
through the holiday special.
The cockpit of the
Millennium Falcon
is clearly just a
cardboard cutout.
Everything just--
it takes you a while
to realize that
everything's wrong.
When you first see the
Star Wars Holiday Special
in its entirety, you're
like, how did this happen?
Who decided to create one of the
most confounding pieces of Star
Wars entertainment in the
history of its existence?
In order to understand how
the holiday special happened,
you have to put it in context.
Star Wars pioneered a
whole different kind
of almost grassroots attention.
The real secret to the
success of Star Wars
was a guy named
Charlie Lippincott,
who pioneered an entirely
new way of marketing movies.
Oh, Charlie was a good guy.
He had kind of an
oddball sense of humor.
He went to Film School at USC.
I don't remember Charlie
ever making any movies,
but Charlie was involved
with all of the filmmakers
and keeping track of everyone.
He was like a den mother.
But when I learned,
shortly thereafter,
that Charlie was
becoming a publicist,
it made perfect sense to me.
I'm talking with Charlie
Lippincott, who is
associated with the production.
Charlie, could you tell us
exactly how are you associated?
I'm the executive in charge
of advertising, publicity,
promotion, and merchandising
for Star Wars corporation.
Charlie had come
up with the idea
of marketing Star
Wars directly to fans
because there really wasn't a
good hook for marketing Star
Science fiction wasn't popular.
None of the actors
were big names
that you could get booked
on The Tonight Show.
A year before Star
Wars came out,
Charlie went and showed
slides about this movie
and got this
amazing groundswell.
Fandom was never really a
part of the marketing plan
until Charlie
Lippincott made it so.
Even though he didn't
have footage to show them,
he would show them like
Ralph McQuarrie's artwork.
He would tell them the story
of what the film was about.
He went to the Star
Trek conventions
and got the Trekkies
interested in it.
And this is something
right up their alley.
The idea is if you
can get the enthusiasm
with them, that will spread.
These are the kind
of people that
will see a movie 10
times if they like it.
I'd like to introduce you
now to producer Gary Kurtz.
And the star of the
film, Mark Hamill,
who plays Luke Skywalker.
He knew how to
get people excited
and how to stir up
interest and word of mouth.
And from these science
fiction conventions,
people left being
interested to see what
this film was going to be like.
And then they would tell
their friends about it.
Ballantine Books was
one of the major houses
in paperbacks-- major
publisher in science fiction.
Charlie went to
them and made a deal
to do a novelization
of Star Wars
and have it come
out like nine months
before the movie came
out to get it out there.
And then Charlie made a
deal with Marvel Comics
to do the comic
bookization of Star Wars.
And the real problem,
I think, in some ways,
was I didn't want
one comic book,
and I didn't want
two comic books.
I wanted five to six comic books
telling the story of the film.
So that was a bit of
a hard sell at first.
And I wanted at least
three issues out
before the film came out.
And nobody had done
that up to that time.
Basically, everything
with Star Wars
that wasn't making
the movie was Charlie.
He taught Hollywood a
very important lesson
that they are still
learning from today.
Nine months after Charlie
started these fan promotions,
the movie comes out.
[band playing star wars theme]
To the world famous
Chinese Theater
come the stars of the
biggest box office success
in motion picture history.
Star Wars.
It is more than just
a successful movie,
it is a box office phenomenon.
The film is breaking attendance
records all over the country.
Not since Jaws
have so many people
stood in line to see a movie.
It was kind of like a nuclear
explosion had gone off
in pop culture.
It blew people's minds.
I mean, I remember people
waiting in line all day
to see this movie.
Star Wars became the
new box office champion
by providing pure, 100%
escapist entertainment.
And it appears this is what just
about everybody in the country
is in the mood for.
This was world-changing.
It's like the Beatles.
We'd all seen science fiction
movies before, but not
like this.
It only opened in America
at the end of May,
but already it's the biggest box
office hit in cinema history.
The overwhelming success of the
picture surprised everybody.
As one Fox executive put
it, it's not so much a film,
it's more an industry.
I love that the world between
Star Wars and Empire--
the world between Star Wars and
Empire to me is this bizarre--
it's not completely thought out.
There's no mythology built up.
For the fans, it's
interesting in many ways.
One of the ways, it
gives them an insight
into this very
brief period where
things were not set up yet.
And it was kind of
like Lucasfilm 1.5.
1.0 is over, but 2.0
wasn't there yet.
And it wasn't until Empire
forward that everything
became more fully formed.
So I have a real
affection for that time
where it was this wild thing
that nobody could figure out.
So somewhere in the summer
after Star Wars has come out,
George takes a meeting with
Frank Wells of Warner Brothers
with Gary Kurtz and
Charlie Lippincott.
The goal of that meeting was to
re-release to try and piggyback
on the success of Star Wars.
Somewhere along the
line in that meeting,
Frank said something to
George to the effect of,
come September you
guys will be nothing.
And George left really angry.
And so, it kind of
redoubled George's interest
in making sure
Star Wars succeeded
and continued to be in theaters.
To promote Star Wars, getting
the stars of Star Wars
to appear on all of these
talk and variety shows--
Donny and Marie or any
of these other places.
The Star Wars Holiday
Special may well
have been created out of spite.
[jazzy music]
(SINGING) We're Darth
Vader's raiders,
and we can't believe
the things that you do.
You're all right.
We never met a trooper
played hide and--
My brothers were dressed as
the storm troopers dancing.
I'm Luke, and Marie's
Leah with the bagels
on the side of her head.
Han solo, played by
Kris Christofferson.
And I'm dancing around
R2-D2, and there's C-3PO,
and we're talking, and
Chewbacca is there.
And I'm thinking,
this is probably
one of the coolest
finales we've ever done.
(SINGING) His transistors are in
trouble and his tubes are weak.
And if we stay, our chances
for survival are bleak.
So show us the way to get
out of this world for that's
where everything is.
I'm thinking, how in the
world is George Lucas allowing
this to happen?
Because that's just
so far from the movie.
But it sure was
funny at the time,
and it's funny to
look back right now.
(SINGING) Push the fuel button.
Light the fire.
Going to take you higher.
We broke a lot of rules
when we had the Star Wars
characters on the Donny and
Marie show for that finale.
There was a shot with
Chewbacca with his arm
around Darth Vader.
How does that happen?
But on Donny and Marie, I
guess everybody was friends.
(SINGING) Come back to me.
Come back to me.
Come back to me!
The Star Wars Holiday Special
is Citizen Kane compared
to that Donny and Marie thing.
I mean, that's truly train
wreck sort of television.
You-- you intergalactic fool.
You'll never get
them back that way.
I suppose you have
a better plan.
No plan at all, just
a little "force."
You can't imagine that
happening in 1981.
Like, that Star Wars
couldn't have gone
near a show like that in '81.
But in '77, everyone's going,
I don't know what this is
or how big it's going to
be, but yeah, take it.
Put it on a t-shirt or whatever.
Put it in your show.
Do a dance with
the stormtroopers.
["get ready"]
But fee-fi-fo-fum, look out
people, cause here we come.
I think that's one of
the coolest moments
my brothers ever
had in show business
was transforming stormtroopers
to vaudevillian dancers.
[laughs] That's so funny.
(SINGING) So get ready.
Get ready.
Here we come.
So the public appearances
helped the ticket sales
in the theaters.
They had the entire family
watching the Donny and Marie
George wanted to
tap into that magic.
We had the demographics
that he wanted.
And through research,
he was right.
And that Donny and
Marie Show aired,
and everybody saw Star Wars
characters on Donny and Marie.
They went back to the theater.
It's almost as if at that time
in the entertainment world
there were like two tracks.
It was, like, for entertainment.
And it had been going on
since the silent movies,
where you did your kind of high
art form, which was the movie,
and then you did a lot
of stuff to support it,
whatever it took.
If you had to put on the
disguise in front of a shopping
mall, you did it.
And they did it for Star Wars.
George was about to start
shooting The Empire Strikes
Back, and he was concerned
that there be momentum,
that there would be a stirring
the pot to make sure people
were aware of the franchise.
And you saw the
proliferation of Star Wars
on television in the late
1970s, in 1977 specifically,
on these variety shows, as a
way to keep Star Wars cemented
in the zeitgeist.
Prior to that, the big
movie was Jaws, right?
But you couldn't just
throw Jaws onto a thing.
Like, ladies and gentlemen,
Jaws is here to sing.
In retrospect, I think
it's exceptionally foolish,
because the brand
was not going to die.
It was very, very popular.
Somebody, somewhere, said, if
we don't give them something,
they're going to
forget about us.
And suddenly, it's
everywhere on TV after that.
Like, just the promotion
was everywhere you looked.
Let's crank out as
much stuff as we can.
Let's let Richard Pryor have all
the alien makeup for a cantina
sketch on his show.
[big band star wars theme]
That sketch actually
kind of works.
It's Richard Pryor
in that world,
and he's using it to ding riffs
on race, and social class,
and stuff like that.
Hey, Hey.
Why don't you watch
where you're going?
You got the biggest
eyes in the place.
Also, these characters
weren't embedded
in our consciousness
the way they are now.
We'd met them once in one film.
It's not like we'd gone on a
nine-film adventure with R2-D2,
and we know the
parameters of R2-D2
or how he would
speak-- or C-3PO.
Hello, welcome to Burger Chef.
We'd like a Star
Wars poster, please.
Or even Darth Vader.
With guest appearances
by Darth Vader!
[breathing sounds]
We'd seen them
once in that film,
and that was the
only voice we knew.
So the fact that Darth
Vader was being lampooned,
or that the droids were doing
things out of context, or even
Mark Hamill was doing
something in a different way--
Bob Hope's All-Star
Christmas Comedy
Special, starring special
guest star Mark Hamill.
[big band music]
It's more egregious now looking
back than it was, I think,
at the time.
It was a very normal way
of getting it out there,
and Star Wars embraced
that opportunity.
Its Luke Skywalker!
Did you bring the force?
You better believe it.
The Los Angeles Police Force.
How did you find them?
Now, you're all under arrest
for malicious mutilation
of a marvelous movie.
I should have stuck to
looking for Mr. Goodbar.
Any kind of artwork
out of context
is going to look funny--
any kind of artwork.
Any kind, period.
If you don't know the
history and the context,
you cannot appreciate it fully.
This was in the days of
crazy specials-- you know,
Wayne Newton at SeaWorld.
Wayne, meet Shamu.
Kids, let's do a show.
From Orlando, Florida, it's
Wayne Newton at SeaWorld.
And special guest appearance
by Shamu, the killer whale!
--old King Kong, meaner
than a junkyard dog.
When '70s TV was bad, there
was no description for it.
I mean, it's corny,
and it's stupid.
That's kind of what it was.
Everybody had a variety show.
Howard Cosell had
a variety show.
You know what's going
to make this show work?
Yours truly, the born superstar.
Didn't Shields and
Yarnell have a show?
They were mimes, and they did
something on Donny and Marie,
and it was popular.
So they went, well,
give them a show.
Let's see if it works.
At least '70s television
was way more in touch
with, hey, no one
knows anything.
Oh, didn't work.
Well, we tried.
Like, they don't know.
They don't know!
It became a way to bring
the family together
in front of the television
set without fully satisfying
any one member of that family.
It was disposable television.
People are going to see
this once, and that's it.
Variety shows did
not repeat well.
They look arcane today.
The funny thing is, if you
think the Star Wars Holiday
Special is bad or the "worst
thing" that ever aired on TV,
you never saw The
Lawrence Welk Show.
And that calls for
a little soul music.
[variety music]
You never saw the Paul
Lynde Halloween special.
(SINGING) Move it
in, move it out.
Move it in and about.
Disco baby.
You never saw The Brady
Bunch Variety Show.
(SINGING) There's a
new kind of dancing.
It's going to be the rage.
Just move yourself behind
like an actor on a stage.
The Brady Bunch Variety Hour
and the Paul Lynde Halloween
Special, those stand out
because they are so bad.
But there are other ones that
are forgotten just because they
weren't even memorably bad.
There are astronomically
worse shows
that aired around this time,
they just didn't carry the name
Star Wars.
The Star Wars Holiday
Special happened, again,
for multiple reasons.
CBS approached Lucasfilm
wanting to do it.
We talked to George at one
point about how this happened.
You don't like this
piece of content.
How does anything that you don't
like or you didn't approve of
get through?
It's like, it's not that
I didn't approve of it.
There was so much pressure in
between Star Wars and Empire.
The way that executives
thought about the audience
is that everyone would just
forget Star Wars was a thing.
The audience, they just
can't be depended upon.
So you got to make some other
kind of short-term Star Wars
What kind of TV
show can you make
on the kind of budget it
takes to make Star Wars?
And they're like,
holiday special.
And this was a
way, a TV special,
to get mass exposure, to get
more excitement until Empire
comes back and certainly
it would help the toys.
Star Wars, the
toys came later on.
They were ill-prepared
for how successful
the movie was going to be.
Because there was no such thing
as merchandising on movies.
Some TV stuff, but not movies.
Their lifespan is
just too short.
Back then, by the time you
would get a toy line out,
it would be 12
months to 18 months
after the movie
already left theaters,
and nobody would
remember the movie.
So nobody was willing
to take that risk.
The official Kenner
Star Wars models
are still in production
in the orient
and won't be ready
for several months.
First Christmas, every kid in
America wants a Star Wars toy,
but they had nothing
to sell for Christmas.
And so, what they did was they
sold you a coupon that you
would send in, and once
the toys had been made,
they would ship you a set.
But in 1978, the
toys were everywhere.
And this was the first Christmas
where you could get Star Wars
toys, Star Wars everything.
And a key component of marketing
that was the Star Wars Holiday
May the force be with
you and your children.
[r2 beeps]
Our agent called and said that
there's a Star Wars Holiday
And we got really
excited because we
thought this was going to be
our annuity, that this holiday
show would run every
year for an eternity.
The Charlie Brown
Christmas, the Grinch That
Stole Christmas I mean,
all of these things that'll
be one forever.
As it turned out, it
was only one viewing.
So the people who
wrote the special--
and there were a bunch of them--
were not science fiction people.
They weren't Star Wars fans.
I don't know if they all
had even seen Star Wars.
They were people
who wrote variety,
and that's what this show was.
It just happened to be
themed to Star Wars.
I mean, you have to remember,
we were comedy writers.
And to get into something like
this was really thrilling.
And I said, where do I sign?
And it was fun
from the beginning.
And the first day
it was the staff--
Lenny Ripps and Pat Proft.
They were there.
And Ken and Mitzie
Welch, who were writers
from The Carol Burnett Show, who
did all the big musical things,
and George--
George Lucas.
And Gary Smith
and Dwight Hemion,
who were actually
allegedly producing it,
but they didn't really
produce it in the end.
When I was looking at the
credits on the show and I saw
that they had-- it
was a Smith-Hemion--
I said, it was a
Smith-Hemion production?
That's so stupid.
Because I don't remember
them being there.
But they were at the beginning
when I thought about it.
And the other
thing was we worked
with his director, a guy
named David Acomba, who
was a director of
rock and roll videos.
He made a successful rock
and roll documentary there.
And there was that
USC connection.
David was the voice of George.
If David had an idea, or we
wanted to run something by him,
or there were questions,
our assumption
was that it's also
what George wanted.
My intent was to see
what George wanted
and try and make it happen.
But quickly there were--
Ken and Mitzie were assigned to
the show, whom I didn't know.
And then, when I found
out what they did, I mean,
they wrote the music for the
singing numbers and that.
I just thought that
was one of the worst
parts of the show when
she started singing
and all those kinds of fake,
Broadway, forgettable show
The wrong people to be assigned
to work with me or vice versa.
The film industry and the
variety television industry
are completely two
separate animals.
I hear that David did not
get along with the Welches.
And I didn't realize
that because I
wasn't in the room with them
when that was happening.
But that was the team.
What's so unique about the Star
Wars Holiday Special is not
just that they have the
costumes and the permission
to use everything that
we know of Star Wars,
but they actually got the cast--
the cast of Star Wars.
When I read it, I
said this is awful.
I was-- it was in my contract.
There was no way--
no known way-- to get out of it.
Oh, all right, but
I'm not singing!
They all slum it
for a TV special.
Again, I have to imagine the
paychecks made it worth it.
The talent was supposed
to be the caliber of Cher,
Baryshnikov, and Ann-Margaret.
That was the people
that they had hoped
would be on the variety show.
I didn't think it
was going to be
so much of a traditional
variety show.
It never occurred to me that
Harvey Korman, and Bea Arthur,
and Art Carney were
going to be in it.
Yes, they were TV stars, but
they were the elderly audience,
CBS audience TV stars.
It always occurred to
me as something that
was put together by old TV.
You know, what is this?
Star what?
You know, where's Captain Kirk?
Bring in-- you know who we need?
Art Carney.
He's a TV legend.
You felt like they could
have had cooler, hipper
people that they
would have brought in
to do these various parts.
Ken and Mitzie were old
school, and they were
used to doing it a certain way.
And David wasn't
crazy about that.
So there's an interesting rumor
about the Star Wars Holiday
Special, which I've
always found fascinating,
which is that David Acomba was
scouring improv clubs looking
for great acts that could
appear in the special
and came across Robin Williams.
This was after he'd already
been Mork on Happy Days
but before he had gotten
Mork and Mindy on the air.
And he brought Robin
to the Welches, who
immediately turned
him away and said,
we're only looking
for name talent.
About a month later
Mork and Mindy airs,
and Robin Williams
explodes and could
have been a part of what
made the Star Wars Holiday
Special fantastic.
They weren't on-- just weren't
on the same wavelength.
And David felt that he was on
George's wavelength and that
they weren't.
And they were
there because there
had to be professionals who
had done this kind of thing
before who knew what
the requirements were.
And George came up with
the original story.
It was going to be
a one-hour special.
Now, the Star Wars holiday
special that we know
didn't start off the way
that we experienced it.
It actually started off I think
from a much purer place, which
is George Lucas trying to
write a variety holiday
special, or at least
just a holiday special.
So after Ralph McQuarrie
passed in 2012,
they discovered, in his
archive, a five-page treatment
for the Star Wars
Holiday Special.
And it's debated as to who
actually wrote this treatment.
And when reading it, it
does feel decidedly Lucas.
And when you look at those old
Ralph McQuarrie concept pieces,
it makes sense that
George would have
floated this five-page treatment
to his key collaborator
on A New Hope.
When you read through
the treatment,
George Lucas has a
Jules Verne quality.
He sees the future.
Whether it is an iPad
or virtual reality,
this idea of this kind of
walking through a teleporter
and being able to be
in a different spot.
But then there are other
things that are so decidedly
weird like Raquel Welch.
"Guest star-- Raquel Welch--
volunteers for
the job and leaves
to intercept the starship."
So Raquel is playing
a starship officer,
which is already odd because
most imperial officers are
And she's going to infiltrate
the Starship Musica to stop
the Life Day celebration.
Raquel, under the
guise of telling Lumpy
a story with dance and gestures
about what drives a spaceship,
dances her way into the
power supply room and screws
everything up.
This idea that Raquel Welch
is doing some performance
art, Alvin Ailey kind of--
she's describing how a
spaceship works through dance?
There's a lot of
questions to be had here.
Look, who am I to judge?
But in reading this,
it feels like, hey,
a nerdy guy who has maybe
a crush on Raquel Welch.
He's like, maybe
I get to meet her.
Maybe she'll be impressed by me.
Maybe we'll hit it off.
We'll go get a sandwich.
Nothing weird.
We spent one full 12-hour day
working with George Lucas,
and that was worth everything.
I mean, he was the most-intense,
most-focused person
I had ever met.
I mean, we were so into it
that I forgot about lunch.
And that's infrequent for me.
Then he told us the
mythology of the story.
There was this Life Day.
[wookiee talk]
I know your family's waiting.
[wookiee talk]
I know it's an important day.
[wookiee talk]
All right, we'll give it a try.
The story was Luke
and Leia were--
and Han Solo were--
accompanying Chewbacca home
to his home planet for Life Day.
Which was a holiday
George invented,
and he thought it
would be like later
"Festivus for the rest of
us" from Seinfeld would be.
But not so much.
Never happened.
It was kind of a
Wookiee Rosh Hashanah.
You know?
I mean, it was the
biggest day of the year.
The whole Life Day
with the Wookiees
was something that George took
very seriously at the time
and that also sort of
expanded the Star Wars
universe in his first
major visual expansion.
George didn't choose
the storyline lightly.
They wanted
Chewbacca's family have
exposure to show them as a
loving family of creatures.
And to George Lucas,
this was real.
I mean, you have to
remember, he had come up
with at least a dozen stories,
so he knew what this was about.
George met with the
writers on the special
and actually showed
them a large binder--
a Bible of sorts-- for
the universe, where
we got to know a lot
more about the characters
that we didn't know at the time.
He was kind of like a
reporter sharing with us
a world that we didn't know.
Obviously, we were going to get
to know a lot about Chewbacca's
home life on Kashyyyk.
But there's rumor that we
were even potentially going
to learn more about Han Solo.
You're like family to me.
[wookiee talk]
He said that Han Solo
was married to a Wookiee,
but we can't say that because
people wouldn't accept it.
Family to me.
That Wookiee looked at
you with-- with lust.
That was--
Real affection.
No, Han was never married to--
that's-- that's not true--
That's impossible!
Uh, OK.
Most of our work was with
the Chewbacca stuff, not
the variety stuff.
The variety parts we left blank.
And originally the
special was going
to be a one-hour special, which
was typical for those variety
specials that the networks did.
But as Star Wars was
more and more successful,
CBS got more and more excited
and came back and said,
can we do a 90-minute special?
Can we do a two-hour special?
Then I found out
what it actually
was going to be once
we went to work.
And so did George.
And I think he was stunned.
You know?
I mean, we were
pretty clear that it
was wonderful to spend
a day with Lucas,
but we knew that we were
not going to spend any more
time with him.
You know?
I mean, he had much
bigger fish to fry.
George had detached himself.
I don't think he ever envisioned
a show with guest stars
and numbers.
Once again, we weren't
creating the material.
They were.
We just sort of approved it.
And then George got
busy with pre-production
on The Empire Strikes Back, so
he got less and less involved
with the holiday special.
Smith-Hemion were the top.
I mean, they had
92 Emmys, and they
were famous for doing
really classy shows.
And Smith-Hemion, who the
previous year had just done
the iconic David Bowie Bing
Crosby Christmas special,
which endures to this day--
Peace on Earth, can it be?
--was put in charge of the
Star Wars Holiday Special.
This was not really
in their wheelhouse.
The first day I went to the set,
and nobody was paying attention
to David Acomba because he
was kind of bouncing off
the walls a little bit.
It was a mixture of worlds,
and David's approach
was to try to do it documentary,
kind of one camera, even
shaky camera kind of thing.
And the production
company really
wanted it to be multiple
camera more often because you
could just get more done.
This is not-- everything
was taking forever.
And I remember the beginning
of the Star Wars show
was just absolutely brutal.
The hours were ridiculous.
But now, let's get
started, shall we?
And Harvey Korman is
working his butt off,
but ooh, boy, does he know
what he's doing is not good.
And Harvey would wear
anything I'd put on him.
And he did like
to get into drag.
He also dressed up as Julia
Child and did a bit as her.
A bit of the chloranthum root.
Just adds that
touch of piquancy.
I mean, Harvey has
a character called
Mother Marcus on The
Carol Burnett Show,
a big Jewish mama with big
boobs and really funny.
And this is not that
far from that character.
Consistency, don't we?
And on the count of 1,
stir, whip, stir, whip.
Whip, whip, stir.
Stir, whip, stir, whip.
Whip, whip, stir.
Sometimes when I'm cooking,
that does come to mind.
Stir, whip, stir, whip.
Ooh, coming along.
Very nice.
OK, Harvey Korman is in a
purple dress with silver hair
and forearms, and that's
still not the most weird thing
that's happening in this film.
Harvey Korman is trying
to pick up Bea Arthur, uh,
which is very disturbing.
What'll it be?
Hello, Ackmena.
Come back soon.
I'll be waiting.
And to somehow make
the scene weirder,
he has, like, a hole in his head
that he pours the drinks into.
I don't remember it.
I just absolutely
eliminated it from my mind.
It was too bizarre.
It was too otherworldly.
I couldn't remember it.
I didn't know what it was.
I couldn't recognize myself.
The only thing I
remember out of it
was the fun of working
with Bea Arthur.
I mean, we had fun, but I
don't know what the hell
that thing was about.
Some things are so contradictory
to the film that just came
out and established it.
Like, so, is this that cantina?
Because it's all the same
costumes and characters,
but it's not at all dangerous.
Like, that is the purpose
it serves in the film.
This is the most dangerous
place, where arms are cut off,
people are shot under
tables, and occasionally
Beatrice Arthur will
break out into song.
Bea wanted to sing
the "Alabama Song."
She wanted to do a number.
That was her proviso.
They finally, I think,
went to the Brecht
estate, which was not interested
in having the song done
on the Star Wars
Holiday Special.
Oh, and you know who was in it?
Harvey Korman and I were
in a bar with aliens
and strange-looking people.
And it's a lovely piece written
by Mitzie and Ken Welch.
So Ken and Mitzie wrote a song
for Bea that was a lot like--
(SINGING) those were
the days, my friend.
We thought they'd never--
--which was like
an up version of--
(SINGING) show me the way
to the next whiskey bar.
--and that's what Bea winds
up singing on the show.
homeward bound, friend,
don't forget me in your dreams.
It's the cantina
music slowed down.
But it's so funny, because
none of us had lyrics to that.
And then this
happens, and then kids
are starting to sing it on
the playground and stuff.
I was hired as a Wookiee.
But I remember,
when I showed up,
they had plenty of Wookiees,
and they were looking
for someone that could dance.
So the choreographer said, we're
just going to pop you in here.
You're going to be
walrus man from now on.
And I became walrus man, and I
got to dance with Bea Arthur.
I think part of the
issue for that day
was the fact that there
were so many people
being fitted into costumes.
That took hours.
I mean, the Bea Arthur
thing took forever too.
But that was because the
aliens kept fainting.
Those costumes were pretty
hot, pretty unbearable.
There is no oxygen
in these costumes.
You could not breathe
in these costumes.
And this went on for hours,
and hours, and hours.
Because it was like 103
degrees on the set, and you put
those heads on, and it's
kind of like waterboarding.
I think had we not
stepped in, the actors--
We would have killed them.
David had no sense of--
The fact that they
were suffocating.
--their needs as human beings.
My eyes were
supposed to be here,
but I'm looking through
two little holes.
I can't see out of the holes.
It's like, OK?
And then, I have to--
and I don't have hands.
I have hooves.
So it was just kind of
like, here, you go grab her.
I felt my way down, and I just
kind of grabbed her wrists
as best I could.
And I just started
doing this with her.
(SINGING) -- one
more dance, friend.
Just one more--
Kind of like L'chaim to life,
like from Fiddler on the Roof.
That's kind of that
two-step dance.
So going, swaying back and forth
to the music with Bea Arthur.
(SINGING) If you're
a friend, friend.
One part, it looks like
Bea Arthur is having
an affair with a giant rat.
Just one more drop, friend,
before we stop friends.
And interestingly
enough, the gigantic rat
was saying, oh my god,
get Bea Arthur off me.
And there's that scene where Bea
Arthur is like nuzzling a rat.
Rick Baker actually used
that on another project.
And it was from a film he'd
done two years ago, Food
of the Gods--
which is insane.
So we got a lot of
remainder aliens
that kind of had mill flaws,
so they looked fairly cheesy.
So the idea was, don't go
too close on any of them.
I never gave it much thought
once we finished with it.
But even to this
day, I get pictures
that fans send of me in
the costume and everything.
And please autograph it.
I don't remember
how long we went.
I just remember doing another
take, and then another take,
and another take.
I'm not surprised if I
was there for 24 hours.
Is that a tear,
friend, in your eye?
And it wasn't even that good.
Like once you saw
it, you went, wow.
You know?
They could have done that
in an hour or two hours.
Now, it's good night, friend.
I'm Bob Mackie.
Welcome aboard, Mr. Mackie.
I'm Captain Stubing.
It's an honor to meet you.
Thank you, captain.
Mr. Mackie designs the gowns
for all the big TV stars.
Carol Burnett,
Ann-Margaret, Cher.
That's right.
You've heard them say,
"clothes make the man?"
Well, I'm the man that
makes the clothes.
Well, I had heard enough people
enthusiastic about the Star
Wars Christmas Special.
And someone said-- and
they were talking about it,
and I said, oh, I designed that.
You did?
[gasps] really?
It was like that.
And I just went, oh, OK.
Well, I guess it
was more important
than I thought it was.
And when we walked in, they had
big drawings of the costumes.
And we saw the ones that
we would be wearing.
It was fantastic, and
Bob Mackie was there,
and we had to do fittings.
And Bob Mackie was there.
It was-- I was thrilled.
We had the acrobats,
and the gymnasts,
and all that whole group
of circus people, which
I loved doing.
So that was our
going to be our role.
We would be tumbling inside
this little music box
to entertain the baby
Chewbacca, Junior. (LAUGHING) I
don't know what his name is.
It is very similar to a scene
my father did in a movie
many years prior to
that, Thief of Bagdad.
So in that one, pop was inside.
He was miniature, inside
a little music box.
And then I have to have
their heads cut off.
And in this particular movie,
we were going to be on a table,
like a flat surface.
And we were more like holograms.
I wanted to do them
in bright colors
because everything in that
film was like a neutral color.
You know, it's all grays, and
taupes, and browns, and beiges,
and a little black,
and a little.
But basically no color really.
I guess in space they
don't have color.
This is the girl--
the gymnast girl.
And it's a whole body suit.
So anything-- any
time they moved,
the elastic would
move with them,
and it would stay in place.
And then the five of us
were in hot pink and Black.
That took a little getting used
to for tumbling in and doing
pyramids, climbing up.
Because I was the top man--
So climbing up, and so they
wouldn't get in your way.
So we had two jugglers, and they
were in the Spandex as well.
What better testament to
the mastery of John Williams
than whoever scored this
entire holiday special?
Because somebody came in with
a new Casio, like, synth sound.
And they're like, you got to
let me flex this out, you guys.
I'm telling you, it's
going to be timeless!
This is the first sketch I did.
And I wanted to have this kind
of Asian, half man, half bird
kind of situation.
And he's still a warrior.
They're all like warriors
of a certain kind.
He had this big tail that he
could whip around like a whip,
but it was attached.
And he had all these
pheasant feathers that
were dyed this green color.
Dance, slave.
It was comfortable.
But only problem
was then bathroom.
Yeah, every once in a
while, someone will pop up
and they'll want us to-- oh,
I bought all the costumes.
One of things I
love to collect are
when I have costume sketches
of an actual costume I own.
So this is the only costume I
own from the holiday special.
And this was very
exciting too, that, like,
when I saw the things
in the Julien's auction,
I was like, that is one
I definitely have to win.
It's been over 40 years.
There's people are still
watching it online.
Like, it just-- yeah, it's--
people still talk about it.
Jefferson Starship had this
song that was a deep cut.
It was the last song
of one of their albums
called "Hyperdrive."
Almost as if a producer
looked at a list of artists
that were popular and then
called someone and said,
We have hyperdrive.
Call up this Jefferson Star--
We have starships!
It's as if it wrote itself.
So we recorded this song
"Light the Sky on Fire"
with Marty Bannon singing.
And he was the main singer
because Grace was in rehab.
So we went ahead and ended up--
somehow we ended up on the Star
Wars Christmas--
Holiday Special-- it was
Christmas special we called it
at the time.
And none of us really
knew what was going on,
but we ended up playing there.
So when I found out that
Jefferson Starship was going
to be part of the
shoot-- we were actually
going to shoot a
number with them.
So I thought, oh, this is
going to be really cool.
We had a connection--
not really.
I mean, I didn't know a lot
about what was going on.
I remember we were rehearsing
at Paul's-- it was Grace's house
over in San Francisco
overlooking the Bay.
It's a beautiful house.
And Darth Vader came by, and
it was like a publicity thing.
Came by and took
some photographs,
and we got some photographs
of us hanging out
with Darth Vader.
So we had some
relationship already.
Of course, I didn't really
know what to expect.
I mean, I figured they had
their stuff together, you know?
It's really bizarre.
It's really bad,
bad special effects.
But you know what?
A lot of reviewers
in 1978 praised this.
They thought the special
effects in this thing
were the highlight of the show.
Looking back on it now,
this can't be a highlight.
It was a trip.
I remember a little
bit about it.
I mean, I remember they let us
loose in a room full of props,
like a costume
room kind of thing.
They said, just try
and make up an outfit.
No direction really,
just individually
make up anything you want.
And it just-- as
long as it looks
like it's from another galaxy
or something or from the future.
I think the finished
product didn't really
come out as if it was
a music video as much
as they thought it might.
I guess-- yeah, I
guess Art Carney--
it's sort of
they're interacting,
and it's with his
wry humor with one
of the stormtrooper guys
sitting there in front
of this futuristic device.
Will you get on with it?
And they press the button,
and then we start--
we're suddenly,
there we are, playing
our song "Light the
Sky on Fire" with all
these weird, cheesy
effects all around.
And we're all sort looking
like we're from another galaxy
But we really probably didn't.
We looked pretty silly.
Will you light the sky on fire.
Will you light the sky
on fire every night?
You can take me higher than
the diamonds in the sky.
We didn't really know how
they were going to use it.
I'm not even certain they knew
how they were going to use it.
So eventually we started
just running behind
on that schedule.
And the more we ran
behind, the more the people
who are in the production
side of things with the money
got a little bit nervous.
And I remember that we
shot considerable amount
of the entire show
budget the first three
days of the production because
we were over into overtime
so much.
And the network freaked out.
Because they said,
this guy is going
to go over schedule,
over budget,
and then we're going to
have to edit this thing,
and we won't have what
we need, and all that.
And it went on to
the point where they
said we have to get rid of him.
We have to lose him.
[dramatic music]
One of the reasons
why I left was
that it just was not working.
You know?
And it was very confusing
because so many people
had their fingers in the pie.
And I'm not sure if
George understood
just what the difference
was between film
and television in the US.
Because I don't think he
ever worked in television.
I don't think George realized
that he picked the wrong format
in which to do these stories.
That wouldn't happen today.
But then, 40 years ago,
this was the style.
And so, it was
executed by people who
did these things all the time.
But I felt sorry for David.
Because he kind of
went back with his--
partially with his tail
tucked between his legs,
but partially with
the time-honored--
"it's Hollywood.
They don't know
what they're doing.
No wonder everything
is such crap
when it comes out of Hollywood.
I'm going back to Toronto."
And he went back and did
some beautiful stuff.
I don't want to answer any
more questions about the show.
It's just-- it's
just that simple.
You know?
You guys go ahead and
do whatever you want.
You do whatever you want to
do with all the people you get
and all that, but I'm not
interested in contributing
to the story at all.
At that point, given
the amount of overtime
that they were creating and
how expensive that was all
becoming for the production
company, something very unusual
happened is that we
just hit the brakes
and we came to a complete stop.
When David left,
there were problems.
Because directors don't leave
when things are going well.
So they were scrambling.
But we were out of
it at that point.
I mean Ken and Mitzie
apparently were on the set
every day working
with the show all day.
They put in an emergency
call into Steve Binder,
who was a terrific variety show
director who had done the Elvis
Comeback specials and
a lot of other stuff
and who knew how
to direct a variety
show in the conventional way.
So when Gary phoned me at home,
and I said, what's going on?
And he said, well, the
truth of the matter
is we started a two-hour
prime time special for CBS.
We're way over
budget, and there's
a decision being made right
now whether to continue
making the special or
shutting it down permanently.
He was replaced by
Steve Binder, who
was really a top-notch guy
who knew what he was doing.
He brought a sense
of control that
was missing from the
production, I think,
which helped get
things back on track.
The budget was $1 million.
I don't think that Steve had
the opportunity to really make
very many changes.
The way I saw it, for him,
it was pretty much triage.
[wookiee talk]
It's long been said
that George had always
wanted to do a story
that focused specifically
on the Wookiee home planet.
I can't tell you why.
That's something that he
wanted to see on screen.
The origins of this
concept of a Wookiee family
can be traced back to Lucas.
I know there's audio,
1976, and a brainstorming
session between
Alan Dean Foster,
George Lucas, and Charlie
Lippincott which was recorded.
[dramatic music]
Obviously, he didn't go and
do that as a sequel concept.
But that idea
remained in his head.
And it seems like it was
the seed for the holiday
special, which he then
revisited several years later.
There was no way
it could be done.
It featured the Wookiees.
They were the
stars of the story.
And the Wookiees speak
no known language.
[wookiee talk]
This was in the era when
on television because they
figured most of America
would not read them.
There's a terrific YouTube
thing where someone has gone in
[wookiee talk]
Had we been able
it would have been a lot easier.
Because we could have had the
Wookiees interacting more.
But we didn't.
Instead we had to have people
translating from the Wookiee
to English, which was an opening
for a lot of guest stars.
CBS liked that.
I suspect Art Carney didn't
really know what Star Wars was.
And how are my favorite
Wookiees today?
[wookiee talk]
Why are the long, hairy faces?
Art Carney understood
the Wookiee language,
and he could translate so
the audience would understand
what they were talking about.
[wookiee talk]
Officer, maybe I could
be of some help here.
I found, in Art
Carney's trailer,
he filled the shower
with ice, and then he
had bottles of different
kinds of alcohol
in the bottom of the trailer.
So when I met Art, he
was pleasant enough.
But I learned soon that I had
to shoot all of his scenes
early in the day.
That wherever he
went to eat lunch,
he may have had a little bit
too much to drink at the time.
It's me, Saun Dann.
[wookiee talk]
God bless, Art Carney
and his character
of Saun Dann, where Saun Dann
brings gifts to the family,
hands Itchy a mind
evaporator, which tells you
everything you need to
know about what they
thought VR would be for people.
Now then, Itchy, I thought
you might like this.
It's one of those--
well, it's a real-- it's
kind of hard to explain.
It's a wow!
If you know what I mean.
When you put this
helmet on, it attached
to a port that had been put
under your skin in your brain,
and it would realize
your fantasies.
So you could sit at
home in your chair,
and your fantasies would
play out in front of you.
Happy Life Day.
I do mean Happy Life Day.
So we were going to see
all the Wookiee's dreams.
So itchy, the silverback
Wookiee, had a fantasy.
It was supposed
to be about Cher,
but Cher suddenly
couldn't do it.
And so, Diane
Carroll stepped in.
And Diane fit into the
Bob Mackie costume.
I exist for you.
I am in your mind
as you create me.
Oh, yes.
I can feel my creation.
[giggles] I'm
getting your message.
Are you getting mine?
[wookiee talk]
In what world, planet,
galaxy, in any time,
has anybody ever
wanted their grandpa
to enjoy porn in the
middle of the living room?
That's the least believable
thing in a holiday special.
We are excited, aren't we?
Well, just relax.
Just relax.
It's him watching humans or
aliens that are not Wookiees.
And we had to be careful--
I remember this-- not to make
it too racy for the grandfather
with Diane.
You know, I didn't have
approval of anything,
but that just seemed wrong.
But I didn't see that
when I was a kid.
All I saw was, why isn't
Han Solo on the screen?
Why can't we see
the real Chewie?
Chewie's family sucks!
Now, we can have a good time.
Can't we?
And it's cringe-worthy.
Because as he sits there
and rewinds, and replays,
and rewinds, and replays.
I find you adorable.
I find you adorable.
I find you adorable.
And then goes into a song
that Itchy enjoys thoroughly.
(SINGING) This minute now.
This minute now.
This minute now.
This minute now.
This minute now.
This minute now.
This minute now.
This minute now.
This was not made for children.
Whoever the creative team was in
charge of the Star Wars Holiday
Special has zero time for
children's entertainment.
They're like, uh, uh, uh,
I saw that Star Wars movie,
and there wasn't enough
VR Wookiee porn for me.
[wookiee talk]
Where's Chewbacca?
[wookiee talk]
When you were on the
Wookiee home planet,
how did you even understand
what they were saying?
I don't remember ever being
on a Wookiee home planet.
Actually, Luke was on the
Wookiee home planet Kashyyyk
in the Holiday
Special when he helped
Chewie get home to his wife.
Chewie had a wife?
Her name is Malla.
Come on, Malla.
Let's see a little smile.
Come on.
Mark Hamill's makeup
in the holiday special
rivals Huey Lewis's makeup in
the "Do You Believe in Love"
We always thought it was because
Mark Hamill was covering up
a scar, like the plastic
surgery didn't heal.
And that's why they added
that wampa capture scene,
because they needed to
show why Luke Skywalker had
a scar on his face.
Now, decades pass.
We find out that
that's not true at all.
But that really wasn't
the main emphasis
of why we wrote the
monster in the beginning.
It was just we needed something
to kind of keep the film
suspenseful at the beginning
while the empire is
finding them.
But the truth is,
it's just bad makeup.
These are Tony producers
making this special.
They are used to caking on
the makeup for musicals,
for stage performances.
Also, you have to
remember the degradation
of each copy of the holiday
special gets worse and worse
and worse, which means
the coloring is not
going to be corrected.
Over the period of
years, it's built up
into having my
face reconstructed
with plastic surgery.
George told us that
he had 10 stories
that he had come
up with, and he was
planning on making six movies.
And he had four other
stories that he was
putting in different places.
And one of them was Boba
Fett, but he hadn't quite
figured out what Boba Fett's
story was going to be.
So he took his
pilot version of it
and made it an animated thing
and was going to inserted it
into this special.
They were doing this
holiday special,
and there wasn't much
of our involvement,
but I came up with the idea,
why don't we take the Boba Fett
character and put him in that.
Make a little movie out of it.
I am Boba Fett.
Follow me, friend.
After Return of the Jedi,
all the Tim Zahn novels,
all the Dark Horse comics,
like all of this content
came out about how
awesome Boba Fett was.
But it all starts
with that animation
in the holiday special.
The animated bit,
which I think was
done by Nelvana, which is
a Canadian company that
eventually did the Droids
and Ewoks TV series.
George had seen a special that
we did called Cosmic Christmas
and really liked it.
And so, when he was working
with David Acomba, who
was a mutual friend,
you know, David
had suggested that we might be
good for the Star Wars special.
That was how the
relationship all started.
So the cartoon that's contained
within the holiday special
is this kind of short,
10 or 11-minute cartoon,
subtitled "The
Faithful Wookiee."
And it's the story
about how the rebels are
looking for Han Solo and
Chewbacca who have disappeared.
They find them, and they've
been affected by this sleeping
virus that only affects humans.
And as soon as they discover
it, Luke gets infected.
And then it's up to
Chewbacca and the droids
to try and rescue them.
And it was written by George.
And I loved the
roughness of Star Wars.
I loved the fact that everything
was beaten up and lived in.
We wanted to get that
kind of real world quality
into the animation too and
not make it too pristine.
It was a little bit
loosely based on Moebius.
George wanted the
style of Moebius,
who was a famous science
fiction Illustrator.
And so, that was the
inspiration for the style
of the characters.
That style of animation,
that like nearly rotoscoped,
everything that was vogue
in animation in that era,
it was that applied
to Star Wars.
But it was crazy.
Like, this was-- there's
nothing like it, that animated
To me, to this day,
even if I don't--
I know what the
holiday special is.
I know it's crazy
and kind of a mess.
But I still point to
that animated bit and go,
this is crazy.
Like, this is just vibrant.
But I love the introduction
of Boba Fett and that rifle
that he had.
That animated piece
still holds up.
It's pretty cool.
And I draw
inspiration from that.
Jon Favreau has declared himself
a fan of the Star Wars Holiday
Special and he made
a concerted effort
to put lots of little Easter
eggs and little references
to the holiday special
throughout The Mandalorian.
Because we all ordered
the Boba Fett figure
by sending in our
proofs of purchase
from the back of the package,
and we got this figure
before he ever
appeared on screen.
You could get Boba Fett in the
mail before the movie came out.
So at the time,
the action figure
Boba Fett was supposed to have
a little rocket that fired out
of the jetpack.
But there were a
lot of safety issues
at the time with a lot of toys
that came out then that had
that rocket-firing feature.
And so, they never
made it that way.
His toy is so badass,
it might kill me.
They had to include
the rocket in.
And so, a generation of
kids were like, whoa,
who is this guy?
And the only time
we'd seen him was
in the holiday special,
which you know well
because you put the gun in.
So the forked rifle that
the Mandalorian carries
is a direct reference
to the holiday special,
because Boba Fett does not have
that weapon when he appears
in The Empire Strikes Back.
So it's not in
any of the movies.
It's only in the Star
Wars Holiday Special.
I remember when you were all
proud when George came to set.
Did you see the gun we have?
Do you know that
was a homage too.
That cannon, right?
Because you wrote it.
Not really.
You said, hey, we put that gun
in from the holiday special.
And he goes, oh, I had
nothing to do with that.
One thing people love to talk
about in terms of Chewbacca's
role and how important he
was at the end of Star Wars,
and how important
he may have even
been seen by the filmmakers
at the end of Star Wars,
is that you give
Han Solo a medal,
and you give Luke
Skywalker a medal,
but Chewbacca only gets
a chance to stand up
on the platform and roar
at the end of Star Wars.
There was a question--
why didn't Chewbacca
get a medal at the
end of Star Wars?
And George's answer
to that was Wookiees
don't want-- he
didn't want a medal.
But his reward was that
Han would take them
back to his home planet
for Life Day celebration.
So on the very last day
of shooting, from day one
when I arrived at
Warner Brothers,
I was curious how we
were going to approach
shooting the finale, which
has not only the original
cast from Star Wars I the movie,
but also about 100 extras.
They saved all this
money by not having
to suit them by just dressing
them in these robes--
these honorary Life Day robes.
And they're all parading through
while Carrie sings her song.
And that song that I sing--
(SINGING) We celebrate
a day of peace.
(SINGING) --a day of harmony.
She wasn't-- she
wasn't a great singer.
But the song was apparently
the deciding factor
in getting her onto the show.
Just the set itself
looked so fake.
You know?
Film is very
forgiving, especially
if it's lit properly.
But this just looked so cheesy.
I called my art director in.
What's the set for
the big finale?
And he looked at me straight
in the eye, and he said,
Steve, I hate to break it to
you, but we're out of money.
We have no set for the finale.
I want you to go into
Hollywood, go to every candle
store you can find,
and buy every candle
they have in their shop.
So the night before we
actually shot the finale,
we placed fat candles,
thin candles, tall candles,
short candles all over
the floor of the stage.
And we spent the morning of
the actual shoot lighting
all of these candles.
The end of this
movie is basically
like the Heaven's Gate cult
occurs to the Wookiee family.
(LAUGHING) Like, they all--
Like, they start singing a song,
they hold up their light orbs,
and clearly they die and
ascend to a new realm
where they enter the tail
of the Hale-Bopp comet.
I think that's what it--
I think that's what's happening.
The line producers of the
Star Wars Holiday Special
were Ken and Mitzie Welch.
They admittedly came
to me and said, hey,
we've never produced
anything like this.
Miki was the point person
between Lucasfilm, and CBS,
and the production
company, Smith-Hemion,
that was actually
making the special.
We couldn't tell
them what to do.
I mean, that was their project,
their show, and they didn't--
it was, like, out of control.
I told Gary if I came in
to direct and help put
the fire out, the one thing
I would not be available
was I had a show to go to,
I was already committed to.
I would not be able to
participate in one day or one
second of editing.
But we weren't in--
you have to understand,
we weren't in the
loop at that point.
I mean, at that point, it was
Ken and Mitzie Welch's show.
Ken and Mitzie were
variety show producers,
but they didn't know anything
about science fiction,
and they didn't
know how to edit.
I had never edited
anything in my life.
You know?
I write.
I'll never forget this--
I saw all of those tapes, and I
thought, what am I going to do?
And I do remember,
I burst into tears.
I have never ever not edited any
of my shows other than the Star
Wars Holiday Special.
And to this day, I regret it.
I'm sorry I wasn't there.
Because I knew it would
fall on Mitzie and Ken,
and I knew they had
zero experience.
They were there to
get the show done.
It would never have
gotten done otherwise.
But we were in contact
with George Lucas,
and he knew what
he wanted in terms
of the look and everything.
Yeah, Miki Herman.
She was our liaison with--
That's right.
She was there all
the time, every day.
And there in editing too.
And in editing, yeah.
They just left it up to
the variety show producers.
And, you know,
they regretted it.
[dramatic music]
On Friday night, blast off
to a galaxy far, far away.
It's the Star Wars
Holiday Special.
You're on.
So we would throw a
Thanksgiving for the lost
boys-- for all the people
who couldn't go home.
So that was the night before.
So the next night we all
went back and had leftovers
and watched the
Star Wars special,
which was on Friday
night of that weekend.
This is the days before the
VCR, so we couldn't tape it.
If you did not see it when
it aired, that was it.
So I had a party at
my house that night
for when the show was there.
It was catered, and it
had all of my friends,
and there were
people with trays.
I wanted to see this more
than I wanted to live.
You know, I was a
young Catholic kid,
and I was always afraid God
was going to kill me and stuff.
And I was like, oh lord, please.
Please, just don't kill me until
I see the Star Wars Christmas
And after that first
commercial, I turned it off,
and I said, OK,
everybody, let's eat.
You know?
I had no idea what
it had become.
And it was great.
I mean, they loved me Bea,
and they loved Harvey,
and they loved all of that.
They loved all the
crap, of course.
All the camp stuff they loved.
But what wasn't
camp in that show?
It just seemed so
weird even at the time.
And when it came out, it
was like, oh my god, this
is what they did for
the holiday special?
They made the mistake of farming
it out I think was the problem.
They farmed it
out to people that
were used to doing Perry
Como and Bob Hope specials.
And it shows.
I noticed that a lot of people
who write me and make comments
about the Star Wars
Holiday Special say,
I was five years old
when I watched it.
I was 10 years old
when I watched it.
They have a whole different
perspective of it.
Because they usually
add, "And I loved it."
From what I remember as a kid,
the Star Wars Holiday Special
was tremendous.
I was super excited.
I was over anxious,
simply because something
from the Star Wars world was
going to be on television.
We're starving, as fans,
for anything Star Wars.
Other than the movie,
that's the only other thing
that I saw that had Harrison
Ford in it or on it at all.
I'll take anything.
I don't care if they're
going to juggle, sing, dance.
And all the kids talked
about it at school
the next day and so forth.
And then everybody promptly
forgot about it after that.
A sinking feeling came
in, where I was like,
oh, this isn't going to be
as good as I'd hoped it.
In a weird way, it
was a prep for what
I would experience decades
later with the prequels,
where I sat down, could
not have been more excited,
could not have been
more jazzed, and then
it took time, as I was watching
it, to realize like something's
I think with probably like
the plague in the Middle Ages,
after everybody died, they
decided to change the subject.
So I don't remember people
talking about it much.
[mysterious music]
It's like one of those
Mandela effect things,
where for a long time
a bunch of people
didn't even know the Star Wars
Christmas special existed.
As the internet grew,
it became this sort
of like talking point.
Are you a Star Wars fan?
Do you know about
the holiday special?
Now, I know you're
a Star Wars fan.
But this really showed a
different level of commitment.
Like, most casual
Star Wars fans don't
know about the holiday special.
And so, all of a sudden,
it kind of surfaced.
And that was when he
tried to really bury it.
You tell somebody you
can't have something,
they want it even more.
So I got the Star
Wars Holiday Special
on a VHS tape,
sixth-generation copy.
That would have been
valuable currency
to a prototypical
nerd, Star Wars fan.
Years later, when I first
interviewed George Lucas,
and we finished the main part
of the interview, and I said,
I've got another
question for you.
What about the holiday special?
And he said, "Oh,
that damn thing."
He said, "If I could
personally go out and find
all of the bootleg VHS tapes,
I would smash them all."
And I told that anecdote at
a convention in Australia.
That sort of went
around the world.
George Lucas wishes there
were never a holiday special,
and he would smash
all the tapes.
I take some pride in having
started that anecdote,
and I got it right
from the horse's mouth.
In a way, the fact
that Lucas has
spent so much time
denying it makes it
more popular for some people.
Because it seems
like it's something
they shouldn't see or can't see.
[dramatic music]
George didn't say anything
during production.
Because, again he had moved
away to work on other things.
I blame-- not blame.
That's the wrong word.
Lucas-- when Lucas walked away,
he said, do whatever you want.
And then he got upset because
we did whatever we wanted.
He knew it wasn't
going to be wonderful.
And really, I don't
think he saw it
until about the same
time we all did.
And he immediately hated it.
Because I'm bold with
George when we're having
conversations, and I asked him.
And I was like, "Oh,
man, what did you--
how did you feel when
you saw the first cut?"
And he was like, "Well,
I did ask if there was
a way that we couldn't air it.
Did it have to air?"
But it was a lot of
money, and it had to air.
To this day, I've
never met George Lucas.
All I heard was he tried
to buy the negatives
and never ever showed
this again after it aired.
I don't blame anybody, but he
is the only person who really
could have controlled it.
You know, all the
Star Wars actors
were in this thing playing the
roles that they made famous
a year earlier.
And now, the guy who
created those roles
for them, George Lucas,
says, eh, I'm not
really associated with this.
I have my name on all
the good things I've done
and all the bad
things I've done.
But maybe if I could have taken
my name off of the bad things
I would have.
George, to be fair,
hasn't been out there
going, like, I hate
the Christmas special.
It's not like he's
lamenting it loudly.
But it's very-- he's made
it clear over the years
that he ain't into this.
I think, at the time, when the
holiday special was broadcast,
it was not considered to
be a big failure or giant
anomaly that it is
considered to be today.
I don't know for
sure, but I certainly
didn't hear from
anybody that there
was any fallout from the
show, that anybody was fired.
I think life just
went on at Lucasfilm.
The whole purpose of this
show was to sell toys to kids.
There were also going to be
action figures of the Wookiee
We only know of one set of
the prototype Wookiee action
figures that Kenner was
maybe going to make.
But there were the
four action figures--
Itchy, Chewbacca,
Mallatobuck, and Lumpy.
So clearly, somebody
thought that there
was money to be made in doing
merchandise based on the Star
Wars Holiday Special.
But that never happened.
When something is
that huge, people
can't control, as hard
as they do, the way it's
going to be marketed.
An advertising series
in Japan for Panasonic,
between 1989 and 1993, and
they used George Lucas and all
of the characters in Star Wars.
And I saw the contract.
There was a series of penalties
if any of these commercials
showed in the US.
And in terms of embarrassment
to the franchise,
I remember a commercial where
Darth Vader was fighting
with a lightsaber, and
then it shorted out,
and he opened up the hilt
and the batteries were dead.
Energizer bunny, like, goes
cymballing through the frame.
And I was like, there goes the
dignity of the great Sith Lord.
You can see the awful
George Lucas Super Live
Adventure in seven
parts from Japan
from 1993 on the internet.
And it's like a stage show.
And it covered not only like
Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
I mean, I think it
was covering Tucker,
and it's covering everything
that Lucas has done.
That was all singing, all
dancing stormtroopers.
I mean, you know,
give me a break.
It's just (LAUGHING) the machine
is just going to take over.
And it's like, why not
make a holiday special?
And at that time, I have
a feeling that George just
either he was too busy, or
he didn't fully understand
the changes that were happening,
or maybe just figured this is
a variety show, who
cares. (LAUGHS) You know?
A lot of people came into
watching it thinking, oh,
we're going to get a
TV sequel to Star Wars.
It's going to be a science
fiction adventure show
and stuff like that?
And that's never what it was.
It was a variety show.
It's easy to poke fun
at stuff after the fact,
and question how it happened,
and sort of make fun of it.
It's cliche, at this point, to
crap on the Star Wars Holiday
It really is.
Everybody, without even having
sat through the entire thing,
just instantly
it's a punch line.
The legacy of the Star
Wars Holiday Special
is in how it impacted
all of us fans.
And as people continue
to create for Star Wars,
they'll keep on adding
these Easter eggs in.
You'll keep on seeing
things in the background--
these callbacks, these little
things that tip the hat to you,
the viewer, that this
is made by someone
who truly loves Star Wars.
Together we will
rule the galaxy--
Cut, cut, cut.
I quit.
This is the holiday
special all over again.
The Glee Holiday Spectacular.
Our first ever, live-action
holiday special.
What is it, Star Wars Christmas?
No, don't be ridiculous.
That's Wookiee Life Day.
I've got you now.
[wookiee talk]
Yeah, I was hoping to
be free for Life Day.
I love these connective tissues.
I love the fact that
we've taken Life Day,
and we said, no, November
17, the day the special was
released, is now Life Day.
So on Earth, in the Disney
Parks, in the world,
we celebrate it.
As much as Lucasfilm might
not want to acknowledge its
existence, we've seen
it infiltrate Disney+.
We've seen merchandise all
over the theme parks themed
around Life Day.
No one's talking about the
holiday special directly,
but we are, as a fandom,
embracing Life Day.
Maybe this could mean, down
the road, at some point,
they might release the
entire holiday special.
Who knows?
I think he should embrace it.
I mean, like, it's not his
fault. He didn't do it--
I don't think.
And am I going to
stand on a soapbox
and proclaim that this is canon?
But it's really interesting,
and it's really fun.
The Star Wars special is
kind of an anomaly for fans,
because it was kind
of the one big thing
that Lucasfilm did before it
got its act together and got
its system together to make
sure that things like this
never happened again.
It's just a curiosity.
I mean, the Star Wars
universe is so different now.
As much as I, as
a fan, would love
to have a nice, pristine copy of
the Star Wars Holiday Special,
I understand why he
probably wouldn't want
to put that out in the world.
You know, it may not be, like,
our favorite part of the Star
Wars mythos, but
it has its place.
It's an important part
of Star Wars history.
Star Wars fans are
collectors, right?
So it does have, built into
it, more than any film or TV
show made for Star Wars,
this exclusive collectibility
element of it.
I don't think Disney+
should put it out.
Part of the thing that
makes it so wonderful
is that it still has
that bootleg feel to it.
I think it's actually surprising
that Lucasfilm and Disney
haven't released the holiday
special in some format.
Why let the bootlegs
run the show?
They should actually have
an official release of it.
Let the audience discover it.
And when they discover
it, it means more.
Here's the one way
they should release it.
They should let George
Lucas have it and then put
all the crazy--
just let him George
Lucas the hell out of it.
I would love to do--
someday, maybe on Disney+,
we'll do a holiday special too.
Do you think we'll ever see
another Star Wars holiday
Not if I have anything
to say about it.
Maybe there's a
version that none of us
can imagine that
would be genius.
Wouldn't that be wonderful?
Oh, that'd be insane.
I got to pitch that to them.
We'll see.
If you want to see a holiday
special, let Disney+ know.
Wow, you heard it here first.
I also believe that George
Lucas is, at his heart,
an experimental
filmmaker, and he
wants to make things that
are weird and different.
And the holiday special is that.
The greatest crime of the Star
Wars Christmas and/or Holiday
Special is that it
ain't Star Wars.
But to be fair, what is?
At this point, George
Lucas is probably
like, you know what,
it's been out there.
I've moved on.
It's a thing that happened.
But if Star Wars Holiday
Special kind of sneaks in there,
I don't think he cares anymore.
Though, I don't think
he'd want another one.
[triumphant music]
George once asked us, please,
never mention it again.
And I said, George,
we should own that.
Because it shows that
everybody's fallible.
Everybody makes mistakes.
When you work in any
project, you fall in love.
What else are you going to do?
I have worked on shows
that were really popular
and shows that were horrible,
and I didn't work any more
or less hard on any of them.
[blues piano]
Every filmmaker has to
grapple with not everything is
going to be a hit.
There is no being an
artist without failure.
There just-- there is no being
an artist without failure.
Time has a real
amazing way of allowing
you to embrace the past.
It's a very
difficult place to be
an artist on the public
stage making movies.
Because everybody
is watching you,
and many people are
rooting for you to fail.
All my life, since the Donny
and Marie Show was created,
I've wanted nothing
to do with it.
If you look at other
franchises, they
would die to have the
fan base of Star Wars.
It's crazy.
Like, Star Trek would love
to have what Star Wars has.
They don't have
anything like it.
Nobody does.
When you have a bunch of
people that love something
and take it into their
hearts, they claim it.
And when these things don't
behave the way we want them to,
well, it seems like we've
become a culture that doesn't
know how to handle that.
Watch the good stuff, and
either ignore the bad stuff
or delight in the
bad stuff ironically.
I have learned to embrace it.
I've learned to say, you know,
I'm not embarrassed about it
as much.
You know, I did the best
I could at the time.
That's what was popular.
That's what people were
buying and watching,
and it was appropriate
for the day.
I think failure defines people
sometimes more than success.
I think failure is one
of the great motivators.
The Star Wars Holiday Special
led to stuff like Andor.
That all of that failure
is part of that process.
Someway, somewhere,
somehow, somebody
is going to make fun of you.
Don't let it bother you.
Move ahead.
Be an artist.
Sometimes the magic
happens, and sometimes it's
the Star Wars Holiday Special.
[upbeat music]
There was a new flash in
between the commercials,
and the bootleg had all
the commercials from 1978.
And that was
actually-- eventually,
that became part of the charm.
They've become
part of this movie.
And the anchor is
the funniest part is.
Because he's just
there, and he's like
fighting the frizzies.
You know, tonight at 11:00.
Fighting the frizzies at 11:00.
I've been surreptitiously
made a cult figure,
whether I wanted to or not.
And then they parodied
that on South Park.
And now, fighting the frizzies.
Why are they doing this?
Why the parody?
Nobody remembers the serious
things and the profound things
that I did in my
career, but they all
remember fighting the
frizzies at 11:00.
[music continues]