(Feature Documentary, Work in Progress)
In 1977, STAR WARS became a cultural phenomenon that redefined how studios selected and marketed big-budget spectacles.
Movies would never be the same again. A year later, turns out neither would television.
The STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL aired on November 17th, 1978 and was watched by 13 million people on CBS. It is often considered the single worst piece of media within the Star Wars franchise if not all of television production. To date, Lucasfilm has never officially released it outside of its original broadcast, yet it has become a cult favorite among fans over the decades.
Initially the driving force behind the Holiday Special was to keep the property viable and licensed merchandise, namely toys being available for the first time during Christmas, moving off the shelves until THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was released over a year later in 1980.
No expense was spared with a $4MM budget (adjusted for inflation) to bring on top-tier talent both in front and behind the camera. This included Smith & Hemion (the gold standard of tv specials), Steve Binder (director of ELVIS PRESELY COMEBACK SPECIAL), Ken & Mitzi Welch (THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW), and TV legends Bea Arthur, Art Carney, and Harvey Korman. The special was also given the film’s stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford, who had all been contractually obligated to appear in the special.
In reality, the story as to how and why the SWHS happened is more complex and has never been fully explored and told…until now.