‘Star Wars Holiday Special’ director defends legendary TV disaster: ‘I had a great time filming’

For 45 years, Star Wars Holiday Special already this The poster child for franchise mismanagement. George Lucas has only himself to blame.Satisfied On the global success of his industry-changing 1977 blockbusterthis Star Wars The infamous two-hour variety show starred Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, as well as actors from Bea Arthur to Harvey Curated by many famous comedians and musicians such as Harvey Korman.

It might have – heck, it should has become a new Christmas classic.but Star Wars The believers immediately had a bad feeling Holiday Specials, which aired once, and only once, on the evening of November 17, 1978, on CBS. It remains a painful memory for the actors. Interviewed by Yahoo Entertainment in 2015 before the show was released The Force AwakensWhen the subject of the special was brought up, both Ford and Fisher reacted with genuine (not feigned) fear.

“It’s bad…in a good way, it’s not bad,” Fisher said. Ford was even harsher in his assessment of the show.When asked if he hoped we’d see another attempt Holiday Specials”, he replied: “Not if I have anything to say about it! If I had anything to say about it, you wouldn’t have seen the first one. How embarrassing.

But there’s one man willing to defend it Holiday Specials For the record — pioneering television director Steve Binder. The man behind the Elvis Presley classic in a 2018 interview with Yahoo Entertainment ’68 Comeback Special “I have nothing but fond memories of being part of a legendary television disaster.” ”

And, for the record, Binder has his own explanation for why the show was such a critical flop during its initial run. “The public never knew it wasn’t Star Wars II,” He pointed out, “This is a TV show that Lucas sold to CBS to sell toys to kids, nothing more. Everyone watching without knowing it thought it was an expensive movie. movie! But Lucas made a deal with Hasbro, “I wanted to sell merchandise on national television, that’s what the show was all about. The public never knows about any of this – it’s done behind the scenes. “

Binder was actually a last-minute replacement for the special’s original director, David Acomba, who only shot a few scenes, including a musical number with the band Jefferson Starship snippet, and then jumped into the nearest escape pod. While on the ship, CBS contacted Binder. “When I got the call, they had already started production and shut it down because they had spent all the budget and only shot a quarter of the show,” he recalled. “So I came in as a firefighter. I got the script on Friday and started shooting on Monday.”

From the beginning of his involvement, the director knew he would have little creative control over the film’s content. Holiday Specials, which was set by Lucas. The loose storyline involves Han and Chewbacca trying to return to the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk in time to celebrate Life Day. This requires them to outsmart Darth Vader (also voiced by James Earl Jones) and the Imperial forces. Meanwhile, back on Kashyyyk, Chewie’s wife prepared a Life’s Day feast, while their son Lumpy passed the time watching a cartoon in which his father and Han battled their would-be enemies— — Bounty hunter Boba Fett joins forces.

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Carrie Fisher and Anthony Daniels in Notorious Star Wars Holiday Special (CBS via Getty Images)

Despite some concerns about the material, Binder accepted the job. “When I saw the script, I saw that the first 10 minutes of Chewbacca’s family were only subtitled. I thought, ‘Uh oh, we’re going to be in trouble.’ “But at the time I had no say in changing anything — I just Can get it on film.” As he predicted, the lengthy, dialogue-less sequence with Chewie’s extended family remains the most derided part of the entire film. Holiday Specials – Difficult to photograph.

“There was this fantastic Chewbacca House set on this huge Warner Bros. stage, but I realized it was 360! So I immediately had them break through one of the walls so we could put multiple The camera was put into the set. The Wookiees themselves also had to be on oxygen every hour on the hour; I think we had to shut down for at least 10 of the 15 minutes every hour so they could get oxygen. [played Lumpy] Came in weighing about 60 pounds and due to the costume and heat I think she left weighing about 40 pounds. “

On screen, Fisher, Ford and Hamill often seemed less than excited to be part of the group. Holiday Specials(Also, they don’t seem very present in some scenes, especially Fisher, who is open about her drug use at her height Star Wars Behind the scenes, however, Binder insisted they were easy to work with.

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Art Carney and Chewbacca’s child Lumpy on set Star Wars Holiday Special (CBS via Getty Images)

“Harrison Ford and I are very close – we have great conversations on set. I’ve never seen anyone complain when it’s their turn to shoot; they’re all ready and willing to do it.” In fact, some Guest Star “Art Carney was great, but after lunch I knew I couldn’t do any more of his scenes because he would be eating up at local restaurants and bars. When he came back, I had no time to waste getting him to go shoot !”

The special ends with Chewbacca happily reunited with his family around the Tree of Life, while Leia sings a sweet Life’s Day ballad. But the atmosphere in Lucas’ home is quite dark.Filmmakers don’t like this Holiday Specials So much so that he immediately withdrew it from circulation and Star Wars until today, Star Wars Holiday Special Remains legally in the Lucasfilm vaults. However, pirated copies are everywhere online and at conventions, with a new generation of Star Wars fans eager to add them to their collections. So does Binder, for that matter.

“I’d love to have a Blu-ray version of it,” he laughs. “It’s been pirated everywhere, but I’ve never seen anything like the quality we shot. There’s a whole fan club that still has a lot of people to this day. Watched it and loved it. I’m proud of it too. Contrary to popular belief, I had a great time doing it and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.”

Star Wars Holiday Special Can be found on YouTube.

This article was originally published on November 16, 2018. Now updated.

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