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Holiday Special > Text > FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

The Star Wars Holiday Special Frequently Asked Questions
by
Edited by SKot Kirkwood
Last updated: 06/12/05

This is a list of frequently asked questions about the infamous 1978 special.

If you have a question about the Star Wars Holiday Special that this FAQ doesn't answer, you can ask us, and we will either answer it (if we can), or try to find the answer.


Topics covered:

1. What is the Star Wars Holiday Special?

a. When did it air in the United States?
b. Did it air outside of the United States?
c. Is this that old TV movie with the Ewoks?
d. Is this that old TV movie with the Wookiees?
e. Is this show related in any way to the Star Wars album “Christmas in the Stars”?

2. Is the title “The Star Wars Holiday Special” or “The Star Wars Christmas Special”?

3. Who made the Star Wars Holiday Special?

4. Who owns the rights to the Star Wars Holiday Special?

5. Whose idea was it to make the Star Wars Holiday Special?

6. Does the Star Wars Holiday Special have ANYTHING to do with Christmas?

7. Where can I see the Star Wars Holiday Special?

a. How can I forget that I saw the Star Wars Holiday Special?

8. Where can I buy the Star Wars Holiday Special?

a. Has it been released on video officially? Why not?
b. How much should I pay for a copy of the Star Wars Holiday Special?
c. What is the average quality of a bootleg copy of the Star Wars Holiday Special?
d. What's the story behind the “remastered” version of the Star Wars Holiday Special?
e. I really want to see this officially released or re-aired, what can I do?

9. Is there a longer version of the Boba Fett cartoon than that which was included in the Star Wars Holiday Special?

a. Was the cartoon made specifically for the Star Wars Holiday Special, or was it intended to be a featurette or a pilot for a cartoon series?

10. What song did the Jefferson Starship perform in the special? Have they released the song on any of their albums?

11. What scenes in the Holiday Special were outtakes from Star Wars: A New Hope?

12. What is the name of Chewbacca’s homeworld?

13. Is the Wookiee planet in the Star Wars Holiday Special the same one in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith?

14. Did any of the Star Wars Holiday Special characters appear in any other Star Wars books/comics/movies/etc?

15. Has any footage from the Star Wars Holiday Special been released by Lucasfilm since the special originally aired?

16. Was there any merchandise made in association with the Star Wars Holiday Special?

17. How involved was George Lucas with this project?

a. What does George Lucas think of the special?
b. Did George Lucas really destroy all of the negatives of the Star Wars Holiday Special?

18. Did the Star Wars Holiday Special really get mentioned in an episode of South Park?

19. Where can I learn more about the Star Wars Holiday Special?

20. Are there people who actually LIKE this show?

21. Why would anyone make such a thing?


1. What is the Star Wars Holiday Special?

The Star Wars Holiday Special was a CBS special made by Smith-Hemion Productions in 1978 that starred all of the main Star Wars: A New Hope cast members (excluding Sir Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing), all portraying their respective characters, as well as other celebrities such as Art Carney, Harvey Korman, Bea Arthur, Diahann Carroll, and the Jefferson Starship. The special also included an animated cartoon by Nelvana that featured the first appearance of Boba Fett.

1a. When did it air in the United States?

It aired once on November 17, 1978.

1b. Did it air outside the United States?

Yes, it reportedly aired in:

Canada in 1978 on November 17, 1978 (the same day of the US airing, most likely on channel CTV, since a black and white still from the show has that channel’s logo on it)

Mexico in December 1978 on Televisa XHGC Channel 5

Argentina around Christmas 1978

France (dubbed in French, under the name "Au Temps de la Guerre des Etoiles" which means "In the Time of Star Wars")

New Zealand sometime in 1979

Belgium in 1979 and/or 1980 (in English, with Dutch subtitles)

Australia in 1980 or 1981, and also in 1982 or 1983 on the WIN Network

Malaysia in late January/early February 1981 or 1982 (in English, with no subtitles)

Sweden on May 31, 1979 on SVT TV 2 (in English, under the name "Stjärnornas Krig Och Fred", with Swedish subtitles).

It most assuredly aired in other countries too (I don’t have a list, the ones mentioned were told to me by people from those countries who saw it when it aired).

1c. Is this that old TV movie with the Ewoks?

No, the two television specials with the Ewoks were "The Ewok Adventure: Caravan of Courage" (1984) and "Ewoks: The Battle for Endor" (1985). Both specials aired originally on ABC and were available officially on home video and laserdisc, and now on DVD. They used to frequently air on the Disney Channel. For more information about "Ewoks: The Battle for Endor" check out Michael Streeter's page at http://www.lucasfan.com/swtv/bfe.html.

1d. Is this that old TV movie with the Wookiees?

Yes. It featured Chewbacca's family: his wife Malla, son Lumpy, and father Itchy and their homeworld.

1e. Is this show related in any way to the Star Wars album “Christmas in the Stars”?

No. “Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album” was produced by Meco Manardo, who recorded the infamous disco version of Star Wars, with Anthony Daniels voicing C-3PO and Ben Burtt providing the sounds for R2-D2 and Chewbacca. The album was recorded in 1980, two years after the Holiday Special aired, and has no connections to it whatsoever other than the fact that they were both marketed in conjunction with the holiday season. Of interesting note, Jon Bon Jovi makes his first appearence on this record (he’s credited as John Bongiovi).


2. Is the title “The Star Wars Holiday Special” or “The Star Wars Christmas Special”?

The correct title is “The Star Wars Holiday Special”, though it is often mislabelled “The Star Wars Christmas Special”. Even George Lucas once called it that. It has also been called “A Very Wookiee Christmas” and “A Wookiee Holiday”.

In France, the official title was "Au Temps de la Guerre des Etoiles" which means "In the Time of Star Wars".

In Sweden, the official title was "Stjärnornas Krig Och Fred" which literally means "Stars War and Peace".


3. Who made the Star Wars Holiday Special?

The Star Wars Holiday Special was made by Smith-Hemion Productions, who produced the Tony Awards for a long time. The majority of it was directed by Steve Binder, who went on to produce the hit children's Saturday morning program "PeeWee's Playhouse" for CBS. The original director, David Acomba (a friend of George Lucas' from college), directed the Cantina sequence, but left the show because of differences with some of the producers. It was produced by Gary Smith (executive), Dwight Hemion (executive), Ken Welch, Mitzie Welch, Joe Layton, Rita Scott, and Monroe Carol.


4. Who owns the rights to the Star Wars Holiday Special?

Lucasfilm LTD owns the exclusive rights. Though 20th Century Fox originally registered the copyrights in 1978, all rights were transferred to Lucasfilm on May 26, 1989 (at least that’s when it was recorded, the transfer actually took effect on September 1, 1981).


5. Whose idea was it to make the Star Wars Holiday Special?

No one knows for sure, not even those who made it. According to Filmfax magazine No. 69-70, however, executive producer Gary Smith believes that 20th Century Fox came up with the idea as a good way of promoting and profiting from Star Wars.


6. Does the Star Wars Holiday Special have ANYTHING to do with Christmas?

Well, a few allusions are made to Christmas in the Life Day holiday that is celebrated, such as gift giving, ornaments, etc, but that is all. Christmas itself is not mentioned at all, which makes sense since it is an earthly holiday. The show actually aired closer to Thanksgiving so it that may be the holiday which Life Day is most supposed to resemble.


7. Where can I see the Star Wars Holiday Special?

As mentioned above, the special will probably NEVER air again and is not available on video or DVD (officially, anyway), so your choices are limited. You can obtain a copy of the special somehow from someone who recorded it when it aired twenty years ago (or, more likely, a copy of someone's copy, of someone's copy, etc). The internet is the best place to look. Copies of the special are frequently sold on eBay, despite the questionable legality of it. It is also often shown at science fiction conventions and I've heard of a few video rental outlets in the United States that have it available.

7a. How can I forget that I saw the Star Wars Holiday Special?

Therapy. Warning: The more you watch it, the more it grows on you. You may want to avoid frequent viewings.


8. Where can I buy the Star Wars Holiday Special?

If you REALLY want to buy it, bootleg DVD’s and videocassettes are sold at science fiction conventions pretty frequently and I've heard of a few video stores in the United States selling them (note: they would not be found at Suncoast Motion Picture Company, Blockbuster video, or any other chain stores). As mentioned before, they are almost always being sold on eBay and other places on the net. The Usenet newsgroup alt.video.tape-trading would be a good place to look for a copy, if you wish to trade for one.

A quick note: I don't promote buying a copy of the Star Wars Holiday Special at all; this is only for informative purposes.

8a. Has it been released on video officially? Why not?

It has not because George Lucas reportedly hates it and wishes that all copies would be destroyed.

8b. How much should I pay for a copy of the Star Wars Holiday Special?

Well, most people who have seen the special would agree that about zero (0) dollars would be a fair price. Seriously, if you look hard enough you can find someone on the internet who will make you a copy for the cost of the medium plus shipping. I certainly would not advise paying any more than $10 for it, and you can probably find it cheaper than that on the internet if you look hard enough. Again, I am not promoting purchasing the special in any way.

8c. What is the average quality of a bootleg copy of the Star Wars Holiday Special?

In the past, from what I've heard, most of the bootlegs were pretty poor. With more copies being sold on DVD on eBay, however, more and more often people are using better quality copies as their master source, resulting in an overall improvement in quality over the bootleg market from a few years ago. However, there are still a lot of poor quality bootlegs out there being sold, so be careful.

8d. What's the story behind the remastered version of the Star Wars Holiday Special?

A few yeas ago, there were several copies of the Star Wars Holiday Special being sold on the internet that were said to be “remastered”. In all actuality, a truly “remastered” version of the special could not exist unless one had access to the original masters; however, the claim was that this copy had been a professionally cleaned-up version of a first generation recording of the show. Whether or not this was the case, it was the best quality copy offered on the bootleg market when it came out. Although it’s not absolutely certain where it originated, the “remastered” tapes seem to come from one source: a seller who claims to have had his original first generation copy remastered by a friend in the video business who placed the video images into a computer and cleaned up all of the drop-outs and glitches and then transferred them back onto a videotape. It is not certain that all of the copies being sold as “remastered” are from the same source.

8e. I really want to see this officially released or re-aired, what can I do?

There's not much you can do, except send letters to Lucasfilm letting them know you want it to come out. Here’s the address:

George Lucas
P O Box 2009
San Rafael, CA 94912

A significant number of fans would like to see this released, at least according to a survey was taken at http://www.shavenwookie.com concerning the special. It asked the question 'Should the Holiday Special be re-released?' 68.1% of the respondents said yes, 18.1% said no, and 13.8% said maybe.


9. Is there a longer version of the Boba Fett cartoon than that which was included in the Star Wars Holiday Special?

Technically, yes, there is a version of the cartoon (the actual title of it is “The Faithful Wookiee”) with a few extra seconds of footage which some video collectors have obtained (I haven't seen this so I can't say how different it is from the regular version that was part of the Star Wars Holiday Special).

9a. Was the cartoon made specifically for the Star Wars Holiday Special, or was it intended to be a featurette or a pilot for a cartoon series?

It was created specifically for the special. I was told this by someone involved with the show. According to http://www.toysrgus.com/relics/swhs/ it was original director David Acomba who had the idea of making the animated short.


10. What song did the Jefferson Starship perform in the special? Have they released the song on any of their albums?

The song they performed was titled “Light the Sky on Fire” and it was featured on their 1979 greatest hits album “Gold.” However, the recording of the song on that album is a different one than that which was included in the special. The song was also released as a single in two formats: a 12-inch and a 7-inch record. The 12-inch record contains the album version and a longer version. The longer version is most similar to the version performed in the show, though neither are exactly the same as the one in the show. The 7-inch version includes the caption: “As Seen and Heard On The CBS-TV “Star Wars” Holiday Special” on the cover. A good description of the song and the various releases can be found here:
http://www.starwarsholidayspecial.com/merchandise/jefferson_starship.htm


11. What scenes in the Holiday Special were outtakes from Star Wars: A New Hope?

Two scenes in the special were taken from the first Star Wars film’s outtakes. The first is the scene in the corridor of a Star Destroyer (which was originally supposed to be the corridor of the Death Star, but it was used to fit the Holiday Special’s story) where Darth Vader and an Imperial officer discuss the search for the rebels. Here's the dialogue as it appears in the Holiday Special:

IMPERIAL OFFICER
We've ordered a blockade, and a curfew. And
started a search operation. It's just a
matter of time before we find the rebels.

DARTH VADER
I want the rebels located and identified.
If it means searching every household in
the system.

The Vader line was specifically dubbed by James Earl Jones for use in the Holiday Special. The Imperial officer’s line closely resembles the dialogue from the film’s script. Here's the original dialogue for this scene that was cut from Star Wars: A New Hope:

COMMANDER
We've started to search the spaceport
at Mos Eisley. It's just a matter of
time before we've found the droids.

VADER
Send in more men if you have to. It's
her hope of that data being used against
us that is the pillar of her resistance to
the mind probe.

COMMANDER
Until then we must waste our time with
Governor Tarkin's foolish plan to break her.

The other scene from the Holiday Special culled from Star Wars: A New Hope’s outtakes is the clip from the “Life on Tatooine” segment showing a little person running under the legs of a tall alien (with stilt-like legs) from approaching stormtroopers. Dr. David West Reynolds mentions this scene in his review of the Lost Cut of the first Star Wars movie in his article “The Evolution of Star Wars: Exploring the Lost Cut” in the Star Wars Insider #41. The article also features a still from that scene, as well as the previously mentioned scene with Vader and the Imperial officer.


12. What is the name of Chewbacca’s homeworld?

The name of the planet used in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith as well as all Lucasfilm sources after the special aired is Kashyyyk. In the Star Wars Holiday Special it is called “Kazzook” by an Imperial officer, and spelled that way in the script as well.


13. Is the Wookiee planet in the Star Wars Holiday Special the same on in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith?

Yes it is. Despite the minor name change, the planets in both are the same. The treehouses and terrain in Revenge of the Sith are in the same style as the matte paintings by Ralph McQuarrie used in the Holiday Special.


14. Did any of the Star Wars Holiday Special characters appear in any other Star Wars books/comics/movies/etc?

Boba Fett, of course, went on to appear in the big screen Star Wars sequels The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and the prequel Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, as well as in countless other books and comic books. Chewbacca's family was in the 91st issue of the original Marvel Star Wars comic book series. They were also included in Random House's "The Wookiee Storybook," and "The Black Fleet Crisis" trilogy by Micheal P. Kube-McDowell. Malla, Chewbacca's wife, was featured in "The Han Solo" trilogy by Ann Crispin.


15. Has any footage from the Star Wars Holiday Special been released by Lucasfilm since the special originally aired?

Yes, the web documentary ‘Bucket Head’ contained a small clip of the special’s cartoon (Boba Fett actor Jeremy Bulloch even sited the special as its’ source). The documentary is featured on the second disc of the Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones DVD.


16. Was there any merchandise made in association with the Star Wars Holiday Special?

Not really, at least none that I know of. An action figure line was planned and prototypes of Chewbacca, Itchy, Malla, and Lumpy were made, but the toys did not fare well in play tests because the kids, according to former Kenner president Bernard Loomis, “didn’t like them as part of their Star Wars world”. Some may consider the aforementioned children’s book “The Wookiee Storybook” as Holiday Special merchandise, but since it wasn’t presented with “The Star Wars Holiday Special” logo, it is not considered here to be a direct marketing of the special. Postcards and glossy photos from the special have been produced, but whether or not they can be classified as “Star Wars Holiday Special” memorabilia is vague. In 1996 Lucasfilm produced two “seri-cels” of images from the cartoon portion of the Star Wars Holiday Special. They were basically copies of orginal cels the special used; however, one of them (the image of Boba Fett) was overlaid on a different background than in the original special. Seri-cels from the Droids and Ewoks animated series were also produced. This is all of the merchandise produced that I am aware of.


17. How involved was George Lucas with this project?

In Lucas’s own words “(The Star Wars Holiday Special) really didn’t have much to do with (Lucasfilm)...We kind of let (CBS) do it.”* Lucas did have some involvement, however. According to issue 69/70 of Filmfax magazine, the original story was a collaboration between Lucas and Smith-Hemion Productions. Lucas, (according to Lenny Ripps, who wrote the first draft of the special), "wanted to make a sweet and sentimental vision of a holiday season." Ripps believes the end result did not match Lucas's vision. Also Ripps notes that the initial story was conceived by Lucas. Why his name is not included in the credits is unknown (it is possible that Lucas asked for his name to be removed from the credits after seeing the final result). The Star Wars Holiday Special's original director, David Acomba, stated in that same issue of Filmfax that Lucas's involvement in the production was basically attending a couple production meetings and discussing things he did and did not want to use in the show, but the show was only given his initial attention since he was working on many other projects. Lucas was also somewhat involved with the Boba Fett cartoon. According to the Star Wars Insider issue #27 after Nelvana presented Lucas with their idea for the cartoon, Lucas helped resolve two weak parts of the story. Also, Filmfax 69/70 states that the character of Boba Fett was used in the cartoon because George Lucas liked the design of the Shock Troopers, special "Green Beret" type of Storm Troopers (designed by Joe Johnston) which were originally intended to appear in The Empire Strikes Back, but ended up being cut. The Shock Troopers' uniform was the outfit which Boba Fett wore, but all white.

*http://www.staticmultimedia.com/content/film/features/feature_1115643931

17a. What does George Lucas think of the special?

See question 8a.

17b. Did George Lucas really destroy all of the negatives of the Star Wars Holiday Special?

There was a rumor that this occurred, but it has not been supported by any evidence, and it seems quite unlikely.


18. Did the Star Wars Holiday Special really get mentioned in an episode of South Park?

Sort of. Actually, the special itself was not mentioned, but a local news bumper shown during the special on WCBS in New York (and included on many bootleg copies) was. The news anchor's statement “fighting the frizzies at eleven” was lampooned in the episode “Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics”.


19. Where can I learn more about the Star Wars Holiday Special?

http://www.starwarsholidayspecial.com is a good bet.

Michael Streeter has a very informative website dedicated to the special at http://www.lucasfan.com/swtv/index2.html.

If you are interested in other Star Wars television programs and specials his Star Wars on TV page at http://www.lucasfan.com/swtv/index.html will also interest you.

Another informative article is at http://www.tvparty.com/70starwars.html.

Also there are articles about the special in Starlog magazine #17, in the Star Wars Insider magazine #23, and in Filmfax magazine #69/70 (the Filmfax article is by far the best I know of about the special). The book "Star Wars Chronicles" by Deborah Fine and Aeon Inc. also contains material on the holiday special.


20. Are there people who actually LIKE this show?

Very few, but yes, myself included. I got a big kick out of it for some reason. I think it was the Cantina sequence with Bea Arthur.


21. Why would anyone make such a thing?

This is what 90% of the viewers ask after seeing the special for the first time. I guess they thought that a multi-armed transvestite cooking show host, an erotic Diahann Carroll machine for Wookiees, and a Cantina sing-along would bring in ratings (the ratings for the special were high, but this was probably only because it was a Star Wars related special). It seemed really silly to most people and many say that it lacks the timelessness that the Star Wars movies have. Personally, despite its many flaws, I thought it had an interesting charm (albeit, a very dated, kitschy, seventies charm) of its own.


The document is public domain. Star Wars and all related to it are
©Lucasfilm, Ltd.

If you have any comments, suggestions and/or and other information I could put on this FAQ, let me know. I am not a seller of the Star Wars Holiday Special, so please do not email me asking for copies, thank you. I'd like to thank everyone who contributed information to this faq. I’d especially like to thank Michael Streeter who has contributed greatly to this FAQ. There are many other people who’ve helped I’d like to mention: Chris Hawkins (who maintains www.shavenwookie.com), Clive Young (News Editor of Pro Sound News and Senior Editor of Replication News), SKot Kirkwood (maintainer of www.starwarsholidayspecial.com), John Martin, Gabriel D. Noel and Jason W. Ward. I know there’s several more names I lost track of who deserve mentioning, so e-mail me if you’re one of them and I’ll add yours here. Also, special thanks goes to Kim Le for her RASSM FAQ which I sort of used as an outline for this one.