George Lucas commissioned The Star Wars Holiday Special with hopes of keeping the movie fresh in people’s minds while he filmed the Empire Strikes Back. It aired on November 17, 1978 to dismal reviews and is considered by many as one of the most awful and hilarious TV specials of all time.
The special focuses on Chewbacca’s family grunting, moaning, while the featured cast of Star Wars performs unusual acts and well known comedy actors of the time engage in musical numbers.
George Lucas did everything in his power to make sure it was never seen again. But thanks to the internet, you can see the hilarious show anytime!
Today we’re talking to comedy writer and gay legend Bruce Vilanch, who worked as a writer for The Star Wars Holiday Special, and also on many lavish, campy TV specials of the 1970s including The Paul Lynde Halloween Special, The Cher Show, and The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.
As Hollywood’s go-to guy for comedy writing, Bruce built a career writing for the Oscars and comedy legends like Bette Midler, Cher, Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin and Joan Rivers.
Listen as Bruce talks to us about the wonderful tacky world of TV specials from the 1970s and he also reveals that there is a documentary on the Star Wars Holiday Special in the works!
Plus Bruce answers all your questions:
Why did Bea Arthur get involved in the Star Wars Holiday Special?
What is it like writing for the Oscars?
What advice does Bruce have for Whoopi on Mel Gibson?
And the secret to Bruce’s longevity in the entertainment business.
You can see Bruce on Sunday, August 15 at the Herbst Theater in San Francsico at Northern California’s largest annual AIDS benefit, “Help is on the Way.”
Buy Bruce Vilanch’s 1999 definitive documentary “Get Bruce!” on DVD on Amazon.
Bruce Vilanch – They All Look Alike: Tunes