10 Wild Facts About Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

The CW
The CW

In 2015, a little show called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend premiered on The CW and quickly captured the attention—and adoration—of viewers and critics alike, establishing co-creator and star Rachel Bloom as one of the freshest voices on TV. The series is unique to network television: It's an original musical TV show with a diverse cast that tackles the "crazy ex-girlfriend" stereotype and broaches a range of topics, from body image to mental illness, every week.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend follows Rebecca Bunch (Bloom), a successful but unhappy New York City lawyer who has a chance encounter with an ex-boyfriend, Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III), and promptly drops everything to move to West Covina, California to find him and make him fall in love with her again.

Bloom herself is spectacular talent: She can act, sing, dance, and write. Before Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, she was blowing up the internet with hilarious musical sketches like "F*** Me, Ray Bradbury" and "Historically Accurate Disney Princess Song." She captured the attention of screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada), and together they created the boundary-pushing series, which just confirmed that its upcoming fourth season will be its last. Here are 10 things you might not know about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

1. WEST COVINA IS A REAL CITY, AND IT HAS EMBRACED CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND.

A show set in the Southern California suburb of West Covina stands out among the myriad shows set in New York City and Los Angeles. The city is pretty ordinary and nondescript: Until Crazy Ex-Girlfriend chose it as a setting, it was largely unknown to non-locals. "Aline and I liked the idea of West Covina being a symbol for what America now is: a diverse group from all walks of life going to the same chain stores and restaurants," Bloom told the Los Angeles Times, which noted that "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has been welcomed by some West Covinans, who say it portrays the cheery banality and casual diversity of life in Southern California's suburbs."

In 2015, the year the it premiered, Covina's City Council presented the cast and producers with the key to the city. The next year, the Council named October 21 "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Day," in honor of the second season's premiere.

2. BASICALLY EVERYONE IN THE CAST HAS BEEN ON BROADWAY.

Rachel Bloom stars in 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend'
The CW

When you're making an original TV musical, you need actors who can sing and dance. Where do you find them? Broadway, of course. Before coming to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Santino Fontana—who plays Greg Serrano, Josh's best friend—was an up-and-comer on the New York theater scene. He scored a Tony nomination for his role as the prince in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella and starred in plays like Act One and The Importance of Being Earnest. Off-Broadway, he played Matt in the original revival cast of The Fantasticks.

Fontana's big break came in 2013 when he portrayed a prince again, voicing Prince Hans in the enormously popular Disney film Frozen. After leaving Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, he's been tapped to star in a new Broadway-bound musical adaptation of Tootsie.

Donna Lynne Champlin played Pirelli alongside Patti LuPone's Mrs. Lovett in the 2005 revival of Sweeney Todd, which was memorable because all the actors played their own instruments. Vincent Rodriguez III and Gabrielle Ruiz both cut their teeth in the choruses of musicals, he in the national tours of Anything Goes and Pippin and she in Evita and In the Heights.

3. THERE HAVE BEEN A FEW NOTABLE DIRECTORS.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has had as much talent behind the camera as it has in front of it. The pilot was helmed by Marc Webb, the director of The Amazing Spider-Man and (500) Days of Summer (the latter of which is notable for its musical sequence shot to Hall & Oates's "You Make My Dreams"). He also executive produces the show, and returned to direct and co-write the season two premiere. Webb calls himself "a total fanboy" when it comes to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. He told Variety that although he does the bulk of his producing work at the top of each season and then departs, "I talk to [Bloom and McKenna]—basically texting them how much I love them and how impressed I am with everything they do."

There have been other directors of note as well: Kenny Ortega, the director (and choreographer) of the High School Musical franchise, was behind the camera for the season one episode "I'm Going to the Beach with Josh and His Friends!," and Bloom's husband, comedian Dan Gregor, helmed two episodes.

4. THE SERIES WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO BE ON SHOWTIME.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend never would have been made if it weren't for Aline Brosh McKenna. In an interview with ThinkProgress, McKenna told the story of how she first came across Rachel Bloom's viral comedy videos while procrastinating. After that, McKenna had to meet Bloom and find some way to work with her. Soon, they came up with the idea for the show. "At first, we were going to write it for a broadcast network, but there was no way for us to ensure that Rachel would be in it," McKenna said. "They probably would have wanted to use a bigger star. And I said, 'I don’t want to do this unless Rachel is the star of the show.' By necessity, and because it was dirty, we had to do cable."

Initially, Showtime appeared to be very interested, and had seen all of Bloom's videos. In fact, it was Showtime's suggestion that Marc Webb direct the pilot. But after the pilot was done, they passed on it, a move that surprised McKenna. At the same time, McKenna had just binged and fell in love with Jane the Virgin and thought The CW might be interested. To everyone's delight, the broadcast network loved it—dirty jokes and all.

5. EXECUTIVE MUSIC PRODUCER AND SONGWRITER ADAM SCHLESINGER WAS IN FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE.

Adam Schlesinger, one of the three songwriters on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, was the bassist for '00s rock band Fountains of Wayne, which achieved fame with the 2003 single "Stacy's Mom." He's actually been making a name for himself as a Hollywood songwriter for years, winning Emmy and Grammy Awards and picking up Oscar, Tony, and Golden Globe nods. Schlesinger penned the title song for That Thing You Do!, and wrote tracks for the 2007 rom-com Music and Lyrics, starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, and the underrated 2001 film Josie and the Pussycats. He also wrote the music for a short-lived Broadway musical adaptation of the John Waters film Cry-Baby.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend songwriting team Bloom, Schlesinger, and Jack Dolgen share two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics. Bloom is the one who concentrates on lyrics and rhythm. "I can do those on set," she told Billboard. "For me to write music, I have to be at the piano and an hour of time to think about it, which I don't have," she says. "Adam takes the music that I send and changes it for the better."

6. WEST COVINA IS ACTUALLY LESS THAN TWO HOURS FROM THE BEACH

There's a recurring joke in the series that encapsulates how West Covina can seem both heavenly and lackluster: It's oft-parroted by the locals that their hometown is only two hours from the beach, but four in traffic. Well, the residents of the real West Covina will have you know that their city is actually less than two hours from the beach, thank you very much. One viewer even took to Google Maps to prove that, in fact, the city is 46 minutes from Huntington Beach and 47 minutes from Redondo Beach.

7. RACHEL BLOOM AUDITIONED FOR SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.

In 2012, an internet-famous comedian named Rachel Bloom sent in an audition tape for SNL. Four years later, with a hit show and and a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical under her belt, Bloom shared the video on Twitter, to the delight of fans. As we know, she never made it into the cast, despite her excellent impression of Katharine Hepburn auditioning for Space Jam. No hard feelings, though.

8. BLOOM WORKED AS SETH MEYERS'S INTERN.

Though she may not have succeeded in making it onto Saturday Night Live, Bloom did get to work on the show—as an intern. In 2016, Bloom appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers and talked about her experience at SNL … including the time Meyers got mad at another intern over a salad. "Someone went down to Hale and Hearty to get you a salad, and they came back and it was the wrong salad," she recounted. "They gave you the salad and they were like 'Oh my god, I'm so sorry, it's the wrong salad. Do you want me to get another one?' You went 'No, I guess we can work with this.' And you slammed the door." Bloom presumably never messed up Meyers's salad order.

9. BLOOM AND DANNY JOLLES ARE OLD FRIENDS.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fans know actor Danny Jolles as George, Rebecca Bunch's oft-mistreated colleague who has been fired and rehired countless times. He finally got his moment in season two. Well, sort of. He got to belt out his own number, "George's Turn," but in classic sad-sack fashion, the camera cut away from him just as he was resolving to no longer let himself be interrupted. But fans may not know that Jolles and Bloom have been friends since long before the show started. The two have a history of performing together in online sketches and at Upright Citizens Brigade and the People's Improv Theater in New York City. The night that the "George's Turn" episode aired, Bloom tweeted about their friendship:

10. FATHER BRAH IS ALSO A WRITER ON THE SHOW

Rene Gube, who plays Josh's friend and advisor Father Brah, is also one of the show's writers. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has garnered praise for its realistic representation of a Filipino-American family, and a lot of that is thanks to Gube, who brings his experience as a Filipino-American to Josh Chan, the Chan family, and his own character Father Brah. He penned the episode "My First Thanksgiving with Josh!," in which Rebecca comes to Josh's house for a traditional Filipino-American Thanksgiving and strives to impress his mom. Gube told Vulture that he was excited to be able to write for a show in which his own identity was represented: "To have an opportunity to create a fully developed Filipino character, a male romantic lead, I’ve never seen that before, and I was super excited about that. It is a great opportunity to show a Filipino family on network television, and show how American that Filipino family truly is.”

Of the Thanksgiving episode, Rodriguez told Vulture, “We’re really focused on the family values and the environment Filipino families create at Thanksgiving. Rene is a great resource in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish with a Filipino family on television and the kinds of things that need to be in place.”

The Dark Side: An Oral History of The Star Wars Holiday Special

Larry Heider
Larry Heider

Summer 1978: Over a year after its debut, Star Wars wasn’t through smashing box office records. Ushered back into theaters for a return engagement that July, it made $10 million in just three days. George Lucas had welded mythological structure, pioneering special effects, and a spectacular production design to create a cinematic phenomenon that redefined how studios selected and marketed big-budget spectacles. Movies would never be the same again.

Neither would television. That same month, filming began on The Star Wars Holiday Special, a 97-minute musical-variety show that featured Bea Arthur serenading a giant rat and Chewbacca’s father, Itchy, being seduced by a virtual reality image of Diahann Carroll. Originally, the show was intended to keep the property viable and licensed merchandise moving off shelves until the inevitable sequel. But with Lucas’s focus on The Empire Strikes Back and producers shrinking his galaxy for a television budget, the Holiday Special suffered. So did viewers.

Mental Floss spoke with many of the principal production team members to find out exactly how Lucas’s original intentions—a sentimental look at Chewbacca’s family during a galactic holiday celebration—turned to the Dark Side.

I. A VERY WOOKIEE CHRISTMAS


Thomas Searle via YouTube

According to onetime Lucasfilm marketing director Charles Lippincott, CBS approached Star Wars distributor 20th Century Fox in 1978 to propose a television special. Fox had seen a boost in box office returns after several aliens from the Cantina scene appeared on Donny and Marie Osmond’s variety show; CBS figured the success of the film would translate into a ratings win; Lucasfilm and Lippincott though it would be a good vehicle to push toys.

With all parties motivated to move forward, two writers—Leonard “Lenny” Ripps and Pat Proft—were brought on to write a script based on an original story by Lucas.

Leonard Ripps (Co-Writer): Pat and I spent the entire day with Lucas. He took out a legal pad and asked how many minutes were in a TV special. He wrote down numbers from one to 90. He was very methodical about it. He had at least a dozen stories he had already written, so we were just helping to fill in a world he knew everything about. His idea was basically for a Wookiee Rosh Hashanah. A furry Earth Day.

Pat Proft (Co-Writer): Wookiees played a big part of it. Stormtroopers were harassing them. I don't have the script. It sure as [hell] wasn't what it ended up being.

Ripps: Pat and I had written for mimes Shields and Yarnell, which is why we were brought on. We had written lots of non-verbal stuff. The challenge was how to get things across. Wookiees aren’t articulate. Even in silent movies, you had subtitles. Whatever we wrote, it wasn’t tongue-in-cheek.


Thomas Searle via YouTube

Proft and Ripps delivered their script several weeks after the meeting. It focused on a galactic holiday celebrated by all species, with the Wookiee planet of Kashyyyk selected to host the festivities that year. Chewbacca’s family—father Itchy, wife Malla, and son Lumpy—were introduced, with the writers leaving gaps for executive producers Dwight Hemion and Gary Smith to insert celebrity guest stars and musical acts. For the latter, Hemion and Smith turned to producers Ken and Mitzie Welch to arrange original songs and enlist talent.

Elle Puritz (Assistant to the Producer): I was working for the Welches at the time. I remember hearing, “OK, we’re going to do a Star Wars holiday special,” and everyone laughing about it. I thought it was a terrible idea.

Miki Herman (Lucasfilm Consultant): Lippincott requested I be involved with the special. I did a lot of ancillary projects. I knew all the props, all the actors. I hired Stan Winston to create the Wookiee family. [Sound effects artist] Ben Burtt and I were there to basically provide authenticity, to make sure everything was kept in context.

George Lucas (via Empire, 2009): Fox said, "You can promote the film by doing the TV special." So I kind of got talked into doing the special.

Ripps: Lucas told us Han Solo was married to a Wookiee but that we couldn’t mention that because it would be controversial.

Herman: I do remember Gary Smith saying they wanted to have Mikhail Baryshnikov and Ann-Margret involved, high-caliber people that were popular.

Puritz: Ken and Mitzie called Bea Arthur. They wrote a song with her in mind.


Thomas Searle via YouTube

Ripps: It never occurred to us to get Bea Arthur. We spent just that one day with Lucas, then got put in touch with [director] David Acomba. Our notion was Acomba was very much Lucas’s guy, so he spoke for Lucas.

Acomba was a Canadian filmmaker who had coincidentally gone to the University of Southern California around the same time as Lucas, though the two never crossed paths at the time. Lippincott knew him, however, and hired him to direct the special in keeping with Lucas’s spirit of finding talent outside the Hollywood system.

Larry Heider (Camera Operator): David came out of a rock 'n' roll world, a documentary world. Smith and Hemion had three different projects going on at the same time, so I think they felt they wouldn’t have time to direct just this one thing.

Puritz: David wasn’t used to shooting television. Using five cameras, everything shooting at the same time. He was very indignant about his own lack of knowledge, and he did not get along with the Welches.

Ripps: I got the impression it was not what he wanted, and had turned into something he didn’t want to do. I don’t want to say he was overwhelmed, but it would’ve been overwhelming for anyone.

II. FORCING IT


Thomas Searle via YouTube

With a budget of roughly $1 million—the 1977 film cost $11 millionThe Star Wars Holiday Special began filming in Burbank, California in the summer of 1978 with a script that had been heavily revised by variety show veterans Bruce Vilanch, Rod Warren, and Mitzie Welch to reflect the Smith-Hemion style of bombastic musical numbers and kitsch. Chewbacca was now trying to race home in time for “Life Day,” with his family watching interstellar musical interludes and comedic sketches—like a four-armed Julia Child parody—on a video screen. 

Ripps: Lucas wanted a show about the holiday. Vilanch and everyone, they were wonderful writers, but they were Carol Burnett writers. In the litany of George’s work, there was never kitsch. Star Wars was always very sincere about Star Wars.

Herman: Personally, I was not a fan of Harvey Korman, Bea Arthur, or Art Carney. That wasn’t my generation. But they had relationships with Dwight Hemion and the Welches.

Heider: Bea Arthur was known for being a little cold and demanding. When she was asked to do something a second time, she wanted someone to explain what was wrong. When the script wasn’t making sense for her to say something, she had a hard time translating all of that. She was pretty much [her television character] Maude.

Bea Arthur [via The Portland Mercury, 2005]: I didn't know what that was about at all. I was asked to be in it by the composer of that song I sang—"Goodnight, But Not Goodbye." It was a wonderful time, but I had no idea it was even a part of the whole Star Wars thing … I just remember singing to a bunch of people with funny heads.

After shooting the Cantina scene, it became apparent that Acomba was an ill fit for the constraints of a television schedule.

Heider: David was used to a single camera—run and gun, keep it moving, a real rock 'n' roll pace. This show was anything but. There were huge sets, make-up, costumes. It was slow-paced, and it got to him.

Ripps: I didn’t go down for the filming, but Pat went down. He has a story.

Proft: Took my kid for the Cantina scene. All the characters from the bar were there. However, they forgot [to pump] oxygen into the masks. Characters were fainting left and right.

Heider: Characters would walk around onstage with just their shirts on to stay cool. We were shooting in a very warm part of the year in Los Angeles, and it was difficult, especially with the Wookiees. They took a lot more breaks than they had calculated.

Ripps: I knew how frustrated David was. It wasn’t his vision. He phoned me up and said, “I’m not going to be working on this anymore.”

Acomba left after only shooting a handful of scenes. A frantic Smith phoned Steve Binder, a director with extensive experience in television—he had overseen the famous Elvis ’68 Comeback Special—and told him he needed someone to report to the set the following Monday morning.

Steve Binder (Director): I was between projects and got a call from Gary basically saying they had completely shut down in Burbank and there was talk of shutting it down for good. The first thing I realized was, they had built this phenomenal Chewbacca home on a huge film stage, but it was a 360-degree set. There was no fourth wall to remove to bring multiple cameras into the home. I would think it would be impossible for a crew to even get into the set to shoot anything.

Puritz: I think David was part of that plan.

Heider: I remember when that happened. I don’t think it was David’s idea. It was the way it was conceived by producers on how to make this look really cool, but it didn’t work. You have no lighting control. Steve got it. He’s really a pro. There’s no ego.

Binder: They FedExed me the script. The first thing I looked at was, the first 10 minutes was done with basically no dialogue from the actors. It was strictly Chewbacca sounds. The sound effects people would use bear sounds for the voicing. It concerned me, but there was no time to start changing the script.

Ripps: We had concerns about that. But George said, "This is the story I want to tell."

Binder: The Chewbacca family could only be in the costumes for 45 minutes. Then they’d have the heads taken off, and be given oxygen. It slowed everything down. The suits were so physically cumbersome and heavy. The actress playing Lumpy [Patty Maloney], when she came in, I don’t think she was more than 80 or 90 pounds and she a lost tremendous amount of weight while filming.

In addition to guest stars Bea Arthur, Harvey Korman, and Art Carney, Lucasfilm approached most of the principals from the feature for cameo appearances. Feeling indebted to Lucas, they agreed to participate—reluctantly.

Puritz: They had made this big movie, and now they’re doing a TV special. Carrie Fisher did not want to be there.

Herman: They didn’t love doing TV. At that time, movie actors didn’t do TV. There was a stigma against it.


Thomas Searle via YouTube

Heider: Harrison Ford was not happy to be there at all. Carrie Fisher, I think part of her deal was she got to sing a song, and that was her draw to it. Because Lucas was involved, and if another movie is coming out in two years, there’s pressure to keep going. So they showed up, on time. Mostly.

Binder: My recall with the whole cast was that there was a little mumbling going on with a few of the actors who felt they should’ve been compensated more for the movie. I think Lucas did do that after the special, giving them small percentages.

Heider: We were doing a scene where Ford was sitting in the Millennium Falcon and he just wanted to get his lines done and he made that very clear. “Can we just do this? How long is this going to take?”

Harrison Ford (via press tour, 2011): It was in my contract. There was no known way to get out of it.

Heider: Mark Hamill was a good guy. He just had that normal-guy-trying-to-work vibe.

Mark Hamill (via Reddit, 2014): I thought it was a mistake from the beginning. It was just unlike anything else in the Star Wars universe. And I initially said that I didn't want to do it, but George said it would help keep Star Wars in the consciousness and I wanted to be a team player, so I did it. And I also said that I didn't think Luke should sing, so they cut that number.

Herman: I worked with the actors on a lot of the ancillary stuff. Honestly, they were just all so dopey.

III. BUILDING BOBA FETT


TheSWHolidaySpecial via YouTube

 

Before Acomba departed the production, he and Lucas reached out to a Canadian animation company, Nelvana, to prepare a nine-minute cartoon that would formally introduce one of the characters from The Empire Strikes Back: Boba Fett. The bounty hunter originated from a design for an unused Stormtrooper by production designers Joe Johnston and Ralph McQuarrie; he was intended to make public appearances in the interim between films, initially popping up at the San Anselmo County Fair parade in September of 1978.

Michael Hirsh (Nelvana Co-Founder): David knew me personally. Lucas watched a special of ours, A Cosmic Christmas, that was just coming on air at the time. He asked people on his crew, including David, who we were. David said, "Oh, I know these guys." We were not a well-known company at time.

Clive Smith (Nelvana Co-Founder, Animation Director): Lucas supplied a script that he wrote. I think I probably had about two weeks to storyboard, then start character designs.

Hirsh: Frankly, I think the cartoon was more along the lines of what Lucas wanted to do in the first place—if he did the special, there was a possibility Fox and CBS would fund Star Wars cartoons. The variety show itself wasn’t something he was particularly interested in.

Smith: We ended up shooting slides of each storyboard frame. There must’ve been 300 to 400 frames. I loaded them up, put myself on a plane, and went down to San Francisco and did a presentation with a slide projector. I was in this room of people who were absolutely silent. Things that were funny, not a whimper or murmur. But at the end, George clapped.

Hirsh: CBS wanted him to use one of the L.A. studios, like Hanna-Barbera, who did most of the Saturday morning cartoons. But Lucas, from the beginning of his career, had a thing for independent companies, people who weren’t in L.A. The style of animation was modeled after [French artist] Jean “Moebius” Geraud, at Lucas’s request.


TheSWHolidaySpecial via YouTube

Smith: A lot of the designs and characters were inspired by Moebius, who did a lot of work for Heavy Metal magazine. We thought it was a good direction to point ourselves in. At the time, there was no Star Wars animation to follow.

Hirsh: There was a big deal made about the introduction of Boba Fett.

Smith: We needed to design Boba Fett, and all we had was some black and white footage of a costumed actor who had been photographed in someone’s backyard moving around. We took what was there and turned it into a graphic idea.

Hirsh: I directed the voice sessions. Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) had the most dialogue, and the other actors came in for short sessions. Harrison Ford and the other performers generally came in and nailed lines, whereas Mark Hamill was anxious to try different things. [Hamill would go on to a successful career in voiceover work.]

Herman: Michael got upset when I told him Princess Leia wore a belt. It was part of her costume, and they didn’t have it. Redoing it was going to cost them a lot of money.

Hirsh: That’s possible. Lucas was happy with how it turned out. After the special, we stayed in touch and we were developing a project with Lucasfilm and the Bee Gees. Nothing ever came of it.

IV. SPACING OUT


Thomas Searle via YouTube

Nelvana had a relatively smooth journey to the finish line compared to the live-action production team. By the time Binder was prepared to shoot the climactic “Life Day” celebration with the entire cast and a group of robed Wookiees, there was virtually no money in the budget left for a large-scale spectacle.

Binder: No one ever mentioned there was no set for the closing. I was told by the art director we had no money for it in the budget. So I said, "No problem, just go out and buy every candle you can find in the store." We filled an empty stage with candles. I had experimented with this on another special, maybe a Victor Borge ice skating show. Candles in a dark environment give off an incredibly creative effect.

Herman: The sad truth is, everyone was so overwhelmed. Ken and Mitzie knew that last scene was a disaster. They came to me saying, "Help us." But George was out of the picture. It was a runaway production.

Ripps: Acomba and Lucas had walked away from it. They weren’t there to fight for anything.

Lucas: It just kept getting reworked and reworked, moving away into this bizarre land. They were trying to make one kind of thing and I was trying to make another, and it ended up being a weird hybrid between the two.

Heider: They were spending a lot of money for stage rental, lighting, a TV truck, and everyone was putting in really long hours. It translated into a big below-line budget problem. 

Herman: Honestly, a set wasn’t going to save that scene. All the Wookiees were wearing [consumer licensee] Don Post masks.

Premiering November 17, 1978, The Star Wars Holiday Special was seen by 13 million viewers, a significant but not overly impressive audience for the three-network television landscape of the era. It came in second to The Love Boat on ABC for its first hour, with a marked drop-off following the conclusion of the cartoon at the halfway point. Gurgling, apron-clad Wookiees, low-budget Imperial threats—they do nothing more sinister than trash Lumpy’s room—and an appearance by Jefferson Starship proved too bizarre for viewers.

Binder: I felt you have to open with a bang, really grab the audience, make it worth their time to sit and watch. The opening scene going on as long as it did was a killer for the TV audience.

Ripps: I had no idea what had happened to it. When it was broadcast, I had a party at my house and ordered catering. After the first commercial, I turned it off and said, "Let’s eat."

Binder: The day I finished shooting, I was on to other projects. It’s the only show I never edited or supervised the editing of. The Welches had the whole weight of the unedited special in their hands, and I questioned how much experience they had at that given they were songwriters.

Heider: Somebody made choices in terms of how long each scene would be on TV, and it's really painful.

Herman: I remember I was moving to Marin County the next day. I was staying at a friend’s house, and their son was a Star Wars fan. I had given him all the toys. Watching him watch it, he was really bored.

Binder: What I realized was, the public was not told this wasn’t going to be Star Wars. It was not the second movie. It was going to be a TV show to sell toys to kids. That was the real purpose of the show. It had nowhere near the budget of a feature film. [Lucasfilm and Kenner produced prototype action figures of Chewbacca’s family; they were never released.]

Heider: I didn’t watch it when it was on, but I do have a copy I bought several years ago on eBay. It’s not a great copy, but it’s enough to show how it was cut together. I haven’t been able to sit through whole thing at one time.

Herman: George hated it, but he knew there was nothing he could do about it.


Thomas Searle via YouTube

Binder: I never met Lucas, never got a phone call, anything. Which was disappointing to me. It was his show, he developed it. To totally walk away from it and critique it negatively was, I felt, not cool.

Ripps: One of the reasons I took the job was I thought it would be an annuity. Every year, I’d get a check for Star Wars.

Hirsh: I did watch it. I was happy with our contribution. It was a phenomenal opportunity for our little company. We got to work on the Droids and Ewoks animated shows later on.

Ripps: I still go out to dinners on the stories. Once, at a dinner party, one of the waiters had Star Wars tattoos up and down both of his arms. When he found out I wrote the special, we got better service than anyone in the restaurant.

Lucas: I’m sort of amused by it, because it is so bizarre. It's definitely avant garde television. It's definitely bad enough to be a classic.

Herman: The interesting thing is, the day after the special aired was the day of the Jonestown Massacre. It was just a bad time for everyone.

Dwight Hemion (via NPR, 2002): It was the worst piece of crap I’ve ever done.

This article originally ran in 2015.

YouTube Is Now Streaming Free Movies—as Long as You'll Sit Through Some Ads

iStock.com/hocus-focus
iStock.com/hocus-focus

If Netflix doesn’t have that movie you’ve been wanting to watch, try searching YouTube instead. The popular video platform is now streaming feature-length movies for free, but you’ll have to endure ads “at regular intervals,” The Verge reports.

The selection is limited to just 100 films for now, but YouTube plans to expand its offerings at a later date. They’re mostly older action films and rom-coms, but there are some crowd-pleasers on offer, including the first five Rocky movies, The Terminator, a few Pink Panther films, and Legally Blonde.

You can find these gratis selections in YouTube’s “Free to Watch” category, which was quietly rolled out last month. It falls under the Movies & Shows section, which was previously reserved for renting and buying movies.

"We saw this opportunity based on user demand, beyond just offering paid movies,” Rohit Dhawan, YouTube's director of product management, told AdAge. It’s also a good opportunity for advertisers, he added. This could pave the way for companies to start sponsoring movies, resulting in exclusive screenings for YouTube viewers.

According to Gizmodo, YouTube's ability to offer free movies stems from its already-existing partnerships with major Hollywood studios. And YouTube isn’t the only company trying to become a bigger player in the streaming market. Nickelodeon launched its NickSplat channel earlier this year, and Disney plans to release its Disney+ service in 2019.

Meanwhile, Amazon's Prime Video has grown to become a worthy rival of Netflix. As of September, it had the largest movie library of all the major streaming platforms, with more than 10,700 films in its collection.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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