13 Oversized Facts About Boogie Nights

New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

Released on October 10, 1997, Boogie Nights starred Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, John C. Reilly, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as a group of 1970s Los Angeles Valley-based adult film actors. The 155-minute feature was writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s sophomore feature, and also his breakout film. It received three Oscar nominations, including one for Reynolds (his first), and was a modest hit at the box office. The movie was loosely based on the life of legendary porn star John Holmes, and a short film Anderson made when he was still a teenager, 1988's The Dirk Diggler Story, about a well-endowed porn star. Here are some protruding facts about the epic dramedy.

1. WAHLBERG INITIALLY DIDN’T WANT TO BE IN THE MOVIE, BECAUSE OF SHOWGIRLS.

At this stage in Mark Wahlberg’s career, he had a hit song under the name Marky Mark, had done The Basketball Diaries—which is how Anderson discovered him—and was basically an underwear model. In Grantland’s oral history, Wahlberg explained why he didn’t want to read the script. “Showgirls had just come out. That movie was a disaster. And you know, coming from the underwear background, the music stuff, I was like, ‘Ehh, I don’t want to do this.’ But there was just so much hype around the script. So finally I started reading it. I got 35 pages into it, I put it down, I said, ‘I’ve got to meet the director.’ I said, ‘This guy either finally wants me to take the Calvin Kleins off, or he wants to make a really serious movie.’”

2. BURT REYNOLDS DISLIKED PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON AND THE MOVIE.

It’s no secret the pair didn’t get along on set. Reynolds, who played porn filmmaker Jack Horner, recently told GQ why their personalities clashed. “I think mostly because he was young and full of himself. Every shot we did, it was like the first time [that shot had ever been done].” He also told The Guardian that he turned down acting in Anderson’s follow-up, Magnolia, because “I’d done my picture with Paul Thomas Anderson, that was enough for me.”

In addition to not being a fan of Anderson, Reynolds didn’t like the movie either. “I just didn’t like the subject matter,” he told 11th Hour. “I thought I did a good job, I certainly worked hard on that film, but I was never crazy about it.”

3. REYNOLDS AND ANDERSON NEARLY CAME TO PHYSICAL BLOWS.

Burt Reynolds stars in 'Boogie Nights'
New Line Cinema

Everybody on the set knew Reynolds had a temper, and everybody knew the director and Reynolds didn’t quite get along. But there was an incident when the two almost got into a physical fight. One day on set Reynolds felt Anderson was disrespecting him. The film’s first AD, John Wildermuth, tells this story: “Burt got so frustrated he pulled Paul outside into the backyard and started yelling at him, like a father, you know? ‘You f--kin’ little punk kid, don’t tell me what to do.’” Actor Tom Lenk added, “All of a sudden we saw fists flying. We saw some fists flying from Burt Reynolds. I hope I don’t get in trouble for saying this, but it was like he was trying to punch our director in the face.”

4. ANDERSON THINKS A GOOD PORN STAR NAME SHOULD HAVE TWO “G”S AND ONE “K” IN IT.

The director told NPR he’s not sure how he came up with the name Dirk Diggler, but for some reason he wrote the name down on an index card when he was 17 years old. “I mean, I think a good porn name has to have two Gs in it. It just—it just looks good and it sounds good for a good porn name. And you know, a K is pretty important, too. So you know, I wish I really knew, but it just kind of hit me like it hit him, I guess, like ‘Dirk Diggler,’ wow.” 

5. THE STUDIO HAD A PROBLEM WITH MULTITASKING ACTORS.

The original cut Anderson turned in to New Line Cinema would’ve been rated NC-17, so in order to get an R rating, he had to reedit some of the sex scenes. Their main issue? “They had a problem with humping and talking at the same time,” he told NPR. “And essentially it boiled to when they said ‘She's humping there and she’s talking. Can you pick one?’ And I said, ‘Well, the talking is more important.’ So we just went and shot a shot of Nina Hartley, and I said, ‘Nina, hump once, stop, say your lines, and we’ll move on.’ And we did that and put it in and got the R.” 

6. THERE ARE NO CHARACTER ARCS.

Mark Wahlberg as Dirk Diggler in 'Boogie Nights'
New Line Cinema

Instead of following the template of having the characters change and be different people at the end of the film, Anderson decided against it. “That doesn’t really happen here,” he told Indiewire in 1997. “Everybody is the same. Maybe if there’s a change, it’s like one degree. Normally you see a 90-degree change in a movie. To me, they’re all pretty much the exact same people as they were at the beginning of the movie.”

7. RON JEREMY CONSULTED ON THE MOVIE.

According to Grantland’s oral history, Anderson spent a year hanging out with legendary porn star Ron Jeremy, who’s listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as starring in the most porn films—2000 of them. “Nobody knew who Paul was or anything and Ronnie just, on good faith, immersed him in our business,” recalled adult film actress Veronica Hart. “And Ronnie ended up getting screwed out of the movie.”

Jeremy’s scene entailed being in a prison cell with The Colonel. Jeremy told The Independent that during the film’s production he invited Anderson and the cast to “a lot of my sets, but Burt Reynolds never came. He said, ‘I know porn: I don’t need to see that.’”

8. ALFRED MOLINA HAD NEVER HEARD “JESSIE’S GIRL” OR “SISTER CHRISTIAN.”

The London-born actor played drug dealer Rahad Jackson (supposedly based on Eddie Nash) and during the firecracker scene he sings along to two 1980s classics—Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” and Night Ranger’s "Sister Christian." "When I said yes to the part, they sent me those two songs ... I knew neither of them because neither was released in England,” Molina told Grantland. “So I had to sit down for like three days on my own, playing those songs over and over and over so that I knew them backwards because they became so emblematic for the character.”

9. ANDERSON’S DAD—PLUS ROBERT DOWNEY JR.’S FATHER—INFLUENCED THE FIRECRACKER SCENE.

Alfred Molina in 'Boogie Nights'
New Line Cinema

Anderson’s father, Ernie, created a character named Ghoulardi for a Cleveland TV show, on which he’d sometimes set off fireworks on-air. The firecracker scene was also inspired by Robert Downey Sr.'s 1969 film, Putney Swope.

“If you watch Putney Swope ... there’s a wonderful piece of background action where a character throws a firecracker off in a scene and everyone turns around and looks,” Anderson told Creative Screenwriting. “I called up Robert Downey Sr. and I said, ‘You have a great piece of background action that I want to take and make a piece of foreground action.’ He said, ‘Great, be my guest.’”

10. THE FILM’S ENDING IS BASED ON RAGING BULL.

At the conclusion of the movie, Dirk Diggler recites his character’s dialogue while staring at himself in a mirror. He finishes with the quote, “I’m a star,” whereas in Raging Bull, Robert De Niro (as Jake LaMotta), quotes On the Waterfront and repeats, “I’m the boss.” “I was halfway through the scene when I realized I was writing something that really closely resembled Raging Bull,” Anderson told IndieWire.

“There’s an Al Pacino poster in [Dirk’s room in] the beginning of the movie, so you’ve got him playing Brock Landers playing Robert De Niro playing Jake LaMotta, playing Marlon Brando playing Terry (from On the Waterfront) doing Shakespeare. So you’ve got movie reference on top of movie reference. I just sort of stumbled into that, and thought not to shy away from stumbling into something that I had somehow sort of subconsciously gotten.”

11. ANDERSON SAYS THE MOVIE IS MOSTLY ABOUT FAMILY.

In 1998, Cinemattractions asked Anderson what he thought the film was about. “It’s about finding a family, to tell you the truth,” he said. “I know that sounds kinda preposterous, ‘cause it’s about porno! That’s a really kinda weird thing, is that you want to say ‘Well, it’s about the pornography industry’ and then you want to quickly say well, not really … But I think ultimately, the thing that I really liked most and really focused on is, that it’s about a lot of people searching for their dignity, and trying to find any kind of love and affection they can get. And they find it in really f***ked up and twisted ways—but they get it, you know?” But Anderson simplified the plot for Empire Magazine : “It’s about a guy with a big d**k."

12. WAHLBERG OWNS HIS PROSTHETIC APPENDAGE.

John C. Reilly and Mark Wahlberg in 'Boogie Nights'
New Line Cinema

Last year Wahlberg appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers, where he discussed the delicate process of making Diggler’s famed organ and revealed that, “It’s actually the only prop that I’ve ever kept from a movie. I didn’t think there would be that much interest in it. But maybe at some point I can sell it at auction for charity.”

13. ANDERSON ISN’T INTERESTED IN MAKING A SEQUEL, MAINLY BECAUSE HE THINKS MOST OF THE CHARACTERS WOULD BE DEAD.

When the website Moviehole asked Anderson if he’d consider doing a sequel to Boogie Nights, Anderson said no. “[But] you know, I wonder how many of these characters would even still be alive?” he pondered. “Probably a few of them, but I fear that most of them might be dead. I doubt Dirk Diggler’s still alive. He’d be probably gone. I couldn’t see him making it. I can see Burt Reynolds’ character Jack Horner still going on, though."

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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