A wild dispatch from the Empire

There are certain people in the geek community whose jobs you would absolutely love to have.

Geoff Boucher runs his Hero Complex column for the L.A. Times, writing about comics and all things geek, and he also heads the Hero Complex Festival, which was nothing less than geek nirvana this year.

While we’re at it, 

I’d also love Laurent Bouzerau’s job, so I could make excellent documentaries for DVD releases of many films we know and love, like Jaws (one of the best making of documentaries I’ve seen), Scarface, Avatar, Taxi Driver, and many more.

Frank DiGiacomo has also been very lucky to cover Star Wars for Vanity Fair, but in addition to writing about the classic Force Unleashed video game, he also took a look back at the infamous Holiday Special, which proved to be too intriguing of an idea to pass up writing about.


DiGiacomo says, “George Lucas is one of these creative people who has been smart enough to exercise control over everything he does, and this was the one chink in his armor. And I think that was the one interesting point to build a story on.”


For those unfamiliar, The Star Wars Holiday Special aired November 17, 1978 on CBS from 8 to 10.   Empire was two years away and it was believed that a TV special could help fill the gap. Essentially, it was the Star Wars version of a ’70’s variety show, a la Carol Burnett, Donnie and Marie, etc. 

It featured the original Star Wars cast of Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, as well as musical numbers from Fisher and Bea Arthur, and needless to say, it was a complete disaster that’s never been repeated.


When DiGiacomo pitched the idea to Vanity Fair, he got the greenlight very quickly, and the story did very well on VF’s website. 

”I think Vanity has covered George Lucas a lot because it recognizes that Star Wars has this huge place in the culture, and it has influenced a lot of art and commerce since the first film.”


Lucas declined to be interviewed for the story, but DiGiacomo did speak to him at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in a chance encounter, where Lucas basically said the show was a “travesty.” 

DiGiacomo also says, “The one thing that’s clear to me now that Lucas has hired the Robot Chicken guys is he has a sense of humor, because the Star Wars satire they do is hilarious. I have to feel at some point that he’s gonna put this out, and he should have the Robot Chicken guys parody the Holiday Special, then put them out together. I think that would really make it a must have for Star Wars fans.”


DiGiacomo heard there were actually plans to put out the Holiday Special as a DVD bonus, but couldn’t get any further confirmation on this. 

How much of a demand does he feel there would be for the Holiday Special today? 

“That’s a dangerous question! It’s hard to tell. I think you have to have an appreciation for Star Wars on an authentic and genuine level, and an appreciation for it on an ironic level. I highly doubt it would sell as many copies as say, pick whatever you think is the least watchable of the trilogies.

“But I do think it would be kind of a perennial. People would come to it, because it’s a very unique moment in television. I bought a bootleg copy at a comic convention and struggled through it. Part of it are hard to sit through, but I don’t know… I enjoyed it.”


DiGiacomo also mentions that Bruce Vilanch, who writes for the Academy Awards, was one of the writers on the Holiday Special, also makes jokes on the Holiday Special in his stand up act. 

“And he is hilarious on it, it’s really worth checking out. It’s interesting to see that this thing does have a place in the culture, and it’s not gonna go away.”