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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Director explains new ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’ documentary at Northwest Passages event

Documentary director/writer Steve Kozak, author of “A Disturbance in the Force – How and Why the Star Wars Holiday Special Was Made,” signs copies of his book for 501st Legion Star Wars characters Gabe Strine (Tusken Raider), left, and Rob Casey (Black Krrsantan) on Saturday at the Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The bizarre “Star Wars Holiday Special” aired once on television 45 years ago and never saw the light of day again, except by “Star Wars” fans who copied the show on VHS tapes.

The show was regarded as a gigantic failure, including by “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, who reportedly said, “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.”

Steve Kozak’s new documentary, “A Disturbance in the Force,” examines how the holiday special happened and features interviews with celebrities like Seth Green, “Weird Al” Yankovic and Gilbert Gottfried.

Kozak, who directed the documentary with Jeremy Coon, discussed the documentary and his new book, “A Disturbance in the Force: How and Why the Star Wars Holiday Special Happened” on Saturday afternoon at The Spokesman-Review’s Northwest Passages book club event at Gonzaga University’s Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center .

Kozak said he created the book and documentary because the story of why the holiday special was authorized to hit the airwaves had never been told.

“Everyone knows about (the holiday special),” he told The Spokesman-Review after Saturday’s event. “It confounds people that it exists.”

Kozak said on stage that he remembered liking the holiday special, admitting that people had low expectations of science fiction movies in the 1970s.

The documentary is packed with celebrities, including comedian and actor Gottfried.

Kozak, who works at Jimmy Kimmel Live! as the director of research and clearances, said it was one of Gottfried’s last interviews before he died in 2022.

Kozak said he probably screwed up some of the interview with Gottfried because “I was just laughing so hard at what he was saying, I couldn’t keep it in. He was so easy to work with and so friendly.”

Kozak said Yankovic, best known for his comedic music, was “like a machine.”

“He was such a pro, and he just rattled off just the most amazing sound bites,” Kozak said.

Auntie’s Bookstore sold several copies of Kozak’s book Saturday. Prior to the event, Kozak signed his book for fans.

Many attendees took photos with members of the 501st Legion’s Havoc Squad, a charity group that dresses as “Star Wars” characters.

Somers family members got their pictures taken with characters Tusken Raider, Black Krrsantan and stormtroopers.

Steve Somers said he saw the original “Star Wars” in 1977 and wanted to join his wife and two sons in a “Star Wars”-themed afternoon.

“I was kind of determined to educate them in the way of the Force,” Somers said with a laugh.