A Disturbance in the Force

Bea Arthur as the owner of the Mos Eisley Cantina. Long scenes entirely of Wookies bleating at each other, without subtitles. Harvey Korman, in drag, as a four-armed Space Julia Child. Six minutes of Jefferson Starship performing for Art Carney and a bored Imperial Guard. Mark Hamill, fresh from his near-fatal motorcycle accident, slathered in pancake makeup. A salacious holographic burlesque from Diahann Carroll.

Even by the standards of the 1970s, even compared to Jar-Jar Binks, the legendary 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special is a peerlessly cringeworthy pop-culture artifact. George Lucas, who completely disowned the production, reportedly has said, “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.” Just how on earth did this thing ever see the light of day?

To answer that question, as Steven Kozak shows in this fascinating and often hilarious inside look into the making of the Special, you have to understand the cultural moment in which it appeared—a long, long time ago when cheesy variety shows were a staple of network television and Star Wars was not yet the billion-dollar multimedia behemoth that it is today. Kozak explains how the Special was one piece of a PR blitz undertaken by Lucas and his colleagues as they sought to protect the emerging franchise from hostile studio executives. He shows how, despite the involvement of some of the most talented people in the business, creative differences between movie and television writers led to a wildly uneven product. He gives entertaining accounts of the problems that plagued production, which included a ruinously expensive cantina set; the acrimonious departure of the director and Lucas himself; and a furious Grace Slick, just out of rehab, demanding to be included in the production.

Packed with memorable anecdotes, drawing on extensive new interviews with countless people involved in the production, and told with mingled affection and bewilderment, this never-before-told story gives a fascinating look at a strange moment in pop-culture history that remains an object of fascination even today.


"Kozak presents a riveting look at an oft-maligned piece of Star Wars history, showing that some of it is just misunderstood."

Library Journal

"No man alive is better equipped to chronicle the history of Chewbacca-related holiday television than Steve Kozak"

Jimmy Kimmel, host and executive producer of Jimmy Kimmel Live!

"There are no words for how much fun this book is, so I will just quote something I wrote for one of the Wookiees -- 'Urgh oofa ghooba bhutt floote!' (followed by a howl)."

Bruce Vilanch, the Emmy-winning co-writer of the Star Wars Holiday Special

“Steven Kozak unwraps the Holiday Special the way Peter Jackson unwrapped Let It Be, but with fewer beards…”

Dana Gould, Emmy-Award winning writer for The Simpsons

"Anything that George Lucas wants to destroy is something I have to see. And Steve Kozak's book turns the spotlight on how a television variety show nearly destroyed one of Hollywood's biggest franchises"

Dave Thomas, Emmy award-winning actor for SCTV’s Mackenzie Brothers

"I was unwittingly thrust into the weird madness that was to become infamous for its bastardization of the original worlds of STAR WARS. I operated the R2D2 robot during the production of the show, and couldn’t believe what I saw in the whirlwind that swirled around me! Now Steven Kozak has dug deep—and I meant deep!—into what heretofore has only been legend and rumor. Dig in, but don’t expect the Force to be with you!"

Mick Garris, Co-Writer for Hocus Pocus

"Thanks to Steve Kozak’s fascinating deep dive into the 'Star Wars Holiday Special,' the world will now fully understand why George Lucas refuses to acknowledge the existence of the infamous musical misfire. “A Disturbance in the Force” is filled with jaw-dropping first-hand accounts and interviews, brilliantly chronicling the creation of the biggest flop in Star Wars history."

Adam F. Goldberg, Creator / EP of The Goldbergs

“An exemplary treatise on why some TV failures were good ideas. And why many were credible viewing experiences”.

Jeff Altman, Co-host of revered TV failure, Pink Lady & Jeff

"Well researched and cleverly written, Steve Kozak’s funny account of a tiny footnote in entertainment history reveals a lot about the whole crazy, foolish, hilarious world of show business."

Nick Castle, Director of The Last Starfighter

"Star Wars fans LOVE all of the behind-the-scenes stories from each film, but the Star Wars Holiday Special has never had a book dedicated to it, until now. It took the guts of a guy like Steven Kozak to meticulously dig thru the enormous trash heap of history surrounding the infamous 70's TV special and make some since of it. And Steven has done so tremendously! All the stories that Lucasfilm doesn't want you to hear about the Star Wars show Lucasfilm doesn't want you to see come to life in this book. From the music to the wardrobe to the stars of special itself, this book has it all. Highly recommended to fans of Star Wars, pop culture history, or genuine television disasters!"

Jimmy Mac McInerney, host of Rebel Force Radio

"I read with great enthusiasm and appreciation of a life well spent chronicling people and events of no importance whatsoever. I must admit that while I did enjoy reading the book, my pleasure was diminished greatly by the shot of Harvey Korman in drag. That image will stay with me forever… but so will the memory of a very amusing literary semi-masterpiece."

George Schlatter, Creator of Laugh-In

“If you a Star Wars fan, or just interested in the ragged but often compelling pre-digital Television age, Kozak reveals a Hollywood TV culture at odds with George Lucas’s groundbreaking film techniques. Definitely worth a read"

Pete Sears, keyboardist of the Jefferson Starship

“There are still a few great mysteries left in this world—the Yeti, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster… But perhaps the greatest is this: What were they thinking when they made the Star Wars Holiday Special? Steve Kozek has written a fun, fast, but in-depth investigation into what really happened, and dug up some fascinating answers. It’s a marvelous read that proves the truth is sometimes stranger than science fiction.”

Simon R. Green, New York Times bestselling author of the Nightside series

"A compelling inside story of how a bunch of highly-qualified people pooled their talents to produce the Titanic of the Star Wars Universe."

Jack Campbell, New York Times bestselling author of In Our Stars and the Lost Fleet series

"What may be the most sought after television show for collectors, may be the biggest TV debacle ever. The history of this special may even be crazier than the show itself. A fast, fun, unbelievable read!"

Del Howison, Bram Stoker Award-Winning editor and author

"A DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE perfectly chronicles how one of the most notorious pieces of media came to be. Filled with insider information, stories, and even tidbits that are sure to cause people to cackle--it's hard not to keep reading with intense focus as more and more bad decisions are made by very smart people."

Nick Martell, author of the Mercenary King series

"A must-read description of a famous made-for-TV train wreck! Grab some popcorn."

William C. Dietz, author of the Star Wars: Dark Forces trilogy

"A fascinating glimpse into the machinations of Lucas and his colleagues in the early days of Star Wars -- a great read for any fan."

Dan Koboldt, Author of The Build-A-Dragon Sequence

“Come with me, fellow Padawans, on a journey to discover the stinkiest skeleton in the closet of the franchise that raised us.”

G.S. Denning, author of the Warlock Holmes series

"This is a book for not just Star Wars fans, but fans of film and television writ large. A sprawling and exhaustive account of what it takes to produce art and how even the best intentions and talent don't always make a hit. A story of the importance of taking risks, even if they don't pay off."

Auston Habershaw, author of the Saga of the Redeemed

“From Kazzook to Carney, Steve Kozak charts a fascinating hyperspace course through the making of this infamous piece of Star Wars history, a route filled with more twists and turns than any Kessel Run."

Dan Moren, co-host of the A Complicated Profession podcast

"Kozak not only answers our biggest questions about the infamous broadcast, but also provides a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era of television and Hollywood. The story behind the story is so compelling I almost want to dig out my old VHS tape and re-watch the Special with a kinder perspective. Almost."

Eugene Myers, Nebula Award-winning author