The assumption is that you simply didn't get enough of the Ewoks, those tiny, furry creatures who helped snatch the rebel bacon from the Empire's frying pan in "Return of the Jedi."
Operating on that notion, a number of people associated with the "Star Wars" movies and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" have crammed more production work and special effects than the small screen can hold -- and possibly the cutest girl TV has ever seen -- into "The Ewok Adventure," a George Lucas film coming soon to a TV set near you. (Tonight at 8 on ABC).
"Ewok" is not another installment of the "Star Wars" saga. It is to be thought of, its producers say, as a companion piece rather than a continuation.
"It's a family-fantasy story," said Thomas Smith, the movie's producer. "It tries to capitalize on the fact that there was little exposure of the Ewoks in 'Jedi' and the viewers loved them."
Along with the Ewoks come more special effects -- elements added after the film is shot -- than TV audiences are used to. Smith said there are 170 special effect shots crammed into the movie's two hours, putting it on a par with a "Star Trek" movie (200), but leaving it out of the "Jedi" class (2,000).
The production over-kill will not be lost. "The film will go into general release as a movie under a different title," Smit said. "And there will be a book on the special effects."
All designed to help recoup the movie's production costs, about which Smith would say little, except that they doubled the cost of the usual TV movie.
While the expense was high by TV standards, "The Ewok Adventure" was a cheap excursion by feature film standards. "This one took six months" of production, said Smith, "not three years as they often consume . . . It was a breakthrough of sorts. We did an adequate job of special effects at a cost short of mega-millions. Usually you get 98 percent of what you want in special effects and then pay twice as much for the last 2 percent." The 98 percent figures to look just fine, especially when it's scaled down to TV-screen size.
The people behind the camera are among the best at this sort of thing. Smith, a Fulbright scholar, was general manager of Industrial Light and Magic, the special effects division of Lucasfilm. During the 41/2 years Smith was there, ILM put special touches to "Jedi," "Raiders," "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," "Star Trek" (both II and III), "Dragonslayer," "Poltergeist," "E.T." and "The Neverending Story." Longtime Lucas pal and Oscar->and Emmy-winner John Korty ("The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman," "Twice Upon a Time," "Farewell to Manzanar") directed the picture, and Peter Bernstein (son of Elmer) did the music. Lucas provided the storyline and served as executive director. The narrative voice belongs to Burl Ives.
In front of the camera are a host of Ewoks, all played by small adults, except for Wicket, the star Ewok, who is played by "Jedi" veteran Warwick Davis, a 14- year-old, 2-foot-11 British schoolboy at the time of production. It falls to Wicket to help two human children search for their missing -- and endangered -- parents after their space ship has crashed in an Ewok forest. The kids are Eric Walker as Mace Towani and his little sister, Cindel. She is played by Aubree Miller, who appears to have a terminal case of cuteness. Move over, Webster and RH.
"We auditioned children in Marin County," Smith recalled. "Aubree's taped interview was terrific. Most of the kids were 6 to 10. She was the youngest. She was 4 at the time. She had done some modeling."
Under movie production rules, a 4-year-old can work no more than three hours a day, putting a crimp in the filming schedule. For some that raised second thoughts, but she had the most important vote in the house: "George," recalled Smith, "said to go with her."