So just how quickly after the Disney - Lucasfilm acquisition was officially announced was tonight's Phineas & Ferb: Star Wars special put into production? Well, to hear Dan Povenmire & Jeff "Swampy" Marsh tell the story, this affectionate-yet-hilarious show (which airs tonight at 9 p.m., 8 p.m. Central on the Disney Channel) was greenlit mere moments after this $4.06 million deal was revealed to the public back on October 30, 2012.
"We were sitting in an audio session with our post-production supervisor," Marsh recalled during a recent phone interview. "And this woman was looking at the news feed on her phone when she gasped. She then turned to us and said 'Hey, Disney just bought Lucasfilm for umpteen billion dollars.' "
"So the very next thing that I do is that I draw Doofenshmirtz as Darth Vader. And I take a picture of that drawing and then text it to the head of the studio with a subject line that reads 'I smell crossover!.' " Povenmire laughed.
But what Dan & Swampy didn't know is that -- at that exact same moment -- the head of the studio was meeting with Bob Iger, the Chairman & CEO of The Walt Disney Company.
"I mean, he's in Iger's office meeting with him on an entirely different matter. But as soon as that picture comes in, he slides his phone across Bob's desk and says 'Dan Povenmire just sent me this,' " Povenmire continues. "And Iger supposedly takes one look at this picture on his phone and then says 'Oh, we gotta get right on that.' "
But even with this TV special's instantaneous greenlight from Bob Iger, there was still the matter of getting Lucasfilm's official permission to do a Phineas & Ferb / Star Wars crossover. Which -- given Dan & Swampy's obvious love & respect for this show's source material -- they wanted to do right. I mean, as you can see by the video below, Star Wars: A New Hope played a key role in helping to launch Povenmire's career as a filmmaker & a storyteller.
Getting back now to Dan & Swampy's initial pitch to Lucasfilm ... They really wanted to do something special with this Phineas & Ferb special. Or -- at the very least -- do something different from the previous animated Star Wars spoofs that had recently aired on television.
"It was Scott Peterson -- our story editor -- who said 'We could do this one of two ways, We could do what Family Guy & Robot Chicken did and just do our characters as the characters from Star Wars. Or we could go the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead route and come up with some sort of parallel story. One where the Phineas & Ferb characters have always been part of the Star Wars saga. Only just off-camera," Marsh stated.
"And I remember saying 'Well, that version sounds like it would be much more difficult to do. But on the other hand, it also sounds like that Phineas & Ferb: Star Wars special could be a whole lot more fun if we do it right. So let's give that idea a shot,' " Povenmire stated.
So work then began in secrecy on this Phineas & Ferb / Star Wars crossover. With Dan & Swampy setting up a secret war room that only the writers & storyboard artists who were actually working on this Disney Channel special could gain access to. And to then make sure that this show was as authentic as possible ... Well, Phineas & Ferb staffers began filling this room with their old Star Wars toys and old issues of Starlog magazine. Whatever would help them authentically recreate the look, feel & sound of the Star Wars universe.
"And in the end, our first storyboard pitch for Phineas & Ferb: Star Wars revealed that we had come up with a story that interlocked really well with A New Hope. But the downside was that we had completely lost Phineas & Ferb within this story structure. Our characters were now just two guys who happened to look like Phineas & Ferb. They didn't have any of these characters' typical inventiveness," Swampy said.
"So once we realized that, we went back into the show and did this whole start-from-the-beginning pass on the script. Where we then asked ourselves 'If Phineas & Ferb were living on Tatooine, what would those characters actually do?,' " Povenmire continued. "And that's when we came up with the ideas of having them building habitrails for womp rats. Or having Phineas & Ferb train a bunch of dewbacks to do tricks. Because -- in the end -- we didn't just want to do this affectionate tribute to 'A New Hope.' We also wanted this Star Wars crossover to be a really good Phineas & Ferb episode."
And as you can see by the video clip below, Dan & Swampy did finally find a way to bring balance to the Force. Create a fun Phineas & Ferb episode that just happened to be set in the Star Wars universe.
Mind you, Povenmire, Marsh and the Phineas & Ferb production team had been laboring in complete secrecy on this crossover episode. It wasn't 'til a year ago this week that Dan & Swampy finally revealed that this Disney Channel special was actually in the works.
"And where better to announce this sort of crossover episode than at Comic-Con. But honestly, when we told the crowd in Room 6A what we were doing, we got the biggest recreation that we've ever gotten for anything. The noise that those people made literally shook the room," Swampy remembered.
"Afterwards, the head of the studio comes up to me and says 'Did you hear the reaction that that Phineas & Ferb: Star Wars crossover announcement got ?,' " Dan continued. "And my response was 'Yeah. So does this mean that we'll now get a chance to make Phineas & Ferb specials that key off of Empire & Jedi?" And he was like "I don't know. Maybe ... Let's see how this first one does.'"
"Yeah, that's our New Hope. That we get to do some more Phineas & Ferb Star Wars specials," Marsh laughed.
Well, this morning, Dan & Swampy are back at Comic-Con. Back in Room 6A, to be exact. Where -- starting at 10 a.m. -- they'll be showing clips for Phineas & Ferb: Star Wars as well as field questions from the crowd with the help of Vincent Martella (who voices Phineas Flynn on the show) & Alyson Stoner (who voices Isabella Garcia-Shapiro on this same Disney Channel series).
But if Comic-Con fans want to see this TV special in its entirety ... Well, they're going to have to miss out on the Masquerade in Ballroom 20. For Phineas & Ferb: Star Wars airs on the Disney Channel tonight starting at 9 p.m., 8 p.m. Central.