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My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 4/29/05 - 4/4/05)

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Here's more good news for those of you hoping for a single high-definition disc format... Matsushita (Panasonic) has officially endorsed Sony and Toshiba's negotiations to unite Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD and avoid a format war. According to the TechWeb story (via Yahoo), however, both Sony and Toshiba are continuing to prepare for the launch of their individual respective HD formats despite these negotiations. Hedging their bets, no doubt.

In other news today, director Steven Soderbergh and 2929 Entertainment have announced a deal to make digital films for simultaneous release in theaters, on TV and on DVD. The apparent goal is to recoup costs faster by eliminating the gap between release windows.

We promised you some reviews yesterday, I believe. Well... we're making good. We're very pleased this afternoon to present you with Adam Jahnke's latest edition of The Bottom Shelf. In this edition, Adam goes Back Underground to review 7 cult titles on DVD (some newly released) from Blue Underground, including Bad Boy Bubby, Smithereens, The Loveless, 99 Women: Unrated Director's Cut, Venus in Furs, Killer Nun and Night Train Murders.

Okay... that's it for today. See you Monday with more new DVD reviews. Have a great weekend!

(LATE UPDATE - 4/28/05 - 3:45 PM PDT)

There's some very sad news to report today, I'm afraid. A pair of recent deaths in the entertainment industry that have left me with a heavy heart. Now, it'd be easy to mention every noteworthy person who passes, but it's just not possible. That would quickly be all we did around here, and there are plenty of year end tributes to all the great talent lost in previous months. But these two... well, I really wanted to mention them because I feel their loss rather personally.

The first is director George P. Cosmatos, who passed away about a week ago of lung cancer (see story). Cosmatos didn't direct a lot of films, but those he did (mostly action or genre pictures) are worthy of note, including Cobra, Leviathan, Of Unknown Origin and Rambo: First Blood Part II. But my favorite of his films, and frankly one of my top three westerns of all time, is 1993's Tombstone, starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer. That's right... the man directed Tombstone. If he'd done nothing else in his career, that's more than enough in my book to make him worthy of high praise. The recent 2-disc Tombstone: Director's Cut - Vista Series DVD (click on the link to read my review) features a solid audio commentary track with Cosmatos and I can think of no better way to honor the man than to give it a listen.

The other person I wanted to mention was a very funny guy from one of the places I call home, St. Paul, Minnesota. There are three comedians on this planet who make me laugh so hard I need a change of boxers... Lewis Black, Jake Johannsen... and the now late Mitch Hedberg. Todd, Sarah and me are all big fans of Mitch's sly, low key humor. He was a new favorite of David Letterman, having made many recent appearances on Letterman's Late Show. He also appeared on TV's That 70's Show and Ed, and in films like Almost Famous among others. Mitch's two very funny comedy CDs have been recent Contest giveaways here on The Bits. Sarah and I just saw him in person a few months ago at The Improv here in Irvine. Mitch sadly died of heart failure on March 31st (see stories here and here). He was just 37 (same age as me, as it happens). The notice of his passing appeared on his official site (click on the link on his name above) on April 1st, so I don't know if people thought it was just a joke, or what. In any case, Sarah and I didn't find out until just today, when we started trying to find out when he was going to appear in our area again. We were just sick when we heard the news. Mitch... you left us way too soon, man, but the world's better for your having been in it. I'm saving my all my doughnut receipts from here on out.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/28/05 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Big news today... Warner has finally officially announced the DVD release of its Best Picture-winning Million Dollar Baby. The film will be available in separate full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions on 7/12 (SRP $29.95 each). Each 2-disc set will include the film with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include a James Lipton interview with the cast and the Born to Fight featurette (on the story of real-life boxer Lucia Rijker). Also available on 7/12 is a deluxe edition containing the 2-disc DVD plus a soundtrack CD (SRP $39.98). You'll find cover art for this title below. [Editor's Note - sorry guys, we had the date wrong earlier. We'd posted it as 7/21. It should be 7/12. Brain fart, what can I say? It happens.]

Warner has also announced the DVD release of Kung Fu: The Complete Third Season (SRP $39.98 - street date 8/23) and The O.C.: The Complete Second Season ($69.98 - 8/23). Surprise... The O.C.'s second season will be released in anamorphic widescreen the way it deserves to be seen. Extras will include audio commentary on the episodes The Chrismukkah That Almost Wasn't and The Rainy Day Women by members of the cast and crew, the Beachy Couture: How O.C. Fashion Is Made documentary, extended takes of the Marissa/Alex lesbian kiss scene and the original "too hot for Fox" version of the scene (you HAD to know that was coming), gag reels from both the first and second seasons, and The O.C.: Obsessed Completely retrospective TV special. Now if Warner would just go back and re-issue Season One in 16x9 the way it SHOULD have done in the first place, we'd really have something.

In other release news today, Universal has announced a trio of new TV releases for 7/19... Cleopatra 2525: The Complete Series, Earth 2: The Complete Series and Sliders: The Third Season.

Now then... I'd expected to post this yesterday, but it took a bit longer to format than I expected. Only so many hours in a day! In any case, we're very pleased this morning to present you with Barrie Maxwell's latest Classic Coming Attractions column here at The Digital Bits. This time around, Barrie introduces his first ever, new Western Roundup, in which he takes a look at the western films of actors James Stewart and Henry Fonda. He also reviews some 22 western-themed titles on 19 DVDs, many newly released. These include Columbia's The Desperadoes, Bonanza Town, The Violent Men and Good Day for a Hanging, 20th Century Fox's Thunderhead, Son of Flicka and Bad Girls, HBO's Deadwood: The Complete First Season, Image's The Old West, Blue Canadian Rockies and Wagon Team, Paramount's Three Violent People, VCI's Buck Jones Western Double Feature, Winners of the West, Red Ryder Double Feature, Volume 7, Red Ryder Double Feature, Volume 8, The Sundowners and High Lonesome, and Warner Bros.' Dodge City and They Died with Their Boots On. Barrie also runs down all the forthcoming western DVD releases, and even compiles them in a downloadable list for your convenience. How do you like them apples?

We'll leave you today with some cover art. Here's Warner's Million Dollar Baby and The O.C.: The Complete Second Season, along with Universal's The Jerk: 26th Anniversary Edition (street date 7/26). The Jerk was part of our big cover art update from Tuesday, but it has yet to grace the index page and it certainly deserves to. Here you go...

Million Dollar BabyThe O.C.: The Complete Second SeasonThe Jerk: 26th Anniversary Edition

We'll be back with more new DVD reviews tomorrow (Friday). Stay tuned...


As promised, we're back today with a massive update of our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section. Our own Russell Hammond has added more than 425 new cover scans to the section today! We've got great art for you to check out, including such titles as The Jerk, Cinderella, The Cosby Show, 3rd Rock from the Sun and much more. As always, clicking on the cover links will take you to the order page for that title (where you can find things like price and disc specs). Purchasing DVDs through our links helps to support our work here at The Bits, so we appreciate it!

By the way, Russell's been formatting cover art for us now for over a year. Thanks for all the hard work, man!

In other news today, our friends over at The have posted another report from the Celebration III convention this past weekend. This goes in the Rumor Mill category, but apparently at the show, DK Publishing was promoting the release of an upcoming Star Wars book as 'timed to coincide with the DVD release of Episode III in Fall 2005'. So you can look forward to the Saga being complete on DVD by the end of this year. Also, Episode III sound designer Matthew Wood (who is also the voice of General Grievous from the upcoming film) reportedly told convention goers that he's soon to begin working on deleted scenes from Episode III for inclusion on the DVD release later this year. Good to hear! Now if we can just get those original trilogy deleted scenes on DVD that Lucas mentioned the other day, along with those 'control ship assault' scenes from Episode II...

In a related note from the same show, George Lucas reportedly confirmed that The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles series is currently in production (likely for DVD release in late 2005 or 2006).

Barring any breaking news updates, we'll be back tomorrow with a new column from Barrie Maxwell.

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 4/25/05 - 6 PM PDT)

We've spent the afternoon doing a little updating of things around The Bits today, including the CEA DVD Player Sales chart and all of the DVD software stats we track (above).

We've also kicked off a new Contest today, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Warner's E.R.: The Complete Third Season and The Waltons: The Complete Second Season. The contest will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, May 1st. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Just as a heads-up, we're putting the finishing touches on a major update of the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section, so you can expect that to be posted very soon. We've also got new Classic Coming Attractions and The Bottom Shelf columns coming in the next couple of days from Barrie Maxwell and Adam Jahnke, and we have a number of new DVD reviews that we expect to post this week as well.

I also wanted to let those of you who read our site know that poor Matt's down for the count at the moment with a bad cold. He may still be making his regular Monday, Wednesday and Friday posts this week, but they'll probably be a little on the light side. If you're of the mind, feel free to drop him an e-mail and tell him to get well soon.

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/25/05 - 12:45 PM PDT)

Afternoon, folks!

Let's start today with the big news: Reuters is reporting that Panasonic (Matsushita) and Philips have joined Sony and Toshiba at the talks to find a way to merge HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc into a single, united format. What that should tell you is just how serious the effort apparently is - a good sign in our opinion. Keep in mind that the discussions have just started and they're going to both be complex and take a long time to get through. Success isn't a guarantee. But it's nice to know that this isn't just a token effort for show. These talks seems to be serious, good-faith discussions. As always, cross your fingers.

By the way, there's an additional story on the talks here from NewsFactor Network via Yahoo.

We've also got a quick DVD release news update this afternoon. First up, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced the DVD release of In My Country, Tour of Duty: The Complete Third Season, Forever Lulu, Georgy Girl, Hexed, Nadine and Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles - The Complete Campaigns (4 discs), all for 7/5.

In addition, Universal has announced the DVD release of The Return of the Pink Panther (SRP $14.98) on 7/26. This is timed to coincide with MGM's Pink Panther promotion on 7/26, which will include the release of The Pink Panther, A Shot in the Dark, Revenge of the Pink Panther, Trail of the Pink Panther, Curse of the Pink Panther, Son of the Pink Panther, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, The Pink Panther: Classic Cartoon Collection - Volume 1, The Pink Panther: Classic Cartoon Collection - Volume 2, The Pink Panther: Classic Cartoon Collection - Volume 3 and The Pink Panther: Classic Cartoon Collection 5 pack.

Speaking of The Pink Panther: Classic Cartoon Collection (SRP $69.96), the 5-disc set will contain some 124 cartoons produced by Friz Freleng and David H. DePatie between 1964 and 1980, plus the Behind the Feline: The Cartoon Phenomenon documentary, the Pink Patter with Art Leonardi: The Story Behind the Animation, Remembering Friz: A Tribute to Friz Freleng, Think Pink: How to Draw the Pink Panther and Page to Screen: The Making of Two Cartoons featurettes, plus the animated main title sequences from five of the feature films.

In other news today, we have word that 20th Century Fox has postponed their release of Julia, which had been previously announced for release on 6/7. We'll give you an update when we learn anything on the title.

Finally, Criterion has revealed on their website that they're working on a new special edition DVD release of Louis Malle's Au revoir les enfants, which will contain a new video interview with actress Candice Bergen. Watch for that to be released this summer.

Back with more later. Stay tuned...


We've got a rare Sunday post for you with a bit of new Star Wars DVD news. At the Celebration III convention in Indianapolis this weekend, George Lucas let it slip that a new DVD box set of all 6 films is in the works, possibly to include an all-new bonus disc containing deleted scenes from the original trilogy. Expect no further changes in the films themselves. In addition, don't look for a high-definition release of the films in 2007. Lucas also confirmed that the digitally-screened version of Episode III will be slightly longer than the traditional film version. You can click here to read more at The Note that the story contains what some may consider to be a slight spoiler about the upcoming film.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/22/05 - 9 AM PDT)

Okay... just one more post this week with a bit of DVD release news. It's just too good not to check in with. Universal has just announced the DVD release of Carl Reiner and Steve Martin's The Jerk: 26th Anniversary Edition on 7/26 (SRP $19.98). The film will be available in anamorphic widescreen video, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include the Learn How to Play "Tonight You Belong to Me" and The Lost Filmstrips of Father Carlos Las Vegas de Cordova featurettes, the film's theatrical trailer and production notes. Other extras are TBA. Also coming from Universal on 7/12 is John Waters' Cry-Baby: Director's Cut (SRP $19.98), available in anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Thanks to our friend Dave Lambert for the heads-up on The Jerk. Great news!

Also today, Warner has announced Cartoon Network's Grossest Halloween Ever and Dallas: The Complete Third Season for release on 8/9, the BBC's Allo 'Allo!: The Complete Series Three for 8/16, PBS' Battlefield Britain and the BBC's Clear the Skies for 8/20, and Go Tell the Spartans and Nip/Tuck: The Complete Second Season for 8/30.

By the way, we've followed up on Fox's release of Remington Steele: Season One on 7/26. It WILL be available in two versions - the complete season box set (SRP $39.98) and two separate Part One and Part Two volumes (SRP $22.98 each). The discs and extras are the same. The difference is just the price point. Obviously the complete season set is the best buy, but for those who don't want to spend the full $40 right away, the two volumes give you another buying option.

Okay... have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/22/05 - 12:01 AM PDT)

We're back today with DVD reviews from our own Adam Jones, who first started with us back in 2002. He's excited about returning to The Bits' staff, and we're certainly glad to have him in the mix again. Adam's a graduate of UCLA, who's currently pursuing two careers as a writer and high school English teacher. He's been featured in The Orange County Register as a freelance writer, covering profiles and rock concerts (speaking of concerts, you can currently read his review of U2's new road show over at MusicTAP). Adam thinks has a voice and he likes it when people listen. It's an attention thing. A little self-indulgent to be sure, but he's a Gemini so give him a break. Besides, is there a writer out there who isn't seeking an audience? Adam (not to be confused with Adam Jahnke) returns to active status today with a trio of DVD reviews, including Warner's new Ocean's Twelve, Touchstone's Open Range and DreamWorks' Catch Me If You Can. We hope you enjoy them.

Now then, Sarah and I have family visiting, so I'm going to wrap things up for this week. But we'll be back on Monday with a major Upcoming DVD Cover Art update, the latest news and more DVD reviews. Plus, you can bet we'll follow up on yesterday's amazing news of the Blu-ray Disc/HD-DVD format unity talks. The latest word is that both Sony and Toshiba have now apparently informed the Hollywood studios that a unified format may emerge from the current effort. As we said yesterday, keep those fingers crossed.

Have a great weekend and stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 4/21/05 - NOON PDT)

We promised you some DVD reviews, so here's the first two of several coming this week... my thoughts on Sony's House of Flying Daggers and Universal Music's release of Sting and Michael Apted's Bring on the Night concert film. We'll be back with more new reviews tomorrow from Adam Jones - a staffer who first joined up with us a few years ago and is now back after a long hiatus. We'll have his take on Ocean's Twelve and more.

See you then!

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/21/05 - 10 AM PDT)

Well... here's big (and VERY good) breaking news: According to Japan Today and other sources, Sony and Toshiba (the primary creators of Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD) have just officially begun talks aimed at uniting their efforts and developing a common next-generation, high-definition DVD format. No kidding. We may just avoid this format war yet, folks.

Here's the story from Japan Today, plus here's more reports on this from the AP via MSNBC, Web Pro News, Wired, News Factor and Retuers.

Could there actually be a shred of common sense in Hollywood and the electronics industry after all? Maybe. Let's hope this is a serious effort on both sides, and that other manufacturers and the Hollywood studios get behind these talks in good faith as well.

Personally, I'd like to see the Hollywood studios start issuing statements in support of these talks. That means you Sony... and you Warner. Shake hands and smile for the cameras, even if you don't really mean it. Fox? Buena Vista? Universal? Paramount? It's time to show the love for a single format.

Cross your fingers, people. Stay tuned...


Hey, everyone. As you've probably noticed, there's isn't much of a post today. But don't fret - the reason is for our absence today that we're working on a number of new DVD reviews for tomorrow, including Sony's House of Flying Daggers. So be sure to check back then.

In the meantime, have a great evening and stay tuned...


Well... whatever the hardware industry plans to do regarding the looming HD format war, Warner still seems gung-ho to push forward with HD-DVD. And now they've officially got Microsoft behind them. Here's news from their official press release just issued at NAB:

Las Vegas, NV (April 18, 2005) -- Today at the National Association of Broadcasters convention, NAB2005, Warner Bros. Studios and Microsoft Corp. announced their plans to collaborate on the release of a broad range of next-generation HD DVD discs using Windows Media Video 9, Microsoft's implementation of VC-1, the proposed Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) standard approved by the DVD Forum for HD DVD. Warner Home Video currently plans to release titles in the fourth quarter of 2005. HD DVD represents the first major push to deliver high-definition content to consumers on optical media in the U.S.

The collaboration signifies Warner Bros.' continued commitment to providing new digital entertainment experiences for consumers using the best digital media solutions available. Microsoft will collaborate with Warner Bros. to ensure that the video quality of HD DVD titles is unmatched, enabling true home theater experiences.

"Warner Bros. has evaluated the video quality of VC-1 and found it to be outstanding, making it an ideal format for the delivery of high-definition content," said Chris Cookson, chief technology officer at Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. "By releasing a wide range of titles in VC-1, we are creating great new opportunities to bring high-definition video to consumers." "Warner Bros.' plan to use VC-1 for the release of HD DVDs presents consumers with exciting new options for watching high-definition content," said Blair Westlake, corporate vice president of the Media/Entertainment & Technology Convergence Group at Microsoft. "As a technology provider, Microsoft is encouraged by the industry's efforts to deliver next-generation high-definition video experiences for consumers, and we see the Warner Bros. collaboration as a significant milestone."

So is all this just posturing, or is the HD-DVD camp really going to push forward with their own format, despite recent comments by Sony's leadership that they're open to format unity talks? Sadly, I think it's the latter. On Friday, this article appeared in Video Business suggesting that "To some HD DVD backers, a compromise remains a long-shot, and the best strategy is to move quickly toward launch to exert maximum pressure on the Blu-ray side to back down."

Well, that isn't going to happen. The Blu-ray folks already have the almost complete support of the computer industry, including leading manufacturers like Dell and HP. Apple's behind them too. In addition, Sony's forthcoming PlayStation 3 is going to use Blu-ray Discs to run gaming software (Sony's current PS2 system dominates the videogame console market by a wide margin). As far as next-generation data storage, Blu-ray seems virtually inevitable. HD-DVD has little clout in this arena, other than its association with Microsoft. But even that's only about video. HD-DVD is simply being positioned as an HD movie format. So who REALLY has the upper hand?

What all this should tell you is that, as is the case in almost any big industry these days, this is all really about egos and money. New leadership at Sony, the primary manufacturer responsible for Blu-ray Disc, has signaled a willingness to compromise. But other forces, like the leadership at Warner Bros. for example, seem content shove their own format down everyone's throat, come hell or high water. I guess that's what happens when a deal goes as badly as the AOL/Time Warner merger did. It doesn't matter to these people, of course, that a single format is better for everyone in the long run. Nor does it matter to them that a format war will cause significant consumer confusion and will likely grind momentum for HD material on disc to a halt. As long as there's even the slimmest chance for their format to dominate the market and thus keep their DVD royalty gravy train rolling, they'll take it and screw everyone else.

Message to the HD-DVD camp: We don't need a continuation of the same at any cost. We need a SINGLE format. If that means long, drawn out and difficult format negotiations, then so be it. If that means a degree of compromise with the Blu-ray folks, so be it. If that means having to sharing the disgustingly high-calorie profit pie a little more evenly, so be it. And if that means a two-year delay in launching the next format, then so be it. Get it done.

Is there still a chance for format unification talks to emerge? Maybe. But cooler heads in Hollywood - and consumers for that matter - had better start putting significant pressure on both camps to make it happen. Because, as it stands now, greedy suits with seriously inflated egos are steering the home video ship toward the rocks.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/18/05 - 4:30 PM PDT)

Okay... you wanted DVD reviews? Well, we've got 'em for you. How about 17 of them from our own Barrie Maxwell? In his latest Classic Coming Attractions, Barrie gives you his take on ReelClassicDVD's A Mormon Maid, Image's Victory/The Wicked Darling, Milestone's Little Lord Fauntleroy, MGM's We Live Again, Barbary Coast, Stella Dallas, Enchantment and Charly, Shanachie's The Man Who Changed His Mind, Warner's The Philadelphia Story: Special Edition, Brigadoon and Bells Are Ringing, Paramount's Teacher's Pet, Lady in a Cage and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, and Questar's A Month of Sundays and Barn Red. Enjoy!

And we've got MORE new DVD reviews coming tomorrow, so stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/18/05 - 12:15 PM PDT)

We're going to start this afternoon with some new DVD announcements.

First up, Paramount has confirmed the DVD release of Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Second Season on 7/26 (two weeks later than the previously announced 7/14 date). The 7-disc set will include all 26 second season episodes in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. There's no word yet on extras other than that the set will include 5 behind-the-scenes featurettes. And by the way, when you pick up Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete First Season on 5/3, you'll find a sticker on the packaging promoting the show's 2-hour finale on 5/13 on UPN. It just makes me crazy, folks.

In more Paramount news, the studio will release The Far Horizons on 6/7, with Reno 911!: The Complete Second Season - Uncensored! following on 6/14 and The Ren & Stimpy Show: Seasons 3 and a Halfish due on 6/28. In July, look for the catalog films A Breath of Scandal, Another Time, Another Place, Elephant Walk, The Adventurers, The Rainmaker (1956) and It Started In Naples all on 7/12.

20th Century Fox has announced the DVD release of Lost in Space: Season Three, Volume Two on 7/19. The studio has also announced that it will release Remington Steele: Season One, Volume One and Remington Steele: Season One, Volume Two on 7/26 (SRP $22.98 each), the same day that the studio's also announced the complete Remington Steele: Season One (for SRP $39.98). It's a little confusing that they would release the series in two formats, so we're looking into this. And here's a bit of Fox news that's going to make a lot of you happy: After a long wait, the studio is finally releasing The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Second Season on 7/26 (SRP $29.98). Extras will include audio commentary on 2 episodes (featuring Ed Asner, Gavin Macleod and others), featurettes and more.

Moving on, Sony has announced the release of 7 Seconds and Stone Cold for 6/28. Also coming on that date are more UMD releases for Sony's hand-held PSP game system, including Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, The Grudge, The Three Stooges Meet Hercules and You Got Served.

Finally, Warner has revealed that they'll release Jimi Hendrix: Deluxe Edition - the acclaimed 1973 theatrical documentary - on 6/28 (SRP $19.98). The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and over 75 minutes of additional content, including newly discovered footage from the vaults of the Experience Hendrix Estate. You'll get rare performance footage of Stone Free, the hour-long From the Ukulele to the Strat documentary, and a number of Remembering Hendrix interviews with family and friends (including Father Al Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, Fayne Pridgeon, Buddy Miles, Linda Keith, Pete Townshend, Eddie Kramer, "H" Parker, Eric Barrett and Gerry Stickels).

We've got some hot new cover art for you to check out this afternoon as well. Here's Paramount's Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Second Season and The Ren & Stimpy Show: Seasons 3 and a Halfish, Fox's Remington Steele: Season One, Sony's Bewitched: The Complete First Season (in Black & White of course - 6/21), BCI Eclipse's The Best of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (7/12) and Miramax's Hostage (6/21). By the way, we have a big update of our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section in the works (a LOT of you have been asking about it, so there you go)...

Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Second SeasonThe Ren & Stimpy Show: Seasons 3 and a HalfishRemington Steele: Season One

Bewitched: The Complete First SeasonThe Best of He-Man and the Masters of the UniverseHostage

Speaking of Star Trek, we've just kicked off a trio of new Contests today, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Paramount's Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete First Season, as well as Fox's The Bob Newhart Show: The Complete First Season and Capital Entertainment's Sunset Story. All the contests will run until Noon Pacific time, on Sunday April 24th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

We'll be back with DVD reviews later this afternoon, so stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/18/05 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Morning, everybody! Just wanted to check in here early to let you all know that we'll be back later today with a number of new DVD reviews, contests and more.

For those of you wondering what happened to Friday's post, we had an unexpected Internet access problem. The cable modem in our office went down, so we were unable to upload our regular site update. Figures.

Anyway, have a great morning and we'll see you back here later!


Well, it looks like CNN Money's followed up on that comment from yesterday (to Reuters) by Sony's Yukinori Kawauchi. Let's hope the industry takes notice... and that Hollywood amps up the pressure to unite the Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD camps somehow. I love high-definition, but I'm more than content to wait another year or two for the details on a single format to be worked out. Let's not have another repeat of VHS vs. Beta or SACD vs. DVD-Audio. Thanks to Bits reader Chris K. for the link.

Also today, Home Media Retailing is reporting that when Sony's Hitch arrives on DVD on 6/14, it will offer composer George Fenton's original score for the film, which was cut for the theatrical release in favor of a number of pop songs. Other extras to be included on the DVD are 4 deleted scenes, a blooper reel, the Dance Steps Made Easy, Hitch Style, The Dating Experts, Love in New York and Will Smith's Red Carpet Ride featurettes and Amerie's 1 Thing music video.

And for you Star Trek fans, Paramount Home Entertainment is soliciting your two cents on a series of Fan Collective Edition DVD box sets it plans to produce in the months ahead. From the studio's press release, visitors to Star can "rank their favorite among four sets including: Klingon, Borg, Time Travel and Q. For each box set, they will also have a chance to select up to five episodes that they believe is most representative for each category or on of the overlooked episodes. In addition, visitors can suggest other Star Trek: Fan Collective DVD box sets and episodes they would like to see in the future."

Speaking of Star Trek... the first of the final 6 episodes of Enterprise will be broadcast tomorrow night on UPN, for those of you who care. After which time there will be precious little reason to watch the network, in my humble opinion.

By the way, now that the season has run its course on SciFi, we expect Universal to announce the DVD release of Battlestar Galactica: Season One in the weeks ahead. Battlestar Galactica: Season One, Part Onealready been released in the U.K. (on 3/28). We'll be sure to keep you posted as things develop.

We're working hard on many new DVD reviews for next week, along with a new Upcoming DVD Cover Art update, new columns and more. So be sure to stay tuned...


Afternoon, everyone! We've got a few interesting things for you today...

First up, Buena Vista has just announced Bruce Willis' Hostage and Christina Ricci's Cursed for DVD release on 6/21 (SRP $29.99). They've also set Vin Diesel's The Pacifier for release on 6/21 (SRP also $29.99).

Next, Warner has announced a number of new titles for July and August. On 7/12, look for Lifetime's Confessions of an American Bride and Dawn Anna (SRP $19.98 each), PBS's 2-disc Guns, Germs, and Steel documentary (SRP $34.98) and the catalog titles Night Moves, Scarecrow and Twice in a Lifetime (SRP $19.97 each). Following on 7/19 is The Travel Channel's 3-disc Michael Palin: Himalaya documentary series (SRP $49.98), which will include over 120 minutes of unbroadcast bonus footage and exclusive pre and post-trip interviews. Now if only we could get Palin's Sahara, Pole to Pole, Full Circle and Around the World in 80 Days on DVD here in the States (hint, hint Warner). On 8/2, look for Warner's Evel Knievel (SRP $19.98) with audio commentary by star George Eads and director John Badham. Finally, also on 8/2, the studio will release The Thin Man Collection (SRP $59.92), a 7-disc set which will include The Thin Man, After The Thin Man, Another Thin Man, Shadow of The Thin Man, Song of The Thin Man, The Thin Man Goes Home, and the Alias Nick & Nora bonus documentary disc.

By the way, there's still no word yet on Warner's Alexander, Million Dollar Baby and Constantine, but we expect announcements soon. Just FYI, we're hearing that The Polar Express will likely be released late in 2005, in time for the holidays.

In other news, BCI Eclipse has announced that they'll be releasing the complete, classic 1980s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe animated series on DVD over the next two years. The first release, due 7/12, will be a 2-disc The Best of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe 10-episode collection. It will include 5 first season episodes, and 5 second season episodes, along with documentary interviews with a variety of talent involved with the original series, including writers, directors, artists and others. It will also include a pair of 4" x 6" art cards by Bruce Timm and Adam Hughes. There's even better news from BCI's press release:

"Beginning this fall, BCI Eclipse will begin releasing the complete, 130-episode series in multi-disc “season” box sets, each including an abundance of extras that, altogether, will make up the most comprehensive collection of extras ever produced for a classic animation DVD series. Consulting with BCI on the project and providing extra content is Val Staples, the owner of, the internet's largest portal for the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe fan community, the owner of MVCreations graphic design company, and the publisher of the recent Masters of the Universe comic. Producing the special features documentaries and most of the extra content is entertainment writer Andy Mangels, a best-selling novelist, and author of Animation on DVD: The Ultimate Guide."

So good news for you He-Man fans, yes?

We've got a follow-up on that Sergio Leone SE DVD story we posted in The Rumor Mill yesterday. We've contacted Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and learned pretty much exactly what we expected: The deal to purchase MGM just closed, so they're only just starting to address the logistics of assuming responsibility for MGM Home Entertainment's catalog and DVD release slate. It's too early to know if the titles MGM had previously slated for release later this year (including the A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and A Fistful of Dynamite special editions) will street as planned, or will be delayed. Rest assured we'll keep you up to date on this in the weeks and months ahead. Cross your fingers, Leone fans.

Also on the Sony front today, this time on the hardware side of things, the company has again publicly indicated that they're open to discussions with the HD-DVD group to create a single standard for the next generation of high-definition movie discs. According to a Retuers News story today, Yukinori Kawauchi (the general manager in charge of the next DVD format at Sony's Video Group) was quoted in an interview as saying, "From the point of view to provide the best service to the consumer one format is better than two. We're open to discussions." Unfortunately, he also noted that, "There's no visible progress to do that (create a single standard)." I'll tell you this... if Sony's for real with this offer to help create a single unified format and the HD-DVD people don't step up to the plate with them, the HD-DVD crowd is going to look awfully greedy. They'll likely get a angry earful from early adopters and consumers, and you can BET they'll hear from us. Come on, guys... the clock is ticking!

Stay tuned...


Well, today's update is a lot later than we'd planned, but we've been investigating some interesting DVD news today, including word on that currently-in-production Gladiator: Extended Edition we've talked about before, as well as a newly-announced trio of long-awaited Sergio Leone special edition DVDs from MGM in the U.K.... that may (or may not) get released here in the States later this year. You're going to find all of this in today's rather lengthy update of The Rumor Mill, so click on over there and dive right in.

Stay tuned...


Afternoon, everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend.

We've got some interesting TV DVD news for you today. First up, 20th Century Fox has announced the release of Remington Steele: Season One on 7/26 (SRP $39.98). The 4-disc set will include all the season's episodes in their original full frame video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio. Extras will include 3 featurettes and commentary on 4 episodes.

In other TV DVD news today, Sony is going to be releasing Bewitched: The Complete First Season on 6/21 in separate B&W (as originally broadcast) and colorized versions (SLP $39.95 each). Also coming on 6/21 from Sony is Tabitha: The Complete Series (2 discs - SLP $29.95).

And not to be outdone, HBO will release Tales from the Crypt: The Complete First Season set on 7/12 (SRP $26.98). The 2-disc set contains all 6 first season episodes.

Over at Home Media Retailing today, there are a couple of articles worth checking out. The first deals with the quest for superior copy protection on future high-definition discs, while the other addresses the now official but still cloudy merger between Sony and MGM. Video Business has a story on the closing of the Sony/MGM deal as well.

Stay tuned...


Well... it's not the original classic TV series, but it's the next best thing I suppose. Anchor Bay is going to be releasing the Return to the Batcave special on 5/17, in which Batman stars Adam West and Burt Ward take you back for a fond Bat-look at all the campy BLAM, POW and CRASH.

Also today, we've got a new Rumor Mill post with word on possible street dates for Million Dollar Baby and a couple of other upcoming Warner titles.

Around the site, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers with the latest data from... you guessed it... CEA, this time for the third week of March. The DVD software rental numbers have also been updated (above).

And over at MusicTAP, Dw Dunphy's posted his thoughts on Enchant: Live at Last on both CD and DVD. The discs are available now from Inside Out.
Finally this morning, we've got a few new pieces of cover art for you to check out. Here's Universal's Jaws: 30th Anniversary Edition (6/14), Fox's Man on Fire: All-Access Collector's Edition (5/24) and Disney's direct-to-video Tarzan II (6/14)...

Jaws: 30th Anniversary EditionMan on Fire: All-Access Collector's EditionTarzan II

Okay... that's it for another week. We'll be back on Monday afternoon. Have a great one and we'll see you then.

Stay tuned!


Morning, everyone!

We've got a little bit of new Jaws: 30th Anniversary Edition information for you today. According to the studio, Disc One will include deleted scenes, outtakes, From the Set and Shark Facts. Disc Two will include The Making of Jaws, storyboards, production photos, Marketing Jaws and Jaws Phenomenon. Since the studio is claiming that the DVD will include "a feature-length documentary," we can only assume that The Making of Jaws is indeed being presented in its original 2-hour version. We'll let you know when we have official confirmation from the studio.

In other news, Warner has announced that it will release the 3-disc Gilligan's Island: The Complete Third Season on 7/26 (SRP $39.98).

Also, Buena Vista has announced a slate of five films in UMD format for playback on Sony's handheld PSP game system. The titles include National Treasure, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Reign of Fire, Kill Bill, Vol. 1 and HERO. Specific release dates are unavailable, other than that they're expected this spring. Additional UMD/PSP titles will likely be announced by the studio later in the year.

By the way, we have another Contest to add to our current line-up. This one gives you a shot at winning copies of Universal's Knight Rider: Season Two, The A-Team: Season Two and Magnum P.I.: The Complete Second Season. All the same rules governing the other contests apply here.

Stay tuned...


We wanted to take a moment to remind you all that an out-of-print title is returning to DVD soon - one that we feel is well worth your attention. Image Entertainment and the National Film Preservation Foundation will be re-issuing the original, 4-disc Treasures from American Film Archives box set on 5/10 in a new "Encore Edition". The set includes 50 rare films of historical value from 1893 to 1985. After it was originally released in 2000 and subsequently went out of print, the title was in such demand that copies were fetching steep prices on eBay. Now you'll be able to get it again for its original SRP of $69.95. Click here for more information on this set, and its acclaimed follow-up, More Treasures from American Film Archives. Net proceeds from the sale of both sets are used to support further film preservation efforts.

Also today, Paramount has informed us that they're going to be releasing The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Indecision 2004 on 6/28 (no SRP yet). The uncensored, 3-disc set will feature all the fake political news and coverage you've come to expect from the show, including all four episodes from the Democratic convention, all four episodes from the Republican convention, and the The Bush-Kerry Debate: The Squabble in Coral Gables and Election Night 2004: Prelude to a Recount live specials.

By the way, in response to reader questions about recently announced MGM titles, the new DVD release of Throw Momma from a Train (due on 5/31) will feature a new anamorphic widescreen transfer. Also, Weekend at Bernie's (due 7/12) will include both anamorphic widescreen and full frame video. Both carry an SRP of $14.95.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/5/05 - 4:15 PM PDT)

We've got a quick update for you on Universal's 2-disc Jaws: 30th Anniversary Edition, recently announced for release on 6/14. The studio is now indicating that the release will include "thrilling bonus materials", including a "never-before-available interview with Steven Spielberg during the production of Jaws... a feature-length documentary, deleted scenes, archives and more." The set, which will be available in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen editions (SRP $22.98 each), will also include a "commemorative photo journal" likely in booklet form. Audio on both versions will include English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, 2.0 Mono & DTS 5.1 Surround, as well as French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. Subtitles will be available in both French and Spanish, along with English captions. We suspect that the "feature-length documentary" is indeed the full version of DVD producer Laurent Bouzereau's original The Making of Jaws, but we'll have to wait for official confirmation of this. We'll post more specific details on the extras as they come in from the studio.

Just FYI, these two new versions are in addition to the three previously released DVDs (from early 2004 - in full frame and widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, and in widescreen with DTS 5.1 audio).

Also this afternoon, we have a little bit of new cover art to share with you... Sony's Hitch (6/14), MGM's Bill & Ted's Most Excellent Collection (7/12) and The Errol Morris DVD Collection (7/26), New Line's Son of the Mask: Platinum Edition (5/17) and A Dirty Shame: NC-17 Edition (we'll give you one guess as to why it's NC-17 - 6/14), and the BBC's forthcoming Voyage to the Planets and Beyond documentary (arriving on DVD on 5/24 from Warner, and debuting on The Discovery Channel on 6/5)...

HitchBill & Ted's Most Excellent CollectionThe Errol Morris DVD Collection

Son of the Mask: Platinum EditionA Dirty Shame: NC-17 EditionVoyage to the Planets and Beyond

By the way, speaking of new cover artwork, we should have another update of the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section soon. I know a LOT of you out there have been waiting for it. ;-)

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/5/05 - 10 AM PDT)

Morning, folks. There's a little bit of interesting news to round up for you today, so let's get right to it.

Here's what's got me excited this morning (no, it's not Flock of Seagulls news): Criterion has announced that it expects to release Akira Kurosawa's Ran on DVD in late 2005. The special edition will include many all new extras, among them an exclusive interview recently conducted in Tokyo with the film's star, Tatsuya Nakadai. Can't wait! Todd and I aren't going to be happy until all of the Kurosawa's films are widely available on DVD in high-quality editions.

In other news, Paramount has announced a few of its July titles, including It Started In Naples and A Breath of Scandal (on 7/12), and Dora The Explorer: Super Babies (on 7/19). Other titles and street dates will be revealed soon.

I wanted to suggest that you all to check out Anchor Bay's newly re-designed website this morning. It's got a slick new interface, and provides a listing of titles that are coming soon to DVD and titles that are due at some point in the future. Among the interesting titles listed there, I'm pleased to see that Damnation Alley is finally on the way (due Fall 2005).

Around the Net today, Home Media Retailing (formerly Video Store) has posted a story about disagreements over the replication costs for HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc. It's interesting reading.

Even better reading, however, is a new story over at Video Business on a possible thaw between the HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc camps. This apparently is due to recent changes in management of Sony and Toshiba, two of the companies at the heart of the disagreement. Everyone cross your fingers that the manufacturers and the studios already committed to one or the other format listen to reason.

Of course, just when it starts looking like there's reason for hope with regard to the HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc format war, along comes a Wired story claiming that Internet distribution will be the death of both formats. Yeah, maybe... at some point. I don't know about you though, but I hope that day is a long way off. There's something about holding the disc and the packaging in your hand, and being able to put it on your shelf... I'm not ready to give that up just yet, thank you. And I don't think other consumers are either.

Why, you ask? Well... I would argue that one of the reasons downloading music is so popular is that the music industry hasn't really been giving people their money's worth for years now. Who wants to pay $20 for a music CD, when you can pay $.99 for the one song on the whole damn disc you might actually like, or $9.99 for the whole album downloaded if you do end up wanting it? The music industry seems intent on ignoring those of us who want high-resolution audio, and their lackluster efforts to give people "more value" with DualDisc are too little too late in my book. The movie industry, on the other hand, has been serving people's wants and needs very well indeed with DVD, delivering not ONLY higher quality video and audio at a great price, but also more extras that most people will ever look at in their lifetimes. Unless you're dying to be the first guy to get a shaky-cam look at Sin City before it hits theaters (which means you're probably going to be first in line to see the flick in theaters anyway), who really wants to download films and watch them on your computer? Not me. I'm more than happy to spend $15-30 for a high quality copy on DVD, plus all the extras, and sit in my comfy home theater.

Yeah, downloading might be the death of movie discs. But not for quite a while yet I think.

By the way, hats off to the UNC Tar Heels for a fantastic finish to March Madness. I'll tell you, watching great college hoops like this just makes me hate those greedy pros even more than I already do. My condolences to our own Matt Rowe, whose Fighting Illini came THIS close. He was dearly hoping his team would get the chance to face my Wisconsin Badgers in the Final Four, but no such luck. Still, great seasons all around for our boys. Big Ten, baby!

Stay tuned...


Afternoon everyone! Any of you get caught by the whole setting your clock ahead thing? We managed to set all our clocks properly, buy body's still running about an hour behind! Ah, well... always takes a few days to adjust.

We've got some DVD announcement news for you today. As expected, Sony has announced the release of Hitch for 6/14 (SLP $28.95). The film will be released in full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions, and also a UMD video version for Sony's PSP. No word yet on extras. Also coming on 6/14 from Sony is The King of Queens: The Complete Fourth Season (3 discs).

And Buena Vista has announced the DVD release of The Pacifier on 6/28 (SRP $29.99). Yeah, I know... Vin Diesel passed up xXx: State of the Union for this?

We're pleased today to offer you Barrie Maxwell's latest Classic Coming Attractions column here at The Bits. In this edition, Barrie runs down the latest classic release announcements, including a basic summary of titles revealed in last week's chat with Warner at the HTF. Don't miss it.

Also today, our own Matt Rowe has reviewed a pair of the new R.E.M. DVD+CD discs or "DoubleDiscs" from Warner Music over at TAP... New Adventures in Hi-Fi and UP. Both include the album in regular CD format, along with high-resolution DVD-Audio format, as well as other extras. As Matt says in the review, "DoubleDiscs are the nukes that blow DualDiscs into oblivion." Amen, brother. If the record companies expect me to buy albums I already have yet another time, they'd damn well at LEAST better give me high-resolution audio for my money. Plain old DualDiscs really don't interest me much.

Around the site today, we've kicked off FIVE new Contests, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Fox's Sideways, Capital Entertainment's Really Bend it Like Beckham and Warner's The West Wing: The Complete Fourth Season, Criminal, Ocean's 12, Space Ghost: Coast to Coast - Volume 3 and Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law - Volume 1. These contests will run for TWO weeks, until Noon PDT on Sunday, April 17th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Finally today, I got the chance to read the script for Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith on Friday night (the marketing blitz officially began this weekend, so the script is available as an e-book, along with the novelization and other books on the making of the film). My comments below contain very few spoilers, but I know there are a lot of people out there who want to say completely free of any advance knowledge. So I'm posting my thoughts on the script in black text. If you want to read them, just highlight the text with your mouse pointer:

I have to tell you that I was awfully uneasy as I began reading the script. The first third of Revenge of the Sith feels very much like parts of The Phantom Menace... and I don't mean the good parts. There's a lot of Anakin and Obi Wan bantering back and fourth as they fight scores of battle droids, and the dialogue is pretty bad. BUT don't despair, because once you get past this, the film gets a lot better. About a third of the way in, the Sith lord's nefarious plot really starts unfolding... and it's all dark and intense action from there on out. The script finishes well, setting up A New Hope beautifully. There are a couple of great surprises, and the plot threads all tie up nicely. You're going to be left with a strong sense of "Wow... so THAT'S how it all happened." I've heard from people who have seen most of the film that the action and visuals are astonishing - the best yet from Lucas. Add to that John William's final score, which you KNOW is going to kick ass, and I think the vast majority of Star Wars fans will enjoy this film. If Lucas pulls it off, it'll easily be the best of the three prequels. Whatever you think of them so far, there's nothing like a strong finish. When I get the chance to SEE this film, you can be sure that I'll post a review.

Okay, that's all for today. Back with more tomorrow.

Stay tuned...

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