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page updated: 8/20/02

My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 8/12/02 - 7/23/02)

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(LATE UPDATE - 8/12/02 - 4 PM PDT)

Well... here's the last post for today. We're very pleased, as always, to bring you the latest column from Robert Harris. This time around, Robert talks about aspect ratios and runs down some new and forthcoming titles he feels are worth looking out for on DVD. So with that, here's Aspect Ratios - Salve for the Soul. And don't forget... when you're done with the column, you can click on over to the official thread for this column at The Home Theater Forum for lively discussion. Enjoy!

And one last quick note - we've just updated the AFI Top 100 Films on DVD list to reflect Paramount's announcement of Sunset Boulevard.

See you back here tomorrow with some new DVD reviews. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/12/02 - 2 PM PDT)

Keep it comin', keep it comin'! Here's the rundown on a whole batch of new DVD announcements for you, studio by studio...

Buena Vista will release Son's Room on 10/8, with Felicity: The Complete First Season, Once and Again: The Complete First Season and Sports Night: The Complete Series following on 11/5. Elite Entertainment is bringing their I Spit on Your Grave: Millennium Edition to market on 11/26. Lions Gate (via Trimark) will release It Had to be You on 10/8, with Liberty Stands Still and They Crawl following on 10/15. And Lion's Gate separately will release Beat: Special Edition, Harvard Man and Trial of Old Drum on 10/29. MGM's Windtalkers is due 10/15, with R and Unrated versions of Y Tu Mama Tambien on 10/22. MPI will deliver a 6-disc release of War and Remembrance on 10/29. Music Video's Butthole Surfers: The Blind Eye Sees All arrives on 9/17, with Stan Getz/Alto Madness: Cool Summer following on 10/1, Guided by Voices: Some Drinking Implied and Korn: Korngraphy - Unauthorized Biography on 10/15, and John Miles: In Concert on 11/15. In a very cool turn, Paramount's announced The Sum of all Fears for 10/29, along with Houseboat, Italian Job, Roman Holiday, Sunset Boulevard and To Catch a Thief, all on 11/5. Palm/Manga will release End of Eva on 9/24. Rhino will release Get a Life #2 and Silverchair: Across the Night - The Making of Diorama on 9/10 and Ed Sullivan's Rock 'n' Roll Classics #1: Hits of 1965-67, Ed Sullivan's Rock 'n' Roll Classics #2: Hits of 1967-70 and Ed Sullivan's Rock 'n' Roll Classics (9 disc set) on 9/24. Also, Warner's Scooby-Doo: The Movie debuts in both full frame and widescreen versions on 9/10, with Insomnia following on 10/15 in both full frame and widescreen versions as well.

We're not done yet - Image gets their own paragraph! Look for Dead One/Monstrosity, Doctor Gore (aka: The Body Shop), Grand Slam, Keith Jarret: Solo Tribute, Naked Witch/Crypt of Dark Secrets, Rattlers and Revolver (all on 10/1), 8 1/2, Can You Keep It Up For a Week?, Curb Dogs: Freestyle #1, Curb Dogs: Freestyle #2, Freshest Kids: A History of the BBoy, Germany Year Zero, Good Rockin' Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records, Hyper Police #2, Mick Fleetwood Story: Two Sticks and a Drum, Mozart: Magic Flute - Drottnighholm Court Theatre, Snowboarding Old School: The Very First Contest, Ute Lemper: The Thousand and One Lives of Ute Lemper and Yellow Teddybears (aka: Gutter Girls) (all on 10/8), Diamond Arm, End of the St. Petersburg/Deserter, Hercules Against the Moon Men/The Witch's Curse, Kingdom of the Crooked Mirrors, Ruslan and Ludmila, Stalker, All Monsters Attack!, Perfectly Legal, Playboy Exposed: Spring Break - Greatest Moments, Playboy: 2003 Video Playmate Calendar and Tale of Tsar Saltan (all on 10/15), Best Arbuckle Keaton Collection, The Calling: Live in Italy - Music in High Places and Love of Sunya (silent 1927) (all on 10/22) and Blunt and Empire, Hopalong Cassidy: Call of the Prairie/Heart of the West, Hopalong Cassidy: Cassidy of the Bar 20/Partners of the Plains and Scrooge (all on 10/29).

Okay... now we're done. For now. ;-)

Back soon with more!

(LATE UPDATE - 8/12/02 - 12:30 PM PDT)

We've announced the winners of our Simpsons Trivia Contest, so congrats to all and thanks to everyone who entered. To say this was a popular contest would be an understatement!

Also, we've got a quick update in The Rumor Mill today that you fans of Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves are definitely not going to want to miss. 'Nuff said.

Back with more later...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/12/02 - 11:30 AM PDT)

Okay... hope you all had a restful weekend, 'cause we're going to be hitting you with multiple posts today.

First up, we've updated our CEA DVD Player Sales chart to include the final week of July (ending 7/26), and thus now have the complete July numbers - some 890,417 players shipped to retailers here in the States during the month. All listings have been updated accordingly.

Next up comes word that Columbia TriStar has officially announced the DVD release of Men in Black II for 11/26 (see the artwork below). The 2-disc set will be available in separate versions - widescreen and full frame. We expect details on disc specs to follow shortly. Boy... November sure is gonna be an expensive month for DVD fans!

Moving on, we've got a look at MGM's November DVD line-up. Look for Pumpkin, The Decameron, A Great Wall, Madame Bovary, My Father's Glory, My Mother's Castle, Spetters and Too Beautiful for You on 11/5, with The King is Alive following on 11/19.

And we've got a little cover artwork treat for you this morning too - a look at Warner's South Park: The Complete First Season (11/12), Insomnia (10/15) and the live-action Scooby-Doo (9/10). All of the titles below can be pre-ordered right now at DVD Planet by clicking on the cover art. Enjoy!

South Park: The Complete First SeasonInsomnia


We'll be back with more, and to announce the contest winners, in a little bit. Stay tuned...


We've got a mod set of reviews for you today! Adam Jahnke weighs in with his take on a set of four 1960's spy caper flicks recently released on DVD by Fox: Modesty Blaise, Fathom, In Like Flint and Our Man Flint. So if that's your bag... have at 'em! Think I'm gonna have to check out Fathom myself. Raquel Welch, baby! Can't beat that. By the way, with those titles, we officially cross the 1,100 DVD titles reviewed mark here at The Bits!

In other news today, Warner Bros has officially announced the DVD release of Christopher Nolan's Insomnia remake. Set to debut on 10/15 (SRP $26.98), the disc will be available in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions. Each will include Dolby Digital 5.1 audio in English and French (dubbed in Quebec), subtitles in English, French and Spanish, audio commentary by director Christopher Nolan (presented in the order the film was shot), audio commentary by Hilary Swank and filmmakers, 180°: A Conversation with Christopher Nolan and Al Pacino (on-camera interview), the In the Fog featurette (an exploration of the film's cinematography and the design of the "fog" sequence with two separately selectable audio tracks; one with director of photography Wally Pfister and the second with production designer Nathan Crowley), the Day for Night: The Making of Insomnia documentary, the Eyes Wide Open featurette (on the real sleep disorder), and extended scene with optional director's commentary, the From the Evidence Room gallery of theatrical posters, stills and production designs, the film's theatrical trailer and DVD-ROM weblinks to the film's website and live online events. I really liked this film, as well as the original (available on DVD from Criterion and reviewed here), so this should be a fun disc.

Also this morning, we've got an exclusive sneak peek at the cover artwork for Columbia TriStar's as-yet-unannounced DVD releases of Men in Black II (also in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions). They come from "an unnamed source". I think from now on, all unnamed sources here at The Bits are gonna credited as Alan Smithee. So thanks for sending these in, Alan! ;-)

Men in Black II (Widescreen)Men in Black II (Full frame)

Don't forget that our Trivia Contest closes on Sunday night, so keep those entries coming in!

And we'll be back on Monday with some great new reviews and a special feature as well. See you then!

(LATER UPDATE - 8/8/02 - 1 PM PDT)

Okay... last update for today. Columbia TriStar will be releasing Mad About You: The First Season on DVD on 10/29 as a 2-disc set. No other details are yet confirmed.

Also, we have a features rundown on Warner's South Park: The Complete First Season, which streets on 11/12 (SRP $39.98). Look for "irreverent audio commentary for all thirteen episodes from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Jay Leno's South Park guest appearance as formerly seen only on The Tonight Show, two classic Christmas music videos that haven't been unwrapped since their original airing in 1997: Cartman's O Holy Night and Ned's O Little Town of Bethlehem, priceless on-camera intros to all thirteen episodes from Parker and Stone, and the original on-air promos for the show's debut.

Back tomorrow...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/8/02 - 12:30 PM PDT)

Here's another bit of news that will affect your home video habits in the next decade. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) voted 3-1 today to mandate to electronics manufacturers that all TVs must include over-the-air digital tuners by 2007 (read more via CNN). Furthermore, all TV sets with screens of 36 inches and larger must have the tuners by July, 2004. This is being done to speed the complete conversion to digital television in the States, which has been slowed by industry reluctance and other political issues. In response, the CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) said manufacturers believe the mandate could add $250 to the cost of TVs, for a device most people will never use. Why? Simple - because most people in the United States these days don't get their TV signals over-the-air. They get them via cable and direct broadcast satellite. Broadcasters on the other hand (represented by the National Association of Broadcasters, or NAB) are happy about the new FCC mandate, because they themselves are being required by the FCC to broadcast over-the-air digital signals by 2006, and what's the point if no one can see them? Makes sense, right?

Well... there's a player here that's being overlooked, and I think it's time someone put the pressure on them - cable companies. More than 70% of all households in America get their TV signals via cable, and cable companies are feeling little to no pressure to carry digital (and particularly HD) signals. Even the companies that do provide digital - like our own Cox Communications here in Orange County, California - carry no high-definition channels. And you'd think that if you have a digital TV and a digital cable service, they'd work together, right? Think again. That digital signal terminates at your cable box, and then gets converted to analog for the journey the last couple of feet to your digital TV. It's ridiculous. If the FCC wants to do some real good, it should pressure cable companies to join over-the-air broadcasters in complying with DTV and HDTV standards. Otherwise, they'll keep using the same old excuse: "We'll provide this service when our customers ask for it" (click here for the official wording).

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/8/02 - 2 AM PDT)

Well, it's finally happening. Discussions have officially begun between the major Hollywood studios about how to move forward with a packaged HD-DVD format. Representatives from each of the studios met a little over a week ago to begin looking at HD-DVD format options and timetables. There seem to be 2 basic camps: those that want to use existing red-laser technology and those who want to use a new disc format based on higher-capacity Blu-Ray discs and blue lasers (see this EETimes story from March for more on this). The red-laser camp is spear-headed by Warner Bros, which has a tremendous investment in existing DVD technology. Their idea would use ultra-high MPEG-4 video compression algorithms (and/or another compression scheme developed by Microsoft, called Corona) to squeeze high definition video onto, basically, existing DVD discs. The good news about this idea is that it could be brought to market as early as late 2003 (and some aspects of the format could be compatible with existing DVD machines). The bad news is that it could (and we believe would) seriously degrade video quality.

Our apologizes to Warner Home Video president Warren Lieberfarb, but our preference here at The Digital Bits is firmly with the other camp - the blue-laser option. Until we see a demonstration of truly high quality, high-definition video using this new red-laser compression, we remain unconvinced. Could we be wrong? Well somebody had better demonstrate it to us or we aren't buying it. The bottom line is simple: if you're going to do high-definition DVD, let's make it truly high-definition! HD-DVD absolutely MUST be as good or better than D-VHS, which currently offers an MPEG-2 video bit rate of 28.2 megabits per second and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio at 576 kilobits per second. Blue-Ray is more than capable of this. Red-laser based technology is not. Sure, blue-laser might take a little longer to get right, but so what? Current DVD is doing just fine, thank you, and you can use the extra time to figure out a copy-protection scheme robust enough that it won't get cracked in a couple months by some teen-aged kid in Norway. If HD-DVD is to successfully follow in the footsteps of DVD, it absolutely MUST offer a clear and substantial quality improvement over DVD, as DVD offered over VHS and laserdisc. Even IF that happens, HD-DVD is going to remain a tough sell to all but the most avid early adopters. Everyone else is going to stick with the new standard DVD players they just recently upgraded to.

Look, when it finally arrives, we're the first guys in line for HD-DVD, believe me. Nobody wants it more than we do. But in the rush to get it done, let's not forget that the "HD" part of HD-DVD is supposed to mean HIGH DEFINITION. Not "somewhat improved definition" or "nearly high definition". Warren? All you other studio execs? You listening? We sure hope so, 'cause we plan to hold your collective feet to the fire on this.

Don't make us stop this car and come over there.... ;-)

(LATE UPDATE - 8/7/02 - 12:30 PM PDT)

We've posted another pair of new DVD reviews for you today - Graham Greenlee's look at Artisan's How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog and Dallas Ragan's take on Warner Music's Classic Surf for Guitar: Volume 1.

By the way, both Graham and Dallas have shiny new Digital Bits e-mail addresses, so be sure to drop them a line and say hello: and

We've also kicked off our latest Trivia Contest, which will give each of you a chance to win one of five copies of The Simpsons: The Complete Second Season on DVD. You've got until 12:01 AM PDT on Monday, August 12th to enter, so good luck!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/7/02 - 11 AM PDT)

We've got some cool upcoming DVD news for you today. First of all, MGM has announced the DVD release of Windtalkers for 10/22 (SRP $26.98). The disc will feature both anamorphic widescreen and full frame video, along with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.

That same day, MGM will also release dual R-rated and Unrated versions of Y Tu Mama Tambien (SRP $26.98 each). Each disc will feature anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.

Here's a look at the cover artwork for both titles...

WindtalkersY Tu Mama Tambien (Unrated)

In addition, Paramount will release The Sum of All Fears on 10/29 (MAP $19.95). The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, 2 commentaries by director Phil Alden Robinson (one with novelist Tom Clancy and one with cinematographer John Lindley), 2 behind-the-scenes featurettes (on the making of the film and the visual effects) and the theatrical trailer.

In other news, our old friend Don May, Jr.'s updated the news page over at Synapse Films with some new details about their upcoming titles. Be sure to check it out.

And there's word over at that the Back to the Future Animated Series is being prepped for DVD release in 2003.

Around the site today, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to reflect the 217,043 players that shipped to retailers in the week ending July 19th. All charts have been updated accordingly.

We've also updated Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to its most recent version, dated July 22nd.

Back soon with more!

(LATE UPDATE - 8/6/02 - 1 PM PDT)

We've just posted a trio of new DVD reviews for you this afternoon. First up is Todd Doogan's look at Miramax's Pulp Fiction: Collector's Edition, which streets on 8/20. We think you fans of the film are going to be very happy at long last. Next up, we've got two more reviews from Graham Greenlee - MGM's Sleeper and Columbia TriStar's recent The Mothman Prophecies. Watch for more new reviews tomorrow.

And in another cool bit of news today, we've got word from that the rock group U2 is working on a pair of new DVDs to go along with their November "best of" CD. The first is expected to be a compilation of their video singles, and the other will feature their performance at Slane Castle last year.

Now rush right out and pick up your copy of Lord of the Rings! Watch for a new Trivia Contest tonight and we'll be back with lots more tomorrow.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/6/02 - 11 AM PDT)

Here's some good news for you Wim Wenders fans! Anchor Bay has just announced that they're releasing some nine of the director's films on DVD! Among the films included are The American Friend, Notebook on Cities and Clothes, Nick's Film: Lightning Over Water (these are the first three, set for later this year), along with The Scarlet Letter, Chamber 666 and others following in 2003. Very good news indeed.

On a related note, I have it from sources at MGM that Wenders' acclaimed Wings of Desire will be released as a special edition in 2003 as well.

Also on a related note, I'm hoping MGM will get around to releasing Akira Kurosawa's Rhapsody in August, and that Warner Home Video will release Wim Wenders' Until the End of the World and Kurosawa's Dreams. I'm just not going to be happy until all of Kurosawa's films are on DVD in Region 1.

In other news, Warner Home Video will release Christopher Nolan's remake of Insomnia on 10/15 in dual full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions (SRP $26.98 each).

And it looks like Canadian fans of Brotherhood of the Wolf will be treated to a 3-disc special edition DVD version of the film on 10/1 from TVA International (SRP roughly $60 Canadian). Here in America, Universal is only releasing a single disc version on that same day.

Back with reviews and more this afternoon. Stay tuned...


Well... we're back from Comic-Con, where we had another great DVD Producers Panel. I'm going to be working on a transcript, but it will probably take a week or so to get it up, just FYI. Today is sort of our "get back in the swing of things" day, but in case you missed it, we posted our in-depth review of New Line's 2-disc The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings DVD on Friday night. It's well worth the money, just for the film alone (along with the previews of the 4-disc set and The Two Towers), even if you plan also to buy the 4-disc set later. You'll find a mail-in rebate offer in the case for $5 off the 4-disc set, which is a nice touch. So anyway, enjoy the review!

In the meantime, we've got more upcoming DVD announcements for you today. Artisan delivers Desert Saints on 9/17, and Black Point, Johnson County War, Joyride, Little John, Playaz Court, The Pool, Raw Meat (aka: Victim of Love), Rose Hill, Say Nothing, Shell Seekers, Surviving Gilligan's Island, To Dance with the White Dog and What Killed the Mega Beasts all on 9/24. BMG Music will deliver The Calling: Wherever You Go/Adrienne on 8/27, Black Sabbath: The Black Sabbath Story #1 and Black Sabbath: The Black Sabbath Story #2 on 9/10, and Christian: En Grande and Roy Ayers: Live at Ronnie Scott's on 9/24. Columbia TriStar's added Lady and the Duke and Nine Queens to it's 9/10 slate, along with Enough and I Spy Returns on 10/8. Criterion/Home Vision has set Rocking Horse Winner and Seance on a Wet Afternoon for 9/24. Then Criterion follows with the Down by Law: Special Edition and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp on 10/22. Elite will deliver Patrick on 10/22. As you already know, HBO's Band of Brothers arrives on 11/5. New Line's Brother's Keeper streets on 10/8. Palm Pictures' Scratch streets on 8/13. Red Distribution will launch Def Leppard: Hysteria on 8/27. Universal will release Law and Order: The First Year on 10/15 and About a Boy in dual full frame and widescreen versions on 10/22. Warner Home Video's Richie Rich's Christmas Wish debuts on 10/8. Warner Music streets The Art of Piano: Great Pianoists of the 20th Century and The Art of Singing: Golden Voices of the 20th Century on 8/27. And finally, Warner will also release National Geographic: Lost Subs on 11/5, National Geographic: Ambassador, Inside the Embassy on 11/26 and National Geographic: PT-109 - Kennedy's Lost Ship on 12/17.

Okay, tomorrow we'll be back with more news and reviews. And we've got another Robert Harris column coming in the next few days as well.

One last note this morning... I managed to catch a really great flick on Friday afternoon - M. Night Shyamalan's Signs. It's genuinely creepy and well crafted. It reminded me a lot of George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. I happily add that to Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition (my early favorite for Best Picture), Sam Raimi's Spider-Man and Joel Zwick's My Big Fat Greek Wedding on my list of films I've enjoyed most so far this year. And if you go a little farther back, Bill Paxton's Frailty is right there too. Is it just me, or has this been a banner year for good flicks so far?

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/2/02 - 10:30 PM PDT)

Oh hell... we just couldn't wait until next week to post our review of New Line's 2-disc The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring DVD, which contains the theatrical version of the film. So you'll find it available for your reading pleasure right now. We've also corrected a few details in Graham's review of The Apartment as well, just FYI.

Enjoy and we'll see you back here on Monday!


We've just announced the winners of our M*A*S*H Trivia Contest, so if you entered, be sure to check that out. We've also just posted a pair of new DVD reviews from Graham Greenlee for you today - Paramount's Sidewalks of New York and MGM's The Apartment.

And with that, another week is in the can. And we're off to Comic-Con in San Diego! Don't forget, our DVD Producers Panel runs from 11:30 AM to 1 PM tomorrow, in room 6BCDEF. Maybe we'll see you there!

In any case, we'll be back next week with lots more DVD news and reviews, including an in-depth look at New Line's 2-disc The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/2/02 - 12:01 AM PDT)

You fans of NBC's Law & Order will be pleased to know that Universal is taking their first foray into releasing TV series product on DVD on 10/15, with Law & Order: The First Year (SRP $99.98). There aren't a lot of details yet on the set or its contents but we expect them soon.

I'll tell you this... judging by the number of e-mails we get every day here at The Bits, there's a HUGE appetite out there for TV shows on DVD. Seems like everyone's got a favorite show that they just have to have on disc. Now if we could just get Warner to pony up The West Wing on DVD. And here's an obvious choice... thirtysomething anyone?

Also today, we have a report to make you Tim Burton fans happy in The Rumor Mill. Don't miss it.

Back later to announce the Trivia Contest winners. Stay tuned...


Yep... it's official. Lucasfilm's Star Wars website has just announced the DVD release of Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones for 11/12 (SRP $29.98 - preorders begin on 8/14). Separate anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions will be available on the same day, each mastered directly from the digital source material (VERY cool in our opinion). Here are the official specs: 2-discs, full frame or anamorphic widescreen video (2.35:1), English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio, THX-certified, feature-length audio commentary (with writer/director George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, sound designer Ben Burtt, animation director Rob Coleman and effects supervisors Pablo Helman, John Knoll and Ben Snow), 8 deleted scenes completed specifically for the DVD release with introduction by George Lucas, Rick McCallum and Ben Burtt, the From Puppets to Pixels: Digital Characters in Episode II documentary, the State of the Art: The Previsualization of Episode II documentary, the Films Are Not Released: They Escape sound documentary, 3 featurettes (on storyline, action scenes and love story), Star's Making Episode II 12-part web documentary, the R2-D2: Beneath the Dome "mocumentary" trailer, John Williams' Across the Stars music video, international poster art and print campaign gallery, the original theatrical teaser and launch trailers plus 12 TV spots, production photo gallery, ILM Visual Effects Breakdown montage, HoloNet News website and DVD-ROM weblinks to special DVD-only website with exclusive content.

Here's a look at the final DVD cover artwork for both versions (click here to see a larger image of the widescreen disc)...

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (widescreen)Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (full frame)

So then... have yerselves a great day, Force fans! ;-)

(LATE UPDATE - 7/31/02 - 1:30 PM PDT)

Hey... what do you know? HBO has just officially announced the DVD release of Band of Brothers for 11/5 (SRP $119.99). Packaged in a 6-disc, embossed, metallic case, you'll get the entire miniseries in anamorphic widescreen video (mastered from high-definition), with audio in English Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 (along with English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround). Extras will include the 80-minute documentary We Stand Alone Together: The Men of Easy Company, a 30-minute Making of Band of Brothers featurette, actor Ron Livingston’s behind-the-scenes Video Diaries, a featurette on HBO’s premiere screening of the miniseries on the beaches of Normandy, an optional, enhanced viewing mode called Field Guide (an interactive reference feature, which details the people, places and events associated with Easy Company’s campaigns through Europe and WWII as a whole), character biographies, weblinks to the Living Memorial and other relevant sites, a still photo gallery, episodic previews and a series index. Here's a look at the final cover artwork...

HBO's Band of BrothersHBO's Band of Brothers

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 7/31/02 - 11 AM PDT)

Morning all! It's a slow news day so far and we're busy gearing up for the Comic-Con DVD Producers Panel today. But we do have an interesting bit of information in The Rumor Mill this morning - one that you Band of Brothers fans will want to check out.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 7/30/02 - 12:30 PM PDT)

Okay... we've got a nicely eclectic batch of DVD reviews for you today, retro titles all. First up, we've got Adam Jahnke's spin on DreamWorks' recent special edition of Steven Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Then, our own Dan Kelly harkens back to his youth with Rhino's Transformers: Villains. To follow that up, we've got a pair of reviews from two new DVD staffers here at The Bits. We're proud to welcome aboard future "Golden God" Dallas Ragan, who gives us his thoughts on Warner Music's Electric Guitar Basics (The Ultimate Beginner Series) DVD. And we're also pleased to welcome Graham Greenlee, who waxes fondly over Paramount's Let it Ride. See? Told you it was an eclectic bunch of reviews. Hey - that's just the cut of our jib... the lay of our land... the color of our world... the-- okay, you get the idea.

Stay tuned... ;-)

(EARLY UPDATE - 7/30/02 - 12:01 AM PDT)

We've got your first look at the cover artwork for a trio of upcoming Buena Vista TV series titles on DVD: Sports Night: The Complete Series, Felicity: The Complete First Season and Once and Again: The Complete First Season (street date for all: 11/5). We've also got the final art for Paramount's Saturday Night Fever: 25th Anniversary DVD Edition (street date: 10/8).

Sports Night: The Complete SeriesFelicity: The Complete First Season

Once and Again: The Complete First SeasonSaturday Night Fever

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 7/29/02 - 3:30 PM PDT)

My in-depth review of Paramount's upcoming Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - Director's Edition is now available. The long awaited 2-disc set streets next Tuesday, and I think you'll all be very pleased with it.

We've also updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers this afternoon, to include the 131,650 players that shipped to retail in the second week of July (ending 7/12). All charts have been updated accordingly.

And we've kicked off our latest Trivia Contest, in which five lucky winners will take home a copy of 20th Century Fox's M*A*S*H: Season Two DVD set. You've got until 12:01 AM on Friday to enter, so don't miss it.

Back tomorrow with more. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 7/29/02 - 10:45 AM PDT)

You know... I'm in a pretty good little mood today. I just found out that one of my favorite recording artists, Peter Gabriel, is releasing a new, 13-track studio CD (his first in 10 years) on September 24th, titled Up. The Peter Gabriel website also mentions that all of his catalog of albums have been digitally remastered "to be ready for the new formats of DVD Audio and Super Audio CD". Plus, he's going on tour in November and December here in the States. So that right there is enough to make my month (and maybe we'll finally get a PG DVD or two as well - Secret World Live anyone?).

Then comes news over the weekend (from Sony's Michael Schlesinger via our good friend Robert Morris, who wrote an extensive book on the film) that Lawrence of Arabia is going to see a brand new 70mm theatrical re-release in September:

"Lawrence will open on 9/20 at the Ziegfeld in New York, the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, and the Cinerama in Seattle; the Senator, Baltimore and Music Box, Chicago are also considering that date. The Castro, San Francisco jumps in a week later. These will all be in glorious 70mm, with DTS where the theatre has it. It'll then spread out to many other 70 dates across the country. We'll also have some quad-track 35s for those poor, benighted odea that don't have 70."

So that just makes the week even better. Then we've gotten word of lots of great new upcoming DVD announcements, as follows:

Anchor Bay will release Initiation, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Ladykillers, Lavender Hill Mob, Man in the White Suite and the Society: Special Edition (all on 9/10). Artisan's Foxfire is also on the way in September (9/24). Columbia TriStar has set Enigma, Fast, Cheap and Out of Control, Hanky Panky, Shamus, Vampires: Los Muertos and Vanya on 42nd Street (for 9/24), The Collector (for 10/1), The Big Picture and Three Stooges: G. I. Stooge (for 10/8) and Mr. Deeds (for 10/22 in both full frame and widescreen versions). Criterion will release the Down by Law: Special Edition and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (on 10/22). Paramount has added 9/11: The Filmmakers Commemorative Edition (on 9/10), The Carol Burnett Show: Showstoppers and Lucky Breaks (10/8) and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: Special Edition (10/22) to its upcoming slate. Sony's got Iron Maiden: Rock in Rio coming (on 8/20). And finally, 20th Century Fox has added Life or Something Like It and The Rats (to 10/15) and The X-Files: The Complete Sixth Season (to 11/5).

How's that for a good way to start your Monday?

Now... here's something that's not so good - a potentially scary bit of news. Our "friends" at the MPAA and RIAA have officially introduced a bill in U.S. House of Representatives that would dramatically rewrite federal law to permit them to legally hack into peer to peer networks and create nearly unchecked electronic disruptions if a copyright holder has a "reasonable basis" to believe that piracy is occurring. Keep in mind that peer to peer networks are basically made almost entirely of end user computers, so they're asking for legal power to tap into YOUR computers, at their sole discretion, to cause disruptions. Think about that for a minute. Angry yet? You should be. Here's another link on this at And you can read the actual bill (in PDF format) here.

By the way, the bill is being introduced by Howard L. Berman, a Democrat from California. Wanna guess who donated the largest share of ol' Howard's campaign contributions? You guessed it - the entertainment industry. Click here to see.

Okay, moving on... the TrekToday website has confirmed that work is already underway on Paramount's Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - Special Edition DVD.

And yes... we've heard those rumors posted by Ain't it Cool News about Paramount releasing the Indiana Jones Trilogy for the holidays next year. This may very well be under discussion, but it's way too early to start talking about a release that's officially unconfirmed and is more than a year away. And how many times have we heard this now? We've decided that we're not going to post anything on this until we're confident that the discs are in production. But we'll let you know when and if this becomes more solid.

Finally this morning, there's word via the L.A. Times that Miramax has closed a $7 million dollar deal to release the first two seasons of MTV's The Osbournes on VHS and DVD. Look for both censored and uncensored versions, with the first season coming this fall. Per the Prince of Darkness himself, there will be no bubbles...

Now then... we'll be back later with more DVD reviews, including Star Trek II.

Stay tuned...


Okay, we're closing this week out with a last trio of new DVD reviews. Adam's Jahnke's got some thoughts on Paramount's Elephant Man for you, Greg Suarez checks in with a look at Paramount's Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy, and Matt Rowe's given another music title a spin - Projekt Records's Time of the Earth: A Desert Dreamtime Journey. We'll be back with more new reviews next week, including Paramount's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn - Director's Edition.

In other news today, DreamWorks, 20th Century Fox and Universal have officially announced the next wave of D-VHS high definition titles they plan to release. Coming soon are Independence Day, Big Momma's House, Entrapment and Don't Say a Word from Fox (street date 8/6 - SRP $34.98), DreamWorks' Galaxy Quest (8/20 - SRP $44.99) and Universal's End of Days (also 8/20 - SRP $44.99). Personally, I'd love to see Universal's Apollo 13 on D-VHS... hint, hint guys!

And we've got a quick blurb in The Rumor Mill today on a possible release date for Fox and Lucasfilm's Star Wars: Episode II. I expect official details to be released any time now. In fact, I'd be surprised if Lucasfilm doesn't break the news at Comic-Con next weekend, if not sooner.

Now then... have a great weekend. Go see Goldmember or one of the best movies Todd and I have seen in a LONG time, Road to Perdition. Now that's a good flick. Hard to believe it's only Sam Mendes's second film... and his first was the Best Picture-winning American Beauty. Damn!

See you back here on Monday... ;-)


Continuing our DVD review line-up this week, this morning we've got Greg Suarez's look at Paramount's Top Secret!, Jeff Kleist's take on Fox's upcoming The Simpsons: The Complete Second Season (which streets on 8/6) and Adam Jahnke's spin on MGM's Hannibal: Special Edition. And yes, we'll have more reviews tomorrow!

In other news today... how do you like this? Disney's gonna be marketing Disney-branded DVD players in the near future. The company is already starting with phones and radios in conjunction with Motorola. Cute for the kids I suppose. Anyone up for a DVD player with mouse ears? ;-)

Stay tuned...


Okay... we're kicking off the day with another trio of new DVD reviews. First up, I've got my take on New Line's Blade II: Platinum Series, which streets on 9/3. Next, our own Jeff Kleist takes a look at Fox's new M*A*S*H: Season Two Collector's Edition. And we also have a new staffer joining us here at The Digital Bits this morning.

Adam Jones is a freelance writer living in Costa Mesa, California. His fanatical passion for movies began when his dad took him to see Raiders of the Lost Ark when he was six years old. The desire to become a writer came along after reading a beat up copy of The Shining, while the other kids were flipping through How to Eat Fried Worms. Adam wants to have a voice, and he's hoping you'll listen. He checks this morning with his first DVD review for The Bits - a look at Columbia TriStar's recent Black Hawk Down. Be sure to drop him a line and say hello at: (the address should be live later this morning). Welcome aboard, Adam!

Now for the big news of the morning: Paramount has officially announced the DVD release of their Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - Special Collector's Edition for October 22nd!

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - Special Collector's Edition

The 2-disc set will include the original theatrical cut of the film on Disc One, in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. You will also find feature-length audio commentary with director Leonard Nimoy, writer/producer Harve Bennett, director of photography Charles Correll and actress Robin Curtis, along with another text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda. Disc Two will include the Captain's Log production retrospective featurette (featuring new interviews with Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Christopher Lloyd and Robin Curtis), the Terraforming and the Prime Directive featurette (which looks at the science fiction and real subject of "terraforming", featuring an interview with a NASA scientist), 3 additional production featurettes (Space Docks and Birds of Prey, Speaking Klingon and Klingon and Vulcan Costumes), the film's theatrical trailer, storyboards and a photo gallery. Note that the street date and features have been officially confirmed with the studio.

Around the site today, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to include the 187,442 players that shipped to retailers in R1 in the first week of July (ending 7/5). All charts have been updated accordingly.

And finally this morning, our own Jeff Kleist will be moderating the Otaku No DVD panel this weekend at Otakon in Baltimore, MD. Otakon is a convention devoted to east Asian culture, with a particular focus on Japanese animation (anime). It features 7 video rooms with high quality sound and projection, as well as a dedicated 35mm theater for showing classics of Asian cinema. Otakon is held in the Baltimore Convention Center. Jeff's panel is on Sunday afternoon (12:30 PM EDT), so if you're attending, be sure to check it out!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 7/23/02 - 1:30 PM PDT)

Our own Todd Doogan returns to action here at The Bits today after a long absence! And he's checked in with reviews of a whoppin' nice trio of new DVDs: Criterion's Red Beard, Anchor Bay's Mad Monster Party and Synapse's The Image. So - recapping - you've got classic Kurosawa, a lost Rankin/Bass "Animagic" gem and a funky little art/porn flick. Now that's a helluva triple feature in anyone's book! S'good to have Doogan back, innit?

And don't worry... we haven't forgotten about Blade II! It's coming along with several other reviews through the end of the week. So stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 7/23/02 - 11:45 AM PDT)

Yep... it's that time of year again. The Digital Bits is once again going to be heading down to Comic-Con in San Diego this year, and yes... those of you who attend can look forward to our DVD Producers 2002 panel discussion! You may remember last years' panel, which was a big hit with attendees. Nearly two thousand people packed the room to hear our panelists talking shop. This year, we've got another great batch of panelists (some of whom return from last year and some new panelists as well), industry professionals all: Charles de Lauzirika (Speed: 5-Star, Black Hawk Down: SE), J.M. Kenny (Dances with Wolves: SE, Evening with Kevin Smith), David Prior (Pearl Harbor: Vista, Blade II), Michael Pellerin (Beauty and the Beast, Lord of the Rings) and Mark Atkinson (Almost Famous: Untitled, American Beauty). I'll be moderating the discussion once again, and our panelists will be previewing some of the great upcoming DVD special editions they're currently working on. It should be a lot of fun. And, like last year, we'll post a transcript of the discussion here on The Bits after the show for those who can't attend in person.

But for those who CAN make it, DVD Producers 2002 will be held on Saturday, August 3rd, from 11:30 AM to 1 PM at the San Diego Convention Center (room 6BCDEF). Hope to see you there!

Now then... we'll be back this afternoon with more new DVD reviews.

Stay tuned...!

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