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TK's MORNING BUZZ -- Live Daily From the VSDA Show in Las Vegas! <BR> Day 2 -- Morphing VSDA From a Video Retailers Convention to the Home Entertainment Showcase

7 Jan, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Photo: Members of the DVD Entertainment Group met atthe Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) show to celebrate another astounding year for DVD. DVD Entertainment Group members are (left to right) Mike Fidler, senior v.p., marketing, Sony Electronics; Jeff Fink, president, sales, marketing, distribution, Artisan Entertainment; Emiel N. Petrone, chairman, DVD Video Group and executive v.p., Philips Entertainment Group-Worldwide; Warren Lieberfarb, president, Warner Home Video; Dave Mount, president and c.e.o., WEA; Peter Staddon, senior v.p., marketing, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment; RustyOsterstock, g.m., Panasonic Consumer Electronics; SandyFriedman, head of worldwide operations, Dreamworks Home Entertainment.

LAS VEGAS--The 20th annual VSDA convention officially gets underway tomorrow, and organizers are keeping their fingers crossed because they truly don't know what to expect.

Did the move from July to January help or hurt the show? Did the fact that the Consumer Electronics Show is going on concurrently lure more retailers to Las Vegas, or did the hotel-room crunch keep more people away?

A last-minute cancellation of the DVD Super Session due to a series of director bow-outs put a damper on pre-show optimism, and yet the promise of the independent filmmaker series -- a brilliant move by show organizers to put content into direct contact with customers -- is keeping alive hopes that the show will successfully transform itself from a home video retailers convention to the premier showcase for home entertainment, regardless of format.

Some bits and pieces of pre-show news:

• I didn't see too many of our guys (video retailers) at the CES, but the VSDA show office phones were buzzing with calls from CES attendees who wanted to know how they could get into the Adult Entertainment Expo. Fifteen bucks a pop, afternoons only, is what one Sands Expo Center worker was overhead telling an interested caller.

• Last year, there were tiny dancers in the hallways of the Venetian. This year, it appears the VSDA is sharing the Sands Expo Center with the 29th annual Hunters Convention, whose registration center Saturday afternoon stood vacant on the lower floor of the lobby. When I first saw all those "Year of the Hunter" signs, I thought independent retailers were taking this whole "survivor" thing a little too far. No wonder John Antioco isn't here.

• Oh, the good old days, when the press room at the VSDA convention was filled with stacks of really cool press kits and we used to send in troops of staffers to bring back fodder for our Show Dailies. Yesterday afternoon, there were just two very small stacks of material, sitting all by themselves on a vast expanse of tablecloth. In one stack were press kits announcing the merger of videocassette duplicator Mediacopy with one of the world's biggest DVD replicators. In the other were copies of a tabloid newspaper called The T & A Times, serving the, er, adult entertainment nightclub business.

• Getting into the DVD Entertainment Group's annual shindig last night at the House of Blues Foundation atop Mandalay Bay was quite a chore. Media and other invited guests had to 1) check in and get a blue wristband, 2) ride the elevator up for another check-in, this time for a name tag; 3) wait in the dark bar before being ushered into the press conference room; and then 4) vacate the press conference room while food was brought in. Quipped one guest: "What's next? A strip search and voiceprint?"

• This year's DVD Entertainment Group presentation was a marked departure from those of years past, in that the spotlight was firmly centered on DVD audio. My favorite moment was the video clip from Neil Young in which the aging rocker called the CD "a mistake" but said DVD Audio had his hearty endorsement.

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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