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Hart Sharp Celebrates First Title

12 Jun, 2003 By: Anne Sherber

Retailers and distributors Tuesday gathered at Patsy's, one of Frank Sinatra's old Manhattan haunts, to celebrate Hart Sharp Video's first video release, Sinatra: The Classic Duets.

The program, which streeted June 10 and includes vintage footage from Sinatra's 1950s-era variety show as well as segments from several 1960s television specials, features Ol' Blue Eyes singing with everyone from Dean Martin, Sammy Davis and the rest of the legendary Rat Pack, to Elvis Presley.

Joe Amodei, president of the newly formed label, noted that the program, which was broadcast during PBS pledge drives in December, has been welcomed by all classes of retail, including music chains, mass merchants and grocery stores. “It's done very well,” he said.

Although Amodei declined to give specific prebook figures, he did say the program has sold nine times more on DVD than on VHS. “VHS is in a downward spiral across the board,” he said.

The company is planning to release another Sinatra title for fourth quarter, Happy Holidays With Bing and Frank, which was broadcast in 1957 in black-and-white, but Amodei said was actually shot in color. The video release will feature digitally enhanced color and 5.1 Dolby digital sound. The DVD will include almost 2 hours of extras.

Amodei said the company has acquired several direct-to-video titles that it will release over the next several months. Titles include Tully, Wicked Minds and Charlotte Sometimes. He also said the company is “close to signing two distribution deals that could give us product all through next year.”

Amodei revealed that Hart Sharp has made a deal with Rankin-Bass -- the company responsible for such Christmas classics as Frosty the Snowman -- to distribute Santa Baby, a new Christmas title that features the voices of Eartha Kitt, Vanessa Williams and Patty LaBelle. “We're thrilled to be associated with Rankin-Bass,” Amodei said. The program will street in time for the holiday season this year.

Taking a page from his experience at PolyGram Video and USA Home Entertainment, Amodei is also looking at a foray into sports programming.Through a deal with the Football Network, the company will release college football programming.

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