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Stars, Creators Talk Up TV DVD

5 Oct, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

TV creators (L-R): Shawn Ryan (ôThe Shieldö), David Fury (ôBuffy the Vampire Slayerö), Donald P. Bellisario (ôMagnum P.I.ö) and John McNamara (ôThe Fugitiveö) praised TV DVD during the ôCreators Cornerö panel at the TV DVD confab.

CENTURY CITY, Calif. — Creators of some of TV's biggest shows sang the praises of TV DVD at the fourth annual TV DVD Conference Oct. 5. Among the speakers: Shawn Ryan (“The Shield,” “The Unit”), David Fury (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel”), John McNamara (“Profit,” “Lois & Clark”) and Donald P. Bellisario (“JAG,” “Magnum P.I.”).

All are personally involved in producing the DVDs of their shows, to varying degrees. Ryan, for one, handles all deleted scenes and documentaries for his shows, often querying cast and crew during commentaries to keep the banter flowing.

The commentary track can be something of a chore, Bellisario said, recalling moments after hours of recording when he just wanted to stop talking, using his silence to appreciate the scene's music or action sequence.

It's better when you have a few people in the same room to bounce comments off each other, Fury said.

“Sean, you want to come moderate some ‘24' commentaries?” he joked.

McNamara piped up that he'd love to sit in on commentaries a couple of Bellisario shows.

“I would totally do ‘Magnum P.I.' and ‘Rockford Files,’ he said. “I know so many geeky things about both those shows.”

And that's who TV DVD serves best, creators said: those uber fans. And that's why it's important to keep adding extras as much as possible. With “24,” creators have made a habit of including special bits such as 10-minute prequels to tease new seasons.

“There are now so many other kinds of media, so many other ways to get TV shows,” Fury said. “It's important to have extras to make it a special purchase.”

It's gratifying to hear about fans getting together for marathons of favorite shows on DVD, he said.

The experience of making a show, all the late nights and long hours, is quite different from the fan's perspective of the show. So show creators rely on guidance from the studio putting out the DVD release, McNamara said.

“That connection between the writer and the fan really exists now because of the DVD,” he said.

Bellisario said he'd like to perhaps use TV DVD packaging and extra features to make up for some marketing missteps for a show like “NCIS.” He said he thinks the audience for this CBS drama could skew much younger with some tweaking.

Several classic TV stars from the front of the lens were on hand to celebrate TV DVD at the conference as well.

Jack Klugman and Robert Conrad received the third annual TV DVD Lifetime Achievement Awards. Both said they were grateful, at the same time using the venue for a little good-natured griping — Klugman about a not getting royalties for “Quincy” on DVD, and Conrad for losing out to “The Munsters” as Best 1960s Series at the previous night's award show.

The two venerable actors later joined “Three's Company” star Joyce DeWitt and “Dallas”;' Charlene Tilton for a lively discussion about their classic titles on DVD. The four agreed that TV DVD sets of their old shows bring back lots of memories as well as old friends such Tony Randall, John Ritter and Jim Davis.

DeWitt has been going through the eight seasons of “Three's Company” out on DVD, pulling out favorite episodes for her character, “Janet.”

“It's hard, though,” she said. “You want to pick episodes where you think you looked good, but where everyone else looks good too.”

“Oh, you're nice,” Tilton quipped. “For ‘Dallas,' we wouldn't care about that; I'd be picking episodes that were all about Lucy!”

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