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TV Producer Enjoys DVD Fruits of His Labor

7 Aug, 2003 By: Kurt Indvik

Veteran TV producer Stephen J. Cannell, creator of such hit TV series as “The Rockford Files,” “The A-Team,” “Silk Stalkings,” “Baretta” and “Wiseguy,” may be considered one of the most prolific TV producers of the last several decades, but these days he's more content to be penning mystery novels and enjoying the fruits of his TV labor via DVD.

Still, he's excited about the new life DVD has given some of his series (he created or wrote for more than 40 of them) and hopes to see more of them reach retail shelves in the future.

Stephen J. Cannell Productions, in a North American distribution program with StudioWorks Entertainment, will release the first-season set from the groundbreaking series “Wiseguy” Aug. 26. If all goes as planned, Cannell will be releasing other sets of the series every three months. “Wiseguy” ran more than 70 episodes from 1987-1990 on CBS.

“It's been amazing to see how TV has taken off on DVD,” Cannell said. While he acknowledges that DVD's compact nature and the ability of users to quickly move around a disc make having a full season of TV episodes much more palatable, he particularly likes the background information fans can gather about characters and the behind-the-scenes looks at a show's development.

“I love the idea of the actors and writers being able to comment as the show is going along,” Cannell said. “To hear the personal take of Ken Wahl on [“Wiseguy” main character] Vinnie is a really interesting dimension for fans of the show.”

That series, which focused on Vinnie Terranova, an undercover cop who infiltrates a mob family operation, introduced the concept of long-running “arc” story lines that ran for four to eight episodes -- a TV staple today, but unique back then.

Cannell said, in addition to more “Wiseguy” sets, he is looking at what titles in his extensive library he might want to issue next on DVD. While major hits like “The A-Team” might be naturals, Cannell said he's more inclined towards series that may have been short-lived, but drew an instant and engrossed fan base. A favorite of his is “Profit,” a critically successful show that ran for only four episodes in 1996. “That's a show that people are still talking about,” said Cannell. The show, 10 episodes of which exist, followed a sociopathic character as he builds a career inside a large company by destroying other people's careers.

Other series he's considering would be “Silk Stalkings” (1991), “Renegade” (1992) and “Tenspeed and Brownshoe” (1980), the first series that he created for his own production company.

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