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TV Stars Recall Days Before DVD Boom

21 Jun, 2007 By: Chris Tribbey

Planning for a DVD release is standard protocol during production of a TV series nowadays. But what was it like when DVD was an afterthought?

Attendees of the sixth annual Home Entertainment Summit: DVD & Beyond heard all about it June 19 from both the creators of some of today's TV shows and the stars of yesteryear.

“It was a big struggle to find anyone who wanted to do DVD [for “Charmed” at the time],” said executive producer Brad Kern. “Even ‘Remington Steele' for God's sake was on DVD! When DVD got hot, everyone jumped on it.”

He said that they were shooting the second-to-last episode of the series when they received an excited call from Paramount: ‘”We want to do commentaries!’ Kern said. “‘Are you nuts?’ he said he replied. “‘We just broke down the set. Where have you been the last seven-and-a-half years?’

He said the stars of “Charmed” were “not nearly as cooperative” as they would have been if the DVD extras had been planned ahead of time. “[And] we would have had Shannon Doherty, who was off the show after the third season,” Kern said.

It's different now, said Mick Garris, creator of the Showtime series “Masters of Horror.”

“We had a very unique situation with ‘Masters of Horror,' with Anchor Bay doing all the financing,” Garris said. “We always had that plan [for DVD extras].”

“‘Masters' is such a unique animal in the world of DVD,” Garris said, noting that clips from many studios had to be licensed for the DVD releases. He said DVD drove everything on the sets, as a recording crew was on hand at all times. Because the “Masters” programs were not feature-length, giving consumers a good buy meant lots of in-depth extras, he said.

“We wanted to set the standard for what the DVD could be,” Garris said.

Robert Hewitt Wolfe, executive producer of “The Dresden Files” and “Andromeda,” concurred about planning for DVD.

“It used to be a surprise,” he said. “The new model is it's calculated into the formula from the beginning.”

“There was no lag time at all,” Wolfe said of doing special feature work for the Aug. 7 DVD release of “Dresden,” which went off the air in May. “It's nice to have it so fresh, but it would also be great to have three, four years go by to get some perspective.”

Erik Estrada got to do a lot of reminiscing when he did work on the extras for the recently released first-season DVD set for “CHiPs.”

“I did a lot of commentary on the episodes,” he said. “I did watch all the episodes. I kept saying ‘who is that guy?’

For the show “Jericho,” producer Karim Zreik said they were doing commentaries for the Internet the day after they finished an episode.

“When we developed the show, they said it was a great way to promote [it] on the Internet,” he said. “We always knew we had to release the DVD, so it was vital for us.”

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