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‘Thirtysomething’ Cast, Crew Mark DVD Release

19 Aug, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

(L-R): Actors Timothy Busfield and Peter Horton with Marshall Herskovitz

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. —“Thirtysomething” creators Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick had a bet when they first started making the show in the late 1980s: Herskovitz bet it would be canceled after six episodes, while Zwick put the number at 13.

Thankfully for all involved, both were wrong: the show enjoyed a four-year, 80-plus episode run from 1987 to 1991 and grabbed numerous accolades and Emmys. After clearing up music rights for the show, Shout! Factory releases the first season of “thirtysomething” on DVD Aug. 25.

“We knew there was a lot of demand for this show, and we knew we had something great on our hands,” said Shout! Factory president Garson Foos during an Aug. 18 “thirtysomething” panel at the Paley Center for Media. “You never know which shows will stay in the public consciousness, and which ones will fade.” Foos said that when preorders began for the DVD at Amazon.com, the series jumped to No. 2 on the retailer’s best-seller list.

“I was swept away by the beauty of the show,” actor Timothy Busfield said of seeing the episodes on the DVD. “I’m genuinely wowed by [it]. I forgot how well it was directed.”

Herskovitz said he, Zwick and the writers completed most of the early episodes by the “skin of our teeth.”

“We went into this with this oblivious belief that we had a sense of how to do this,” he said. “It was not a huge success in the ratings. It was just talked about a lot.”

Zwick said that when the pilot first aired to test audiences, “We scored below the Roadrunner cartoon that preceded it.”

Taking a hard look at thirtysomething angst among a tight-knit group of friends, the show offered almost pedestrian day-to-day stories about the challenges young adults face in their professions, relationships and families. The pilot episode, for all intents and purposes, was about two new parents trying to find a babysitter, Herskovitz said.

“I think that kind of deliberate provocation was in our minds,” Zwick said. “It wasn’t only about being accepted. We wanted to generate some kind of tumult.”

Zwick and Herskovitz said their show was one of the first to bring a cinematic feel to a TV show, “the willingness to bring filmmaker qualities to the television,” Herskovitz said.

Actor Peter Horton said he was looking forward to seeing seasons two, three and four make their way to DVD as well, and not because of higher residuals.

“I think my ‘thirtysomething’ residual check is going to go up from $1.34 to $1.48,” he said.

The DVD includes a commemorative booklet with original art and essays by Herskovitz and Zwick, journalist Ray Richmond, and media professors Al Auster and Leonard Quart. Several featurettes and commentaries are also included.

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