LG shocked the consumer electronics world at CES when they announced that, not only were they coming out with a player that would play Blu-ray and HD DVD, but it would be shipping in less than a month. True to their word, it did, and I got one in to try out. Around the same time, Toshiba released a pair of second-generation HD DVD players. The model I look at here, the HD-XA2, is notable as it is the first HD DVD player to output 1080p. The Blu-ray camp (seeing as they had just released most of their players) had no such exciting newness beyond what you read about in our April issue. So, we got in the Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player, which is unique in that it doesn't seem to be a clone of any other players (which you can't say for many of the BD players out there). Where should your money go (if at all)? Just keep reading.
Haven't you been watching Showtime's Masters of Horror anthology series, made by the genre's most notorious creators? Anchor Bay Entertainment is releasing each minimovie as a special-edition DVD, so it will be easy to catch up. Season two included "Pelts," an eerie tale of the world's most acrimonious furrier and some dangerous skins, directed by horror maestro Dario Argento and starring the multitalented Meat Loaf. It's now available on DVD.
Hit maker Ivan Reitman has left his mark as the director and/or producer on some of the biggest, funniest comedies ever. Appreciative of his collaborators, keenly aware of his own canon, and showing a remarkable savvy for the home-video landscape, Reitman reflects upon almost three decades of favorites on the occasion of his latest release, Fox's My Super Ex-Girlfriend, starring Uma Thurman.
Scott Weber, Tom de Gorter, and Frank Morrone talk with HT about mixing ABC TV's Hit series, Lost.
ABC TV's Lost is a phenomenon recalling the best of The X-Files or Twin Peaks' mind-warping weirdness as it slips between edgy drama and scintillating sci-fi. The show's creators, J.J. Abrams (Alias) and Damon Lindelof (Crossing Jordan), set Lost on a mysterious tropical island in the Pacific Ocean, populated it with an ever-expanding cast of survivors, and pepper the episodes with flashback scenes that add depth and complexity to the show's epic story arc. The episodes are shot on location in Hawaii, but they're edited and mixed at Buena Vista Sound at Disney Studios in Burbank, California. To learn more about how Lost's incredible soundtrack shapes up every week, I spoke with the show's supervising sound editor Tom de Gorter and rerecording mixers Frank Morrone and Scott Weber. Lost is currently in its third season; seasons one and two are available on DVD from Buena Vista.
For prolific director Michael Apted, the Up series continues to be a lifelong labor of love.
Before he embarked on a distinguished career in feature films (Coal Miner's Daughter, Gorillas in the Mist, The World Is Not Enough, and many more), director Michael Apted was part of a revolutionary British-television documentary project. It was called Seven Up, and it profiled a group of children in 1964. Apted took over from director Paul Almond starting with the first follow-up, 7 Plus Seven. He rounded up the same subjects at age 14 and has gone on to shepherd the series through to the present day. The films have become increasingly powerful for their ever-expanding scope and their ability to effectively condense entire lives of everyday citizens in a matter of minutes. 49 Up is the most recent installment, on DVD from First Run Features. All of the previous iterations are also available in an extraordinary boxed set.
One of Hollywood's most successful directors, Richard Donner is also a damned nice guy.
After years in television—The Twilight Zone, Gilligan's Island—director Richard Donner went on to launch several major film franchises, starting with The Omen in 1976. Two years later, his Superman made Hollywood history. But few knew that he'd completed much of what wound up on screen for the sequel, Superman II, even though he would be abruptly replaced by director Richard Lester. Donner has finally returned by popular demand to complete his version, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (on DVD from Warner Brothers) and make every Superfan's dream come true.
The senior VP of Walt Disney Imagineering leads us through the "Under the Sea Adventure," the ride that almost was and the coolest DVD extra ever.
Here's a lost bit of Disneyland history gleaned from the new Little Mermaid Platinum Edition DVD: The film's overwhelming success prompted Disney Imagineers to dream up a new theme-park ride in its honor. But then the radiant accolades for the studio's Best Picture–nominated follow-up, Beauty and the Beast, promptly changed a fickle world's tune to "The Little Who-Now?" and Disney shelved the project. Disc two of the set caps this tale with one of the single most impressive bonus features ever conceived, fully realizing the ride that almost was through modern computer-generated imagery. It's authentic to the pseudo reality of Disney's parks, and you can view it with optional schematic drawings, commentary, and the ability to turn up the lights to reveal the inner workings of the accurately simulated machinery. It's all part of "Under the Sea Adventure: A Virtual Ride Inspired by Disney Imagineers."
The creator of Super Size Me continues to break new ground with his TV Show 30 Days, letting viewers see what life is really like in someone else's shoes.
For Super Size Me, the Academy Award–nominated documentary with a bold premise and the director as a guinea pig, Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald's for 30 days and limited himself to the minimal exercise of the average American. He miraculously survived, with quite a story to tell. His success brought the opportunity to try a variety of even edgier eye-opening, month-long sociocultural experiments, in some cases aided by thoughtfully chosen volunteers, for his series 30 Days on the FX channel. With season one now on DVD from Fox and season two underway, Spurlock gave us 30 minutes to chew the fat.
Mike Inchalik, Vice President of Marketing and Strategy at DTS Digital Images, Talks shop about film restoration.
Most consumers take for granted the awesome video quality of DVD. You might never consider the often decrepit physical condition of many of your favorite classic movies, which were shot on a variety of film stocks and have suffered any number of indignities over the ensuing decades. We discuss restoration frequently in these pages, but many readers want to know more. So, we went to the unrivaled experts. DTS Digital Images—formerly Lowry Digital Images—was founded by the now legendary John Lowry, whose name has become a seal of approval on well over 100 celebrated film restorations. Exclusively for HT, Mike Inchalik of DTS Digital Images pulled back the curtain on their closely guarded, much envied process.
Multitalented, Modest, and unassuming: The Lost City's Andy Garcia.
Whether he plays the hero or the heavy, the always-intense Andy Garcia is impossible to ignore on screen. With The Lost City (on DVD August 8 from Magnolia Home Entertainment), G. Cabrera Infante's bittersweet tale of the Cuban Revolution, the Havana-born actor/director has crafted a profound cinematic work and one of his most powerful performances. Just don't call him a sex symbol.
Televisionary: Writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell looks back at nearly four decades of top-flight programming.
You might known him best as a wildly successful producer with as many as six shows on the air at once. To others, he's a prolific writer who created or elevated many of television's most beloved series. Or you might just recognize him as that guy who yanks the page out of the typewriter at the end of The A-Team. With the release of his feature films Demon Hunter and It Waits on DVD from Anchor Bay, Stephen J. Cannell gave us more than a TV hour (that's 45 minutes to you and me) to discuss his extensive legacy.
Producer/Engineer Elliot Scheiner is a driving force for 5.1-channel music.
After working with some of the biggest names in music, producer/engineer Elliot Scheiner—also a pioneer in and champion for multichannel music—wanted to take us for a ride. Working closely with Acura and Panasonic, Scheiner developed his namesake ELS 5.1 sound system, first for the Acura TL and now for Acura's new luxury SUV, the RDX.One of Panasonic's finest recently chaufferred me in a DVD-Audio-blasting Acura TL to Scheiner's secluded home studio to discuss the artistry, technology, and business of music.