'Soul Train' vaults opened for DVD deal

1:34 PM PST 07/09/2009 by Gail Mitchell, Billboard, AP

Library houses more than 1100 hours of archival footage

Fans of television's long-running "Soul Train" will now have the chance to purchase DVDs of the pioneering dance show. Soul Train Holdings has partnered with Direct Holdings Americas Inc., granting the latter the domestic home video and worldwide clip licensing rights to the "Soul Train" library. Direct Holdings' Time Life brand will produce and distribute DVDs of vintage "Soul Train" episodes and also launch a comprehensive marketing campaign to license show clips worldwide.

The announcement comes a year after the famed music variety show's longtime host/producer/owner Don Cornelius sold the franchise to MadVision Entertainment. Los Angeles-based Soul Train Holdings, a union formed between MadVision and Intermedia Partners, is headed by co-CEOs Peter Griffith and Kenard Gibbs. During its 30-plus-year run, "Soul Train" evolved into a mainstream cultural institution that played host to such R&B and pop icons as Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, Prince, Elton John, Whitney Houston, Justin Timberlake and Beyonce. All told, the Soul Train library houses more than 1100 hours of archival footage.

Griffith said that partnering with Time Life and Direct Holdings is "a natural fit. There's been a growing consumer demand for the episode DVDs and a lot of third-party interest in clip licensing. We knew from the start that we wanted to tackle both of those markets first and foremost."

Direct Holdings executive VP Gary Newman noted in a statement, "Their ["Soul Train"] archives are incredibly rich and deep, reflecting a vibrant part of pop culture that no other show could capture or has been able to replicate ever since."

The clip licensing half of the agreement is already under way. Show clips can be viewed at globalimageworks.com. Fans can also visit the Soul Train YouTube channel. In regards to the DVD rollout, Griffith said music clearances are still being processed. Once that is completed, the company will determine its initial release slate and other details.

In the meantime, BET's new Centric channel will bring back the Soul Train Awards this November. The channel is licensing old episodes of the dance show for broadcast as well. And a "Soul Train" documentary is being developed for VH1, according to Griffith. Also in discussion for next year: a new "Soul Train" show.

"We're talking to some very well-known producers," adds Griffith. "It would have to be updated for today's world of competitive reality programming like 'American Idol' and 'Dancing With the Stars.' It's not something we take lightly. We want to do it with the same kind of passion and respect that Don had."
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