Vintage variety veterans come to DVD for holidays

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If variety shows, in the words of TV-DVD pioneer Brant Berry, are slices of pop culture, then consumers are in for a hearty helping of good old American pie.

A flurry of vintage variety and talk shows are headed to DVD in time for the holiday shopping season, helping to fill a previously underserved segment in the still-booming TV-DVD category, which this year is projected to generate nearly $4.6 billion in worldwide consumer spending, according to a new report from Screen Digest.

Shout! Factory has just come out with two of the more highbrow shows to grace network television: "The Tomorrow Show: Tom Snyder's Electric Kool-Aid Talk Show" and "The Dick Cavett Show: Hollywood Greats." The two-disc Snyder release features such counterculture guests as Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, Tom Wolfe and the Grateful Dead. "Hollywood Greats" finds Cavett interviewing such legendary stars and directors as Marlon Brando, Alfred Hitchcock, Groucho Marx and Orson Welles.

Cavett, whose show went on the air in 1969, said he believes vintage talk and variety shows are quite relevant today.

"A friend of mine showed some episodes to his young son, who said, 'Why don't they let them do talk shows like that anymore?' " Cavett said.

On the other end of the pop spectrum, R2 Entertainment on Nov. 7 will release "The Best of Donny and Marie: Volume 1" and "Donny and Marie Christmas Special."

The four episodes on the two-disc "best of" set were hand-picked by Osmond, who now appears on Broadway as Gaston in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast."

"I had to pick my four favorites out of 72," Osmond said. "Man, I've been through so many bottles of Tylenol since I began."

Segments that made the cut include concert spots by Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck and KC and the Sunshine Band, and a "whodunit" skit with Bob Hope, Cheryl Ladd, Harvey Korman and Buddy Hackett.
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