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A chat with Kirk Hallam January 17, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Television.
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This week, I talked on the phone with Kirk Hallam, owner and president of Roxbury Entertainment. We talked about the company’s DVD re-releases of the “Route 66″ television series and an upcoming “Route 66″ film, based on the 1960s TV show, that he is producing.

A lot of interesting information was revealed by Hallam during our 20-minute conversation:

Sales of the first volume of the “Route 66″ DVDs were “encouraging.” Hallam wouldn’t reveal exact figures, but “I would say it exceeded our expectations, and encouraged us to put out more of the episodes.” Volume 2 of “Route 66’s” first season will be coming out Feb. 5. The first installment of Season Two is set for May.

As a special feature, “Route 66″ co-star George Maharis will provide audio commentary on select episodes. That will happen with the May release. Commentary will likely be limited, Hallam said, to productions that Maharis can actually recall. “He does have an amazing memory, but he doesn’t remember all the episodes, that’s for sure.”

Roxbury is trying to ensure more uniform episode quality with future “Route 66″ releases. Although a “very, very small percentage” of consumers complained about the first DVD compilation, “in order to make them happy with subsequent releases, we are in the process of transferring from fine-grain masters of film to high-definition digital so they all have the same quality … as with the best-of DVD we put out in 2005,” Hallam said. Fine-grain masters are duplicates of the original film when it was shot.

Hallam explained that Roxbury was forced to use videotape for a few episodes of the first DVD release. “There was some urgency,” he said. “We were trying to meet the street date and get them out before the holidays. We found we were not able to locate all the fine-grain masters in time to do that. They’re in vaults all up and down the East Coast. But we have them now.”

He said the original film stock of “Route 66″ is in a vault in Burbank, Calif., stored by Screen Gems / Sony. “But the archivists have begged me not to use that original film,” he said.

“Route 66″ eventually will be released in high-definition DVDs. However, Hallam is waiting for a clear victor to emerge in the battle between the HD DVD and Blu-ray formats before releasing it.

Roxbury is also releasing budget-priced single discs of “Route 66.” A six-episode DVD, titled “Route 66 — Classic Episodes, Vol. 1,” will be released on Feb. 12 with a retail price of $14.98. It contains these episodes: “Eleven, the Hard Way,” “The Strengthening Angels,” “The Cat Jumped Over the Moon,” “Poor Little Kangaroo Rat,” “Soda Pop and Paper Flags” and “A Cage in Search of a Bird.”

On March 18, a three-episode DVD, titled “Route 66 — Super Series,” will be released for $9.98. “Eleven, the Hard Way,” “The Cat Jumped Over the Moon” and “Lizard’s Leg and Owlet’s Wing” are the episodes.

Hallam said those small best-of DVDs are being marketed to convenience stores and similar retailers. They will be released in the months between half-season compilations.

The “Route 66″ feature film has a first draft of a script, and a director will be hired within a month. “It’s a very good script,” Hallam said. “It’s going to incorporate the characters and existential themes of the television series, but in a storyline that’s obviously modernized. It’s an action-comedy with a heart and a message, I’d say.

“Our storyline all takes place along Route 66,” he added. “Everything that happens is on or immediately adjacent to the highway, from Chicago to L.A.”

Production begins later this year, with a tentative release date of 2009. And unlike the television series, Hallam isn’t sure a certain Chevy product will be used. “It depends on what the major auto manufacturers want to do. It’s not necessarily going to be a Corvette,” he said.

Comments»

1. Earl Cory - January 17, 2008

Ron,

It’s great that you post information pertaining to the old route 66 TV series. The news about Roxbury releasing more episodes is also swell. In years past any info on the old series was very hard to come by. I have all the Columbia House episodes plus, videos of all the episodes and now DVDs of all the episodes. In the future I hope to purchase all the Roxbury DVDs, especially if they go to HD. George Maharis being involved is another plus. The movie sounds very interesting for next year. Thanks again.

2. saloon singer - January 17, 2008

It’s hard to imagine the movie without a Corvette. Obviously, the support of Chevrolet would be crucial in reducing costs and what about the musical theme? Would that be totally different? What audience is he going after if not the DVD audience made up of guys like us who dig the original show? It will be interesting to imagine Todd and Buz as they would have to be today if their basic circumstances are the same -no job at home but they’ve still got the car. Could they afford the gas? Maybe somebody can do a bio-diesel conversion as a research project. Otherwise, they might have something more economical like a Scion Xb with nothing but the latest audio tech behind the front seats. But if the car was an extravagant indulgence on the part of Todd’s father which he died paying off, I’d make it a Phantom Drophead Coupe.

3. Wayne - January 24, 2008

There were a lot of complaints on the Home Theater Forum about the quality of the first volume released, so it’s great to hear that those concerns were heard and fans can expect better quality on subsequent releases.

It’s no secret that the most avid collectors of vintage shows like this are also the most picky about how those shows are preserved for all posterity. Respect those collectors and they will support and promote the DVDs when they arrive.

So keep them coming Mr. Hallam, and thanks.

Maybe this forum could be opened to casting suggestions for Buz and Todd?

4. Mark - January 25, 2008

So, what about the episode on the first set that ran about 5 minutes short? Do they have any plans to go back and correct that glaring mistake?

5. Paul - January 25, 2008

I just hope these are the original episodes from the original masters as the box states. I was very disappointed to see syndicated prints on Volume 1 of Season 1. Some of the episodes not only had bad audio but instead of seeing the Columbia Torch Lady as was common on the episodes, some had been replaced with the 80’s version of the Torch Lady with the Coca-Cola byline and at least one episode had the Colex logo after the end credits. While I am very happy to see Route 66 finally come to DVD at long last it needs to be the original prints and not a second generation syndicated print. I sometimes don’t think these studios will learn that we want these shows exactly as broadcast and unaltered meaning all footage, bumpers, next on previews and the actual credit crawl complete with production company logo’s in place and not replaced by a later logo like Sony and other companies have done with their DVD releases.

Maybe if we’re lucky we’ll see the revival series released on DVD if the original series sells well enough.

6. JACK - January 25, 2008

Great to hear that the remainder of Route 66 will be transferred from the original 35mm fine grains and still hoping for all of them to be transferred like the 11 episode 2 dvd set with the commercials, bumpers, billboards, next week previews, etc., left in place like when they originally aired. Everyone was so exicited to see this great accomplishment as at least 80% of the customer base is going to be collectors and not just some joe off the street who happens to remember the show. You will sell more sets, and if you have to…,charge a little more money. And believe me, they will pay it. GLADLY! Thanks Mr. Hallam for listening to the consumer as most of the major studios don’t. Im sure you won’t be sorry you did.

7. Chris - January 25, 2008

Are you going to re-release Season 1 Vol 1 with the Fine Grain film masters since you found them? I was disappointed with the quality on some of the episodes especially after seeing such excellent quality on the “Best of” DVD that preceded the season sets. Don’t worry though, I already have my Season 1 Vol 2 DVD pre-ordered and I’m hooked into getting subsequent sets! One thing I liked about the “Best of” DVD is that you kept the vintage commercials with the “Route 66″ bumpers in place – rather than splitting them up and putting them at the end. I wish that the season sets followed the same pattern, maybe with an option to “watch without vintage commercials and Route 66 promo” for those who don’t want to see them. For some reason it just felt more “real” knowing that Route 66 will be right back following station identification.

8. Adrian (from Argentina Republic) - January 31, 2008

Ok, the news are great but I would like the sets to contain subtitles or audio in Spanish. Remember that most of the shows of that time were largely popular in all the continent. Will be a great idea to think within the borderlines. Thank you from Argentina

9. Kevin C - February 4, 2008

‘the original film stock of “Route 66″ is in a vault in Burbank, Calif., stored by Screen Gems / Sony. “But the archivists have begged me not to use that original film,”’

Typical archivists–what is the point of storing it if it can’t be used? What could be a better “one time use” than to transfer it to a digital format?!? Why, pray tell, are they archiving it?

10. Paul Wolfe - February 7, 2008

I am very happy to see Route 66 finally on dvd. I wish someone would point out to Kirk Hallam that it would be great to release a compilation of background music from Route 66. I have talked with Rosemark Acerra who is Nelson Riddle’s daughter and she’s excited about the idea. This was the only show on tv at the time and probably the only once since that actually had music written for each episode. Nelson Riddles backgrounds were poetry themselves.

11. Phil H. - February 10, 2008

How about releasing the unedited version of “A Fury Slinging Flame”?

12. Paul F - March 16, 2008

I just read today that they are releasing the complete first season in May along with Vol 1 for Season 2. It is my hope that with this ‘reissue’ of the complete season 1 set that they will release it exactly as broadcast from the fine grain masters. I am still disappointed in Vol 1 of Season 1 and wished they had postponed the release and done it right to begin with rather than use syndicated prints for some episodes just to get the release out as scheduled. I honestly do not think the fans of the show would have been upset having to wait just a little longer for the set.

Paul

13. paul - March 31, 2008

Someone along the way had indicated that some of the Route 66 tv shows were actually shot in color. Does anyone know for sure. I guess Roxbury would know if anyone would.

14. Paul F - April 29, 2008

The only Route 66 episodes I know of that were shot in color was the 1990’s revival series. When Nick at Nite reran the original series in the early to mid 80’s, there were no color episodes shown. If there are indeed color episodes of the original series, I for one would love to see them.

There’s also a new story on TVShowsonDVD dot com about Route 66 Season 1 and Season 2. It would appear that our complaints have been heard and that the studio is redoing the ‘bad’ episodes for the complete Season 1 set and according to the article, the half season set for season 2 has been scrapped in favor of a full season release.

Paul

15. Rae - April 29, 2008

Yessssss! Thanks for the update Paul. I am looking forward to purchasing Season 2 and may well purchase Season 1 again if they re-do the inferior episodes, especially if they get rid of that infernal cropping they did for the wide angle.

16. Paul F - April 30, 2008

The article suggest the studio MIGHT make replacement DVD’s available for the first season for those of us that purchased it. Not sure how that would work but you can be sure I will stay tuned to the website for all the info. I honestly don’t want to have to purchase the complete set again unless it is from the fine grain masters and they are not going to offer a DVD replacement for the half season sets. It’s still disappointing that they would use syndicated prints for some of the episodes. The shock of going from B/W to color during the end credits was not something I was ready for.

Paul

17. James Beer - May 5, 2008

So “route 66″ the first season will be re-tooled for re-release in August. I have both half-season sets w/diffferences in quality between the two. Also, I have the classic episodes single disc compilation with six handpicked episodes spanning across the entire four-year run of the series. I passed on the super series three-episode disc, and I wonder if a two-parter titled “Fly Away Home” could be released on a single DVD, perhaps seamlessly re-edited into a full-length movie? Just wondering.

18. James Beer - August 24, 2008

I just bought the complete season 1 set w/ all episodes now in original aspect ratio, but volume one remains unchanged. Did they ever locate a fine grain print of “A Fury Slinging Flame” in an uncut version? It should have replaced the cut for syndicated version in that set!

19. Mark Gaston - November 4, 2008

I, for one was happy to see the complete rerelease of the First season of Route 66. I did notice that the episode “A Lance Of Straw” is a videotaped episode with a distorted opening theme. And I noticed that the Leslie Nielsen episode
“A Fury Slinging Flame” is still missing five minutes of action. I don’t know why such attention to detail is missing from the latter episode. But I eagerly await the Second season release with the George Maharis commentary. I do hope that bonus material will feature original commercials and or outtakes and set mishaps. This show never got its due from the media or the general public for its cutting edge topic coverages. Therefore, it is incumbent upon those of us who are aware of its social impact to purchase this series in its entirety. I hear that the original stars of the series will receive financial royalty. I do hope so. They deserve a lot more money than the ovepaid, underperforming “stars” of today’s so called “hits”.

Mark Gaston
Oxnard, CA

20. Ron - November 4, 2008

The commentary with Maharis didn’t happen, Mark. Maharis was on an extended vacation with his sister in Europe.

21. Mark Gaston - November 19, 2008

Thanks for the information, Ron # 22. My Season 2 DVD is on its way to me. Now I know not to look for the commentary. I guess the word is out that Martin Milner is unable to contribute commentary due to illness. Too bad…

Mark Gaston

22. PAUL WOLFE - October 28, 2009

I am happy to announce that I was able to buy the complete third season of Route 66 from Deep Discounts for $34.99. These are the revised versions with all the clitches out. They play perfectly.

Paul F - December 20, 2009

while the disc may play perfectly, I am still highly disappointed that syndicated prints for some episodes made it onto yet another release. I can only hope that season 4 is the actual as broadcast episodes and not any of the syndicated prints from the 1980’s.

The dead giveaway??? The 1980’s CPT torch lady with the coca-cola byline


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