Fox: WKRP In Cincinnati Rumor - Confirm or Deny?

Jaime_Weinman

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Yeah, just one more post in my irritating WKRP-on-DVD campaign, but this is a bit different: I heard, from someone in the DVD business (but at a low level -- technical consultant or something), that in addition to the first-season set of M*A*S*H (which has already been announced), Fox was also planning some kind of DVD set for WKRP In Cincinnati.
Coming so soon on the heels of Peter Staddon's statement that they couldn't afford the music rights to the show, I tend to be skeptical of this particular rumor, but this person has occasionally spread rumors that turned out to be true, so I thought I'd mention it here to see if anyone who knows anything could confirm or deny it. (If, as is likely, Fox is not yet considering the show, let me repeat once more that I'd buy it...)
 

Jeff Kleist

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I'd say that Fox is trying to make at least a best-of set happen. The music rights are REALLY expensive though.
Jeff Kleist
 

Daniel L

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Let's just assume that it will cost $10,000 an episode for the music rights. (It's more likely $10,000 a song, minimum.)
Since the show ran five seasons, at 24 episodes a season, you're looking at a total of 120 episodes. Fox would have to shell out a minimum of $1.2 million just to re-secure musci rights. It would probably cost a couple million more to restore the shows for DVD. (Not including DVD transfer costs.)
You're looking at about $3.5 million to restore the whole season ($20,000 an episode). Do you really think Fox can sell enough units to make this profitable?
Sadly this is the same fate a show like Miami Vice, or any other music oriented show, will suffer. I don't like it, but the studios are in this business to turn a profit, not service the consumer.
Daniel L
 

Jaime_Weinman

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Well, Fox probably needs to remaster the show no matter what -- in that it's still a valuable property in reruns and it's currently in shoddy condition (not only the music changes, but the picture quality). Fox has remastered some of the other MTM shows, like "St. Elsewhere," and there's been some indication (i.e. another rumor, this one spread by someone whose cable network broadcasts the show daily) that they've been planning to get around to remastering WKRP in time for its 25th anniversary. And if they do need to remaster it, they might as well try to make some of the money back by putting it out on DVD.
True, music rights are expensive, but these things can be swung, or what's the movie FM doing on DVD with its soundtrack intact? (FM was a movie about rock radio that came out just before WKRP) I suspect that a lot of the problem is not so much with paying for the songs as with the time and effort required to identify each song in the show and find who owns them.
Still, I think a set could sell, done right. One part of "done right" would be to have a sticker on the box proclaiming that the music had been restored, maybe naming some of the artists whose songs are featured in the show. If anything, marketed that way, WKRP sets might sell better than most older TV shows (though not, I admit, as well as current shows), simply because they would be bought by people who are fed up with the fake music heard in syndication.
 

MatthewA

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I think it is the television division's problem to pay for the music rights. If they would cut the budgets for some of the garbage shows they make now (which shall remain nameless, except that none of them are animated Sunday night Fox network shows) and move it to the distribution division to re-license the music, they could afford it. I imagine the money they make from Simpsons-related stuff is tremendous.

A TV/radio ad campaign for the DVDs would help create awareness of the product, and for the effort required, it will be necessary. Fox could try advertising on classic rock and oldies radio stations across the country to create awareness about the product, as well as TV.

St. Elsewhere also has generic music on the current versions; they used covers of popular songs, so licensing these could be even harder. The companies that produced the covers could be out of business and left no heirs (i.e., people who would control their covers in such a case).

I would gladly volunteer my spare time to getting music rights restored to any Fox-owned show that needed it.

And there are 90 episodes, not 120.

I will not buy any WKRP set that is not uncut and with the original music intact.

And Fox, don't forget to retain the MTM kitty logo at the end of this and all other MTM Productions shows!
 

Jared M

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i heard from a pretty reliable source that the first season is set to be released the first quarter of 2003. it's a long wait to see if it's true, but she's been right in the past.
 

MatthewA

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Well, Jared, if that's true, then that gives Fox about a year to iron out the music rights issues.
 

David Lambert

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Personally, I'd say wait a bit, but not too long, for a WKRP issue on DVD. Why wait, even thought it's one of the ones in my sig? Well, because I'd rather have it done right than done quick. And "right" means securing the music licenses. And I think they will be more likely to pay for that in response to big sales of upcoming releases, like TNG, Buffy, M*A*S*H, All In the Family, etc.
 

Jaime_Weinman

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I'm perfectly willing to wait; I'd just like to know whether they're actually planning such a release or not. If it does happen I know it won't be until 2003, because that's the 25th anniversary of the series. (Somehow no one ever brings out a "24th anniversary collection" of anything...)
 

DaveBB

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I'd love to see the Thanksgiving/"Oh my God: they're dropping turkeys!!!!" episode as a single stand-alone DVD.

As God as my witness...I thought turkeys could fly.
 

Craig S

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I don't think I've ever laughed at anything in my life as much as when I saw "Turkeys Away" all those years ago. I remember watching it with my Dad and we both had tears coming out of our eyes from laughing so hard.

I hope the rumor is true & that we do get sets of "WKRP" next year. I'll buy 'em all!
 

Jaime_Weinman

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My latest contribution to the rumor mill: Someone e-mailed me to say that he'd been on the phone with someone from Fox's home video department, and, when asked, had been told that there was a "good chance" of WKRP on DVD next year. He wasn't an insider or anything; he'd just been on the phone, so take that with a big grain of salt.
(I wonder when we would find out whether Fox is really planning some sort of DVD release for this show? At what point last year was the M*A*S*H series announced for DVD?)
P.S. -- I don't remember whether I've posted this before, but here's an almost-complete list -- from a WKRP website that I put up but which is currently down due to server problems -- of music changes in the current WKRP syndication package. Read it and you'll know why fans of this show want an uncut, original-music DVD release: http://members.attcanada.ca/~jacjud/wkrpmusic.html
 

MatthewA

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Speaking of doing it right, you absolutely MUST leave the MTM kitty intact. The DVDs of The Simpsons and M*A*S*H do not have their original logos but the CGI 20th Television logo that has been used since 1992. It bothers me; all the M*A*S*H episodes and 1989-1992 Simpsons had a traditionally animated logo (non-CGI). It would horrify me to see the MTM kitty replaced at the end of any shows from that production company.
This goes for all MTM Production shows intact. If you must put the 20th logo on, put it AFTER the MTM Productions ident.
 

Tim Kilbride

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I agree that the "Turkeys Away" episode was one of the funniest...I also laughed uncontrollably during the "Phone Cops" episode...
Tim K.
 

Rob P S

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Original music and dialogue only or no sale. Why don't Fox executives worry about how much money they spend on crap like Say It Isn't So, Freddy Got Fingered, Monkeybone, Joe Somebody, Kung Pow, etc.
 

MatthewA

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This studio is spending money for a sequel to Dude, Where's My Car and is on the fence about re-licensing music to a pre-existing show?

The mentality in Hollywood these days...
 

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