Just got the latest Outlaw Newsletter! Here's a copy. (Re-opened)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by John Morris, Jan 25, 2002.

  1. John Morris

    John Morris Guest

    I just got this via email from Outlaw and since it might take a few days for this to cycle through to everyone, I thought I'd post it here. It's long, but I wanted to post it in its' entirety before I comment on it at all. I reformatted the first part on the 950 but got lazy and just pasted the rest as I got it. Here it is:

    "Hello John,

    Latest News From The Outlaws: January 2002

    As this is our first Newsletter for 2002, a belated Happy New Year from the Outlaws!

    The past few weeks have been busy ones for the Outlaws, and while we haven't had the time to communicate with you in this forum, we assure that we're all very much alive and kicking. In fact, our year-end results showed record sales for the fourth consecutive month in December, and we look

    forward to 2002 as a year that will be very interesting for all of us.

    That being said, there has been a great deal of speculation both in the various on-line forums and in our own Outlaw Saloon about what we are up to. Rather than bore you with a lot of commentary, we'll start right up front with some quick responses that should answer many of the questions

    we've been asked in the short week or so since CES. After that, we'll give you some additional details on what is happening around the Outlaw's Hideout:

    · Yes, of course we've missed the original ship date for the Model 950. That's obvious. At this point we could give you an updated projection, but why bother? As many of you have suggested, we're simply going to concentrate on getting those pesky bugs solved and let it be a surprise. We will say, however, that the ship date is very much sooner than later. Much sooner than any of you are speculating.

    · We've talked about the bugs that are holding up the Model 950, and to satisfy your curiosity we'll say that they involve the micro-code that drives the DSP processor. Remember, the Model 950 will be the very first product to feature both Cirrus Extra Surround (in two modes) as well as Dolby Surround EX, and it will also be the first product to feature Cirrus's advanced Triple Crossover. In order to assure that the unit sounds perfect it is necessary to test and certify each mode, including all the Dolby and DTS variations in both "5.1" and "7.1" configuration. When you

    count them all up, there are about 20 modes, and each must then be tested with all the combinations of the Triple Crossover. Some of the bugs that have cropped up in that process required a re-write of the code, and that, in turn, meant that the testing and certification process had to be

    completely re-done. As of late last week we are 99%confident that we've finally gotten all this straightened out. If we get the final 1% solved we'll be shipping very shortly.

    · If you are wondering why we haven't posted the Owner's Manual yet, it has to with the resolution of some of the bugs and certification issues. Since the 950 has a number of brand new modes and functions, a number of the on-screen and front-panel displays had to be invented and changed as went along in order to satisfy all the relevant parties. We've finally got those displays finalized, which enables us to finish the manual. It will be posted when the unit begins shipping.

    · The same holds true as to why specs haven't been posted. We can assure you at this point the 950 has been tested more times than a DWI suspect at a sobriety check-point on New Year's Eve. However, since some of the software changes we have made will potentially influence the specs, we're

    reluctant to post anything until it is final. Don't worry; the changes are for the better. This pup sounds REALLY good, on traditional two-channel music reproduction as well as with multichannel sources.

    · The announcements at our CES press conference, as well as other news from CES, seems to have many people confused or concerned. Let's see if we can quickly clear thins up:

    o The Model 950's hardware and software platform was developed by and for the Outlaws. It is NOT an off-the-shelf or derivative design. Given the advanced nature of the product and the need to integrate complex circuits and code provided from others, we have taken advantage of outside help from our suppliers such as Cirrus Logic and other outside consultants. There is no secret about this, and the way in which the Outlaws are developing the Model 950 is no different than the way in which ALL the major brands and manufacturers work with their DSP suppliers.

    o Reaching back to our beginnings, we've always said that "we don't need no stink'n factories". Didn't have 'em, don't have 'em, don't wanna have 'em. Some (but not all) of our electronics products are made by Eastech, who helps us with the electronic design and production engineering. Again, no secret there. However, we also use at least two other companies in Taiwan for other products, and our amplifiers are made in the USA.

    o Our arrangement with Eastech allows them to use aspects of the Model 950's design in OEM products that they may sell to other companies, but it is up to those other companies to determine how they will differentiate their products within guidelines we've established. We can't speak for any other company as to how their products may differ from the Model 950's design; you'll have to ask them about that. We DO know that the Model 950 will be the best value in its price class in terms of features and sonic


    o We have to admit we're amused by all the speculation about future pricing on the Model 950. When we first announced the "Introductory" price we used that phrasing to protect ourselves in case we found that the cost of the final unit would be such that we might have to raise prices after a few months. While anything is possible, we do not see any major pending price increase, and in any case we will honor the $899 price for everyone who places their name on the reservations list. That's all. As to some of the speculation about our pricing plans where some people say a major increase is coming, we find that hilarious. It's nice to know that some of you think that people would pay over $1,000, and its performance will certainly justify a multiple of that price, but it has always been the Outlaw way to deliver value far in excess of the retail price of our products.

    Finally, we want to say once again that the slip in the Model 950's ship date is not part of some insidious plot to steal business from other companies, to align the 950's introduction date with any other company or to promote varpor-ware. It is simply the result of desire to keep you

    informed of our new product plans as far in advance as is practical, while on the other hand not shipping any product until we feel it is ready. We've always been as straight as we can with our community. To some extent, we're damned if we do, and damned if we don't. We'll try to keep you updated as best we can without compromising our business or any legal agreements we are party to.

    Now, on to the details:

    MODEL 950 NEWS

    We've hopefully addressed all of the major Model 950 issues above, so there is little more to say. However, we should report that a complete Model 950/Model 770 system was on display at CES. We'll let more independent observers judge the quality of the system, but all the comments we heard were positive. More complete and formal reviews will come from the various magazines and on-line reviewers once we start shipping, and we have already received more requests for review samples than we can handle. You should expect to see those reviews later this spring, based on the individual publications' schedules.

    For those who haven't seen them, pictures of the final Model 950 are now posted in the Model 950 section of the web site. Yes, these are pictures of the actual unit, as it will appear in your systems soon.

    For those who are interested in a Model 950 and not reserved one yet, you may place a reservation through our web site. The button is in the lower left side of the home page. The reservation list is long and growing daily, but we have increased our production order to accommodate the many names on the reservations list and to make sure that the 950 is in stock for immediate delivery once the reservations have been filled. We've already committed to flying the first batch over to the US from the factory so that we can get the 950 to you as quickly as possible. However, the reservations list is more than triple our initial expectations, and as was the case with early shipments of the Model 1050, it may take some time to get everyone their unit. Clearly, some of you will get units before others, and it may take a few weeks after the first units ship to work though the list. Based on our current plans we expect that those who reserved their unit early

    will be enjoying it in a few weeks, while those towards the end of the list may not get their unit until some time in March. (Opps, did we slip here?). One final note: No other brand using the anything derivative of the Model 950 will ship until ALL current reservations for the 950 have been filled, and perhaps for some time after that.

    On a technical note, many have suggested that we should add IEEE 1394 capability to the Model 950. In theory, that's a wonderful idea, but at this point it would require a complete re-do of the basic hardware architecture of the product, and that is simply not a viable option. In addition, what few people seem to realize is that in order to add 1394 to a product such as a surround processor, you are looking at considerably more than $50 in parts, royalties and IP licenses. Remember, it's not just the cost of the very specialized ICs required, but also the peripheral parts and the cost of licensing the software needed to run the 1394 module. At the end of the day this would like increase the Model 950's price by $150 or more, taking it well over our target. For that reason and others, it isn't in the cards for now. We are, however, investigating IEEE 1394 for other products in the future. More about that later.

    Again, thanks to all who have waited for the Model 950. No one wants this product to ship more than we do, and you have our firm commitment that we will get it out as soon as the unit is ready.

    MODEL 770 NEWS

    Our first sample of the Model 770 was demonstrated at CES, and we're

    completing acceptance tests at this time. Production will start shortly,

    and it should be available concurrently with the release of the Model 950,

    although the actual shipments may be split from one another by a few days

    as the units will come from different facilities.

    MODEL 1050 NEWS

    At this point it is not unfair to say that the Model 1050 is quickly

    becoming a classic. Sales continue to be stronger than ever, and we thank

    everyone for their continued support of the Model 1050.

    IR 1000 NEWS

    Those of you who read reports from CES may have heard that we will soon be

    shipping an innovative new product, the Model IR 1000 Internet Audio Tuner.

    Developed in conjunction with Arrio Communications, the IR 1000 uses either

    a broadband connection or a built-in V.90 modem to "tune" close to seven

    hundred streaming audio services including both "playlist" streams and the

    Internet streams for many terrestrial radio stations and programming

    services. Do you live in LA but miss WNYC? No problem with the IR 1000.

    Similarly, if you moved from LA to NY and miss KCRW, the IR 1000 can serve

    it up for you. News from MSNBC or the BBC is at your fingertips, and there

    are also music and news broadcasts from all parts of the world.

    The IR 1000 is currently compatible with Windows Media Audio streams, and

    an upgrade will be available before the summer that will more than double

    the number of available streams or program sources. Thanks to the on-line

    connection, both the unit's internal software and the station list are

    capable of being upgraded easily and without charge via the Internet. And

    did we mention that both access to the programming sources and the MP3

    playback upgrade is free, with no subscription charge of any kind? OK, just

    in case, we'll say it again: You do have to supply the ISP service (sorry,

    the IR 1000 is not currently compatible with AOL), but the programming

    itself, access to the station list and the MP3 upgrade is free.

    One pleasant surprise you'll find with the IR 1000 is the quality of the

    sound. To some extent we are limited by the sampling rate of the incoming

    stream, but our internal testing to date has shown that what you will hear

    from the IR 1000 is sound truly worthy of the description of this product

    as a "tuner".

    Easy to install and designed to complement other Outlaw products or any

    audio component, the IR 1000 quickly becomes on of those "how did I get

    along without it" type of products. You'll be able to find out yourself

    when we begin shipments of the IR 1000 later this spring at $299.

    There will probably be a beta test for this product, and we will select the

    participants from among those who responded to an earlier request for the

    names of Outlaws who have a broadband connection. If you have a cable

    modem, DSL, DirecWay or Starband service at home and are interested in

    possibly participating, please send us an e-mail.


    As also introduced during our CES press conference, we will begin shipping

    our new PSC-75 video/digital audio cables some time in late March. For

    those who have asked us to provide a video counterpart to the PCA audio

    interconnects, the PSC-75 will more than fit the bill.

    "PSC" stands for "Pure Silver Coax", and that is exactly what we are

    offering. The center conductor used in the PSC-75 will not only be solid

    silver NOT silver coated copper it will be ultra-pure, thanks to the same

    OCC process used in our PCA audio interconnects.

    The "75" in the model designation comes from our use of a specially

    designed "True 75 ohm" connector. Video and digital audio signals are very

    sensitive to impedance variations, and rather than use a standard RCA plug

    we worked with our cable manufacturer to design a plug that maintains the

    75-ohm standard from end to end.

    PSC-75 cables will feature the same high-coverage copper braid and copper

    foil system as the PCA to provide the maximum immunity from RFI/EMI

    ingress, while at the same time preventing leakage of high frequency

    digital or video signals into the rest of your system.

    The end result is that the PSC-75 will deliver exceptional performance in

    both standard composite video and component video applications, as well as

    for S/P-DIF type digital audio connections where 75-ohm connections are

    also recommended.

    The best news is that the PSC-75 will be the most reasonably priced silver

    interconnects available, with prices considerably below any competitive

    products. Available lengths will be 0.5 meters, 1.2 meters and 1.8 meters,

    with special "3 pack" pricing for those who wish to use the PSC-75 for

    component video applications.

    A final note on cables: In response to your requests, we will begin

    offering the PCA audio interconnects in a 1.2 meter length some time in

    late March or early April.


    You're kidding, right? For those who felt that we started talking about the

    Model 950 too soon, we have a special present: No details on future

    products and certainly no introduction dates. Yes, we're always looking

    into DVD and Projection, but there is nothing relevant to report. Yes,

    we're working on AT LEAST three more products that will be released between

    now and the end of the year, with one to be announced within the next

    thirty days and shipped before the first regular season Major League

    Baseball game is played in the spring. The other products are all

    reasonably along in the development path, but we'll hold off on any news

    about them until they get closer. However, for those who have chastised us

    for releasing information about new products too far in advance, PLEASE do

    not complain later with comments such as "…I just bought a Model XYZ from

    someone else and would have bought your [guess the product categories] if

    you had only told us you were about to come out with a new [something to do

    with home theater]…"


    (Warning: He came back from Las Vegas having caught the "Official Cold of

    the CES" and has had a hard time shaking it. He's REALLY cranky this month!)

    When you read all the threads about Outlaw that have been absorbing

    bandwidth like a dry sponge in a pail of hot water, and then hold those

    comments up to the light of the products displayed earlier this month at

    CES, one can come to some interesting conclusions. Add to that the non-stop

    parade of press releases about new products and new technologies including

    our own and then mix in the various level of exposure that people have to

    the realities of creating, financing, designing, manufacturing, marketing

    and servicing today's complex home entertainment products, and the end

    result is worthy of a bad late night sitcom on a low rated cable TV network.

    The Outlaws started this business because they wanted to create a unique

    company that builds high-performance products that were within the reach of

    a greater universe of potential customers than traditional high-end

    audio/video products. We knew that in doing that we'd likely break some

    rules and ruffle some feathers. Based on our results to date, we're proud

    to say that we've done all of that, and more.

    Looking back over the past few months, as we have worked virtually non-stop

    to bring the Model 950 into production, three clichés and one analogy come

    to mind as we see how the home theater enthusiast community reacts to our


    Cliché #1: "Those who know aren't telling, and those who are telling don't


    Ever hear that one before? We bring that up in response to many of the

    rather wild rumors and speculation we see in the forums. Sometimes there is

    a bit of truth, but more often than not, the comments are very far off

    base. How about this one: "The 950's price is going to be increased by a

    couple of hundred dollars!" or this one "They're holding it up because they

    want to help [you put in a brand name here]." Our favorite was a report on

    how the 950 sounded from someone who insisted they had heard it in our

    suite at the NY HiFi Show last spring. That would have been a real piece of

    magic, as the unit shown there was clearly an empty chassis. Those are only

    a few of the better comments about things ranging from our finances to the

    composition of our development team, to the nature of our relationship with

    our vendors here in the US and around the world.

    One of the other reasons the Outlaws got together to form a privately held

    and financed company is that they have only their customers to answer to

    for products and service, and themselves to answer to for everything else.

    No SEC, no public filings, no Wall Street analysts, no public stockholders,

    no bank officers, no one telling you what to do, how to do it or what you

    have to make public.

    We bring this cliché to your attention as a note to take speculation on the

    web that is not backed by a first hand observation or comment from us with

    a grain of salt. We know who really knows what, and when the time is

    appropriate we will bring our extended Outlaw family in on the secret. By

    all means, everyone is quite free to express their opinions and to guess as

    they please. Free speech is a fundamental right that we fully support and

    it is one of the things that makes this the great country it is. However,

    when judging the veracity of a comment that cannot be traced back to a

    reliable source, please think before you leap or type.

    Cliché #2: "Pioneers tend to get some arrows in their backs once in a while."

    Oh, how true that is!

    When we first developed the Outlaw concept, one of the original themes

    proposed for the web site had much more of a "Frontier" motif than what we

    eventually used. If we had thought about it some more, we'd have gone a bit

    further and confiscated those damned arrows. By now you can well imagine

    that our backs are full of holes from arrows slung at us from all sides,

    but we're big boys and we can handle it. Hey, having the holes makes for

    easier ventilation…

    Seriously, no one is perfect, and though we try to please everyone we know

    we can't. Again, feel free to express your opinion, but realize that at the

    same time we are going to pull the arrows out, patch up the holes and march


    In concert with Cliché #1, take the advice of some of the wiser souls out

    in the forums: If you have a question, don't guess, ask! Scott or one of

    the Outlaws will get back to you as quickly as possible with the best

    answer we can give you under the specific circumstances. We've surprised

    more than a few Outlaw customers with direct phone calls from the Outlaw

    partners in response to questions and problems.

    Cliché #3: "Don't worry, we'll fix it in post."

    Corollary for the Electronics and Computer Industry: "Don't worry if the

    product has a few bugs or is missing a feature, we'll send out a patch or

    fix it in the next rev."

    Anyone familiar with film or video production has likely heard that first

    line more than a few times. It refers to the ability to correct a flaw in a

    performance either on a technical level or in the actor's delivery in the

    post-production and editing stage. Why stop production when you can correct

    the sound or picture, or loop in new dialogue later? The second line is a

    way of turning that phrase around to our part of the world. Of course, no

    one actually SAYS it, but we assure you, under the pressure of getting a

    product out they certainly THINK it!

    We don't subscribe to either of those philosophies. We'd rather take some

    of the previously mentioned arrows by being late than putting out a product

    that is simply not right. Upgrades for consumer electronics products are

    still neither easy nor inexpensive. One need only look at the recently

    announced processor upgrade that brings new modes to the owners of one

    highly regarded (and high priced) AV receiver. Before you say we should

    "fix it in post" with an upgrade, note that the upgrade in question costs

    $800, and still does not bring 1394 capability to the product. Another of

    our esteemed US based competitors recently announced upgrade paths for

    their products. We applaud them for that, but we doubt that our customers

    would pay over $1,700 for an UPGRADE (you could almost buy two 950's for

    that price!) along with ripping the processor out of their system for a few

    weeks while the hardware upgrade is taken care of.

    Yes, we'll make mistakes from time to time just like anyone else. Where

    possible we'll correct them in the appropriate fashion. With the Model 950

    we've put the software for the surround modes and certain aspects of the

    unit's operation on an e-prom that may be replaced when that is the right

    thing to do. However, to accommodate anything more than that would unduly

    penalize everyone by jeopardizing the $899 price point. We invite you to

    purchase any other $899 processor that has all the features of the 950 PLUS

    plug-in card upgradeability. (Remember, there is a big difference between

    an "upgrade" that involves sending a unit back to have major circuit boards

    replaced and one which is a simple matter of changing a plug-in card,

    refreshing software or changing an e-prom.)

    Analogy #1: "Product development is sometimes like trying to get from the

    1st floor to the 2nd floor by walking up the down escalator."


    A company such as Outlaw admittedly has resources that are admittedly more

    limited than those of the "big boys", but you'd be surprised at how our

    product design and development process matches that of our competition.

    Like everyone else, we set a target list of features, hone in on the

    product's architecture, determine the price, and set what we hope is a

    realistic date for everything to come to completion.

    Sometimes things turn out the way you planned, sometimes they don't.

    Like the big boys, we also use outside help to develop the very specialized

    digital hardware and software that drives our products. Yes, some companies

    (Meridian comes immediately to mind) really DO design almost everything

    themselves, but that is the very rare exception, and even they have to deal

    with semiconductor suppliers. However, almost everyone else depends on

    outside sources for things ranging from DSP software to the full digital

    board to the entire product. We could tell you who gets what from where,

    but that's not our way of doing things.

    So what does this have to do with the escalator? If your steps are properly

    synchronized, it is very possible to jump up to the 2nd floor quicker on an

    empty down escalator quicker than by taking a crowded up escalator. On the

    other hand, if something gets out of sync you're going to take a quick ride

    back to down to the ground floor.

    That's the way it has been with the 950, or if we may borrow one more line

    from the Outlaw's Book of Clichés: "One step forward, two steps backward".

    We were very close to what we thought would be the final version of the 950

    on more than one occasion, but for a variety of reasons we found ourselves

    out of step. Then, when we took the safer path of going up the UP escalator

    (DUH!) we found that the development process was slowed. For now, it's back

    in step and we have the top floor in sight!

    Let's string this along in one more direction: You have to judge the

    relative speed of the escalators to figure out which one you should take.

    This comes to mind when looking specifically at the 1394 situation. Costs

    aside, will anyone who went to CES please tell us where all the 1394

    equipped AV receivers, HDTV set-tops, compatible D-VHS recorders, surround

    processors and DVD-Audio or SACD players were? We must have spent too much

    time at the Cowboy bar (of course!), for we missed them all. Yes, one

    manufacturer did announce a proprietary digital link from DVD players to

    their high-end receivers, but that was it. Some of the DVD recorders have

    1394 connections, but that is limited to connections for DV camcorders and

    thus not applicable to DVD-Audio or SACD.

    Even the best guess from both our colleagues and competitors is that it

    will be late this year AT THE EARLIEST before there will be any DVD players

    with 1394 capabilities, and there are still unresolved questions to be

    answered with regard to copy control and content protection.

    Yes, RCA did add to the list of 1394 equipped HDTV sets, but note that

    those same sets also included DVI capability, as well. Wanna bet which

    connection type wins out, if there is to be a winner at all? We don't.

    Mind you, we're not opposed to 1394. In fact, we agree that it is a very

    elegant solution to digital interconnection of A/V products. We're talking

    to at least two major suppliers of the base level chips that are needed to

    include 1394 connectivity and it is part of the plans for our high-end

    processor/preamp. However, costs are still high, signal protection a guess,

    and standardization is still a battle. When those issues are cleared we'll

    be right there. In the mean time, you're just kidding right? Or, please

    feel free to buy any other $899 product even an $1,899 product for that

    matter that includes full 1394 capabilities and DVD-A, SACD, MPEG-2, MPEG-4

    and ATSC bitstream decoding. In fact, let us know what that product is,

    because we want to buy one too!

    The moral of all of this: It is easy to sit on the sidelines and comment,

    but unless you are traveling on the product development path with us, you

    have no way of knowing how crowded the path is, or where we are on it.

    This started out to be a short and too the point Newsletter, but as is our

    norm, it has dragged on to the point where the file size may not pass

    through some servers. For that reason, we'll wish you all well and sign off

    for now. The next time you hear from us we will be confirming the 950's

    ship date. Perhaps by then some of you may already have your units installed.


    The Outlaws"

    Hope you all enjoyed reading this...
  2. Sean M

    Sean M Stunt Coordinator

    Feb 12, 2000
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    You beat me to it! My first thought was to copy and paste the letter on the forum. You are fast!
  3. Bob-N

    Bob-N Supporting Actor

    Jul 26, 2001
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    Me too. I posted a comment in the 950 thread stating that the newsletter was out.
  4. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

    Nov 21, 2001
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    This is truly great news. I've wavered back and forth on this forum regarding Outlaw and the 950 (more often supporting them then not), but the main issue is that they say the product sounds great in 2 channel mode and we can just assume what it does for HT. I'm very excited to get this unit and test it out in my system.
    Did you read the text about 1394? It's like they were ripping Razvan personally!!! I love it.[​IMG]
  5. Bob-N

    Bob-N Supporting Actor

    Jul 26, 2001
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    lol! Raz did deserve it. To me, he's paying a hefty premium for firewire upgradability. As I've said in the past, what do you expect for $899? Nobody said that it's going to be the holy grail, just a great value and will compete (maybe not necessarily top, but one can hope) with pre/pro's costing 2-3x. I'm sure I'll be plenty happy putting the extra dough into DVDs or something else.
  6. Rob Curtis

    Rob Curtis Stunt Coordinator

    May 13, 2001
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    Still not done and that last 1% is a b!tch to fix...and the beat goes on...and on....and on...
  7. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

    Jul 3, 1997
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    In the interest of consolidation, I was going to close this thread and direct everyone over to the 950 thread here:
    UPDATE: On further consideration, I've re-opened this thread since the discussion is not limited to the 950. Please feel free to discuss the Outlaw Products as you wish. I would suggest, however, that you still use the existing 950 thread (link above) for things that pertain to that unit.
    We now return you to your regular programming. [​IMG]
  8. John Cain

    John Cain Second Unit

    Nov 19, 2000
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    Terrific newsletter full of very interesting info.

    Glad to hear the end is in sight for the Outlaws.

    I'm now thinking we'll have our 950's by St.Patrick's day!!

    -- John
  9. Patrick R. Sklenar

    Patrick R. Sklenar Second Unit

    Jan 25, 2000
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  10. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

    Jul 28, 1999
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    Wasn't he canned with the now closed "Outlaw thread"?

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