There are plenty of glimpses of Richard Hatch’s naked backside in Paramount’s release of “Survivor--Season One: The Greatest and Most Outrageous Moments” ($15 for VHS; $20 for DVD). He may have won the $1-million prize for the first season of CBS’ successful reality series, but he will never win a body-beautiful contest.
This 150-minute compilation documentary will probably be best enjoyed by fans of the series, which became a cultural phenomenon last summer. There are excerpts from the 16 castaways’ audition tapes, their interviews with executive producer Mark Burnett, each tribal council meeting, some naughty words and a very gross scene of the survivors chopping the heads off rats and skinning them. (Definitely don’t watch this during a meal).
The DVD also includes cast profiles--including each survivor’s departing remarks--a map of the island, voting histories, voting confessions and interviews with Burnett and host Jeff Probst.
One of the most popular contemporary romantic comedies, “When Harry Met Sally,” is finally making its DVD bow (MGM, $25).
Rob Reiner directed this delightful 1989 comedy about two longtime platonic friends (Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan) who finally fall in love.
The pleasant digital edition has a nice wide-screen transfer, a Harry Connick Jr. music video and 11 minutes of deleted scenes. These include a very funny sequence in which Crystal shoves grapes in his mouth and does impressions from “The Godfather,” and another in which Ryan laments a date with a man who collected air in Mason jars.
Reiner provides the funny commentary, but he repeats most of what he already discussed in the lengthy “making of” documentary that is included. That featurette also contains new interviews with writer Nora Ephron, Crystal, co-star Carrie Fisher and a 1988 on-set interview with Ryan.
“When Harry Met Sally” was born out of Reiner’s experiences of being a single man again after his 10-year marriage to Penny Marshall ended. Ephron always thought Reiner would play the role of Harry, but the director cast his good friend Crystal instead. Crystal says the role was so close to Reiner’s heart that at one point he had to tell Reiner to let go of the character so he could make Harry his own.
It was Ryan who came up with the idea of the orgasm scene in the New York deli. But according to Reiner, when it came time to film it, she had some difficulties. So Reiner acted out the scene for her and then she did it perfectly.
The use of longtime married couples discussing how they fell in love was inspired by a visit Reiner made to the home of a friend. He recalls that his friend’s elderly father waxed poetic when Reiner asked him how he met his wife. Most of the stories heard in the film from the various couples are true.
Veteran director Norman Jewison offers stellar commentary on the digital edition of the Oscar-winning 1967 film, “In the Heat of the Night” (MGM, $20).
Controversial when released, “In the Heat of the Night” stars Sidney Poitier as a sophisticated Philadelphia police detective who finds himself in a segregated Mississippi town helping a redneck sheriff (Rod Steiger, in his Oscar-winning role) solve a murder case.
The DVD features a crisp, wide-screen transfer of the recently restored film, the trailer and insightful commentary from Jewison, director of photography Haskell Wexler and Steiger.
Jewison says he immediately fell in love with Stirling Silliphant’s script for “In the Heat of the Night” and felt a rapport with the writer because they had both come out of television. The director, though, had a hard time convincing the producers to film it on location instead of on a Hollywood back lot. They were trying to hold costs down because they were afraid the film would be a box-office hot potato with an African American star, he explains.
George C. Scott was one of the actors bandied around for the role of Sheriff Gillespie, but Jewison was thrilled when Steiger agreed to do it. Steiger, however, says he wasn’t happy when Jewison wanted his character to chew gum because he thought it was too much of a cliche. But then the actor realized he could use Gillespie’s gum chewing to reflect his character’s feelings: If he was relaxed, he’d slowly chew the gum, and to show his nervousness, Steiger would chew the gum more rapidly.
Jewison says he felt that Poitier didn’t know what to make of Steiger, and he believed there was an unspoken tension between the two actors that helped their on-screen relationship.
The director also says that Steiger’s performance was at times over the top and needed to be reined in--an assessment that doesn’t sit well with Steiger in the commentary.
Also being released by MGM are the two sequels to “In the Heat of the Night,” both of which star Poitier: 1970’s “They Call Me Mister Tibbs” ($20) and 1971’s “The Organization” ($20). Each includes the original trailer.
Patrick Macnee is as dapper and charming as ever as on-screen host of A&E;'s new set, “The Best of the Original Avengers” ($30 for VHS; $40 for DVD).
Macnee, who played the suave super-agent John Steed on the classic British series, offers informative and fun introductions to six vintage episodes: “Mr. Teddy Bear,” “Don’t Look Behind You,” “Death at Bargain Prices,” “Too Many Christmas Trees,” “Look (Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One) . . . But There Were These Two Fellers” and “All Done With Mirrors.” These episodes also feature Macnee’s three female co-stars: Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Linda Thorson.
The DVDs also include an alternative opening sequence with Macnee and Rigg and a very mod mini-documentary on Thorson from the late ‘60s.