November 16, 2005

Sartorial ‘Seinfeld’ latest in DVD marketing

By Thomas K. Arnold

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - As the market for TV
series repackaged on DVD becomes a bigger and bigger chunk of
the overall home video business -- it's now at 25%, or about $4
billion a year in consumer spending -- studios are upping the
ante in packaging and marketing as well.

Complete-season sets of the original "Star Wars" trilogy
come in specially crafted plastic containers built to look like
the TriQuarters used in the films. For Season 6 of "The
Simpsons," 20th Century Fox ditched the customary cardboard box
in favor a plastic case shaped like Homer's head. Warner Home
Video has begun staging gala launch parties for DVDs of such
classic TV shows as "Gilligan's Island" and "Dallas." And in
September, a "Desperate Housewives" DVD release party was
canceled only at the last minute because of media coverage of
Hurricane Katrina.

The latest: Sony Pictures is offering consumers Seasons 5
and 6 of "Seinfeld" in an elegant $120 gift set that includes a
copy of a handwritten script and a miniature replica of the
famed "puffy shirt" that triggered Jerry Seinfeld's notorious
whine, "But I don't want to be a pirate."

The gift set, which arrives in stores Tuesday, is the
latest in a series of extravagant trappings for the celebrated
series' DVD rollout that began last fall with an elegant launch
party at New York's Rainbow Room and continued the next day
with the real puffy shirt's enshrinement in the Smithsonian.

"We're essentially treating 'Seinfeld' the same as we do
big theatricals because it's become an integral part of
American culture," Sony Pictures Home Entertainment president
Benjamin Feingold said. "Everyone knows 'Seinfeld."'

What's next for Seasons 7 and 8, which will be released in
tandem in November 2006?

"We're on the boards now," said "Seinfeld" executive
producer Howard West, who with partner George Shapiro oversees
the DVD production and marketing. "We have to go back and
examine all the episodes, but rest assured it will be big."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter