December 26, 2001
Year Five Report
Where DVD Savant Toots his Horn
and Tells his Tale of 2001.
Greetings from sunny California. Come March of 2002, it
actually will be five years since I started writing for the web, while working as an editor at
MGM Home Entertainment. You can catch up with the details on that history by reading
The Two Year Report from a couple of seasons
When we last left off, I was still working for Steve Tannehill's DVD Resource out of Texas. Steve
decided to fold that very influential, crusading site on December 31, 2000. DVD Resource had the
ear of the industry biggies in '98 and '99; Steve can take serious credit for hastening the stillbirth
of DIVX, a threat happily forgotten now. That'll be a kid's big question in 2009: "Daddy, what did
you do in the Divx War?"
Finding a New Home
with Fearless Leader Kleinman:
Knowing that DVD Resource would abruptly go off the air at the stroke of midnight, I anxiously
solicited a new home, and received several dozen responses. It wasn't
difficult to choose DVDTalk. Geoffrey Kleinman's pitch was gracious and his offer just what Savant needed,
a host site that would take care of the major problems and leave me free to write as best I could.
I had been stopping by DVDTalk since my first days on the web, to check on Geoffrey's
comparative online price guide, which I always thought
was a really useful idea. Although I call him Fearless Leader in the column, Geoffrey has been extremely
supportive and understanding of my technical shortcomings, sometimes leading me keystroke by keystroke
through format and server upgrades. He's also incredibly good at obtaining the strange mix of DVD
screeners I like to review. I'm proud to add the Savant reviews to his inventory of thousands.
Chasing the Lion's Tail,
or vice versa:
Early in 2000 I was asked back to MGM to help launch a complex content-laden annex to their website, with
a new column similar to the MGM original back in '97 and '98. It was a very good arrangement, handsomely
rewarded, and I made sure Leo got more than his money's worth. But later on,
difficulties arose when MGM felt the column should be addressing their new releases, instead of leaving
me free to pursue my usual arcane subject matter. Trying to create intelligent articles about pictures
like AntiTrust just didn't feel right. MGM University's stated ambition was to create entertaining
content to draw readers, yet the Video Savant they wanted, read like corporate promo copy.
Savant's readers reject that stuff without a second thought.
I didn't want more punishment, so I opted
out of renewing the contract for a second career. We parted amicably. To keep the column going, MGM
hired another film expert whose copy did indeed read like publicity handouts, and retitled
it Cinema Savant.
The new column lasted only 3 issues before the entire MGM Backlot was scrapped, not for quality or even
readership reasons, but because of a policy change from higher up. Savant's seven issues (of, I thought, pretty
good material) disappeared from MGM's site with the rest of the MGM University. But this
link to the MGM Video Savant/Cinema Savant Index still
works. Opening the individual magazines is tough, but they do open eventually. Savant was told that
MGM Video Savant didn't attract millions of readers because it talked about old movies,
but I still contend that the site grew slowly for the same reason the original Savant back
in 1997 grew slowly: nobody could find it! No Savant link appeared on the MGM Main page; you had to
struggle through about four screens to find it listed in small text. It was a very unfriendly website.
While you can still link to them, there are several MGM Video Savant articles I recommend. We based
several on the availablity of rare photos in the MGM archives. One is an essay on Peter Sellers before he
was replaced in Billy Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid, and another a look at the rare longer ending to
Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dynamite.
Savant Joins the Club:
In May, Savant was asked to join the Online Film Critics Society, a group of 100
web reviewers accredited by the studios. That's the OFCS logo that can be seen on several Savant
pages now. Being invited to join this prestigious body is a great honor,
and I'm enjoying privileges reserved for top critics ... receiving Academy Screener tapes and discs,
being invited to some really exclusive screenings, and even being quoted once or twice. This kind of
acknowledgement hasn't exactly been the norm in my long and spotty career. It's also good to know
that Savant is reaching more readers now.
One of the best things about writing DVD Savant was that it channelled all the nervous energy I accrue
between and during editorial jobs. I'm a freelance cutter-for-hire, and there are occasional weeks
of inactivity which are far better spent writing screenplays and web columns than doing nothing. Happily, I
worked most of 2001, helping producers turn out DVD & cable docus, advertising and special montages.
Savant will be staying at DVDTalk for the forseeable future, as business relations with Fearless, I mean, Mr.
Kleinman, just seem to improve with time. Better still, writing DVD Reviews online has remained
challenging and stimulating because of the freedom DVDTalk affords. I can still drift off on tangents and
little essays on whatever topics the films suggest. Other writing has kept me busy too,
but DVD Savant remains the center of it all. Of course the best part is the Email contact with
dozens of readers who've since become friends, from all over the US and a score of other countries. Thank you
May 2002 be the start of sanity and justice in this crazy world. Or, perhaps better, 'This
Glenn Erickson DVD Savant
2. Savant was published this year in Video Watchdog magazine, and his essay on
The Horrible Dr. Hichcock and EuroHorror,
Women on the Verge of a Gothic Breakdown
was published in The Horror Film Reader, Alain Silver and James Ursini, editors, Limelight. Savant also
provided a preface introduction for VideoHound's DVD Guide Book 2, Mike Mayo, Gale Group. Return
DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson
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