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VSDA/CES 2001
If CES week in Las Vegas wasn't crazy enough, the powers that be decided that it would be a good idea to help people kill two birds with one stone and have both CES and VSDA at the same time. Unfortunately the struggling VSDA show came up DOA this year and seemed to be hurt more than helped by the pairing.

Within minutes of walking out on to the VSDA show floor it became amazingly clear that VSDA (the big home video show) was simply dead. Gone were the star studded booths, the flashy displays, and much of the fun floor show rumoring. Warner Bros. one of the big center pieces of the show floor didn't even have a booth this year, Anchor Bay's Booth had a little sign that said if you wanted to talk to them you should come to their hospitality sweet and the only star within miles of the show was Casper Van Diem (who I don't think has ever missed a show).

We could go on and on about how poor VSDA was, how much a joke the VSDA DVD awards were, but I think you get the picture.

As with previous shows most of the real hot info happened in the back meeting rooms and hospitality suites at the convention center. While we were privy to some of the juicy info we sent out our man on the inside to get some hot info on up coming titles.... Here's the good stuff!

If you are a Superman fan Warner Bros. is going to make your day with a Superman Box Set coming in May. Including Superman 1-4

Then in July Warner Bros. has lined up some great titles for release including:
Best In Show
Waiting for Guffman
Proof of Life
Miss Congeniality

New Line made my day with the announcement of one of this years best films Dancer in The Dark from vanguard director Lars Von Trier. For this film we got the complete run down on what looks to be a fantastic DVD. Set for release on 3/20 Dancer in the Dark will include commentary from Lars Von Trier, Producer Wibeke Windloer, Technical Sipervior Peter Hjorth, and Artist Per Kikeby. On a second commentary track is Choreographer Vincent Paterson. While not a complete running commentary Bjork provides commentary over the songs for Dancer in the Dark. On the behind the scenes front the DVD will have two documentaries one focusing on the vision of Lars Von Trier and the other on Vincent Patterson's unique choreography. This is going to be a MUST buy DVD.

Also from New Line comes:
Gummo 3/20
Bamboozled 4/17
Little Nicky 4/24
Dungeons and Dragons 5/15

A quick side note a major kudos to Newline who had to have some of the best Shwag I've seen at any trade show I've been at!

If I was excited by Newline's Line up Columbia TriStar's made me jump for joy! Straight from my all time top 10 films comes Laurence of Arabia:SE with a street date of 4/13.

Columbia had more good news for Spielberg fans with word of Close Encounters of the Third Kind:SE on 5/29. The Columbia list is a long one with some great titles!
Cruel Intentions 2 3/13
6th Day 3/13
Tao of Steve 3/20
Passage to India 3/20
Best In Show
Charlie's Angles: SE 3/27
Girl Fight 3/27
Finding Forrester 4/24
Postcards from the Edge 5/1
Vertical Limit 5/22
Tootsie 5/29
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 6/5!!!!!!!!
Snatch 6/12
Kramer v. Kramer 7/31

USA had 2 notable titles to talk about:
Nurse Betty 4/3
Traffic 6/6

Less news from some of the other studios, Artisan was talking about Requiem For A Dream for 3/20, Universal touting The Mummy Ultimate Collection and Fox announcing The Rocky Collection (all 5 Rocky films) 4/24. Notably absent from VSDA was Dreamworks whose Gladiator was the toast of the town.

In the sort of confirmed, could change rumor space we hear that Paramount is working on Godfather for a late 2000 release, and that LucasFilm will open it's doors and let ONLY Star Wars Phantom Menace squeek out on to DVD this year.

As uneventful VSDA was, CES was a blinding light with a ton of energy and enthusiasm over the personal electronic market. If I walked out of CES with one thing it was simply that XBox is going to hit the gaming market like a nuclear bomb, and very few console gaming companies will be left standing. Xbox looks amazing, fantastic graphics, DVD ability, internet connectivity and more. While there was some interest and talk over Nuon and the fact that Bedazzled was announced by Fox to have Nuon content, I'd suggest everyone hold off on Nuon until after Xbox comes out as Nuon could become the BetaMax of DVD.

CES 2001 had a lot of great Home Theater Gear to see and hear! The thing that I noticed the most was the increased number of flat screen 16:9 systems being manufactured. I saw many more at this show than I had expected, and with the number of companies now producing HD Capable TV's the prices should begin to move into the real of affordability.

While Recordable DVDs and DVD Audio weren't as pervasive as I thought, DTS did do a great demo of DVD Audio encoded with DTS. The gear is still quite expensive but the sound was simply amazing. It's hard to think about replacing a new DVD Player with one that supports DVD Audio, and at the current prices it's very much an audiophiles domain, but with DTS involved with DVD Audio, the future does look good.

On the audio side I had a chance to check out the next generation of Klipsch's ProMedia series which will make all you DVD-ROM users heads spin. I was so impressed with these little $249 speakers that I arranged to get a set to review (I'll post my review soon).

Since we focus on DVDs here at DVD Talk I won't get into all the gory details about all the cool electronic gadgets and gizmos I had the pleasure to fiddle with. On a personal note, one of the things I wanted to come away from CES with was a clear idea of which MP3 player to buy. After an extremely long talk with one of the main guys on the Windows Media Team I decided to pick up a Compaq Ipaq. After seeing the demo of Windows Media 8 and hearing the sound quality of the new codec I was sold on an MP3 player that would also support WMA. The kicker with WMA8 is that you can get about 3 times as much music on your player with WMA8 than MP3 and it sounds even better!!!

Without giving a blow by blow of the parties and after hour schmoozing, I had a chance to go to a JVC event with the Go-Go's. All I can say is that these 20 years have not been kind to them. As I mentioned before the VSDA DVD Awards were a disaster, somehow I don't think people should have to PAY to be nominated and some of the award selections left much to be desired.

I DID have a great opportunity to spend some time with Drew Black from AdultDVDTalk.com at the show. You see I have this friend, um, er who went to the adult side of the show and um mer..... OK I'll admit I did a quick tour of the adult side, and was excited.... hey get your mind out of the gutter.... to see a huge.... come on now.... a huge poster at the Digital Sin booth with quotes from AdultDVDTalk "splendid.... five stars". After spending some time with the AdultDVDTalk folks it was real clear how incredibly influential that are on the adult side of things. I'm really happy to see those guys doing great with their site and am glad we gave them the A OK to use DVD Talk as part of their site name.

So another CES and VSDA pass and my feet are extremely sore, I'm pretty exhausted, but happy to have been able to see another step in the fantastic growth in DVD and home entertainment

- Geoff Kleinman

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