Since its premiere in 1994, Inside the Actors Studio has been a fascinating talk show for film fans and aspiring actors, writers and directors alike. Each episode a famous guest ï¿½ usually an actor ï¿½ is interviewed one-on-one by host James Lipton, followed by questions from the student audience.
In early 2006, one such guest was Dave Chappelle (Chappelleï¿½s Show). Chappelleï¿½s appearance followed some controversial events in his life, mainly his surprising exit from his mega-hit Comedy Central sh…w during production for its third season, followed by a mysterious trip to Africa, which triggered media rumors of mental instability and drug addiction.
In what may be this seriesï¿½ most popular episode, Chappelle discusses these issues with Lipton, along with the usual range of topics that includes the guestï¿½s early years, career development, major projects and personality.
This disc, Inside the Actors Studio: Dave Chappelle, along with the box set Inside the Actors Studio: Icons, marks the first time the series has appeared on DVD. Given that Chappelleï¿½s Show is the best-selling TV-on-DVD series ever, this release seems like smart thinking on the part of Shout! Factory. Iï¿½ve been a fan of this series for years, but I missed the Chappelle episode when it aired. Needless to say, Iï¿½m happy to see it on DVD, especially since it includes extra footage that didnï¿½t make the cut for broadcast.
Chappelle makes for a fascinating subject, whether youï¿½re curious about his late controversial moves or not. His responses to Liptonï¿½s questions are insightful, intelligent and ï¿½ of course ï¿½ humorous. The disc includes an introduction by Lipton, who prefaces the interview with an explanation of the controversy surrounding his guest, and talks about the astounding level of interest in this particular episode, for which people lined up hours in advance to be in the audience.
I donï¿½t want to spoil anything, so Iï¿½ll just say that the episode has a lot of great moments that are sometimes juvenile, sometimes intimate and always compelling. When I watch Inside the Actors Studio, at around the halfway point I usually find myself looking forward to the final 10 questions from Lipton, which are always the same for each guest, starting with ï¿½what is your favorite word?ï¿½ and ending with ï¿½If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?ï¿½ With this episode, I was so engrossed by the main interview that I forgot all about these final questions until Lipton began them.
So the show is compelling, and a great start for this series on DVD. Howï¿½s the disc?
Inside the Actors Studio is presented on a single disc, in 1.33:1 full-screen format, just as it aired on Bravo. For a TV talk show, it looks pretty darn good. While weï¿½re pretty much looking at Lipton and Chappelle sitting on the set for the entire running time, the set is attractively lit and thereï¿½s a feeling of intimacy to the production. Overall, the picture is fairly sharp, has warm, natural colours and is free of compression artifacts.
Inside the Actors Studio: Dave Chappelle offers audio in Dolby Digital 2.0. Thereï¿½s not much to it, but whatï¿½s here sounds just fine, and likely better than it did when it first aired on TV. Dialogue is all perfectly audible, as are the various clips from Chappelleï¿½s projects Lipton plays during the interview.
For bonus material, Inside the Actors Studio: Dave Chappelle includes some additional footage that didnï¿½t make the cut for the original TV broadcast. Theyï¿½re basically deleted scenes, and theyï¿½re provided under the title, Great moments that didn’t make the cut. There are six of these moments, and you can hit ï¿½play allï¿½ or watch them individually. They cover topics ranging from Daveï¿½s audition for the performing arts high school he attended, to pitching Chappelleï¿½s Show to Comedy Central. Interesting stuff.
Also included are a couple of trailers for other projects.
Inside the Actors Studio: Dave Chappelle is a must-watch for fans of the show, the actor or both. The DVD presentation is solid, and I look forward to seeing more of this series on DVD in the future.
Special Features List
- Great moments that didn’t make the cut