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.
If youï¿½ve never seen the show, this three-disc set would make a fine introduction. Inside the Actors Studio: Icons features episodes with four towering entertainment personalities. In chronological order, star…ing with the seriesï¿½ first episode, the ï¿½iconsï¿½ are Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford.
Huge names. Incredible talents. Careers that span decades of success in industries that see stars come and go, through revolving doors or down one-way streets that dead-end in popular obscurity. These are four people who have made unforgettable marks on the modern entertainment world.
And on this show, these stars participated fearlessly in intimate, no-holds-barred interviews that lasted several hours, for the benefit of students in the class and for interested home viewers. Inside the Actors Studio is an educational tool of the Actors Studio Drama School, of which host James Lipton is Dean Emeritus. The series is part of the Actors Studioï¿½s masters program, with much of the studio audience comprised of aspiring actors, directors and screenwriters.
What we see on TV, the 40-or-so minutes interview, is actually an edited cut of what I assume is the most entertaining or interesting parts of the session. After the interview and behind the scenes, the students have a lengthy Q&A period with the guest. In the bonus material, we get a few glimpses of those sessions.
But the meat of this set are the televised episodes, and the interviews presented within. Each of these guests makes for a fine interview subject, and whether or not youï¿½re a fan of their work, youï¿½ll likely be engrossed by the discussion of their lives and careers. Even if you are a big fan of any or all of these stars, Iï¿½m willing to bet youï¿½ll learn things about them you never knew before. Host James Lipton comes prepared for these interviews, and although he shows his admiration of their careers and personalities more than he should, heï¿½s enthusiastic, smart and he doesnï¿½t hesitate to ask uncomfortable questions.
If this sounds at all interesting to you, itï¿½s time to check out the series, either on Bravo or in this Icons package, which is a great sampling of the Inside the Actors Studio wares. So, howï¿½s the DVD?
The episodes of Inside the Actors Studio: Icons are presented on three discs, in their original 1.33:1 full-screen format. The Paul Newman and Robert Redford episodes are on disc one, while Streisand and Eastwood have their own discs. The Paul Newman episode is the showï¿½s first, and the production values are understandable weaker than the other three. That said, thereï¿½s not much going on here, with a couple of people chatting on a simple set and sporadic cuts to a darkened audience. The video presentations are nothing special, but also nothing to complain about.
The main menu is static, and scored.
Audio is English-only, and just Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. The tracks are plenty for the episodesï¿½ dialogue and the now-recognizable series theme. Dialogue is all perfectly audible, as are the various clips from the guestsï¿½ projects Lipton plays during the interviews.
There are no subtitles available.
Inside the Actors Studio: Icons includes just a smattering of bonus features.
For three of the four episodes we have Great Moments that Didnï¿½t Make the Cut. These are pretty self-explanatory, as theyï¿½re just ï¿½scenesï¿½ that werenï¿½t presented in the original television broadcasts. They offer pretty interesting material, and are worth watching.
There are also James Lipton: Flashbacks, which are basically just introductions from Lipton for each of the episodes. Itï¿½s funny to hear him speak of cringing at the production values of the first episode, and interesting to hear him quite defensive about Streisand and her somewhat negative reputation. At any rate, donï¿½t skip these ï¿½ theyï¿½re short and they provide some context for each episode.
Inside the Actors Studio: Icons is a great introduction to the series for the uninitiated, and a solid highlight-reel for fans of the show. Shout! Factory is off to a good start with this set, and I look forward to more Actors Studio on DVD in the future.
Special Features List
- Great Moments that Didn’t Make the Cut
- James Lipton: Flashbacks