Heatwave: The Dean Martin Roasts

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LIGHT MY FIRE: Time-Life, which brought fresh servings of The Dean Martin Show to home video in 2011 after a 10-year absence from the market, is cooking up new platters of The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts for DVD consumption this fall, as noted in the appetite teaser above, prepared by the company’s chefs.

A funny thing happened on the way to releasing more episodes from Dean Martin’s TV series: Those steering the direction of that vehicle have opted to take a temporary detour around the Variety Shows, in favor of reissuing the later-model Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts. What this effectively means for DM fans is: Music tomorrow, comedy tonight.

The Roasts, which represented television’s tamer version of the longstanding Friars’ Club events at which show business figures would come together to skewer one of their own, originated as a regular weekly feature of the 9th and final season of Dean’s series, known as The Dean Martin Comedy Hour. Despite the latter’s cancellation at the end of the 1973-74 season, NBC executives believed that the Roasts remained viable ratings magnets that could stand on their own in limited airings, and over the next decade or so, they ordered dozens of specials built around the format, using them to plug holes in the network’s prime-time schedule.

Even before Dean’s longtime Producer-Director, Greg Garrison, partnered with Guthy-Renker in the late 1990s to bring highlights of The Dean Martin Variety Show directly to consumers via mail order, the two joined forces to sell the Roasts using the same direct marketing method. However, unlike the variety shows, the contents of which were made available only as excerpts (due to the high cost of music clearances), the Roasts, containing only comedy, landed on home video largely unscathed, with few, if any, edits.

Stemming from the settlement of NBCUniversal‘s 2007 lawsuit against Greg Garrison Productions and Guthy-Renker, the latter two entities agreed to relinquish their rights to Dean’s series, initially ceasing production and distribution of their Variety Show DVDs, and within the last year, halting sales of the Roasts.

Into the breach, in conjunction with NBCUniversal, stepped Time-Life, first in 2011 with fresh episodes of the Variety Show, and now, with just-announced 1- and 6-disc editions of the Roasts, due out in September and sweetened with extra comedy bits from Dean’s 9th season, as well as newly-recorded interviews.

In addition, David Lambert of the website TVShowsOnDVD.com is reporting that T-L will also be offering, online only, what it calls a “Complete Collection” of all of the Roasts, which will include over 10 hours of bonus material (consisting of exactly what remains unknown at this time).

That should certainly be enough to sate Dean’s comedy fans. But what about those who prize his Variety Show mainly for its outstanding musical numbers? Well, that’s exactly the question that we posed to those in the know at Time-Life, and the good news on this front is that we can confirm, exclusively and definitively, that there WILL, in fact, be more episodes of the Variety Show coming down the pike, although a precise date for that eventuality has yet to be determined.

So, over the long haul, it appears there’ll be something for everyone; and this time, it’ll all turn out right: Music tomorrow, comedy tonight.

Our thanks to our intrepid Dean, Golds and Dings correspondent Richard Wierzbowski for his contributions to this report.

For further details, see David Lambert’s article at TVShowsOnDVD.com.

And to stay up-to-date on this and all stories relating to Dean Martin, The Golddiggers and The Dingaling Sisters, please LIKE our Dean, Golds and Dings Facebook Page:

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