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WKRP in Cincinnati - Fox & Wilson talk about Season 1 music replacements

Star Tribune has all the details

Posted by Gord Lacey
Most online WKRP fans know about the music replacements on the upcoming season 1 DVD set, but Randy Salas with the Minneapolis Star Tribune sheds some light on the issue in his article titled "A different tune for 'WKRP'" which appears in the Sunday paper (and distributed by McClatchy-Tribune News Service). Salas spoke to Hugh Wilson (creator of WKRP) and Peter Staddon (Fox executive) about the changes to the set, and they both had some very interesting things to say. Here are some excerpts from the full article which can be read at the Star Tribune website:
    Although there are logistical challenges to renegotiating the [music] rights, cost was the biggest obstacle. Disappointing sales for another classic sitcom that Fox released on DVD, the Minneapolis-set "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," also caused the company to balk, said Peter Staddon, a marketing executive for Fox Home Entertainment.

    "Everyone's heard of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show,' and everyone thinks, 'Oh, that will sell really well,' " he said by phone from his Los Angeles office. "But not everyone is going to run out and buy it, as they might run out and buy a copy of 'My Name Is Earl,' which is contemporary and new and fresh."

    The numbers back him up. The first-season DVD of "My Name Is Earl" has sold 330,000 copies since its release in September, according to Home Media Magazine. The first four seasons of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" have sold about 375,000 total, including 150,000 for Season 1, said the publication's research director, Judith McCourt.
    In fact, music issues dogged "WKRP" before the show aired, Wilson said. The original production company, MTM (co-owned by Mary Tyler Moore) balked at the cost of using real songs, but producers used a loophole in the music-licensing agreement that allowed significantly lower rates for shows that were videotaped instead of filmed. That's why the show used that lower-quality format.
    ["WKRP" creator Hugh] Wilson said he likes to think that he created a show with likable characters and funny scenes that can withstand any music alterations. Still, he confessed, "Every time we could do a joke with music, we sure did it -- like [nerdy newscaster] Les Nessman jumping around to 'Hot Blooded.' "

    Told that that hilarious scene now featured a generic song instead of the Foreigner hit, Wilson said: "What? Aw -- oh my, oh my, oh my, oh my, oh my. I didn't know that. They told me they were going to keep a lot of the music."
You'll have to read the full article for more information on the cost to license the music, but it's not cheap.

Randy Salas is going to provide us with some material that didn't make it into the final column due to space constraints - we should have that up on Monday, so stay tuned.

Thanks again to Randy Salas for providing us this information, and don't forget to read the entire article on the Minneapolis Star Tribune website.

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