The latest from the home-video front

By Michael Giltz and Mike Flaherty
November 13, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

DIPPING INTO WELLES Having apparently vowed to release no clip before its time, Merv Griffin Entertainment is riding the recent Orson Welles revival by producing a compilation culled from the mercurial auteur’s 40-plus appearances on Griffin’s 1962-86 talk shows. Among the expected highlights are Welles’ impromptu reading from Richard III; an expletive-laced offstage rant in which Welles disparages the idea of appearing on a talk show, only to change his mind moments later; and his final appearance, taped hours before his death from a heart attack on Oct. 10, 1985. Slated for early next year, the Welles tape will be followed by compilations of Merv Griffin appearances by Jerry Seinfeld, John Wayne, Richard Pryor, and possibly Andy Kaufman — who once appeared on a segment guest-hosted by Welles. How’s that for a meeting of minds?

SIGN OF THE TIMES Rental DVDs are on the march, with the few hundred locations now lending the discs expected to grow to well over a thousand stores by year’s end. All major chains seem to be in on it; at 500 Blockbuster and 40 Tower outlets you’ll also be able to rent a DVD player, usually for around $15. The rental push is just another indication that DVD isn’t going away — and that the competing time-lease Divx format for DVD, whether it succeeds or not after its late start, is having an effect on the market. September sales of DVD players hit 113,000, according to the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association, the highest one-month total yet.

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