Satellite News - Your Questions For Jordan Fields


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First off, my sincere thanks Chris and Brian for giving me this venue to share information about our MST3K releases with the fans. And thank you for the questions!  This site has been an invaluable resource to me, and it's the most informative, passionate, vibrant and colorful fan site I know. 
Do you plan to re-release any items previously released by Rhino, with or without new content?
We certainly hope some point.  Many of the episodes Rhino releases are still under license and won't be available for years.  What will hopefully happen sooner is the release of some of those episodes digitally.
Many of your questions asked about material you'd like to be included as extras--from work done by the show's cast before and after MST to various specials, promos and live event coverage.  So I'll address them all here. One of the greatest things about working on MST3K DVD's is depth and richness of the library.  The brilliant episodes aside, those guys produced a substantial amount of great extra material.  Network specials, promos, convention footage---the list, as you know, goes on and on.  Now add to that all the stuff they did before the show and all the stuff they've done since.  Then add to that whatever bonus material we may do with them in the future.  Most series that Shout Factory releases have a threshold of extras, either because only so many cast members are alive or it's a short story to tell or talent isn't interested or available. But with MST3K, hell, we'll run out of shows to release before we run out of extra feature possibilities.  I say possibilities because there are obviously limitations to what we can include on any given box, or else we'd load them to the gills.  The budget and time required to clear them (assuming the licensor is even interested in making a deal) always factor in.  We're not talking big bucks, so I can't really blame a network or studio for taking their time.  And given Shout's heavy release schedule (we're only about 60 people here), our production time is limited.  All that said, of course I'm trying to get everything.  I want everything that you want.  But unfortunately it'll take a while.  While we're working on that, though, we are always looking for other fun stuff.  I love to hunt down talent from the films and interview them; and if they have a sense of humor about their movies, then I think it makes for a great extra. So the headline is, there will always be extras on our boxes.  Your suggestions are incredibly helpful to us, and we appreciate it.
Any possibilities of getting any of the KTMA episodes on DVD?
I definitely appreciate the demand for KTMA episodes.  But from a business perspective, I think our boxes are better served by the Comedy (Channel) Central / Sci Fi episodes and there are so many left to release.  Shout Factory's prime directive has always been to give fans of a series what they remember and love.  Most people, it's fair to say, haven't seen the KTMA episodes.  And for those of you who have seen them, I think you'll agree that they are not as strong.  But I attribute that to the fact that the guys were just revving up, honing their skills...and improvising, which is always hit and miss no matter who does it.  Still, there is unquestionably value in presenting them in some fashion on our boxes as extras.  I might as well take this opportunity to answer the scrapbook question here, since it's relevant.  Two extras on our upcoming XV are from the scrapbook.  We've re-titled them "Glimpses of KTMA: MST3K Scrapbook Scraps I" and "Behind the scenes: MST3K Scrapbook Scraps II"  (which replaces the MIT extra).   Believe me, I'd love to include the whole scrapbook, but it's loaded with clearance problems.  Some of them we'll solve eventually; some we won't.
Favorite episode
As any fan of the show would say, that's a tough one to answer.  But for me it's "Mitchell."
Final Sacrifice
The likelihood of this one coming out is very, very, very small. I'm talking quark.  Never say never, I guess, but the rights holder, on the three occasions I've approached him, has politely declined to license his film and said he wasn't likely to change his mind.

Tell us your most interesting acquisition story (or failed attempt at an acquisition?)
Nothing too colorful to report, really.  When I started making inquiries for "Incredibly Strange Creatures..." at Rhino, I had a very nice conversation with Ray Dennis Steckler (RIP), who was very friendly until I mentioned MST3K.  Then he said some very, very nasty things for the next several minutes.  Fortunately, I learned the rights were controlled by Media Blasters (which had their rights from him).  It's not really the answer to this question, but I should add that I've met some really wonderful people in the course of hunting down rights for MST.   Back at Rhino I had several pleasant conversations with William Grefe, for example.  I'd called to see if he'd be interested in going on camera to discuss "Wild Rebels."  He liked MST and thought what they did was funny.  But he declined the invitation out of consideration for other cast and crew who might not be as open minded.  You have to respect that.  Conrad Brooks was hilarious, and the interview with Bert I. Gordon, his daughter Susan and Joe Turkel was a lot of fun.  Brian Ward interviewed Joe Estevez for our "Soultaker" release, but I made the initial contact, and he was extremely friendly.  And for our upcoming set, both Frank Dietz and Jon Mikl Thor were incredibly gracious and appreciative of what MST did for "Zombie Nightmare."

What are the plans for a Tom Servo Statuette?
It's not a matter of if.  It's just a matter of when.

Are there future plans for BlueRay releases?
No plans at this time.  If Blu-Ray sales ever eclipse sales of standard def discs, then we'll look at it more seriously. Otherwise, those episodes don't exactly benefit from high def picture quality for obvious reasons.

What episode(s) would you personally like to see released on DVD?
Ah, Puma Man. I've been trying to find the rights holder to that one for years.  It's my Moby Dick.  I thought I found the guy once; he said he had rights, but when I asked him to provide some paperwork, he stopped returning phone calls. The copyright is held by Indoamericana Ltd.  If any one of you can reach them--or even find them--you'll have my eternal gratitude (not to mention make your fellow fans pretty happy).

Why don’t you put proper chapter stops on the DVDs?
With XV and going forward, we're putting chapters at all commercial breaks and before and after host segments.

Why aren’t there scene selections on the MST3K DVDs from Shout Factory?
I'm not a big fan of scene selections.  It's a pretty subjective call where to put them (I know because I did them for the Rhino releases).  But more importantly, it's an additional authoring and menu design expense, and I'd rather spend the money on an extra.

Can we expect single episode releases on DVD?
While we don't have any plans to release singles in the near future, that could always change. Sorry for the vague answer, but it's more of a sales and marketing call.

Any chance Shout Factory can obtain the rights to MST3K-TM and give it the “special edition” release that fans have asked for?
I was very disappointed that Universal re-released the movie last year.  I really wanted to do it here, full of extras.  Putting out a special edition is certainly worthwhile, and I will pursue it. But it may be some time until Universal is willing to license it out since their release is still pretty fresh.

Does Shout! Factory have a complete list of MSTied films and their public domain status?
We're doing copyright research on everything.  But what I've learned about public domain status is that it's never black and white.  Yes, a film's registration may never have been filed or renewed, but someone owns it.  And if they're litigious, it gets expensive just to defend ourselves, even if we're right.  So we try to be as cautious as possible in making determinations of public domain status. We always prefer to license. While it costs money to license a film, the contract provides protections that make us all sleep easier.

Is there anything that fans can do to help procure rights to movies that are hard to get rights for?
See above regarding Puma Man.  MST3K fans have made so much happen for the show over its history, so I'm not surprised by the question. Thank you and good luck.

Any chance of a new misted short or something as an extra on a boxed set? If a short that’s in public domain is used it shouldn’t be expensive to do it.
It's a very cool idea and one worth investigating.  So many moving parts make it a logistical (and yes, financial) challenge.  The talent is very busy doing their own stuff and they live in different cities.  But doing a short would be a great extra.

Any way we can get the ep numbers on the case and discs?
That seems like a pretty easy thing to do to make fans happy.  I'll talk to Brian Ward about that for XVI.  Thanks.

Will there be any more Film Crew? 
We have no plans to produce any more Film Crew.  Ultimately, Shout is in the MST3K business, and that's where our focus is.  We are working closely with Best Brains to market and expand the brand with our DVD and digital releases, and so far it's been a terrific partnership. Jim had a really good run at Rhino, but I think he appreciates how much creative energy and enthusiasm Shout has for growing the MST3K brand. 

How exactly are the episodes chosen for a set? I imagine there’s at least a little more to it than simple dollars and cents.
The only consistent consideration we make from box to box is trying to include two Joel shows and two Mike shows.  We do this out of respect for fans who have their favorites.  It doesn't always work out, as with the anniversary box.  Sometimes clearing a movie takes longer than expected, so we resort to a film we've concluded is a safe bet for PD.  So much of what we can do is about what we can clear, and I can't stress that enough.  Movies you think are PD are not (and just because a lot of companies have released it does not guarantee it's PD, though it's certainly an encouraging sign). Movies are at studios, which means tape the deepest shade of red you'll ever see.  Movie rights are traced to a bank in Germany...which went belly up 20 years ago and the paperwork can't be found.  Movies have changed hands 15 times, with everyone claiming a piece.  Movies are entangled in rights disputes.  Rights holders are simply unwilling to license for the money we can offer or because they don't like MST (or don't understand it and want nothing to do with it).  Rights holders are in another country and so everything is done by email, which slows up the process. Rights belong to estates, which are often hard to find. There are so many obstacles.  So when we do get one, it's the fourth of July over here.  I understand that certain episodes are very popular, and I'm still trying to get those.  But if I've learned nothing else from reading the MST3K Boards, it's that one person's favorite is another person's least favorite.  Given that and the limited availability of titles, our aim is simply to put everything out that we can.  Doing themed releases is simply a luxury we can't afford, at least timewise.

Is it feasible to add closed captioning to upcoming releases, as a service to those of us with hearing problems?
Closed captions have often been an unfortunate victim of budget constraints.  They're really expensive to create, and with MST3K, where you have so much dialogue between the wraps, movies and riffs, it's even pricier.  That said, Shout is working on finding corporate sponsors who would pay for closed captions on our releases, so we may have good news to report soon.

The Lippert movies from Season 2 - Rocketship XM, Jungle Goddess, Lost Continent and King Dinosaur - what is the holdup on these ?
The problem is that Kit Parker has U.S. rights to those films, but Warner Bros. has Canadian rights.  We need both U.S. and Canadian rights, because our boxes sell well in Canada, so that means getting Canadian rights out of Warner Bros.  And that, I imagine, would fall pretty low on their priority list.

As an art nerd, I absolutely love the fact that each film has an illustration that combine the movie with MST3K. I see a signature for “S. Vance” on the one for Final Justice, but who are they? And how do they go about creating the illustration?
Glad you like those.  The artist is Steve Vance.  We think he's incredibly talented. He did the art for our Firesign Theater box set (Box of Danger: The Complete Nick Danger Casebook). We usually send him a screener of the film in question, and he watches it for inspiration. Check his website out at  

In our very first brainstorming sessions about MST3K releases, everybody (production, marketing, art) here felt that we needed to really distinguish our artwork from the Rhino releases (so while we continued their numbering for the sake of collectors' sanity--many of us are collectors too--we changed over to Roman numerals).  We wanted to do something in the spirit of the show--that is, poke fun at the movies while still showing an affection for them.  So we thought, "Well, how about the posters?"  Those old B movie posters are fantastic, and it seemed like a fun and thematically organic idea to insert Servo and Crow in the imagery, since they've already inserted themselves in the soundtrack.  Fortunately, Jim was fully on board with the concept, so we were off and running.

Since Shout! has and still does license many other tv shows from major film and tv studios/conglomerates like Universal and Sony, can episodes which feature movies whose rights are owned by such major media conglomerates still be considered to be in play for possible future releases?
Absolutely.  Our partnerships with the studios have developed substantially over the last couple of years, and we're just now beginning to release TV shows licensed from Sony, Fox and MGM. So going to them for MST titles is a no-brainer.  That said, getting a licensor-- whether studio or independent rights holder--to understand the rights I'm seeking is not always easy to do, especially if they're not familiar with the show.  I've occasionally included a link to the YouTube clip of the episode featuring their movie so that they can see for themselves and understand that the MST3K version on a $60 box set won't hurt sales of their $14.98 standard release.  And even if all goes smoothly, the sheer bureaucracy involved can means months of waiting for an answer to our offer.  But I certainly hope to make some studio deals over the next year.

Final thoughts
Last year's Comic-Con in San Diego was amazing for many reasons, but chief among them was spending some time with the cast.  What an incredibly friendly and talented group of people.  I'm always happy and relieved to discover that actors and writers whose work I admire are also nice people in real life.

MST3K is one of the jewels in the Shout Factory catalog, and we know it. It's really a team effort here.  Brian Ward and the folks in production, marketing, art, sales and, last but in no way least, legal--they all work very hard on our MST3K DVD's.  We think it shows, and hopefully you agree.  I know we can't always please everyone, but we won't stop trying!