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  BELLED #32 - JULY 13, 2005


As long-time subscribers well know, for the last couple of years we've foregone our monthly newsletters and chosen to post news on the website -- saving email notices for bigger events.

Well, with all the current buzz about our favorite Southern Belles gracing the stage, and the continued fan frustration over Designing Women on DVD -- or lack thereof, we decided it was the perfect time to make some waves!

For this edition, we bring you information on three of your Designing Women favorites who are currently appearing in different stage venues -- but not for much longer! Plus, we give you an update on the DVD situation, and exactly whom to contact at Sony Pictures to share your concerns.

And now on to our current issue:

Project Spotlight: Dixie Carter and Jean Smart both star in Summer productions of Lady Windermere's Fan.

Cast Feature: Delta Burke's Steel Magnolias prepares to finish its Broadway run.

Designing Women Flashback: Why is there still no Designing Women on DVD? Here's what you can do about it.


  PROJECT SPOTLIGHT


The Ladies of Sugarbaker's Grace
'Lady Windermere's Fan'


Dixie Carter as Mrs. ErlynneJuly is the month to catch your favorite "Designing" women on stage, beginning with Jean Smart and Dixie Carter, who are both headlining productions of Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan.

Written in 1892, Lady Windermere's Fan was the first of Oscar Wilde's brilliant social comedies. A delightfully humorous farce, the play chronicles a series of deceptions and misunderstandings in the high society world of Victorian London, while also serving to attack the rigidity of Victorian morality.

The story centers around Lady Margaret Windermere, who naively believes that her husband is in sexual and financial thrall to the scandalous Mrs Erlynne.

Lord Winderemere has indeed been visiting Mrs. Erlynne and paying her money -- but not for the reason Lady Windermere suspects.

Jean Smart as Mrs. ErlynneBetrayed and confused, Lady Windermere decides she will accept the advances of Lord Darlington in hopes of exacting revenge on her husband. What she doesn't know, and what Lord Windermere doesn't want anyone to find out, is the true identity of Mrs. Erlynne, who must step in to save Lady Windermere from damaging her own reputation.

At the core of the drama is the mysterious Mrs. Erlynne, arguably one of the most interesting female characters ever to be written by a man in the 19th century, and she is currently being portrayed by not one, but two, former employees of Sugarbaker's Design Firm.

The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington D.C. completes its 2004-2005 season with a production of Lady Windermere's Fan, starring Dixie Carter in the role of Mrs. Erlynne. The play, which opened June 7 to rave reviews, continues through July 31.

Under the direction of Keith Baxter, Lady Winderere's Fan is said to be "a temptation not to be resisted" by The Washington Sun.

Dixie Carter as Mrs. Erlynne

"Dixie Carter is devastatingly sexy as Mrs. Erlynne, the Lady in Red, whose deep dark secret sets the plot in motion..." ~ The Wall Street Journal

"It is the strength and warmth of Carter's performance that provides the play's steely backbone." ~ The Washington Post

Meanwhile, the Williamstown Theatre Festival opened its 2005 season on July 6 with Lady Windermere's Fan on its Main Stage, featuring Jean Smart in the pivotal role of Mrs. Erlynne.

"As Lady Erlynne, Jean Smart has the most dashing role in the play and seems to revel in it." ~ Berkshire Theatre Reviews

Jean Smart as Mrs. Erlynne

"From her grand entrance into the Windermeres' party to her graceful and painful departure from their lives, Smart lends an extra touch of class to the production." ~ North Adams Transcript

Tony and Emmy nominated director Moisés Kaufman gives direction to the Festival's presentation of Wilde's deliciously witty satire, which is enjoying a very limited run through this Sunday, July 17.

Tickets for both shows are available at their respective websites. For more information, visit The Shakespeare Theatre or The Williamstown Theatre Festival.


**Sources: The Carbaret: dixiecarter.com, Smart Stuff: Officially Jean Smart
Dixie Carter Photos by Carol Rosegg. Also pictured are Andrew Long as Lord Windermere and Tessa Auberjonois as Lady Windermere.
Jean Smart Photos by Richard Feldman. Also pictured is Samantha Soule as Lady Windermere.


  CAST FEATURE


Delta Burke's 'Steel Magnolias'
Continues on Broadway to July 31

Frances Sternhagen
and Delta Burke


Delta Burke, who made her Broadway debut last year in Thoroughly Modern Millie, is currently making her second mark on Broadway in Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias, which will continue through July 31.

Delta plays beauty salon owner Truvy (portrayed on the silver screen by Dolly Parton), in a performance that has earned solid reviews from theatre critics.

"Delta Burke is quite impressive as Truvy -- making the character her own." ~ The New York Times

"Burke is highly appealing as Truvy." ~ The Hollywood Reporter

"Burke gets her share of laughs as the lovable Truvy." ~ Broadway.com

Delta Burke and Rebecca GayheartAssisting Truvy at her beauty salon is Annelle, who isn't sure if she's married or not but insists her problems will not get in the way of "doing good hair." The other four key players are regular customers of the salon; M'Lynn is the local social worker that dotes on her daughter, the recently-engaged Shelby, who dresses exclusively in pink. Clairee is an eccentric, widowed millionairess who specializes in zingy one-liners. Then there is Ouiser, a bit of a curmudgeon who loves her dog more than any human and admits to having "been in a bad mood for forty years."

While the play takes place entirely in Truvy's homey little beauty salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana, over the course of four acts, these women experience life, death and birth -- all in the arms and company of each other.

Directed by Tony-nominated Jason Moore, the cast includes Christine Ebersole as M'Lynn; Rebecca Gayheart as M'Lynn's daughter, Shelby; Lily Rabe as newcomer beautician Annelle; Marsha Mason as crusty Ouiser, and Frances Sternhagen as Clairee.

Steel Magnolias opened April 4 on Broadway and closes July 31. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8 PM, matinees Wednesdays at 2 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM and Sundays at 3 PM. For ticket information, contact Telecharge.com at (212) 239-6200.


**Photos by Joan Marcus. Also pictured are Frances Sternhagen as Clairee and Rebecca Gayheart as Shelby.


  DESIGNING WOMEN FLASHBACK


Best of Designing Women

'Designing Women' on DVD

Where are the full seasons?


It's been almost two years since Sony released The Best of Designing Women on DVD (pictured left), but why have there been no more releases?

Requests continue to pour in for full seasons of Designing Women, and we wanted to keep you updated on the reasons for the delay and how to help speed things up.

As many of you have probably seen, TV-on-DVD is currently flooding the marketplace, and as a result, the holders of the publishing rights to the music are asking a price that the DVD studio is simply unwilling to pay because it will drive up the cost of the release past the project's budget limits. Although diehard fans would pay higher prices, the loss of the casual fan will result in fewer sales which will not cover the ludicrous licensing increases.

In the case of Designing Women, the situation is heightened by the fact that there were many popular songs used in the episodes that create additional licensing costs. In addition, so many fans put off purchasing The Best of Designing Women in favor of waiting for full seasons that Sony hasn't found the demand to be enough for them to give in on cost negotiations. Representatives at Sony have personally told Belled Online not to expect a 2005 release.

So what can you, as a consumer and a fan, do to change this?

First, Sony is currently conducting a poll to find out which of several series is most in demand on DVD. Designing Women fans either don't know about the poll or haven't responded, so please Click here to vote!

Secondly, we encourage everyone to drop an email to Marc Rashba at Sony requesting full seasons. Please do not SPAM him or mass email him because this will cause him to disregard all requests. If Sony gets enough genuine interest, it could get us results. Be sure to mention Designing Women in the subject!!

Belled Online will also continue its Designing Women DVD Poll for fans to express their desire for more of the series, and be sure to register for Designing Women at TVShowsOnDVD.com -- it's FREE!