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Lauded 'Aviator' takes flight as DVD


The Aviator, Martin Scorsese's epic biography of billionaire Howard Hughes, is the influential director's first film to gross more than $100 million at the domestic box office. And it won more Oscars - five - than any of his previous films, including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and GoodFellas. It also won the Golden Globe for best drama.

The film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio in his Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated performance as the playboy Hollywood filmmaker and aviation pioneer who battled obsessive-compulsive disorder, makes its DVD debut (Warner Home Video, $30) in a two-disc set that covers every aspect of the production. The first disc includes intense commentary with Scorsese, Oscar-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker and producer Michael Mann.

The second disc includes a deleted scene between Hughes and Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale), a passable "making of" documentary, a fascinating look at Hughes' role in aviation history, a History Channel documentary on Hughes, an examination of OCD and short but informative documentaries on the visual effects, hair and makeup, costumes, production design and scoring of the film.

Also new

Are We There Yet? (Sony, $29): Ice Cube goes the family route in this box office hit that was originally written for Adam Sandler. The DVD's "making of" documentary is substandard, but the tour of the sports collectibles store Cube's character owns in the film is fun because of the ton of memorabilia that was acquired to dress the set. There are also storyboard comparisons, a blooper reel and deleted scenes. Director Brian Levant offers energetic commentary.

Pooh's Heffalump Movie (Disney, $30): This sweet little animated Winnie the Pooh film introduces an adorable new character, Lumpy the Heffalump - a purple elephant who speaks with a Cockney accent. The digital edition is strictly geared for the small fry, with a song selection, a "making of" documentary - Welcome to the Family, Lumpy - and a game, "Hide 'n' Seek with Roo and Lumpy."

Back in the Day (First Look, $25): Rapper Ja Rule, Ving Rhames, Pam Grier and Joe Morton are wasted in this predictable, violent thriller. The disc features an amateurishly produced "making of" featurette and cast interviews.

NewsRadio - The Complete First and Second Seasons (Sony, $40): This off-kilter NBC comedy set at a wacky news radio station developed a core following during its 1995-1998 run. The first-rate ensemble included Dave Foley, the late Phil Hartman, ER's Maura Tierney, Joe Rogan of Fear Factor, Andy Dick of Less Than Perfect, Khandi Alexander of CSI: Miami and Vicki Lewis.

The three-disc set has more commentary tracks than most TV-series DVD sets - there's commentary on 20 of the 29 episodes with the cast, creator Paul Simms and other crew members. And here's a trivia gem: Ray Romano was hired to play the handyman but was fired before the pilot was taped because he wasn't right for the part.

Fat Actress (Showtime, $35): The first season of the comedy series starring Kirstie Alley as a fictional version of herself as she deals with weight gain while trying to find love and happiness in Tinseltown. The two-disc DVD set is being released the same week the show's debut season concludes on Showtime. The discs include a "making of" featurette, a look at the red carpet premiere for the show and audacious audio commentary with Alley, creator Brenda Hampton (Seventh Heaven) and others.

Volcanoes of the Deep (Image, $20): James Cameron was the executive producer of this fascinating ocean documentary, originally produced for Imax, which travels 12,000 feet down to explore vibrant life-forms and a colorful, dramatic volcanic formation. Ed Harris narrates. Features include a behind-the-scenes documentary, film facts and a trivia quiz.

Coming Tuesday

Be Cool, Beyond the Sea, The Machinist, Imaginary Heroes, Seed of Chucky, D.E.B.S., Black Cloud.

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