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CD-ROM ROLES PULL STARS INTO CYBERSPACE.

Byline: Luaine Lee Knight-Ridder Tribune News Wire

Old actors never die. They just go to CD-ROMs. That may sound worse than it is. With only 15 percent of the actors working in film or television at one time, there's always room for new horizons.

The CD-ROM market seems to be pollinating faster than bees in an orange grove, and that's good news for actors. More and more of the ``names'' are jumping into the world of cyberspace for interactive games and stories and a little money on the side.

The process pays about the same as television, but the hours are shorter. Tanya Roberts (``Charlie's Angels,'' ``Beastmaster'') has just finished portraying the mysterious woman in the murder-thriller ``The Pandora Directive,'' on which she worked less than 10 days.

``It's very different from working in film,'' she says. ``First of all, you do a tremendous amount of work very, very quickly. And there are three different paths to the game you can take, so that's three times the character work for certain scenes.''

Barry Corbin (``Northern Exposure''), who shares the stage with Roberts on ``Pandora,'' reports that all of the work is done in front of a blue screen.

The camera is blind to the blue screen so that any kind of background can be added later.

``There are several different paths you have to go,'' he says. ``So you always gotta keep that in your mind. You've got to play sort of neutral in the transition thing so it'll work if you go this way or that way,'' he says.

Roberts says she found the script very similar to a feature film. ``There are 165 pages and we added to that with question-and-answer periods. But it read like a terrific movie,'' she says.

``The Pandora Directive'' is due on Aug. 1, for PC; no price set yet.

William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Malcolm McDowell reprise their roles for the ``Star Trek Generations'' CD-ROM, based on the movie. Also on board the space ship are Jonathan Frakes (Riker), Brent Spiner (Data) and Michael Dorn (Worf.)

McDowell plays the surly scientist bent on the destruction of his arch nemesis.

The CD-ROM, due out this fall, is for Windows 95; no price set yet.

Stewart is no newcomer to CD-ROMs. Last year he provided those dulcet tones and that cultured presence to Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia, which is still one of the best for kids.

And Capt. Picard is also featured on Philips' ``Titanic,'' an interactive exploration of the doomed ship and its adventurous rediscovery. The program includes more than two hours of narration and interviews with survivors of the disaster. For Windows and Mac; $39.99.

Comedian Steve Allen, the Eagles' Joe Walsh and comedy impresario Budd Friedman join forces on ``Don't Quit Your Day Job,'' a comedy game in which the player must navigate the 3-D nightclub interacting with show biz shamans in a goose-pimpling quest for a career. The two-disc set (for kids 18 and older) also includes one hour of stand-up comedy. For Windows and Mac; $49.99.

Speaking of comedy, you don't have to be alive to take part in the CD-ROM logjam. The Marx Brothers have been resurrected for ``The Unknown Marx Brothers,'' two discs that follows the lives and careers of the comics. The discs include talks with family members and friends and a two-hour documentary. For Windows and Mac $39.99.

Robin Williams (like he NEEDS the money) is featured on the ``Jumanji'' CD-ROM, which hustles arcade games and some key scenes from the movie. And the unsinkable Shari Lewis brings her puppetry to ``Lamb Chop Loves Reading,'' a CD-ROM due for kiddies 3 to 6, with learning games, activities and several of Father Aesop's fables. Both for Windows and Mac; $39.99.

Director Joe Napolitano (``Picket Fences,'' ``The X-Files'') nabbed the gig over at ``Zork'' headquarters. The latest in a popular series of ``Zork'' adventures (first conjured by a group of MIT students in the '80s) the new ``Zork Nemesis'' - for Windows 95 - offers 3-D surround graphics and sound as well as a convoluted and challenging game.

Here players try to solve the mystery to free those trapped in a perpetual hell. For Windows 95 and PC; $49.95.

Penn Jillette, the noisy half of Penn and Teller, is one of the voices on the new ``SkyTrip America'' CD-ROM, a trek through American history, which also features voices by basketball star Chris Webber and Irene Bedard, the voice of Disney's ``Pocahontas.'' Available at $39.95 for Windows and Mac.

John Ratzenberger (``Cheers'') hosts Disney Interactive's new ``Animated StoryBook, Toy Story,'' which leaps from the screen of the best-selling movie and also features the voices of Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head, Annie Potts as Bo-Peep and Jim Varney as Slinky Dog. For PC and Mac; $35.

Those wacky Monty Pythoners, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones, have converged again and recorded new material for the upcoming ``Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail,'' a goofy assortment of puzzles, games, clues and medieval labyrinths due in June for $49.99. The PC version is due out first; Mac will follow in a few months.

Bruce Campbell (``Army of Darkness'') plays a mutant half-man in 7th Level's new ``Cold Blooded,'' which requires players to arm a nuclear warhead, build a suit of armor and wander through a maze where you can't see yourself. Sounds existential. It will also be available in June at $39.99 for PCs, Windows 95 or 3.1.

Kevin Kline, Demi Moore, Jason Alexander and Tom Hulce will voice the new ``Disney's Animated StoryBook, the Hunchback of Notre Dame'' due in September. Based on the animated movie coming in June, this story is the Victor Hugo classic, and the disc features some of the latest CD-ROM technology. Mac and PC; $30-$35.

Glamorous Jennifer O'Neill (``Summer of '42,'') is the object of obsession in the sex, murder and intrigue of ``Voyeur II,'' a new game spinning off the popular first ``Voyeur.'' Available this summer, the disc also boasts Dennis Weaver as the sheriff and David Groh (``Rhoda''). PC and Mac; $49.99.

With the CD-ROM feeding frenzy, many people are confused about what to buy. The experts advise you to read the small print and verify that the software matches your system.

Choose programs that coincide with the age and development level of the player. That, too, is in the small print somewhere on the package. Try to pick games that will grow with the child.

Technical support should be available evenings and weekends when you're actually playing with your computer. Buy products that are returnable (check with the clerk).

Try it on before you buy. There are computer user groups that can help in your area, computer shows and the Internet where you can download different software demos from the Internet Shopping Network. The address is http://www.internet.net. Often companies offer demonstration software through their forums with an on-line service like CompuServe or America Online.

So many CDs and so little time. C/NET Online has a new free CD-ROM library that offers reviews of more than 300 CD-ROMs as well as rankings of the top 100. You can access this free on the Internet at http://www.cnet.com.

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Photo

Photo: Actor Barry Corbin is one of the stars of ``The Pand ora Directive,'' a murder-thriller on CD-ROM.

Knight-Ridder Tribune Photo Service
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 14, 1996
Words:1239
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