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Case Number 24047: Small Claims Court

Buy Diana Ross: Live in Central Park at Amazon

Diana Ross: Live in Central Park

Shout! Factory // 1983 // 160 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // June 27th, 2012

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All Rise...

Judge Brett Cullum thinks ain't no mountain high enough to keep him from buying this DVD.

The Charge

"It took me a lifetime to get here, and I am not going anywhere."—Diana Ross, while being pelted by rain

The Case

On July 21, 1983 Diana Ross gave a free concert to over 800,000 people in Central Park. There was only one problem in that a serious and heavy system of thunderstorms soaked the performer and her crowd, washing the whole show out after only forty-five minutes. Ross was a trooper, and stayed onstage as long as she could on a set with no roof to protect her from the downpour. But driving rain finally got the best of her and the fans, and both had to make a quick exit. Determined though, she proclaimed the very next day she would repeat the performance. Both shows were recorded for a broadcast special, which would air around the world, and in the U.S. on the then-fledging premium channel Showtime. Diana Ross: Live in Central Park gives fans the immortal moment when Miss Ross defied a river of rain and kept on singing, and it also gives us the jubilant concert the next day with Diana in rare and fine form.

The setlist spans mainly Diana Ross as a solo artist including some decidedly over-the-top homages to Flashdance and Thriller-era Michael Jackson. The sets are simple, consisting of ever changing screens behind the singer, who is occasionally joined by some dancers. The arc of the show documents the iconic vocal stylist as she broke free from her Motown legacy, and it captures New York City in 1983 spectacularly with lush aerial shots of the city and Central Park. The interesting thing is this concert is one of the most famous moments in music history, but it has not been seen in its entirety since the event. So forget all those blurry YouTube clips, and get ready for the concert of a lifetime on DVD.

In the rained out show you get to witness:

• "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
• "Home"
• "Family"
• "It's My House"
• "Let's Go Up"
• "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)"
• "Supremes Medley"
• "Endless Love"
• "Ain't No Mountain High Enough (reprise)"

The set list for the actual uncut show is as follows:

• "I'm Coming Out"
• "Home"
• "Family"
• "It's My House"
• "Let's Go Up"
• "Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)"
• "Supremes Medley"
• "God Bless the Child"
• "Mirror, Mirror"
• "Maniac"
• "You Can't Hurry Love"
• "Upside Down"
• "So Close"
• "Why Do Fools Fall in Love"
• "Ribbon in the Sky"
• "Beat It"
• "Muscles"
• "Endless Love"
• "Theme from Mahogany"
• "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
• "All For One"

Also included on Diana Ross: Live in Central Park is a commentary by the guy who directed the special, Steven Binder. He gives the history behind the show's creation, and talks about what it was like on that day to try and film a concert during a major downpour. This talk is over the rain-shortened version of the concert only.

The standard definition 1.33:1 full frame transfer is relatively good considering the source material is a cable special from 1983 shot live on video in Central Park. The rain footage is amazing, and hard to imagine the camera guys just kept rolling even when it is obvious the cameras were taking a beating. Colors are preserved, and even though there is a distinct, video lack of quality it is pretty clear. Detail is well represented, and the tapes seem to have been well preserved or restored for this DVD. The Dolby 2.0 Stereo mix is the best it can be, and luckily the recording guys did a fabulous job under the conditions. Any of the glitches or problems you see are caused by weather and nothing else. The camerawork is surprisingly well done with a nice mix of wide shots combined with close-ups.

This is a rare chance to see why a legend is a legend, and what she looks like soaked to the bone in a rainstorm. Diana Ross is an incredible talent, and this moment in 1983 defined her status as an icon. Diana Ross: Live in Central Park brings us a concert that hasn't been seen as a whole in almost 30 years, and it is an amazing package with a great transfer and an excellent commentary. Fans have an easy choice to pick it up, and the curious won't be disappointed.

The Verdict

Guilty of bringing back Diana Ross in the rain, and proof she had make-up that never ran.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 95

Perp Profile

Studio: Shout! Factory
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 160 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Concerts and Musicals
• Performance

Distinguishing Marks

• Uncut Concert
• Rain-Shortened Concert
• Commentary


• IMDb
• Diana Ross on Facebook

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