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Dylan Gets a ROM for His Money : Computers: An Irvine firm will produce an interactive project that will probably concentrate on the evolution of the singer-songwriter's music.

August 02, 1994|RICK VANDERKNYFF | TIMES STAFF WRITER

IRVINE — The times they are a-changin', indeed.

Bob Dylan, who started his career more than 30 years ago with nothing more technologically sophisticated than an acoustic guitar and a harmonica, is the latest pop star to sign on to the burgeoning field of interactive CD-ROM.

The Graphix Zone, an Irvine-based multimedia company, announced this week that it has signed an agreement with Columbia Records to produce the project, which is scheduled to be in stores by the end of the year.

The Dylan project is in its early development but Chuck Cortright, Graphix Zone president and chief executive officer, said it probably will concentrate more on the evolution of the singer-songwriter's music than on biographical details of his life.

It is expected to have a completely different look and feel from the company's first interactive music project for another reclusive Minnesota-born pop star: Prince.

Prince's CD-ROM, released in June, features sophisticated computer animation and a game-like approach in leading users through aspects of the singer's career. Along the way, users can call up video clips of unreleased songs, remix the recording of another new tune, play disc jockey in a music club and listen to testimonials from such fellow musicians as Eric Clapton and George Clinton. The average user will take 10 to 20 hours to navigate through the maze-like program and experience everything stored on the disc.

Company officials say sales have gone well. And after the project was completed, Prince flew some of the project's principals to his Paisley Park studios in Minneapolis to personally express his thanks.

Cortright said he instigated the Dylan project and called the singer's representatives with a proposal. Cortright, who called himself a lifelong Dylan fan, said the project grew out of his personal interest, but he maintains it makes business sense as well.

"I think the demographics are right," he said. "I would think there would be a lot of 45-year-olds like myself who would pick up on this."

Mitchell Rubinstein of Graphix Zone, who is heading up the Dylan project, said Columbia Records is combing its archives for unreleased songs and film footage that could be incorporated into the project.

"They keep calling us with new things they're finding," said Rubinstein.

Dylan's representatives and officials at Columbia Records could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, officials at Graphix Zone, which was formed in 1989 and went public in June, say they are in negotiation with other major artists (whom they would not name) for future projects. Other pop and rock musicians who have released computer-based multimedia products for other firms include Peter Gabriel, Todd Rundgren, Heart and David Bowie.

Entertainment titles are "our future, in no uncertain terms," said Cortright.

"I think everybody is finally seeing that this is a powerful new form of entertainment.

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