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Trilogy Studios to offer home censor kit

The software maker plans to release products that let parents turn R-rated DVDs into PG movies. Now kids can see "The Godfather" sans the infamous horse's head scene.

Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather" has a notoriously violent scene involving a bed, a movie mogul and a severed horse's head--but with just the click of a mouse, parents may soon be able to show a cleaned-up version of the gangster classic to their children.

Software maker Trilogy Studios said it plans to release a home "censorware" product that will cut scenes and language from DVDs to create PG versions of R-rated movies.

The company, which launched a new Web site last week, said it plans to unveil its Movie Mask DVD player by the first quarter of 2002. The software works on PCs and Microsoft's Xbox game console, telling the device to skip over specific frames in the film that portray violence, profanity or nudity. The company said the DVD remains unaffected, since the censorship instructions reside in the video playback device.

In addition to taking scenes out of a film, the software can be used to put more "wholesome" scenes in. While Movie Mask might cut the violent moments from the opening scene of Steven Spielberg's World War II epic "Saving Private Ryan," for example, it also lets parents add educational links to battle maps or a biography of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

"Choice is the main thing," said Breck Rice, chief revenue officer for Trilogy Studios. Trilogy wanted to "share some of the great Hollywood movies with...children but wanted to show it at a level that they could handle a little better."

Trilogy's DVD-editing software comes as media companies are aiming to offer interactive entertainment that gives consumers more control over the viewing experience. Microsoft and AOL Time Warner are both working to create interactive TV products and programming. In addition, the British Broadcasting Corp. last week unveiled the second of two interactive TV programs launched over Britain's ITV.

However, Aram Sinnreich, an analyst at research firm Jupiter Media Metrix, said Trilogy faces a questionable market, citing the V-chip as an example of a similar technology that fell short of the broad adoption that was anticipated for it. The V-chip was designed to let parents block TV content that contained ratings such as R or PG-13.

"I doubt that the actual market for a service like this large as the perceived market," Sinnreich said.