LOS ANGELES – Universal Studios Home Video plans to release episodes of Baretta, the 1970s detective series starring Robert Blake, on DVD this fall, even though Blake is jailed on murder charges.
Blake, 68, is charged with murdering Bonny Lee Bakley, his wife and mother of his young daughter. Bakley, 44, was shot on May 4, 2001, in a car parked near a restaurant where she and Blake had just dined. He has pleaded innocent.
Blake has been jailed since his April 18 arrest. No trial date has been set.
Vivian Mayer, a spokeswoman for Universal Studios' home video division, said Thursday the company wants to rejuvenate its library of classic TV shows. She declined to speculate on how Blake's case might affect the project or sales.
The company is also planning to release Battlestar Galactica, Quantum Leap, The Rockford Files, Magnum, P.I. and Law & Order.
Baretta, which ran from 1975 to 1978, starred Blake as a street-wise police investigator who arrested thugs and crooks and had a pet cockatoo named Fred.
Baretta creator Stephen J. Cannell said he hopes the release will introduce a new generation to the show, and added that curiosity about Blake could draw them in.
"It might be some morbid curiosity,'' Cannell said. "It might be because the show is back in the consciousness of America, given the notoriety of the Blake case."
Blake is likely to be compensated for the reissue in accordance with Screen Actors Guild regulations, but his business manager did not return calls for comment.
Baretta: Season One is set for release on Oct. 29. The three-disc set (about $39.98) is expected to feature the first 13 episodes. Another DVD, Best of Baretta, priced at $19.98, includes the pilot and two bonus episodes.
A former child actor, Blake's films include In Cold Blood and Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here.