The family of Robert Blake's murdered wife BONNIE LEE BAKLEY have slammed studio bosses for releasing the actor's old show BARETTA on DVD - accusing them of cashing in on a tragedy.

Blake's show ended in 1978 and interest in it has raised a great deal since the screen star was accused of shooting his wife to death in 2001 after they dined at a California restaurant.

Attorney ERIC DOUGAN, who represents Bonny's sister MARJORIE, says his client discovered the release when she opened a copy of American tabloid the NATIONAL ENQUIRER to see the headline, "Robert Blake: in the headlines, on TV and now on DVD."

Dougan says of the release, "Very disturbing, appalling. To say it's in bad taste is really an understatement. We thought it was extremely vulgar, in bad taste and almost inhumane.

"The American public's not dumb. I don't think there's any ambiguity that they're using this murder to promote a product. It's really downplaying the murder of a human being. The timing is very curious."

UNIVERSAL, who released a three-DVD set, says in its defence, "Our decision to repackage the show and make it available on DVD at this time coincided with our long term strategy to mind and revitalise the Universal TV library."

An updated version of the show has also been commissioned by cable TV network USA, with John Leguizamo reportedly being among those reading the script.

Blake's attorney says the actor will receive no cash from the sales of the DVD.

11/05/2003 21:29