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Queen's portrait Mirren melds into the role of British royalty

You may notice that one element is missing from Helen Mirren's Oscar-winning portrayal as "The Queen": Mirren.

The actress vanishes completely into her role of Queen Elizabeth in this film that looks at the actions of Britain's royal family at the time surrounding the tragic death of Princess Diana.

During interviews featured on the bonus material for "The Queen" ($29.99, Miramax; available Tuesday), Mirren admits to being "terrified and more nervous about this role" than others in her career.

"Then I found a thought which relaxed me: Think of [the role] as if you're a portrait painter," she says she thought to herself. "You're bringing your perception of the queen and your own personality, your own hang-ups and your own psychology to your portrait."

In the end, Mirren says, she "loved being that person."

The DVD also includes an audio commentary with director Stephen Frears and writer Peter Morgan, plus another with British historian and royal expert Robert Lacey.

*It's a busy time for new releases featuring Oscar-worthy performances. "The Last King of Scotland" ($29.98, Fox) stars Forest Whitaker in his Oscar-winning performance as dictator Idi Amin in this movie based on Giles Foden's award-winning debut novel.

The movie includes an audio commentary by director Kevin MacDonald; deleted scenes with optional commentary; the documentary "Capturing Idi Amin"; and a featurette on Whitaker on portraying Amin.

*Dame Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett each received Oscar nominations for their powerful performances in "Notes on a Scandal" ($29.98, Fox). Dench played a rigid teacher whose jealousy explodes when she learns a new art teacher (Blanchett) is having an affair with a student.

The DVD has deleted scenes; an audio commentary by director Richard Eyre; featurettes including a behind-the-scenes look; and Webisodes on such topics as Dench, Blanchett, casting and the screenplay.

There's more for Dench fans, who can see the award-winning actress before she was a dame in the expansive "Judi Dench Collection" ($99.99, BBC Video), an eight-disc set showcasing Dench in 10 BBC productions that span four decades of work.

Included are "Talking to a Stranger"; two adaptations of "The Cherry Orchard" (one from 1962, the other from 1981); "Keep an Eye on Amelie"; Ibsen's "Ghosts" (also starring Kenneth Branagh and Natasha Richardson); "Absolute Hell" (co-starring Bill Nighy); "Going Gently"; "Make and Break"; and "Can You Hear Me Thinking?"

Bonus material includes a conversation between Dench and her "Notes on a Scandal" director Richard Eyre; three radio plays; plus Dench singing "Send in the Clowns" from her award-winning role in "A Little Night Music."

*"Not Just the Best of the Larry Sanders Show" ($49.95, Sony) is a four-disc set with 23 episodes of Garry Shandling's hilarious and award-winning HBO series. More than eight hours of new material was recorded for this set, with Shandling interviewing such guest stars as Alec Baldwin, Sharon Stone, Carol Burnett and Jerry Seinfeld. Other bonus material: featurettes on cast members, including Mary Lynn Rajskub ("24"), Janeane Garofalo and Jeremy Piven; a making-of documentary; commentaries; deleted and extended scenes.

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New on Tuesday

"Anna Karenina" (Fox), "Columbo Mystery Movie Collection 1989" (Universal), "Flipper: Season One" (MGM), "Jane Eyre" (1944, Fox), "Kidnapped: The Complete Series" (Sony), "Les Miserables" (1935, 1952, Fox), "Night at the Museum" (Fox), "One Day at a Time: The Complete First Season" (Sony), "Planet Earth: The Complete Series" (BBC), "Shameless: The Complete First Season" (BBC) and "Tsunami, The Aftermath"

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DVD EXTRA

"WKRP IN CINCINNATI SEASON ONE": Relive the good old days at WKRP with this three-disc, 22-episode set. Extras: featurettes include a making-of; audio commentaries with Loni Anderson, Tim Reid and other cast members. ($39.98, Fox. Available Tuesday.) (HBO).

e-mail: truberto@buffnews.com

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