Installations: Oliver Stone's Radical Cinema Page 2

The one exception to the room's seamless integration is the four NHT Evolution L5 surround speakers. Most contemporary installations - even high-end ones - use in-wall or ceiling speakers for the surrounds, but this was one time where performance trumped invisibility. Since the Evolution M6 speakers for the front left, center, and right are essentially freestanding, resting on shelves in the bookcase, it was decided that in-wall or ceiling models couldn't effectively complement their sound - especially given the room's 14-foot ceilings. So the L5s were mounted on the sides of the soffit, arrayed in an arc behind the primary viewing position.

Not surprisingly, the decorators were aghast at the idea of having four large speakers hovering over the center of the room, but Stone sided with his installer. "The front of the room was so clean that we were able to get away with mounting them like that," says James. "I wouldn't change that for the world, and I don't think Oliver would either."

The system's electronics might be hidden in the bookcase, but they're nothing to be ashamed of, with the DVD player, preamps, and amps for the main system all hailing from Parasound's premier Halo line and with Russound gear handling the multiroom music chores. The cabinet also holds the outboard amps and crossovers for the NHT U2 subwoofers, which sit beneath the LG plasma along with the M6 center speaker.

The InFocus SP777 projector and 106-inch retractable Da-Lite screen were late additions. "Oliver is thrilled with the LG's performance," says Janna, "but he realized that the home theater would be a nice place for him to watch dailies, so we got the InFocus.

The room's wall of windows - leading into a solarium, no less - isn't exactly doing the TV or projector any favors. But Janna had a simple solution - a series of large, thick curtains on rods. Since this is Oliver Stone, though, they're closed not at the push of a button, but the old-fashioned way - by hand, one panel at a time. He also nixed the idea of using a remote to work the lights. "A standard Edison wall switch is the way the guy really operates," says James.

One piece of automation Stone did approve of is the motorized lift for the master bedroom's 32-inch LG LCD high-def set, which lets him watch TV in bed or rotate the set 180° so he can watch it from the sitting area on the other side of the room. Stone was initially skeptical about having a lift, but he was ecstatic when he found out it actually worked as advertised. "He had us come up to his bedroom," says James, "and he was sitting on the edge of the bed with the remote in his hand, saying, 'I'm pretty surprised, but this f-in' thing is working.' And I'm thinking, 'Right on, Oliver'."

Thanks to the bevy of high-end LG TVs, there are plenty of places in the house where Stone can watch movies, but he finds that he gravitates back to the family room because of the sound. "It's a rich sound," he says, "good and even."

Getting that sound to where Stone wanted it, though, took some tweaking. After spending a few days with the system, he found he didn't like the balance, so he called in James.

"He said, 'Go put on The Doors. Let me hear it with The Doors,'" remembers James. "And as we watched it, he said, 'I'm not getting enough volume from the rear surround. I just don't feel like I'm in the movie.' And then he started comparing it to how it sounded when they were editing it. You have Oliver Stone sitting right next to you watching this movie that he knows exactly how it should sound. So, of course he's absolutely correct."

You would think this most exacting of filmmakers would have encountered at least one serious problem with his system, but Stone says he's actually across-the-board thrilled with its performance. "I love the sound," he says. "I love the image on the LG and the InFocus; I love the sense of enclosed space. But at the same time, it's a very friendly room. People can party in here. And, since you can raise the screen, there's no sign of it." Pressed to find a flaw, Stone neatly parries the thrust, instead summing things up with a sly reference to his interrogator's employer: "I moved in not too long ago, so I'm furnishing still and figuring out angles and all that, but I love the sound and vision."