'It's OK to Say No" (RGA, $1.95), a best-selling coloring book, is fun for kids. But it has serious overtones.
Its purpose is to teach youngsters that it's OK to say no to sexual molesters. A videocassette version of this acclaimed book is in the planning stages.
With the aid of child-behavior experts, Amy Shields and illustrator Frank Smith assembled the book which, RGA's head man Jack Artenstein reported, has sold 2 1/2 million copies.
"Kids are taught that they have to obey adults," Artenstein pointed out. "This book teaches kids that they have rights too. When they feel uncomfortable about participating in situations they don't think are right, they can get out of these dangerous situations by saying no to the adults.
"Kids go along in these situations even though they don't want to. This book gets across the point that they don't have to go along and say nothing. The videocassette will make the same points."
It won't be available for a while. Artenstein is negotiating with three companies who want to make the videocassette version.
"I should know by next week which one is going to do it," he said.
Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, isn't too happy with the whole home-video industry, which he thinks is ripping off the movie industry and discouraging theater attendance. To him the VCR, which is used to play back videos of movies and record them off TV at little cost, is an instrument of evil.
There's a new VCR that really upsets him. It's a double recorder that features two wells, one for a prerecorded cassette and one for a blank tape. You can copy the prerecorded cassette on the blank. Copying a cassette now is a rather cumbersome process requiring two recorders. But on the new VCR, it's a simple, all-in-one operation.
"It's a pirate's dream," Valenti griped. "For instance, with a six-hour cassette you can copy several movies on one blank cassette. You can rent movies for a night and make copies for yourself and your friends. It's tempting when you can do it so easily with one machine."
Where can you buy this miracle machine? Unfortunately for Americans with piracy in their hearts, this double VCR is available only in the Middle East--for now, that is.
If Valenti has his way, this "evil" machine will never be available in America. But anyone who travels in the Middle East can obviously buy one and bring it back. However, the double VCR is on a foreign electronic system that's incompatible with the one used in the United States. But, Valenti noted, double VCRs can be converted for American use.
At the moment, there are apparently no plans to market the machine, which is made in Japan, in this country. But if the Japanese do sell it here, Valenti warned that he'll spearhead a campaign to ban it.
This anti-double VCR faction is gearing for battle. "I have little doubt," Valenti lamented, "that they'll be over here sooner or later."
SNIPPETS: On another issue, Valenti supports Embassy's new anti-piracy system but doesn't think it's the answer to stamping out piracy. Observed Valenti: "It's not foolproof. There are ways around it."
Embassy's new system is being tested for the first time on its new release, "The Cotton Club." In the next week or two Embassy will have some idea of its effectiveness. . . .
Meir Hed, co-owner of the Videotheque stores, related this tale illustrating the power of home video. An executive in the Mann Theater chain came into a Videotheque outlet and was surprised to discover that "The Bostonians" was out on videocassette. It also was playing in the Mann chain. Assuming its availability for home-video viewing negated its appeal to moviegoers, the executive had it pulled from the theaters.
VIETNAM VIDEO: With all the attention focused on the Vietnam War recently, this is the perfect time for the USC School of Journalism to market its videocassette series about the war--"Vietnam Reconsidered: Lessons From a War."
The series consists of tapes of a four-day 1983 USC conference dissecting the war. "It was an attempt to explore the war and its impact from various angles," said Joe Domanick, who assembled the series. "At the conference we were trying to make some sense out of that whole war experience and to see what was learned from it."
The conference featured speeches, panel discussions and question-and-answer sessions involving the audience. Journalists, politicians, military personnel, veterans and Vietnamese refugees were among the variety of participants. Among prominent participants were Arthur Miller, Harrison Salisbury, David Halberstam and Morley Safer.
"There were interesting dialogues, there was controversy and there were some angry confrontations," Domanick explained.
The videocassette series is long and not at all cheap. The full series--32 hours on 15 tapes in both Beta and VHS--sells for $1,200. But individual tapes are available for $120. Each tape centers on a panel discussion exploring topics like the origins of the war, the effects on veterans and the role of the CIA.
The series is available only through the USC journalism school. For information call Domanick at (213) 743-2391 or write to Vietnam Video Series, USC School of Journalism, GFS 315, University Park, Los Angeles, 90089-1695.
NEW AND COMING RELEASES: "Dune," the monumentally expensive science-fiction epic released last Christmas, is in the stores this week. Though it wasn't big box-office, video experts expect it to be a massive hit in the home market.
Anticipating huge demand, RCA/Columbia is shipping 175,000 copies of "The Karate Kid" ($79.95) on June 7. It was a hit in the theaters, grossing more than $90 million. . . . The "We Are the World" videocassette that MusicVision is releasing in June is called "We Are the World--The Video Event" ($14.95) It features the seven-minute video of the song.
Those caught up in wrestling mania can get a fix from "WF WrestleMania." This is the video of the heralded match March 31 at Madison Square Garden, featuring brawlers like Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. It's on Coliseum Video at $39.95.
Music videocassettes coming in June: "John Waite--No Brakes Live" (MusicVision, $29.95) and a compilation of dance videos, "Video a Go-Go, Vol. 1" (MusicVision, $19.95), featuring Kool and the Gang's "Fresh". . . . For jazz fans, "Chick Corea and Gary Burton: Live in Tokyo" (Pacific Arts, $24.95).
CHARTS: "The Cotton Club" is a huge hit in the rental market, vaulting to No. 2 in its second week on the Billboard magazine chart. Renters also like "Body Double," which jumped from No. 15 to No. 4. Rental chart debuts: "Teachers" (No. 20) and "First Born" (No. 23).
The following charts are complied by Billboard magazine.
TOP VIDEOCASSETTES, RENTALS
1. "The Terminator" (Thorn/EMI).
2. "The Cotton Club" (Embassy).
3. "Revenge of the Nerds" (CBS/Fox).
4. "Body Double" (RCA/Columbia).
5. "Bachelor Party" (CBS-Fox).
6. "Country" (Touchstone).
7. "The Pope of Greenwich Village" (MGM/UA).
8. "Police Academy" (Warner Video).
9. "Supergirl" (USA).
10. "Thief of Hearts" (Paramount).
TOP VIDEOCASSETTES, SALES
1. "Star Trek III-The Search for Spock" (Paramount).
2. "Jane Fonda's Workout" (Karl Video).
3. "Gone With the Wind" (MGM/UA).
4. "Prime Time" (Karl Video).
5. "Purple Rain" (Warner Bros.).
6. "The Terminator" (Thorn/EMI).
7. "Lionel Richie All Night Long" (MusicVision).
8. "Raquel Total Beauty and Fitness" (Thorn/EMI).
9. "The Jane Fonda Workout Challenge" (Karl Video).
10. "Tina Turner Private Dancer" (Sony).