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MULLING OVER ‘HISTORY OF WHITE PEOPLE’

Times Staff Writer

“I have nothing against honkies,” said Martin Mull matter-of-factly. “I’m a honky myself. I love white people.”

Then why does he treat his people so caustically in his new videocassette? “Martin Mull Presents the History of White People in America” is just out on MCA, priced at $24.95.

“It’s satire,” said Mull, the co-star and co-writer--with Allen Rucker. “Whites should be able to take a joke. People poke fun at all the other ethnic and minority groups, so why not whites?”

In a documentary style using actors and actresses, “History of White People” presents a series of often scathing vignettes satirizing the middle-class, Middle America types. It focuses on an empty-headed Midwestern family headed by Joyce (Mary Kay Place) and Hal (Fred Willard) Harrison, which Mull referred to as a “hard-core white family.” There are also periodic reports from the Institute of White Studies, a wacky organization that gets financial support from Tastee Freeze.

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“History of White People in America” started out as just a clever title dreamed up by Mull and Rucker. They sold the project to MCA and Cinemax on the strength of the title alone. The MCA cassette is a condensation of two 30-minute segments originally aired on cable TV’s Cinemax last summer.

This satirical series is just beginning. According to Mull, four more 30-minute shows are planned: “We can look at the history of white people in areas like law and order and education. The possibilities are endless.”

Is “History of White People” racist? “I guess in a way it is,” Mull replied. “It is sort of anti-white so I’d say it’s racist. But it’s reverse racism. Whites are always being racist. It’s time they took their lumps.

“Keep in mind,” he added again, “This is all in fun. It’s satire but not vicious satire. So far people have taken it as fun. But some guy from Middle America may still punch me in the nose.”

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KID VID: Kids are waiting for the third episode in the adventures of Voltron, who’s trying to save the universe from domination by King Zarkon. On Nov. 20, “Voltron; The Battle for the Planet Arus” will be in the stores. But Sony isn’t selling this one cheaply. Its cost, $49.95, is steep for a kid-vid title. Parents may be renting rather than buying this one.

“Pinocchio” is now available at $29.95, a $50 saving on its original price. It returns to $80 on Jan. 31. Among the 21 other Disney titles dropping to $29.95 during this three-month holiday buying period are “Dumbo” and the 1973 animated “Robin Hood.”

At this reduced price, “Pinocchio” might stay at the top of the Kid Vid chart, compiled by Video Insider magazine, for the next three or four months. In fact, the chart will probably be packed with bargain Disney titles.

KID VID TOP 10

1--"Pinocchio” (Disney). 2--"The Care Bears Movie” (Vestron). 3--"He Man and She-Ra, Secret of the Sword” (Magic Window). 4--"Robin Hood” (Disney). 5--"Strawberry Shortcake Meets Berrykins” (FHE). 6--"The Transformers, Vol. 1" (FHE). 7--"The Transformers, Vol. 2" (FHE). 8--"Rainbow Brite-Monstromurk Menace” (Children’s Video Library). 9--"The Transformers, Vol. 3" (FHE). 10--"Voltron Battles the Planet Doom” (Sony).

POP MUSIC: Sony is releasing “Monterey Pop,” still best rock concert movie ever made--"Woodstock” included, in time for Christmas. A documentary about the pioneer June, 1967 rock festival in Monterey, it’s a vital film record of late stars like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, the Who’s Keith Moon, the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones and Cass Elliott of the Mamas and Papas. For any ‘60s rock music fan, “Monterey Pop” is perfect for triggering nostalgia trips.

But it’s an expensive trip. Sony priced “Monterey Pop,” due out Nov. 20, at $59.95. At half the price, Sony could have sold a bundle of these. Collectors will probably wait until Sony puts it on sale.

Also on out Nov. 20, but from A&M;, two Amy Grant videocassettes--"Amy Grant: Find a Way” ($19.95) and “Amy Grant: Age to Age” ($29.95), filmed during the gospel singer’s 1983 tour. One last Nov. 20 pop music release, “Arena,” featuring Duran Duran (Thorn/EMI/HBO, $29.95) performing 10 songs in concert. Another good cassette from a band noted for its good cassettes.

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“Stand By Me: A Portrait of Julian Lennon” is due Dec. 5 (MCA, $29.95). “Stop Making Sense,” the Talking Heads concert movie, will be released by RCA/Columbia at $79.95 on Nov. 13.

SPORTS: Noteworthy in the flood of sports cassettes are two that teach you how to be a better gambler. Both basically consist of experts talking to the camera.

One is strictly on football--"How to Handicap Pro and College Football.” A production of the national gaming monthly Gambling Times, this cassette sells for $39.95. Various experts explain how you make an intelligent bet. With the barrage of information about tendencies and patterns, you can’t help marveling at how complex and scientific football wagering can be.

The other is “The Guide to Sports Betting” (Granite, $19.98). At half the price of the above cassette, this one offers gambling guru Jaime Melvin expounding on betting in three sports--football, baseball and basketball. This one won’t be available until Dec. 1.

A good way to introduce youngsters to soccer is showing them the two volumes of “Soccer Is Fun,” with Bobby Charlton as the tutor. Morris is selling these at $24.95 each. For soccer players, coaches and knowledgeable fans, Morris has a seven-volume BBC series called “Soccer, Tactics and Skills,” also at $24.95 per cassette. Each tape deals, in detail, with a different aspect of the game.

OLD MOVIES: Highlights of the MGM/UA collection of $24.95 classics released last week include two Clark Gable greats--"San Francisco,” the 1936 movie about the 1906 earthquake, and “Red Dust” (1930), his best movie with blond bombshell Jean Harlow. In “Red Dust,” he’s pursued by Jean Harlow and Mary Astor in Indochina. Another MGM classic now in the stores is the all-black musical, “Cabin in the Sky,” with Lena Horne, Ethel Waters and Cab Calloway. The best reason to see this one is to marvel at Lena Horne, who hardly seems to have aged at all since 1943.

There wasn’t a better ‘50s tear-jerker than “Imitation of Life” (1959), about the traumas of an actress (Lana Turner) and her black housekeeper (Juanita Moore) coping with their daughters. MCA is releasing it next week at $59.95.

NEW AND COMING MOVIES: If your local video store is more crowded these days, it’s because of last week’s “Ghostbusters” debut and this week’s release of “Beverly Hills Cop” (Paramount, $29.95). For the next few weeks fans will be flocking in to get cassettes of these long-awaited hits.

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Next week “Brewster’s Millions” is out on MCA at $79.95. This comedy, a remake of a 1945 hit, is about a baseball player (Richard Pryor) trying to spend $30 million in 30 days. Pryor’s pal is John Candy. A box-office disappointment, it’s expected to do good business as a videocassette.

Due in two weeks: the Albert Brooks comedy, “Lost in America,” “Perfect,” with John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis, and John Boorman’s “The Emerald Forest.” The third holiday blockbuster, “Gemlins,” will be in the stores Nov. 25.

December releases: “A View to a Kill,” the James Bond movie (Dec. 3), and Clint Eastwood’s “Pale Rider” (Dec. 9). The Dec. 23 release of “Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon,” co-starring Vanity, was just announced. TOP CASSETTES, RENTALS

1--"The Breakfast Club” (MCA). 2--"Amadeus” (Thorn/EMI/HBO). 3--"The Killing Fields” (Warner Bros.). 4--"Desperately Seeking Susan” (Thorn/EMI/HBO). 5--"Missing in Action 2: The Beginning” (MGM/UA). 6--"Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment” (Warner). 7--"The Sure Thing” (Embassy). 8--"The Karate Kid” (RCA/Columbia). 9--"A Passage to India” (RCA/Columbia). 10--"Porky’s Revenge” (CBS-Fox).

TOP CASSETTES, SALES

1--"Jane Fonda’s Workout” (Karl Lorimar) 2--"Amadeus” (Thorn/EMI/HBO). 3--"Prime Time” (Karl Lorimar). 4--"Prince and the Revolution Live” (Warner Music Video). 5--"Pinocchio” (Disney). 6--"We Are the World: The Video Event” (MusicVision ). 7--"The Breakfast Club” (MCA). 8--"Wrestlemania” (Coliseum). 9--"Desperately Seeking Susan” (Thorn/EMI/HBO). 10--"Ghostbusters” (RCA/Columbia).


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