HOME ENTERTAINMENT : ‘Hoop Dreams’ Likely to Be a Winner on Video, Laser


The makers of “Hoop Dreams” should send a thank-you note to the committee that decided the film didn’t merit an Oscar nomination in the documentary category.

The snub turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It touched off a media clamor that has turned “Hoop Dreams” into one of the highest-profile movies of the Oscar-nomination season. The unnominated film has been getting more publicity than some heavily nominated ones.

All this will translate into dollars when New Line releases “Hoop Dreams” on video and laser disc April 25.


Michael Karaffa, New Line’s executive vice president, predicts the shipment of cassettes will ultimately approach 100,000. Most documentaries are in the 5,000 to 15,000 range.

Easily the most acclaimed documentary in recent years, “Hoop Dreams” follows the fortunes of two aspiring young Chicago basketball players. When the Academy Award nominations came out a few weeks ago, it had grossed about $4 million. “It’s approaching $6 million now,” Karaffa said.

“Hoop Dreams” is such a hot property that New Line has been able to make cross-promotional deals with two companies, Western Union and Mennon Co., which markets deodorants. Ads for the companies will appear at the beginning of the tapes.

Despite its three-hour running time, the movie will be marketed on one cassette. In the past, squeezing films of this length on a single video, as in the case of “Dances With Wolves,” has led to tape defects. But Karaffa said New Line believes recent technological improvements have eliminated such problems.


Special-Interest Videos: Those surly, empty-headed teens Beavis and Butt-head aren’t quite as hot as they used to be, but they are still very funny--particularly in compilations such as “Work Sucks” and “There Goes the Neighborhood.” From Sony (MTV) at $15.

If your kids aren’t sick of Barney yet, try “Barney: Families Are Special,” which is about the joys of being part of a family. The lovable dinosaur really is good at putting across this kind of positive message. From the Lyons Group at $15.


You may not think it’s possible to have fun in New York for very little money, but it is, according to the information-packed, hourlong “NY Scene,” which steers you to museums, cheap restaurants, etc. Mainly geared to the younger crowd. From CRGR Productions, at $25; (212) 477-7339.


Music Videos: With Tony Bennett winning the best album Grammy for the music from “MTV Unplugged,” this tape will become a hot item. Enjoyable, even if you’re not a real Bennett fan, with guest spots by Elvis Costello and k.d. lang. But watching it won’t give you a clue as to why he’s such a favorite with the kids. From SMV at $20.

Another veteran pop singer with a slightly jazz style, Peggy Lee, is elegantly showcased in “The Quintessential Peggy Lee,” a tape of a 1984 concert when she was in particularly good form. Highlights include her staple “Is That All There Is?” and “The Folks Who Live on the Hill.” For $20 from Kultur, (800) 458-5887.

A four-volume set of footage from NBC’s mid-’60s pop music show “Hullabaloo” is just out. It’s great nostalgic fun--a must for baby-boomers who were into pop music in those days. From MPI, $80 for the set and $20 for each volume.

With “The Three Tenors in Concert in 1994” such a big hit on tape, the behind-the-scenes footage on “The Making of the Three Tenors in Concert 1994” figures to be a big seller too. It’s due out on Tuesday, from WarnerVision Entertainment at $20. It’ll be aired during the PBS pledge drives this month, but the version in the stores includes 15 extra minutes.


What’s New on Video: “The Lion King” (Disney): This first-rate, feature-length cartoon is the surprisingly dark tale of the coming of age of the orphaned lion cub Simba, who has to battle a scheming uncle in order to assume his rightful position as ruler of the lion kingdom. Like some other Disney cartoon features, this one cleverly preys on youngsters’ fears of being separated from their parents. Terrific animation, lots of humor and hummable songs.


“Princess Caraboo” (Columbia TriStar): In the early 1800s, a mysterious young drifter (Phoebe Cates), who speaks no English, appears in an English village. Evidence points to her being a princess from some exotic country. She charms most of the townspeople, but a butler (Kevin Kline) and a reporter (Stephen Rea) are skeptical. Is she royalty or a fraud? A slight but fairly charming romantic comedy.

“Barcelona” (New Line): In early ‘80s Barcelona, two Americans--a hang-loose naval officer (Chris Eigeman) and his stuffy cousin (Taylor Nichols)--clash with each other and the Spanish culture while romancing Spanish women. Witty, literate, very leisurely paced, with the feel of an offbeat, art-house film. Directed by Whit Stillman, who did the acclaimed “Metropolitan.”

“A Good Man in Africa” (MCA/Universal): In this star-studded but incredibly slow and dull comedy, an unsavory British diplomat (Colin Friels) weaves his way through sexual and political intrigues. Stars include Sean Connery, Joanne Whalley-Kilmer, John Lithgow and Lou Gossett Jr.

“Killing Zoe” (LIVE): Of interest mainly because it’s the directorial debut of Roger Avary, who co-wrote “Pulp Fiction.” In Paris, an American (Eric Stoltz) hooks up with some lunatic gangsters to stage a bank robbery that turns into a bungled, bloody mess. Pretentious and unconvincing.