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‘Music Scene’ Makes a Groovy Return

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Peace, love, rock ‘n’ roll and “The Music Scene.”

“The Music Scene”?

Don’t fret if you don’t remember the ABC music series. The network may have promoted the 45-minute variety show as the “super concert of the world’s best music,” but “Scene” only lasted a scant four months--from September 1969 to January 1970. Four episodes with bonus tracks ($20 each, $80 for the set) of this long-forgotten baby boomer series will be available starting Tuesday from MPI Home Video. MPI also resurrected the old NBC music series “Hullabaloo.”

“The Music Scene” is an absolute groovy hoot. Comic-director David Steinberg was the irreverent host of “The Music Scene” and most of his comedy routines were amazingly, well, routine. Steinberg was also joined by a group of comic performers including a pre-"Laugh-In” Lily Tomlin (check out her Judy Carne hairdo and false eyelashes) and Larry Hankin, who was the grouchy neighbor on “Friends.”

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Based on Billboard magazine’s hit record charts, “Music Scene” did feature some terrific live performances from rock groups, country singers, soul artists and easy-listening performers.

Vol. 1 features co-host Mama Cass Elliot singing “New World Coming,” Creedence Clearwater Revival doing “Down on the Corner” and a young Neil Diamond crooning “Holly Holy.” The highlight is Pete Seeger’s stirring rendition of the antiwar song, “Bring Them Home.”

Vol. 2 offers a smug Tommy Smothers as co-host, Sly & the Family Stone doing hot renditions of “Everyday People” and “Dance to the Music” and teen dream Bobby Sherman warbling “Little Woman.”

Vol. 3 is perhaps the most fun because of super-serious co-host Michael Cole (“The Mod Squad”), whose favorite expression seems to be “man.” Cole’s reading of a Rod McKuen poem nearly rivals William Shatner’s version of “Mr. Tambourine Man.” The tape also features Janis Joplin’s soulful “Maybe” and Smith performing “Baby It’s You.”

Vol. 4 features the Rascals doing “People Got to Be Free,” Gary Puckett singing “This Girl Is a Woman Now” and Three Dog Night doing a surreal rendition of “Eli’s Coming.”

Each tape also includes short, surreal promos for the series starring the Rolling Stones and members of the comedy troupe the Committee.

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The Bells Are Ringing: Disney’s animated “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” opening today, is just the latest adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel. One of the best is the lavish 1939 RKO production starring Charles Laughton as the deformed bell ringer Quasimodo and Maureen O’Hara, in her American film debut, as the gypsy girl Esmeralda. Marvelously directed by William Dieterle. A thin Edmond O’Brien and Thomas Mitchell also star. The new Turner Classic Movies video line has re-released this “Hunchback” ($20), complete with introductions by Robert Osborne and a behind-the-scenes documentary featuring O’Hara.

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Lon Chaney also is quite remarkable (as is his makeup) as the tortured soul in the 1923 silent Universal version (Kino, $20). And Anthony Hopkins plays the title role in the stylish 1982 “Hallmark Hall of Fame” TV version (Vidmark).

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Ella Tribute: Two movie musicals featuring the great songstress Ella Fitzgerald, who died Saturday, are available on video. In the entertaining 1942 Abbott and Costello comedy “Ride ‘Em Cowboy” (MCA/Universal, $15), Fitzgerald sings her hit “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.” And in Jack Webb’s 1955 jazz melodrama “Pete Kelly’s Blues” (Warner, $20), Fitzgerald has a small supporting role and sings the title tune and “Hard-Hearted Hannah.” Singer Peggy Lee received an Oscar nomination as a singer on the skids.

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Oldies but Goodies: Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman are tons of fun in 1946’s “Saratoga Trunk” (MGM/UA, $20), an enjoyable adaptation of Edna Ferber’s novel about a romance between a feisty Creole beauty and a lanky, handsome Texan. Flora Robson co-stars.

A pre-Hollywood Richard Burton, Honor Blackman and Roger Livesey star in the moderately funny 1951 British comedy “Green Grow the Rushes” (Home Vision, $40).

Warner Home Video has released the letter-box director’s cut of William Peter Blatty’s bizarre psychological drama “The Ninth Configuration” ($20). Stacy Keach and Scott Wilson star.

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Killer Bs: Country singer Dwight Yoakam is more than OK in “Painted Hero” (Cabin Fever) as a rodeo clown with a past, but this low-budget drama is strictly undistinguished.

Former pro football star Brian Bosworth gets revenge in the lamebrain thriller “One Man’s Justice” (Live). Bankrupt rapper MC Hammer gives a one-note performance as a baddie.

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Coming Next Week: Susan Sarandon received an Oscar as a nun who becomes a spiritual advisor to a death row inmate (Oscar-nominated Sean Penn) in Tim Robbins’ “Dead Man Walking” (Polygram).

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Jack Nicholson stars in Sean Penn’s grim drama “The Crossing Guard” (Miramax).

Emma Thompson won an Oscar for her screenplay of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” (Columbia TriStar). Thompson and Kate Winslet star.

Leslie Nielsen stars in Mel Brooks’ “Dracula: Dead and Loving It” (Columbia TriStar).

Christian Slater and Mary Stuart Masterson star in the romance “Bed of Roses” (New Line). . . . Also new: “A Hungarian Fairytale” (Fox Lorber); “My Life and Times With Antonin Artaud” (Fox Lorber); “Crosscut” (A-Pix); “Forbidden Zone” (Amazing Fantasy Entertainment); “Savage Hearts” (A-Pix).

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