This fall, Cinema Group Home Video hopes to press the VCR into active service in the fight against AIDS with "Safer Sex for Men and Women: How to Avoid Catching AIDS," a video guide for worried heterosexuals, with host Morgan Fairchild. Through interviews and dramatic vignettes, the one-hour tape covers the clinical basics of transmission, as outlined by AIDS researcher Michael Gottlieb, as well as preventive practices, which are handled by sex therapist Laura Schlessinger. While the talk is more explicit than broadcast television would allow, there's little in the discussion that should come as a surprise to newspaper or magazine readers.
The strength of the program lies in Fairchild's game, valiant performance and in the five vignettes, in which casual conversations between lovers and friends evolve somewhat implausibly into frank, fact-filled issue debates. Fairchild, her serious look perfected during her front-row stint in the Oliver North audience, manages to convey genuine, personal concern.
The video, due in October at $29.95, comes down squarely on the side of voluntary testing for individuals who want to enter monogamous, intimate relationships, but it hedges a bit, perhaps inevitably, on the possible consequences of the test -- the fictional couple of the vignettes vows to stay together even if one of them tests positive, and the man reassures the woman that test results will remain confidential only because "society adjusts" its prejudices in such emergencies.
Man Bites Dog
Already keeping its lawyers busy with the "Platoon" and "Hoosiers" court contest, Vestron Video is now involved in another, similar battle over "Benji the Hunted," currently in theatrical release from Disney. Vestron is charging that the film's producers failed to honor Vestron's right of first refusal on all things Benji. That, they say, was outlined in the contract under which Vestron distributed the tapes of the first six Benji features -- namely because Disney expressed interest in handling the movie both in theaters and on cassette. Benji creators Mulberry Square Productions had filed suit to get out of the agreement earlier this year, soon after Disney entered the picture. No trial date has been set.
With no new developments on the "Platoon" front, HBO Video has set Oct. 14 as the release date for that cassette, which will be priced at $99.95, a record for a feature film. Consumer research found a "huge pent-up demand" to see the film, justifying the price, according to HBO.
Rock 'n' Roll Forever
Two of the bands that helped provide the sound track for the Summer of Love 20 years ago will do their part for the video track of the coming fall. The Beatles' animated feature "Yellow Submarine" will make its video debut in October priced at $29.95. And the Grateful Dead, back on the charts with its first studio album in more than five years, has two tapes in store. "The Making of 'Touch of Grey' and More," out next month, is a half-hour, $12.95 look at the production of the music video for the group's current single. The following month will bring "So Far," an hour's worth of concert and studio footage ($29.95) codirected by band leader Jerry Garcia.
Meanwhile, aspiring musicians who hope to have an audience in 20 years can get some pointers from the stars with a new line of how-to videocassettes from Lorimar. The six-volume "Rockschool" series -- like much of American music, imported from England -- offers tips on everything from basic guitar playing and lead singing to sophisticated computer music technology. Herbie Hancock hosts the tapes, which are available at $19.95.
Tapes From All Over
Vestron will release three more National Geographic specials this week, bringing to 19 the number of programs in the video series. "Egypt: Quest for Eternity," a tour of ancient temples and tombs; "Man Eaters of India," a chronicle of tiger preservation efforts; and "Tropical Kingdom Belize" are due next week at $29.98 ... This month also brings concert videos from Cyndi Lauper and Pia Zadora, both priced at $24.95. "Cyndi Lauper and Paris" was broadcast on HBO earlier this summer to great and deserved critical acclaim. And there are critics who claim that Zadora has her talents as well, at least as a singer; her "American Songbook" offers her interpretations of 11 domestic standards.