When "Platoon" comes out on video next month, it will be with the addition of a new face: Lee Iacocca. The Chrysler chairman appears in a 45-second "tribute" to Vietnam veterans from Chrysler's Jeep/Eagle division that will precede the movie. Both Chrysler and HBO Video, which is releasing the tape, emphasize that the message is a tribute, not a commercial.
There was no word on how much the automaker paid for the privilege, but the sum had no effect on the price of "Platoon," which will remain at $99.95. Chrysler says the tribute will not be shown on television, unlike the controversial Diet Pepsi ad that came out with the video of "Top Gun" -- and held the tape's price down to $26.95.
To the millions of soldiers who drove jeeps in combat, says Jeep/Eagle Marketing Director Martin R. Levine, the jeep has represented "more than transportation -- it was a friend." "Platoon" is more than a video, according to HBO Video Chief Executive Frank O'Connell, who cites the film's "very strong, redeeming educational value" in proclaiming his company's "pride and obligation in bringing it into American homes."
Lobbying, for Adults Only
The adult-video industry may be coming to town. Faced with an increasing number of censorship battles nationwide, a group of adult-video suppliers has launched an effort to turn their industry trade group into a lobbying force to protect their interests and those of their retailers and consumers. If they get their way, according to their proposal, the Adult Film and Video Association will soon place "watchdogs in Washington and in key state capitals so that the government doesn't try to slip anything past legislators that we don't know about."
Most of the trouble to date has been on the local level, including skirmishes in Ohio, Kansas City and St. Louis, where more than a dozen video retailers have been raided or arrested in the last year, and scores more have been pressured into removing all adult films from their inventories. Fantasy Home Video President Harry Ross, one of the leaders of the AFVA revitalization, says the group hopes to raise money to support retailers' efforts to fight such treatment. "I believe our livelihood is at stake," he says.
While censorship tops the group's list of concerns, the participating companies would also like to see the AFVA get involved in monitoring its members' activities and "attempt to formulate, codify and articulate industry-wide standards, especially regarding performers' age, subject matter and thematic presentations." The group also would like to develop a system for regular checks of performers' AIDS antibody status, which Ross says most performers are already taking care of voluntarily.
Adult video is a big business -- a recent survey of the Video Software Dealers Association (whose recently reelected president Arthur Morowitz comes from the adult-video business) found that 77 percent of its members carry adult videos and that the category was responsible for almost 13 percent of retailers' sales and rental revenues, up from 10 percent in 1985. Whatever the industry's image problems, says Ross, those numbers tell the real story: "We wouldn't be here if the American public didn't want us."
Keeping Tabs on Vanna
The latest issue of the "Playboy Video Magazine" series, due this week, features another look at those old photos that caused so much trouble for Vanna White earlier this year, as well as some "never-before-seen pictures and rare footage of Vanna at the Playboy Mansion." The $39.95, 75-minute tape also offers a few Playmates, some made-for-Playboy "Candid Camera" shorts, and other assorted treats. The tape comes from Lorimar, which recently got some good news regarding its other Vanna video, "Get Slim, Stay Slim." The fitness and diet guide was supposed to have a sponsor when it came out this past spring, but nobody would touch it after the Playboy pictures came out. Now Coca-Cola has signed on to use the tape in a major promotion for Tab. Said White at the deal's announcement, "I really do drink it."
One of the fastest-growing categories in the music business, new-age music continues to attract new listeners who find its repetitive, soothing rhythms a relaxing escape from the daily grind. Three of this week's music video offerings enhance that escape by coupling photographed forays to the faraway with the instrumental sound tracks. Paramount's "China" offers footage from a trek through the Chinese countryside along with tracks by musicians from the Windham Hill label, and MCA's "Journey Into Space" and "Ocean Symphony" illustrate their scores with images from outer space and underwater, respectively. All three run between 30 and 60 minutes and are priced at $29.95.