The football strike may be temporarily changing the face of Sunday afternoon television, but the good old days of pro football live on through NFL Films Video. With decades of archival footage at their disposal, the folks at NFL Films Video are spending this strike-struck season in "the eternal autumn of football memories," says President Steve Sabol, who invites VCR owners to do the same. This month the company will add two titles to its library of more than 150 videocassettes: "Strange but True Football Stories," in which Vincent Price leads viewers through 45 minutes of gridiron oddities, and "Super Sundays: A History of the Super Bowl," a 55-minute chronology of Big Game moments (each retails for $19.95).
According to Sabol, the company has transferred the entire NFL film library to videocassette and is now creating new programming exclusively for home viewing. "We're like a movie studio," he says. "We produce action, family entertainment, with a dogged adherence to good old-fashioned storytelling." Among the NFL's stories of local interest: "Hail to the Redskins," a 23-minute look at the team's first 50 years ($24.95); "Three Cheers for the Redskins," an hour's worth of highlights of the 1971 team ($29.95); and three volumes from the series of Super Bowl Highlight tapes (Nos. 7, 17 and 18), each of which boils the annual epic down to a pithy 23 minutes ($24.95 each).
More current is the tape that Sabol and crew produced for HBO Video as the first in HBO's Sports Illustrated series, "Get the Feeling: Speed," which is due in stores today. Sabol estimates that one-fifth of the one-hour, $14.95 essay is devoted to football, with auto racing, skiing, basketball and other sports providing the rest of the material. "Everyone discusses a rather abstract point about speed," says Sabol. "It's a real thinking man's sports tape."
Giving Teens a Workout Maybe they're watching too many videos. Whatever the reason, America's children are woefully out of shape. According to the President's Council on Physical Fitness, half the nation's kids ages 6 through 15 can't run a 10-minute mile, and half of the boys can't even touch their toes. Now they can put that TV time to healthy use with an exercise video that CBS/Fox hopes will do for teen-agers what Jane Fonda did for their parents. "Looking Good! The Fun Teen Fitness Program featuring Tempestt Bledsoe of 'The Cosby Show' " -- try saying that while touching your toes -- offers more than the aerobic workout built into its title. Bledsoe, better known as Vanessa Huxtable, leads viewers through a series of exercises designed by Olympic hurdling hopeful Jahan Culbreath, and appears in three comedy vignettes playing teen-agers who conquer their aversion to exercise. "Grease" and "Saturday Night Fever" choreographer Pat Birch directed, and music video director Ken Walz produced. The 40-minute tape, due later this month, will retail for $19.98.
The Good Ship Sponsorship Do viewers mind the growing number of ads on videocassettes? Not so far, according to a survey from the Fairfield Group. A study of "Top Gun" buyers and renters found that only 8 percent fast-forwarded through the ground-breaking Diet Pepsi commercial that Paramount put on the tape, while 82 percent said the ad's presence had "no negative impact." Two-thirds said they paid more attention to the ad on the tape than they did when they saw it on TV.
That's good news for Paramount, which added a 60-second ad for its syndicated TV series "Star Trek: The Next Generation" to "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" cassettes shortly before their release last week.
War on Tape "Platoon" won't be out for another week, but there are plenty of other new releases for the military minded. This week brings this summer's "The Hanoi Hilton," a dramatic look at life inside a prisoner of war camp. The home front is dramatized in another of the week's new arrivals, Arthur Miller's World War II classic "All My Sons"; James Whitmore, Aidan Quinn and Michael Learned star in this American Playhouse production, which aired on public television this year.
And the 1969 big-screen epic "Battle of Britain" makes its video debut next week, offering spectacular air battles and appearances by just about every actor with an English accent, including Michael Caine, Laurence Olivier, Trevor Howard, Robert Shaw, Christopher Plummer, Ralph Richardson and many, many more.