In case you managed to miss all of 1987, don't worry: It's already out on tape. NBC News has just released "1987: The Unforgettable Year," a 75-minute, $24.95 look at how host Tom Brokaw and crew covered last year's stories great and small, from Moscow to miniskirts, Baby M to Baby Jessica. The tape blends footage from NBC broadcasts with flashy computer graphics and correspondents' summary voice-overs.
The tape, marketed by Wood Knapp Video, is NBC News' second home video release, following last fall's look at the papal visit. And according to Terry Byrne, NBC News director of business planning, the network has only scratched the home video surface. The 1987 tape, she says, "is just one volume of a possible set. Obviously we could add other volumes to the series. We're thinking about looking at 1988 or going back." Going back might mean 1986, or it could mean past decades, presidents, wars or any other topic on which archival footage could be organized into something with "collectible, nostalgic or historical value."
Byrne hopes to have two or three more NBC News tapes on the market by the end of the year, although future tapes may have narrower target audiences than the current retrospective. "NBC News went to China last year," she says. "If we do a series of two or three cassettes on the changing China, there's not going to be as broad a market for that as there would be for a year in review."
"1987: The Unforgettable Year" is available only in the VHS format; Beta customers can take that news as a fitting reminder of the year they were forgotten by the video business.
Another sort of retrospective has been introduced by MGM/UA Home Video, whose "MGM's Greatest Moments" has just reached the market. Billed as a "video sampler," the tape is essentially a 51-minute commercial for that company's various lines of sale-priced tapes. Host Roddy McDowall introduces brief excerpts from more than 60 classic movies, all of which are listed on the order form enclosed in the package. The clips are effectively presented -- this is, after all, the company responsible for "That's Entertainment" -- so viewers who don't want to buy anything will most likely come away with at least one or two rental ideas. The price is $9.95 -- which may be a record tab for a commercial, even one viewers can tape over later.
Two of last summer's most satisfying thrillers are due on tape next month from HBO Video ($89.95 each). First up is "No Way Out," the only film in recent memory to turn a shot of the Washington Monument into a dirty joke. And the independently produced "The Big Easy," arriving in mid-February, got picked up for theatrical distribution by Columbia after the studio's then-chief David Puttnam saw it at a film festival. This story of corruption in the New Orleans police department grossed almost as much as "Ishtar" and far more than "Leonard Part 6" -- two perfect examples of the kind of big-budget, star-packaged movies that cost Puttnam his job because he didn't want to make more like them.
No Pain, No Grain
Lorimar Home Video has found a way around the shredded wheat embargo. Last fall, you may remember, Nabisco was all set to offer a custom-made Jane Fonda workout tape through a cereal box offer when a flurry of protests over the star's old Hanoi Jane image caused the cereal manufacturer to call off the deal. Lorimar has decided to market the tape itself, and it will reach stores in a "limited time only" offer in March. Priced at $19.95 (Nabisco's original price, minus box tops), "Start Up With Jane Fonda" provides a 25-minute routine that, according to Lorimar, offers nontaxing exercises to achieve "light to moderate toning" and "to increase body awareness, balance and good posture." Some people call that stretching.
Super Bowl Feverish
For Redskins fans this has been a season to remember. And here's the good news: Super Bowl highlights will be available on tape in record time this year (two weeks and one day after the game, to be exact) thanks to round-the-clock efforts on the part of NFL Films and Fox Hills Video. As soon as the Redskins and the Broncos settle their differences on Sunday, NFL Films will put the finishing touches on season highlights tapes for both teams, which Fox Hills will bring to market on Feb. 15. NFL producers Dave Plaut and Dave Petrelius have been "feverishly assembling" interviews and highlights since the end of the playoffs; the two will have five days to edit Super Sunday down to a fitting conclusion for both tapes, with triumphant narration for one, conciliatory for the other. Fox Hills expects the sales of the two one-hour, $19.95 tapes to exceed 200,000 copies; most of those sales are expected to come from the winning team's home city. Apparently Denver fans have VCRs too, although we aren't sure they know how to operate them.