The preteen cultural phenomenon that is New Kids on the Block already has a number of firsts under its pop idol belt, including the honor of being the first pop group to be the subject of three paperback books (from three different publishers) on the New York Times bestseller list simultaneously. Next week the group will add another distinction to its brief but brilliant career: It will be the first group to offer its latest studio album simultaneously in all four music formats -- compact disc, cassette, LP and videocassette.
Next week's quadruple-threat arrival of "Step by Step" will mark the first time that a major pop group's new studio album will have been accompanied on its release date by its corresponding "long form" video -- the music industry's name for any videocassette carrying the same title as a new album and offering video interpretations of several of its new songs. While the multi-format release, engineered by CBS Music Video, confirms the important role that music videocassettes now play in the recording industry, it is also testament to the three-way marriage of home video, New Kids and their young female audience: In the 10 months since the group's first video reached the market, New Kids' two video releases -- "Hangin' Tough" and "Hangin' Tough Live" -- have captured the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on the list of all-time best-selling long-form music videocassettes, with combined sales of more than 2.2 million units.
The "Step by Step" video, priced at $19.95, is expected to soar to No. 1 next week, despite the fact that it features only two of the songs from the new album (including the title song and "Tonight," the band's apparent homage to the Beatles). The 40 minutes of screen time are rounded out with video clips of "Tonight" and last year's top 10 single "This One's for the Children," as well as scenes from live performances of a medley of New Kids standards and of the band's never-before-released cover of the Jackson Five's "I'll Be There," and exclusive on-camera interviews with the Kids themselves. There's also a 72-second Coca-Cola commercial -- another first for a long-form music video -- and a promotion for Perfect Gentlemen, the latest band from the New Kids production-management team.
The days of blissful ignorance are numbered for those who have managed to miss the New Kids mania thus far; the group's new single has just made the highest debut on Billboard's singles chart; Coca-Cola is planning to spend more than $100 million on TV time for New Kids commercials this summer; there are more books headed for the bestseller lists; and the group's summer tour, already sold out, will launch a merchandising effort unmatched in the music industry. At least it will give us a rest from current licensing fave Bart Simpson.
Honeymoon for Lucy The broadcast premiere of the lost pilot for "I Love Lucy" helped give third-place CBS one of its biggest weeks this season. Now the folks at CBS/Fox Video are making plans to get some extra mileage out of some of the "I Love Lucy" episodes it has waiting in the wings for home video release by pairing them with compatible episodes from another legendary comedy series from the network's better days: "The Honeymooners." Next month, CBS/Fox will release "The Lucy/Honeymooners Golf & Fishing Tapes," a pair of one-hour tapes that combine complete episodes from each series to form a classic comedy double bill. On "The Fishing Trip," Lucy and Ethel accompany Ricky and Fred on a deep-sea fishing trip in Florida, and Ralph and Norton try to tell Alice and Trixie that wives are banned from the annual Raccoon Club fishing expedition; in "The Golfer," Ralph takes an emergency golf lesson from Norton, and Lucy and Ethel get some tee-time tutoring from their husbands. The tapes are priced at $14.98 each and represent the retail-market video debut for all four episodes.
Summer Rentals The home video executives who decide the release dates for their new rental tapes are thinking alike this month: June's new rental releases are all clustered around six midweek dates. Some highlights: June 13: "My Left Foot," "Tango and Cash," "Heart Condition," "The Forbidden Dance." June 14: "Always," "The Wizard." June 20: "Steel Magnolias," "Roger & Me," "Strike It Rich." June 21: "Music Box." June 27: "Gross Anatomy," "Ski Patrol." June 28: "The War of the Roses," "We're No Angels," "She-Devil," "Prom Night III: The Last Kiss."