"You can't force kids to like classical music," Shari Lewis observed. "But if you introduce it to them in the right way, they may grow to like it."
Lewis, best known as a puppeteer/ventriloquist, is also a symphony conductor. Just about every weekend, she's conducting an orchestra in a family-oriented concert somewhere in the country. Using her expertise in classical music and puppeteering, she's figured out a way to turn youngsters on to that music.
Her method? "Make it fun," Lewis said shortly after taking a conducting lesson one morning. "Introduce children to the classics in a way that's fun for them. When they think of classics and classical melodies, they'll associate the music with fun, so they won't mind listening."
Lewis puts her ideas to work in a new videocassette, "Kooky Classics" (MGM/UA, $29.95) due out in early May. She's already had two successful kid videocassettes--"Have I Got a Story for You" (MGM/UA, $29.95) and "You Can Do It" (MGM/UA, $29.95), a primer on magic.
In "Kooky Classics," aided by an orchestra and her buddy Lamb Chop, Lewis stars in comedy skits that subtly lure youngsters into listening to classical music. She also manages to get across lots of information about the music and famous composers.
Lewis, whose mother is a conductor, leads the orchestra in "Kooky Classics." Watching her in action on the podium, Lewis noted, has an interesting effect on young girls: "A lot of them have never seen a woman conducting before. It makes a big impression on them. It shows them that anything is possible."
FONDA IN THE FALL: There will be a new Jane Fonda exercise videocassette this fall in time for the Christmas season, according to a spokesman for Karl Video. He wouldn't divulge the content and explained that the price had not been set. Two other Fonda videocassettes are scheduled for release in the spring and fall of next year. He couldn't give any details about those either.
Fonda has four exercise videocassettes in release. Three are in the Top 10 on the Billboard magazine sales chart this week--"Jane Fonda's Workout" (No. 3), "Prime Time" (No. 5) and "The Jane Fonda Workout Challenge" (No. 10). The fourth is "Jane Fonda's Pregnancy, Birth and Recovery Workout."
All have sold well, but "Jane Fonda's Workout," released April, 1982, is a phenomenon. So far, at $59.95, it's sold more than 850,000 worldwide.
NEW RELEASES: Two "kid" movies, "The Flamingo Kid" (Vestron, $79.95) and "The Karate Kid," (RCA/Columbia, $79.95) will be available on videocassette in May. "The Karate Kid," which grossed $91 million at the box office, should also be a hit videocassette. . . . "Under the Volcano," featuring the performance that earned Albert Finney an Oscar nomination in the recent ceremonies, is just out (MCA, $79.95). . . . Next month "The Fly," the 1958 horror classic, will be released by Key Video ($59.98). It stars Vincent Price and David Hedison, who shrieks the immortal lines, "Help me, help me!" in one of the most famous finales in horror history.
In early June, six hit movies will be re-released at $29.95, $50-60 cheaper than their original prices. The bargain videocassettes, on RCA/Columbia, are "Tootsie," "Kramer vs. Kramer," "Stripes," "Annie," "Blue Thunder" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind--The Special Edition." These new prices will be in effect until Aug. 30.
On the fitness front, "Eat to Win," a video translation of Robert Haas' best seller," is out this week. Haas stars, along with, among others, tennis ace Ivan Lendl. . . . In July, "Hunkercise"(Prism, $39.95) hits the market. That's the exercise video featuring the men of Playgirl magazine.
SNIPPETS: Renters drastically outnumber buyers, according to a Nielsen survey of video stores. In one week in sample stores, there were 1,506 rental transactions to 21 sales transactions. Renters, say the latest projections, will spend $1.5 billion this year on 518 million tapes, up from $912 million last year.
VCR sales are up too, reports the Electronic Industries Assn. In the first quarter, 2,469, 903 were sold, 77% more than in the first quarter last year.
CHARTS: This is the dawn of the dominance of "The Terminator," the sci-fi thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger that was such a box-office smash last year. It entered the Billboard magazine charts this week--No. 20 on the sales chart and No. 35 on the rental chart. Not impressive early figures but they'll be much higher next week.
"Bachelor Party" continues to be a hot rental--No. 2--but not many buyers aren't going to the "Party." On the sales chart, it plunged 16 places to No. 37 in its second week.
The Paul McCartney movie, "Give My Regards to Broad Street," entered the rental chart at No. 30. Since it wasn't a box-office hit, it's not expected to be a smash as a videocassette. . . . Rental chart newcomers "Irreconcilable Differences" (No. 7) and "Country" (No. 9) are doing very good business.
TOP VIDEOCASSETTES, SALES
1. "Gone With the Wind" (MGM/UA).
2. "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" (Paramount).
3. "Jane Fonda's Workout" (Karl Video).
4. "Purple Rain" (Warner Bros.).
5. "Prime Time" (Karl Video).
6. "Lionel Richie All Night Long" (Brockman).
7. "Tina Turner Private Dancer" (Sony).
8. "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" (Paramount).
9. "Raquel Total Beauty and Fitness" (Thorn/EMI).
10. "The Jane Fonda Workout Challenge" (Karl Video).
TOP VIDEOCASSETTES, RENTALS
1. "Revenge of the Nerds" (CBS-Fox).
2. "Bachelor Party" (CBS-Fox).
3. "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" (Paramount).
4. "Police Academy" (Ladd/Warner Video).
5. "Red Dawn" (MGM/UA).
6. "The Woman in Red" (Vestron).
7. "Irreconcilable Differences" (Vestron).
8. "All of Me" (Thorn/EMI).
9. "Country" (Touchstone).
10. "The Little Drummer Girl" (Warner Bros.).