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Cassette On Sex Molesters Planned For Children

May 17, 1985|DENNIS HUNT | Times Staff Writer

'It's OK to Say No" (RGA, $1.95), a best-selling coloring book, is fun for kids. But it has serious overtones.

Its purpose is to teach youngsters that it's OK to say no to sexual molesters. A videocassette version of this acclaimed book is in the planning stages.

With the aid of child-behavior experts, Amy Shields and illustrator Frank Smith assembled the book which, RGA's head man Jack Artenstein reported, has sold 2 1/2 million copies.

"Kids are taught that they have to obey adults," Artenstein pointed out. "This book teaches kids that they have rights too. When they feel uncomfortable about participating in situations they don't think are right, they can get out of these dangerous situations by saying no to the adults.

"Kids go along in these situations even though they don't want to. This book gets across the point that they don't have to go along and say nothing. The videocassette will make the same points."

It won't be available for a while. Artenstein is negotiating with three companies who want to make the videocassette version.

"I should know by next week which one is going to do it," he said.

Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, isn't too happy with the whole home-video industry, which he thinks is ripping off the movie industry and discouraging theater attendance. To him the VCR, which is used to play back videos of movies and record them off TV at little cost, is an instrument of evil.

There's a new VCR that really upsets him. It's a double recorder that features two wells, one for a prerecorded cassette and one for a blank tape. You can copy the prerecorded cassette on the blank. Copying a cassette now is a rather cumbersome process requiring two recorders. But on the new VCR, it's a simple, all-in-one operation.

"It's a pirate's dream," Valenti griped. "For instance, with a six-hour cassette you can copy several movies on one blank cassette. You can rent movies for a night and make copies for yourself and your friends. It's tempting when you can do it so easily with one machine."

Where can you buy this miracle machine? Unfortunately for Americans with piracy in their hearts, this double VCR is available only in the Middle East--for now, that is.

If Valenti has his way, this "evil" machine will never be available in America. But anyone who travels in the Middle East can obviously buy one and bring it back. However, the double VCR is on a foreign electronic system that's incompatible with the one used in the United States. But, Valenti noted, double VCRs can be converted for American use.

At the moment, there are apparently no plans to market the machine, which is made in Japan, in this country. But if the Japanese do sell it here, Valenti warned that he'll spearhead a campaign to ban it.

This anti-double VCR faction is gearing for battle. "I have little doubt," Valenti lamented, "that they'll be over here sooner or later."

SNIPPETS: On another issue, Valenti supports Embassy's new anti-piracy system but doesn't think it's the answer to stamping out piracy. Observed Valenti: "It's not foolproof. There are ways around it."

Embassy's new system is being tested for the first time on its new release, "The Cotton Club." In the next week or two Embassy will have some idea of its effectiveness. . . .

Meir Hed, co-owner of the Videotheque stores, related this tale illustrating the power of home video. An executive in the Mann Theater chain came into a Videotheque outlet and was surprised to discover that "The Bostonians" was out on videocassette. It also was playing in the Mann chain. Assuming its availability for home-video viewing negated its appeal to moviegoers, the executive had it pulled from the theaters.

VIETNAM VIDEO: With all the attention focused on the Vietnam War recently, this is the perfect time for the USC School of Journalism to market its videocassette series about the war--"Vietnam Reconsidered: Lessons From a War."

The series consists of tapes of a four-day 1983 USC conference dissecting the war. "It was an attempt to explore the war and its impact from various angles," said Joe Domanick, who assembled the series. "At the conference we were trying to make some sense out of that whole war experience and to see what was learned from it."

The conference featured speeches, panel discussions and question-and-answer sessions involving the audience. Journalists, politicians, military personnel, veterans and Vietnamese refugees were among the variety of participants. Among prominent participants were Arthur Miller, Harrison Salisbury, David Halberstam and Morley Safer.

"There were interesting dialogues, there was controversy and there were some angry confrontations," Domanick explained.

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