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OF, BY AND FOR THE CHILDREN

Views of South Central from teens who want to heal a city's wounds

April 25, 1993|N.F. MENDOZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

While Los Angeles' trials and tribulations became the topic of national discussion this year, six groups of young people were making videos about how the troubled city and its residents can heal.

A year after the first Rodney King verdict and subsequent riots, South Central Kid to Kid, featuring videos by youths age 11 to 18, is being aired by ABC.

Selected from a group of more than 200 of their peers, six writer-directors of diverse backgrounds picked four or five of their friends for a film crew assisted by USC Film School students.

"I want to show my generation that there are less violent ways to live," says 17-year-old Benita Toshe Wyatt. Wyatt focuses, in a non-linear fashion, on a youth who suffers numerous beatings as a child and gives in to peer pressure that ultimately leads to his violent death. Wyatt, an African-American, says she was selected to make a film because she was able to verbalize the images that show "the power behind everything."

Philippine-born Angela Amante, also 17, created an allegorical film about a man who is running away from the riots, until he realizes that many of the images are in his mind. For Amante, whose downtown Los Angeles family fled to suburban North Hollywood during the riots, it was cathartic.

"After awhile, I felt a sense of guilt about leaving," she recalls. "I'm hoping that people will realize their fears. If you don't face your problems, they'll just get bigger and bigger."

Some of the videos incorporate performance art, poetry and depictions of the gritty reality of living in the city.

Also included will be information for kids on social action they can take as an alternative to social unrest, as well as a profile of a YWCA drill team.

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"South Central Kid to Kid" airs Saturday 11 a.m.-noon on ABC. For ages 8 and up.

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The star-studded musical Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme (Sunday 2-3:30 p.m. Disney) features Shelley Duvall, Jean Stapleton, Cindy Lauper, Ben Vereen, Art Garfunkel, Little Richard, Bobby Brown, Paul Simon, Harry Anderson, Garry Shandling, Elayne Boosler, Terri Garr, Pia Zadora and David Leisure. The movie follows Little Bo-Peep (Duvall) and Gordon Goose, Mother Goose's son, as they search Rhymeland for Mother Goose. During the search, the duo meet Rhymeland characters played by the star performers. The special won an Emmy in 1989-90 and a Peabody Award in 1991. For ages 2 to 8.

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Though Grease (Sunday 10:30-12:30 p.m. AMC) may seem a bit dated, it still offers a lot of high-rollicking fun and dance to engage the toughest cynic and the most distracted child. A '50s-style, high-energy romp about a girl who loves a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, "Grease" happily showcases the talents of John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Jeff Conaway, Stockard Channing and Eve Arden. For ages 9 and up.

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What Judy Blume's novel "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret" did for explaining the menstrual cycle through popular literature, Ready or Not's (Saturday 11:30 a.m.-noon Showtime) "Bugsy's Curse" tries to do through television. The show takes popular 'tween issues (often the fodder for young adult novels) and brings them to life through a group of best friends who are on the brink of puberty or in the throes of it. This week, Bugsy encounters her first menstrual cycle. She's both embarrassed and repelled at the thought of her changing body and the long-term implications of becoming a woman. For ages 8 to 14.

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Using similar themes to NBC's "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," Chris Cross (Saturday 11-11:30 a.m. Showtime) focuses on two best friends, one black and one white, who attend a stodgy private school. This week Chris and Cross are blamed when a prankster hits Stansfield Academy. It's up to the headmaster's granddaughter Dinah to save the guys. For ages 8 to 14.

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