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'Air Bud' Hoops It Up


The story of a boy who befriends a slam-dunking golden retriever is at the heart of "Air Bud," a new Disney home video capable of warming the hearts of the entire family.

The movie is about a boy, played by Kevin Zegers ("Life With Mickey"), who befriends a stray dog with an amazing basketball shot. Both make the school team, and the dog's performances spark a media frenzy.

The boy and the dog manage to stay a step and paw ahead of conniving former owner Norm Snively as they go to the state basketball finals.

The retriever, called Buddy in real life, is the incredibly athletic and internationally famous dog that has made more than 22,000 baskets. The canine Michael Jordan also has made two appearances on David Letterman's "Stupid Pet Tricks" and several commercials in addition to many halftime appearances at NBA, NFL and NHL games.

Wendy Makkena ("Sister Act") plays the mother of Zegers, and Michael Jeter ("Evening Shade") is his best friend.

The 92-minute video is priced at $19.99.

Random House next week releases three titles featuring PBS star Arthur: "Arthur's New Puppy," "Arthur's Chicken Pox" and "D.W.'s Blankie." Each $12.98 video has two episodes.

On Tuesday, Lyrick Studio releases Barney's "It's Time for Counting" (50 minutes, $14.95), featuring two new songs, "A Great Day for Counting" and "In Our Family," stressing the value of working together to solve problems.

Also on Tuesday, Columbia Tri-Star releases Jim Henson's "Buddy," a true account of a baby gorilla raised by an eccentric 1920s socialite, portrayed by Rene Russo. The 85-minute video lists for $14.95.

PolyGram Video adds "Be My Valentine" to Richard Scarry's Busytown series. Coming next month is "The First Easter Egg Ever." Both are listed at $9.95.

Stage Fright Productions adds "Water" to its Close Up and Very Personal Series for children from ages 1 to 5, to go with "Farm Animals," "Big Rigs," "Choo Choo Trains," "Horses" and "Fruit" ($14.95, 30 minutes each, 1-800-979-6800).

On Feb. 3, Sony Wonder and "Sesame Street" release "Big Bird Gets Lost," starring Oscar-winner Frances McDormand ("Fargo"). The 40-minute video is $12.98.

"What Tadoo," a new 57-minute video, combines live action, animation and song to convey information about child abuse to 4 to 8 year olds and explain what they should do about it ($19.95, 1-800-301-4050).

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