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Family | Look and Listen

A Glimpse at Creativity With Hockney and Taymor

May 06, 1999|LYNNE HEFFLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Video

Behind the Scenes With David Hockney (Volume 1) and Behind the Scenes With Julie Taymor (Volume 2), First Run Features, $14.95 each, 30 minutes each. (800) 455-6652, http://www.firstrunfeatures.com

These are the first two home video releases from PBS' vastly appealing "Behind the Scenes" family series exploring the creative arts, hosted by edgy, comic tricksters Penn & Teller.

You'll never look at a chair the same way again as you watch renowned artist David Hockney draw, not a chair, but his "walk around a chair," deliciously playing with perspective. As Hockney's drawing progresses, the process is interspersed with other examples of flatness and depth, from engaging short animated segments to views of works by Matisse, Van Gogh, Seurat and other artists.

Off screen, children comment on Hockney's finished work: "It looks like a memory." "It's all different views bunched up together." "It's like roads to different directions of the room."

Julie Taymor, acclaimed director of the extraordinary Broadway production of "The Lion King," is shown creating magic in a production for young people of Shakespeare's "The Tempest." Proving that "theater is all of the arts combined," Taymor brings the play to life through human actors, puppets, striking masks and movement, music, sound and lighting.

The Magic School Bus: Butterflies! Warner Home Video, $9.95, 30 minutes. http://www.magicschoolbus.com

The newest home video from Scholastic's animated TV science series. As always, teacher Ms. Frizzle has a surprise in store for her class when they argue over naming their soccer team. Is Phoebe's choice, "The Butterflies," too wimpy? A trip to a swamp, and a mishap with Ms. Frizzle's "Port-a-Shrinker," makes them all bug-sized, and they discover that butterflies aren't so wimpy after all.

Audio

Googol On! Googol Press. 64 minutes. CD: $14.95; cassette: $9.95. (877) 269-5182. http://www.googolpress.com. Infants-age 8; parents.

A googol is a big number--1 followed by 100 zeros--and album producers Scott Johnson and Rob Babcock use it as inspiration for songs that encourage listeners "to live as big as you can; to do what you love to do; to trust what you feel and think for yourself; to sing your own song."

In these positive, tuneful songs, written by Johnson, arranged and played by Robert Berry and sung by several vocalists, life is an adventure and family is something to celebrate.

Even a clever counting song fits in: "One 2 Ten" ("One is a wonderful way to begin; Two as a rule is for couples and twins"). Johnson's view of lullabies is that they work both ways. "Rockabye Love" is a tender expression of feelings he had when his wife was pregnant with their first daughter; the affectionate "Goodnight Mom, Goodnight Dad" is sung by children to weary parents.

"Babies and Butterflies" sweetly wonders at two miracles of life, and, in a less ethereal vein, "The Problem With Grown Ups" is that "they act their age."

The 10 songs are followed by instrumental tracks to sing along with.

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