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TK's MORNING BUZZ: Video Stores May Become a Scapegoat in Hollywood’s Latest Round of Moral Cleansing.

28 Sep, 2000 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Avalanche Home Entertainment held a drawing for a pair of World Series tickets at its booth. Shown here, from left, are "celebrity drawer" Bo Andersen, president of the VSDA; Brad Pelman, Avalanche's sales and marketing v.p.; David Rand, Avalanche's director of sales; and Noah Segal, senior v.p. of Lions Gate Films, which owns Avalanche. (Hive News Photo)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Well, the weather cleared up and the crowds poured into the Atlantic City Convention Center yesterday in a much heavier stream than they did the day before, when the East Coast Video Show opened.

Retailers and exhibitors alike appeared quite content, with several noting that despite the hard times many dealers have fallen upon there are still new faces to be seen, new video stores opening and coming out of the gate well-stocked and well-armed with knowledge, information and strategy.

Meanwhile, the controversy over Hollywood allegedly marketing violent movies to young people hit home in a couple of ways. Senator Joseph Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential candidate and champion of kinder, gentler fare for America’s youth--his threats of legislative intervention helped bring about the video game industry’s move to adopt a voluntary ratings system a few years ago--was in the convention center this week, addressing a convention of bricklayers. He blasted studio executives for refusing to "say explicitly that they would stop marketing adult-rated products to our children."

Good thing he didn’t wander over to the adult section of our little confab, which was sandwiched between the regular video area and the bricklayers--a stone's throw, as they say, from where the good senator was speaking.

VSDA president Bo Andersen, in his speech, warned against government empowering the studios to crack down on retailers who don’t abide by the MPAA ratings system, saying such a legislative move would threaten the sanctity of the First Sale Doctrine. I agree with Bo 100%, and also share his concerns, particularly in light of an Associate Press story that hit the wires this morning.

The headlines is, "Teens: Lawmakers Can't Control Media," but the opening of the story reads as follows:

LOS ANGELES (AP) - To Matt Casazza and fellow teens, the debate raging over Hollywood's marketing of violent films to youth leaves them with one question: Who cares?

"Sooner or later they're all gonna come out on tape and then you can rent it," the 15-year-old Casazza said. "It doesn't really matter, because they don't card at (video stores)."

Am I the only one who fears this may stir things up even more? Andersen and the VSDA need our support in fighting Washington on this one. The VSDA’s "Pledge for Parents" program, in which retailers agree not to rent unsuitable fare to minors without parental consent, is a worthy and admirable example of responsible self-regulation, and yet it appears that video stores may become a scapegoat in Hollywood’s latest round of moral cleansing.

As if our industry doesn’t have enough problems!

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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