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A 'WORKOUT' FOR COUCH POTATOES VIDEO OFFERS DOWN-TO-EARTH ALTERNATIVE IN EXERCISE

LARRY "BUD" Melman does not like heights.

"(David) Letterman made me get up on a trampoline once," the Play-Doh-faced actor says. "I had never done that before. That was the worst thing I'd ever done. It was very scary. I said Oi vey, how am I going to get down from here?"

Then there was the time Letterman, the mean-spirited late night talk show host, made the bespectacled, harmless, over-ripe-avocado-shaped Melman go up in a helicopter -- "That was scary," he says -- and a gravity-defying dirigible -- "The blimp? The blimp was very scary."

Melman is more of a down-to-earth individual. In fact, in his new made-for-home video "Couch Potato Workout," he wears a sweat shirt that declares "I (heart) to Sit."

When they approached me for the "Couch Potato Workout" and told me what I would be doing, I said, 'Gee whiz, that fits me like a glove,' " Melman says from his Brooklyn, N.Y., home. "I'm the original couch potato."

The 35-minute tape has Melman "working out" to customized exercises led by June (Kathleen O'Connor-Hayden) who Melman says is a dead ringer for Jane Fonda" (actually, Fonda wishes she had June's body).

June leads Melman, who is ensconced in an easy chair, and a handful of other overweight, caricatured couch potatoes through such routines as "The Couch Slouch," "The Milk Dud Toss," "The Remote Control Thumb Press" and the ever popular "Dash-to-the-Can."

Although it's well-produced and initially entertaining, the tape is adolescent -- make that juvenile -- in its level of humor; it wears thin in no time.

But Melman seems to like it, as if it were supposed to be vaguely offensive. "I love it," he says. "If this (the first tape) goes over, and I hope it will, I hope they'll do a second one and give me a call."

Now that the business of the "Couch Potato Workout" is out of the way, it can be revealed that Larry "Bud" Melman is not the actor's real name. His real name is . . . drum roll, please . . . Calvert DeForest.

The Melman, DeForest says, is a hybrid derived from the name Letterman; the Larry "Bud" was given to him by a former head writer of the Letterman show.

DeForest, a Brooklyn native, is 67 years old -- and he is not as mentally lost as he seems to be on TV: The man is bright, congenial and a bit cagey.

"I'm single, I want to play the field," he says. He has never been married. "Naw, I don't want to be tied down to one gal, all that added responsibility." As for his sex life he says, "No problem."

"Couch Potato Workout" goes for $19.95 from MCA-Universal Home Video. If your video store does not stock the title, it can be special-ordered over the counter.

Soapy workout

Speaking of celebrity workouts, have you ever wondered how your favorite daytime drama actors stay in shape?

"Soap Star Workout" is hosted by John Martin and Holly Gagnier of "One Life to Live," Jacklyn Zeaman and Kin Shriner of "General Hospital" and Charles Shaughnessy of "Days of Our Lives."

The video goes on sale for $19.95 from Vestron Video.

On your feet

Tired of playing video games on your duff with a joystick in your hand? The new "Roll & Rocker" directional control pad gets you off the couch and on your feet.

Rock & Roller is a "teeter totter" board that you stand on with both feet; to control the direction of your action on the screen you simply lean to the left, right, back or front.

Two Rock & Rollers may be patched into your Nintendo unit so that two players can play standing up -- and rocking and rolling.

The cost of one Roll & Rocker is $39.95. If your video store or hobby shop does not stock the device, write to Enteractive/LJN Toys, 1107 Broadway, Third Floor, New York, N.Y. 10010 or call (212) 243-6565.

New stuff

Ken Russell is a director of acquired taste. Next week sees his little-seen "Lair of the White Worm" crawl into video stores, for $89.95.

It's a campy, pun-filled farce based on a story by Bram Stoker (Dracula"), involving four young adults who stumble onto the possible existence of a huge snake that is kept alive by a woman who possesses snake-like qualities herself. There are three hallucination scenes that let Russell do his usual amazing and bizarre visual work. Not for the squeamish -- or anyone who took offense at "The Last Temptation of Christ": There is a religion-related hallucination that makes Madonna's lambasted "Like a Prayer" video seem tame.

Jodie Foster's Oscar-winning performance in "The Accused" goes into video stores next week when the lightly seen movie becomes what should be a heavily rented videotape (or you can buy it at $89.95).

Also for $89.95, Shirley MacLaine's "Madam Sousatzaka," which should have copped a Best Actress nomination for MacLaine, "Screwball Hotel," "Iron Triangle," Gene Hackman and Teri Garr in "Full Moon in Blue Water," Shari Belafonte's horror-spoof "The Midnight Hour," Richard Gere's "Miles From Home" and "Murphy's Fault."

For $79.95 look for "Swift Justice," "Dragonard," "Young Nurses In Love" (in VHS only), along with "Impulse."

"George Burns: His Wit and Wisdom" is "the only thing I will ever do exclusively for home video," according to Burns; get it while you can for $29.95.

Some oldies-but-goodies finally become tapes, including Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn's "Bringing Up Baby," Pat O'Brien and Irene Dunne's "Consolation Marriage," Ginger Rogers and Joel McCrea's "The Primrose Path" and Rosalind Russell's "The Velvet Touch." Those sell for $19.95 each.

It will set you back $19.95 to learn how to play "Dirty Tennis"; Warren Miller's "Cameras in Motion" exposes some more death-defying skiing tricks by Miller's skilled slope masters, for $14.95.

Home Video columnist Buzz McClain is entertainment editor of the Journal Newspapers in Springfield, Va. 22159.

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