Picks and Pans Review: Hands Across America

updated 06/22/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/22/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

One thing is clear from this brilliantly packaged 30-minute tape. Producers Ken Kragen, Ken Yates and Perri Chasin (who also served as director), editor Larry Jordan and musical director Tom Scott handle the medium adroitly. They could probably make a documentary on athlete's foot medicine seem bright, witty and so full of caring you could hardly stand it. There is Daniel Travanti's quiet narration and snippets of interviews, mostly with Kragen, the pop-music manager who thought up the idea of using a human chain across the United States last May 25 to raise money for hungry and homeless Americans. The bulk of the time, however, is spent on quick shots of the chain itself, backed by Scott's score and music by such people as James Brown, Joe Cocker and John Lennon. Among those who can be glimpsed, if you look fast, are President and Mrs. Reagan, Bo Derek, Liza Minnelli, Robin Williams, R2D2, Jane Fonda, Jeff Bridges, Lily Tomlin, Kenny Rogers and Mikhail Baryshnikov. This was certainly the most bizarre fund-raising event of all time, and one where egos and spectacle sometimes seemed as important as the cause. On the other hand the event and its promoters did raise $15 million last year, distributing it to state organizations (from $20,245 in Alaska to $1,254,025 in California). And this tape does suggest that, in its noble craziness as well as its spirit of generosity, optimism and pride, the event touched many of the most admirable American qualities. (Karl-Lorimar, $14.95; most of the profit goes to Hands Across America)

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