8:19 PM 11/20/1995

Mum'd be chuffed

The Liverpool house where Paul McCartney grew up and where he and John Lennon plotted the Beatles -- whose 25th anniversary demise we now observe -- has been acquired by the National Trust, which preserves Brit mansions. It's the trust's first pop property. "My mum would have been dead chuffed (pleased) to think that our little council house would end up with the National Trust," the cute Beatle said. His fam lived in the public housing project from 1955 to 1964.

9:59 PM 12/8/1995

Stamps, singing mark 15th anniversary of Lennon's death

NEW YORK (Reuter) - Fans of John Lennon marked the the 15th anniversary of the former Beatle's death by visiting his memorial garden in Central Park and gazing silently at the apartment entranceway where he was murdered.

Eight countries issued stamps to commemorate the anniversary.

Throughout the cold, sunny day a crowd with changing faces but with a constant count of about 50 surrounded the "Imagine" stone memorial in the park and covered it with flowers, apples, candles, cards and other offerings.

Lennon was shot and killed at the Dakota apartment house across the street from the park by a disgruntled fan, on Dec8, 1980.

Lennon stamps that were issued in eight countries were unveiled. Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, selected the paintings and digitalized photos of Lennon at different stages of his life, said a spokesman for the Inter-Governmental Philatelic Corporation.

She encouraged the use of Lennon's self-portrait, which was used on stamps from Azerbaijan and Mali. Previously no more than three countries have ever issued related commemorative stamps at the same time.

The other countries were Antigua/Barbuda, Nicaragua, Guyana, Maldives, Palau and Ghana.

At the memorial, in an area renamed "Strawberry Fields" after the Beatles song, a portable stereo played the song, fans sang and talked over memories of the Beatles and the day Lennon was shot in the Dakota's entranceway.

"This is a day you don't forget. It didn't make sense at the time and I still can't believe it," said Frank Norce, who works for a brokerage firm. "I was listening to the "Imagine" album at home and I just had to come."

Groups of foreign tourists took pictures of themselves in front of the doorway. Others came alone, stared at the entrance and then walked on.

8:19 PM 12/20/1995

Booked on success

Beatlemania hit the world's biggest book fair Wednesday with worldwide rights on offer for their story told in their own words. The three surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison, and John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, have got together to relive from birth to breakup the tale of the biggest group in pop history. "It is like a Beatles family album with 200,000 words of text in their own words. I hope it makes all the other Beatle books redundant,"said Brian Roylance, editor of Genesis Publications. The book is being published next autumn with an initial first print run of 1.5 million copies priced at $50 each.

2:42 PM 11/1/1995

Perhaps you're getting anxious.

A new Beatles album is due Nov. 21, and a new Beatles documentary airs Nov. 19, 22 and 23 on ABC, followed by an expanded 10-hour version on video next year.

At long last, you'll see and hear new Fab Four material.

But you don't have to wait -- not if you check out this week's video reissue of the group's first two films, A Hard Day's Night and Help! (MPI Home Video, $19.98).

Each has supplements after the movie. And while Help! is the lesser film, it gets the most and best bits at the end.

MPI erred in producing Help!'s box art, which indicates it offers eight extra minutes. In truth, there are 17 minutes of stills, film clips and audio, presented in much the same way that laserdiscs showcase such extras.

Original radio ads for the film play over still photos from several scenes that were shot for the movie and discarded, such as Ringo Starr milking a cow at the lads' fanciful residence.

Behind-the-scene shots in color and black-and-white show the Beatles relaxing or frolicking on the set. And there's a film clip of the Beatles attending Help!'s world premiere at a London theater, where they greet Princess Margaret.

Enticing for collectors is a lengthy segment showing promotional materials, sheet music, record covers, production stills, advance tickets and lobby cards for the film in international releases.

Also featured is an open-ended radio interview that the Beatles recorded for release of Help!, enabling DJs to insert their own questions.

The extras on the Hard Day's Night tape run about as long but are far less satisfying.

They include the trailer for the film's theatrical reissue in 1982, set to the tune of I'll Cry Instead; a four-minute interview with director Richard Lester; and the 11-minute film Lester made with Peter Sellers in 1959 that convinced the Beatles he was the man for their job.

That film, Running Jumping Standing Still, is a grainy, unfocused, black-and-white short that was shot without sound and scored to light jazz.

As it segues from one silly scene to another, it bears more resemblance to a later Monty Python sketch than A Hard Day's Night. But it does show off Lester's knack for antic, innovative comedy on film.

Even so, this short has nothing to do with the Beatles, who are short-changed by the extras on this tape.

But then, for that you can get an entire video, The Making of `A Hard Day's Night,' which MPI issued earlier this year for $19.98.

* Just as MPI is riding a new Beatles wave, MGM/UA Home Video is exploiting the Nov. 17 release of GoldenEye by reissuing the first eight James Bond films on video this week, after a brief moratorium.

They're $14.95 each, or $89.92 for a gift box with the first six Sean Connery films.

The other eight 007 films will be reissued on video in January.

7:09 PM 11/13/1995

Pleasure no more

Yoko Ono said Monday it was a "very, very big decision" to release a homemade tape of John Lennon singing for the first Beatles record in 26 years, but she felt it would be wrong to stand in the way of a Beatles reunion. Speaking nearly 15 years after her partner Lennon was shot in New York, Ono said the decade after his death had been incredibly frightening and she had forgotten what pleasure was. "I don't regard pleasure as part of my existence any more," Ono told the Daily Mail newspaper. Later this month the three surviving Beatles -- Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr --will release an anthology of 60 Beatles songs and star in a documentary series. Two of the songs, Free As A Bird and Real Love, were recorded by Lennon before his death. The three other Beatles have added instrumental backing.