CINEMA BERRAT�: YOGI AT THE MOVIES
Funnier than siskel and Ebert! Funnier looking than Gene Shalit! Coming to a television or radio near you: movie reviewer Lawrence Peter (Yogi) Berra.
Strange as it may seem, Yogi at the Movies, featuring capsule reviews of the latest flicks by the Hall of Famer, will be nationally syndicated to TV and radio stations starting in April. The plan is for Berra, an Astros coach these days, to critique 50 movies a year. Each 30-second review will be accompanied by a commercial and will end with Yogi's Movie Scoreboard: A flick will be rated a strikeout, a single, a double, a triple or a homer
The idea for this was born 40 years ago. Tom Villante, the former executive director of marketing and broadcasting for major league baseball who is syndicating Yogi at the Movies, was a batboy for the New York Yankees in the late '40s when Berra was a young catcher. He recalled that other Yankees valued Berra's opinions on movies, which he attended nearly every day. Says Villante, "The players always asked Yogi what he'd seen recently, and he would break everybody up with his descriptions. They were more entertaining than the movie. I thought, 'Someday I'm going to do something with this guy.' "
Berra began preparing for his new career while growing up in The Hill section of St. Louis, where he could see three movies for a nickel on Tuesdays and Sundays. He developed a passion for Westerns and a taste for the comedies of the Marx Brothers. Laurel and Hardy and the Three Stooges. He further honed his cinematic sensibilities by appearing in the 1962 movie That Touch of Mink, with Doris Day and Cary Grant. Yogi played—of all things—a ballplayer.
Berra has already taped a pilot review of Fatal Attraction for the benefit of stations and advertisers. He liked the movie very much, giving it a home run, but he confided last week that he didn't think the story of a one-night stand that turned into a nightmare was particularly frightening. "I was only scared at the scary parts," said Yogi.