Monday, November 26, 2001

Harry Potter and MSNBC

I won't often get this specific here, but I must warn you not to watch the "special edition" of MSNBC's Headliners and Legends spotlighting Harry Potter.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last five years -- or unless you've avoided the Potter phenomenon on the advice of your minister -- you already know all the "secrets" this hour reveals. If you're new to the party and you want to be caught up to speed, you won't want the spoilers this program presents, most especially the dramatic surprise in book four (as tragedy strikes one of Harry's friends).

The approach this program takes -- that Harry Potter is a real person, and J. K. Rowling merely his biographer -- gets very old, very fast. Even the children who are Harry's primary market know better than that. The rhyming "when we come back" voiceovers that lead into each commercial break are excruciating.

Clips of Rowling speaking are moderately interesting -- although if you're going to tell people that her British publisher insisted she use her initials in her byline (the better to market the book to boys who might not like it if they know a woman wrote it), it seems conspicuous not to reveal what the initials stand for. She's the second-richest woman in England, it can do little harm now. (Joanne Kathleen. You're welcome. I just scooped MSNBC!)

Never mind. Just change the channel.

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