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A letter to J.K. Rowling

Another Potter? Only if you insist

By Todd Leopold

Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."


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Eye on Entertainment
J.K. Rowling

(CNN) -- To: Ms. J.K. Rowling, c/o Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Somewhere north of Platform 9 3/4 King's Cross Station, UK

Dear Ms. Rowling:

Please believe me when I say, with all due respect: Enough. Enough, already.

I have been a fan of yours since the day in late 1999 when I first picked up "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." (I know you called it "Philosopher's Stone," but we Americans are rather thick when it comes to knowing our alchemical totems.) I eagerly consumed your tale of Harry's first year, and quickly went on to books two and three.

Book IV, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," came out just three weeks after I began at in 2000. It was all Harry all the time around here, and I couldn't get enough. I nearly got into a car accident while reading "Goblet" on my way home from work one day; that's how enamored I was with Harry's adventures and your witty, imaginative writing.

But you've let it get out of control. The New York Times actually changed its best-seller list because your books were hogging all the top places. And the books led to the movies, and not even that ham-handed Chris Columbus could kill off your hero, despite his best efforts. (Oh, Ms. Rowling, you practically expect to hear a "boing!" spit-take after some scenes in "Sorcerer's" -- uh, "Philosopher's Stone." If your books are Monty Python, Columbus' style is Benny Hill.)

And then came Book V, "Order of the Phoenix," another many-hundred-page doorstop that kept me scrambling during the day covering its frenzy and awake at night gobbling down just one more chapter. Ms. Rowling, I'm not 14 years old anymore! I like to sleep! Your imagination knows no bounds, doesn't it?

The movie of "Prisoner of Azkaban" came out 18 months ago, and it was good -- directed by Alfonso Cuaron, excellent turns by the maturing crew of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson (not to mention the usual British old pros who play Hogwarts' faculty and staff), a little bit of darkness sprinkled amid the light and laughs.

Now, in 2005, it's a double whammy. Just a few months ago you published Book VI, "Half-Blood Prince." And on Friday comes the film version of "Goblet of Fire," directed by Mike Newell ("Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Donnie Brasco") and written for the screen again by the able Steve Kloves.

Ms. Rowling, I don't mean to complain. Your books are a joy. The films range from good to excellent (and, since they're produced by Warner Bros., a division of Time Warner just like CNN, no doubt the money they bring in helps pay my salary). Your imagination is unparalleled: wonderful character names! Clever plot twists! Rich settings! You are, I understand, perhaps the wealthiest woman in Britain, and you deserve every penny of your great and good fortune.

But you've given me this Potter problem. Now I have to see the movie. Now I have to stay awake and read the book. Now I have to wait for Book VII, and who knows when you'll be done with that?

I mean, do you know how many hours you've taken from my life? And all I've received is pleasure. My college English professors would be aghast.

So, please promise me you'll be finished soon, OK? I don't know how much more of this I can deal with.

I remain, your humble reader,
Todd Leopold

(Editor's Note: The original story directed this letter to "Charing Cross Station," not "King's Cross Station." The error has been corrected -- and we hope the letter now goes in the proper direction.)


Yes, it's Harry Potter weekend, a Friday fans and Hollywood (All-Flavour) bean-counters have been anticipating for months. Given the mediocre year at the box office -- with receipts down and buzz way down -- the bean-counters may be even more excited than the fans. (Watch how Harry's gotten scarier -- 1:52)

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," in book form, was 700 rich pages of plot, in many ways the hinge of the series. Not only was Harry thrust into a major, multi-school tournament, but he finally came face-to-face with his nemesis, Lord Voldemort. The book was much darker than its predecessors, and set the stage for the books to come, with an older, quickly maturing Harry. (Read the review.)

The movie, to fit in a standard two-hour running time (it actually runs 2 hours, 30 minutes), has stripped away many of the book's subplots in favor of its heart: the tournament and the Harry-Voldemort confrontation. That's not to say it's missing minor characters or that distinctive Potter flavor -- the muckraking Rita Skeeter and pretty Cho Chang are still here -- but a movie has to get to the point or else turn into one of Andy Warhol's eight-hour examinations of somebody sleeping ... or "The Blair Witch Project."

The gang is back: Besides Radcliffe, Grint and Watson, Michael Gambon returns as Dumbledore, the ever-terrific Alan Rickman is Snape, Maggie Smith is McGonagall, Robbie Coltrane is Hagrid and John Cleese is Nearly Headless Nick. The newcomers include Miranda Richardson as Skeeter, Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody and -- most notably -- Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort.

Advance reviews have been highly approving -- 10 points for Gryffindor! -- with more than one calling the film the best yet. If there's carping from someexternal link, it's that they find the devotion to the books tiresome -- or, at least, not very magical.

Well, to each his (or her) own. They could be watching "Freddy Got Fingered."

"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" opens Friday.

On screen

  • Only one other movie dares to go into wide release against "Goblet of Fire," and it's a good one: "Walk the Line," the Johnny Cash biopic. The movie has garnered praise for Joaquin Phoenix's and Reese Witherspoon's performances as Cash and June Carter Cash, respectively. It opens Friday. (Read how Phoenix prepared for the role.)
  • Eye on Entertainment will be on vacation next week (tryptophan, you know), but doesn't want to forget about one of the biggest movie weeks -- nay, days -- of the year: the day before Thanksgiving. On that Wednesday, the following films open: "The Ice Harvest," with John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton; "Rent," the film version of the hit Broadway musical, with much of the cast from the show intact (but directed by ... Chris Columbus); "In the Mix," with Usher; "Yours, Mine and Ours," an update of the 1968 Henry Fonda-Lucille Ball film about two large families combining; "Just Friends," with Ryan Reynolds; and, in limited release, "Syriana," with George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Peet, Chris Cooper and Tim Blake Nelson, written and directed by Stephen Gaghan.
  • On the tube

  • Eva Longoria hosts "Saturday Night Live," 11:30 p.m. ET Saturday, NBC.
  • TBS tries to raise environmental awareness with "Earth to America!" an all-star comedy concert starring Jack Black, Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Will Ferrell and many others. 8 p.m. Sunday, TBS. (TBS is a division of Time Warner, as is CNN.)
  • It had to happen. In the wake of "Category 7" and other disasters, NBC has remade "The Poseidon Adventure." Get a load of this cast: Steve Guttenberg, Adam Baldwin, Bryan Brown (Bryan Brown?), Alex Kingston (Alex Kingston??) and Peter Weller (Peter Weller???) as -- this is my favorite -- ship's captain Paul Gallico. If that name sounds familiar, Paul Gallico is the former New York sportswriter who wrote the novel "The Poseidon Adventure." In the movie, it was Capt. Harrison, and he was played by Leslie Nielsen -- and it sounds like this "Poseidon" could benefit greatly from Mr. Nielsen's presence ... as Lt. Frank Drebin. 8 p.m. Sunday, NBC. (Editor's Note: I have obviously been listening to too many Jam records. The actor is PETER Weller, not Paul, as I'd previously written -- though I'd love to see Paul in anything.)
  • Sound waves

  • Enya's new album, "Amarantine" (Reprise), comes out Tuesday.
  • "Over the Years and Through the Woods" (Interscope), a new album by Queens of the Stone Age, is out Tuesday.
  • System of a Down's "Hypnotize" (Columbia), produced by Rick Rubin, is out Tuesday.
  • Paging readers

  • The latest from P.D. James, "The Lighthouse" (Knopf), comes out Tuesday.
  • Everyone should own a copy of "Philip Marlowe's Guide to Life" (Knopf), a collection of the Raymond Chandler detective's aphorisms: "An honest cop with a bad conscience always acts tough. So does a dishonest cop. So does almost anyone, including me." It comes out Tuesday.
  • Video center

  • "War of the Worlds" comes out on video Tuesday. (Watch an exclusive clip from the DVD -- 0:48)
  • The "Seinfeld" DVDs have entered the show's golden age. Season 5, featuring "The Puffy Shirt," "The Bris," "The Marine Biologist" and "The Opposite"; and Season 6, featuring "The Couch," "The Secretary" and "The Fusilli Jerry," come out Tuesday.
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