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COUNTERPUNCH

Together, They Would Make Synergistic Magic

August 07, 2000|ERIK NELSON

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Frustrated over the lack of publicity and promotion accompanying both of their latest projects, CBS and author J.K. Rowling have announced plans for a revamped new edition of the reality program "Survivor."

Set in a large chain bookshop, "Harry Potter and the Noble (and Barnes) Survivors" will pit separate teams of "wizards" and non-magical "Muggles" against one another as they attempt to survive off the bleak, hostile landscape. Sources close to the production have reported crude shelters constructed out of discarded "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" sales displays, unsold copies of George magazine and remaindered copies of "Monica's Story" by Monica Lewinsky--a bargain, by the way, at $1.99. "Let's see those wizards make those vanish off the shelf," said one bookstore employee.

Complaints by some Muggle contestants that the wizards enjoy an unfair advantage, as they are able to conjure up food with a wave of the wand, were dismissed by the show's producers. "There's plenty of food available," said one producer. "It just requires good old-fashioned teamwork."

"Roast owls can get pretty tiring after a while," admits one Muggle contestant, "but, hey, whatever. Beats rats."

Needless to say, there have been some other eyebrows raised over this project. One critic opined that "The Harry Potter series is a contrived fantasy, where the rules governing acceptable behavior have been invented in order to provide entertainment for a jaded public seeking a connection with childhood. And 'Survivor' is, uh . . . well, forget that I brought it up."

CBS executives made a preemptive strike for the "Harry Potter" rights when they became aware of a competing Fox project, "World's Wildest Wizardly Videos," in which magic is used to help motorists escape police during high-speed chases, and attacking pit bulls are transmogrified into gerbils.

"This redefines the word 'synergy,' which, come to think of it, sounds like one of those cutesy wizard names," said a CBS spokesman. "We're sure that 'Harry Potter and the Noble (and Barnes) Survivors' will 'conjure up' some big ratings come fall."

Reclusive, publicity-shy "Potter" author Rowling, currently on a 760-city bookstore and talk-show tour, was unavailable for comment.

Erik Nelson, executive producer of several "Busted on the Job" reality specials, writes things like this in order to postpone having to come up with real versions of shows like the ones described above.

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