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A Potter of Gold for Those Who Think Big

Bruce Kluger and David Slavin write satire for National Public Radio.

June 02, 2004|Bruce Kluger and David Slavin

As faithful as the changing of the equinoxes, Warner Bros. will once again go into overdrive this week to promote "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," its newest big-screen adaptation of J.K. Rowling's mind-bendingly popular children's books. As always, publishers, TV programmers and entrepreneurs across the country will try to co-opt the Potter craze, hoping to siphon off riches of their own.

Which media outlet will come up with the most lucrative way to latch on to Pottermania? Let the games begin:

Monday: After four hours of strategizing ways to participate in the Potter rage, executives at ABC-TV/Disney/Miramax are shocked to discover they do not own the rights to the Potter books and never will. Undaunted, the company immediately re-releases three dozen classic films under new titles (e.g., "Dirty Harry Potter," "Harry Potter and Tonto," "When Harry Potter Met Sally," etc.). "This is what we do best," explains a company spokesman. "Who needs Harry Potter when you have Harvey Weinstein?"

Tuesday: Pugnacious talk-show host Sean Hannity debates the hot-button issues underlying the Potter trend with columnists E.J. Dionne and Ann Coulter. As Dionne defends Potter's right to a gay marriage -- this despite the boy's British citizenship and the fact that he's not homosexual -- Coulter challenges the accuracy of the books' depiction of magic and sorcery. "This movie isn't about real witchcraft," barks Coulter. "Trust me. I know a thing or two about witches."

Wednesday: Keeping with tradition, Playboy founder Hugh M. Hefner contacts Rowling, offering her $1 million to appear in his magazine naked, posed atop a broomstick. When Rowling refuses, an unbowed Hefner announces that Playboy will publish a nude pictorial of Joni Lovewell, a Borders employee from Dubuque who "once sold 15 Harry Potter books in one day" and enjoys long walks on the beach.

Thursday: The Cartoon Network announces it will produce an animated version of a classic '70s sitcom, now adapted to the Rowling oeuvre. "Welcome Back, Potter" transports the old gang from the blacktops of James Buchanan High School to the campus of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where the beloved "Sweathog-warts" engage in hilarious hexes and high jinks. Original cast member John Travolta agrees to lend his voice to the series, provided that Hogwarts supplements its courses with seminars in Scientology.

Friday: In a stroke of marketing genius, founder Jeff Bezos acquires worldwide rights to the popular line of Chia Pet products and begins selling them online under a new name: Hairy Pottery.

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