Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Back with a Vengeance ---- Heeeeeerrre's HARRY



Harry Potter Special on A&E
The hour-long show will air on November 17th at 10 PM EDITOR'S NOTE: EST, I BELIEVE. and will feature new clips from Goblet and interviews with its stars. The special will also delve into the growth of Harry, Ron and Hermione throughout the books.



Severus Snape: One teacher’s hero This ‘Harry Potter’ professor has a smirk and a withering glare for students
By Mary Beth Ellis
MSNBC contributor
Updated: 2:34 p.m. ET Nov. 15, 2005

The most terrifying moments in any professor’s semester arrive at the end of it, when we are required to place instructor evaluation sheets before our pupils. Then the administration makes us leave the room while the pupils tear us into little tiny bits, which means we’re not allowed smile encouragingly from behind the Podium of Power, or pace the desks to see what the students are writing, or brandish cupcakes, or for that matter small firearms. I usually go out in the hallway and drink.

I wish I could handle the situation more like Severus Snape might. There would be none of this smiley-smiley “I’ve enjoyed teaching all of you” business for Snape, who would deliver unto all one final glare before retiring to his dungeon for a relaxing evening of poking baby kittens with a stick.

And when the evaluations were compiled, Professor Snape wouldn’t open the horrible manila envelope with the anything approaching the nausea I do (although at Hogwarts, such documents are probably delivered via — I don’t know — a four-headed panda with a rooster tail that explodes on human contact.) Instead, there would be Bach on the stereo, red-pen corrections of all abused grammar in the “turn this paper over to make additional comments” section, and in general a great deal of smirking.

Yes, I must apply mad props to Snape, who is a far snappier dresser than your average professor. I don’t know what Dumbledore was paying Severus, but it was apparently enough to keep him in the latest offerings of the Johnny Cash Collection. I myself often fling open the classroom door looking like a person who just fell out of an episode of “Little House on the Prairie” or a Cyndi Lauper video or both. But Snape, here’s a man who dressed for occult success; you can’t swing an appointment as an instructor in Defence Against Dark Arts when you’re trolling the halls in a teal cardigan and loafers. It’s all black, all the time, which must have made laundry day a simple affair. (“I’m doing another load of darks — anybody want to throw in a cape? No? Turtleneck?”)

Snape of the Super Sized withering glare
Snape does not suffer student excuses lightly. As opposed to me, who last semester nodded in sympathy when a student called to announce that he could not turn in his final paper because, quote, “there was a homicide at my apartment complex and the police aren’t letting anybody in or out.” Snape would not nod. Snape would want the crime scene photos for the yearbook.

My students receive a happy, free-of-charge smile face sticker on exams scoring 95 percent or above, whereas if you scored an A with Snape, you might be rewarded with merely a medium-sized withering glare rather than the usual Super Sized one. I have much to learn from his methods, as I doubt that Snape is often besieged with students screeching at him that of course they should have gotten an A on this essay, as they have gotten As on every single possible evaluation since gaining the ability to breathe independently. Their mothers scored 100 percent in Lamaze classes! Thanks to their own excellence as a fetus! None of this would work on Snape, who majored in Being Sinister and seems to fear the sun and all its evil, melanin-producing properties.

Then again, a Potions Master can manage things likely out of the reach of your average English teacher; for one, it has not yet occurred to me to settle disputes with my department chair via jets of deadly green light. The whole episode — this business of killing off the headmaster — cannot look good on the Professor’s resume. Who’s he going to use for a reference now? Voldemort? And how might one reach a person who cannot be named? Does he also have a daytime phone number that cannot be named?

I imagine Hogwarts had some sort of COBRA arrangement for this type of situation. I have no idea what kind of benefits Snape was pulling down before he likely voided his HMO’s teleportation rider by vanishing midair, but good luck filing a claim, sport.

So Blue Cross and Blue Shield might not want to have much to do with Snape, and I suspect he prefers it that way. Snape is not what you would call a “people person”; he is more of a That Guy At the End Of the Bar who sinks into the same Scotch on the rocks for four hours and won’t smile and won’t dance and won’t play pool or even boo at the refs screwing up the Notre Dame game. The man is a brooder, and more power to him. Teachers who brood rarely receive repeat customers on Parent-Teacher Conference night (“Your Billy is a full-blown moron, I’m afraid, and deserves nothing less than spontaneous combustion … are you crying? Fifty points from Gryffindor!”) I doubt Snape has many visitors during office hours, and that … is totally okay with him. More time to sharpen the kitten-poking sticks.

This is not to say that Snape doesn’t care about his students’ education, in a sarcastic, uncheerful, I-hate-you fashion. He’ll even save a life here and there, as long as you don’t try to hug him or talk to him or walk within a five-mile radius of him afterwards.

But why all the hatin’, Snape?

Fan speculation includes the usual psychological analysis: Bad childhood, massive crush on Harry Potter’s mother, massive hatred for Harry Potter’s father, wound up with Brett Favre as his starting quarterback in the Hogwarts office fantasy league.

I say it’s something far more painful and obvious: The poor man has greasy hair. You just can’t live happily like that. Invest in some Pantene Pro-V, Severus. You’ll feel better in the morning, sun or no sun.

Freelance writer and teacher Mary Beth Ellis runs, which is crammed with examples of what a fantastic teacher she is, including the time she informed an entire roomful of students that if people did not start bringing their textbooks to class, they would fail her course and get tossed out of the university and never get a job and wander the Earth licking Tootsie Pop wrappers for sustenance, forever.


Michael GambonDumbledore on the latest Harry Potter film
He is one of Britain's most respected stage actors and a man with a career most thesps would kill for. But none of that mattered a damn to the world's teens and tweenies until he stepped in to the late Richard Harris' shoes as the immensely powerful, immensely eccentric Professor Dumbledore, to act as headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

We talk to Michael Gambon about not acting, the misery of beards, being mistaken for Gandalf and playing practical jokes on Johnny Depp…

Are you kind of easing into the role a bit more now you have done one film as Dumbledore?
I just play him as myself, I don’t ease myself into any role really. I stick a beard on and play me. Every part I play is just a variant of my own personality. No real character actor, of course, just me.

What makes Dumbledore the greatest wizard of all time?
I have no idea. I learn the lines that JK Rowling or whoever writes them, and say them. There’s no subtext in Harry Potter really; it’s all magic, anything can happen. Why do I say this? Because it’s a magic spell. It’s quite nice in a way. There is a real freedom to it. Doesn’t say much for acting does it?

Is it fun working with Francis De La Tour and other actors of your generation?
Oh yeah, Frankie’s from the theatre and I mainly do the theatre. I’ve played Maggie (Smith)'s husband three times in various films, TV and plays. So it is like going on holiday everyday; you muck about. Except having this stuck on (gestures to beard) really makes your life miserable. It’s dreadful. Then they put the moustache on just before the take, which is the worst bit. Thank god, I’ve never had to eat anything yet. The main problem is gluing the beard on. It takes 15 minutes, but I could have a really complicated scene to play and worry more about the beard.

Have you still not read any of the books?
Well, I don’t see any point. I’ve got the scripts. People who have read the books get miserable because of all the bits that have been cut out. So I just read the script. That's the best way.

How does this one feel different with Mike Newell in charge?
Well, Alfonso was great. He was like a kid. So the children loved him and we used to have fun and games. Mike, who I have never worked with before, is similar. He likes throwing things in the air and changing conventions. I think that is what Warner Brothers want. We had a big scene in the hall, where Dumbledore speaks about the new term, in all the films. That has become a bit standard so Mike changed it, I now walk among the kids at the tables. I leave the lectern. It’s stuff like that that kicks it up the arse a bit.

Do you have an input yourself?
You can do what you like really, and they say, “Don’t do that.” The other day I grabbed two kids round the neck, fondly, and did a scene like that and Mike said, “Oh, leave it in.” It frees it up a bit. Yesterday I did a scene where I get hugged by this great big guy, from middle Europe. I play it as though he has broken my ribs, to get a few laughs, you know?

Do you get on with the kids?
The kids are remarkable, really remarkable. I’m not saying that because I am in the bloody films. I mean Daniel is so cool and with it. He is unfazed by anything. The great luck was to get that boy I think, because he is terrific.

You seem really busy in movies at the moment.
I am a theatre actor, but the last ten years I’ve taken parts in movies because it keeps me in money. I easily forget what film it is. So it is all very nice, but it is like water being thrown over you. With this, it is just a sense of having fun, and it is very technical blue screen work… I have to work with Frankie today, and she’s playing a giantess, and I can’t be in the same frame as her because the technical details of making it. It’s fun.

Do kids approach you on the street when you haven’t got your beard on?
No, they don’t. But a kid came up to me the other day, though, and says, “Gandalf can I have your autograph?” and I said, “Piss off!” EDITOR'S NOTE: SO MUCH FOR THAT STEREOTYPE OF THE ERUDITE, HYPER-ARTICULATE BRIT, EH?

Do you get fan letters?
Hundreds. They warned me about that. They come from all over the world. Germany, America… all over. I do reply to them.

What is the perfect balance for you between TV, movies and theatre?
Well, time flies so quickly. I promise myself that I would go and do a play every year. Television has dried up for my generation, so it's plays and films. You get used to being lazy doing films, but classical theatre's going to finish me off.

Now Johnny Depp tells us that you were something of a practical joker on the set of Sleepy Hollow.
Well, he can shout! I haven’t had time. Only last year when Alfonso and I shoved a fart machine in Harry Potter’s sleeping bag. Johnny is constantly using fart machines. My best thing on Johnny Depp was they built this village on this country estate and it is the only place the Queen can ride a horse from Windsor without going on public roads. The Queen passed once and everyone was gobsmacked; she had her entourage with her. Next to her was a friend on mine called Henry Herbert who died last year. He was the 17th Earl of Pembrook and a film director. As they went past Henry shouted, “Hello, Mike!” and I shouted, “Hello, Henry, how are you mate?” The Queen waved like she was talking to me, and on they went. And, of course, Johnny Depp was speechless. He said, “You know her?” I said, “Yes, she’s a mate of mine.” He believed me. Such serendipity! You couldn’t want for a better fake. “I always nip round for a cup of tea,” you know? But we can’t muck about in this one, it is too busy, there is too much at stake. It is east to fool about in the theatre, in a movie you can’t. Apart from with Johnny Depp.

Do you go over to Hollywood yourself?
When I get a job, yes. Last time was when I played President Lyndon Johnson a couple of years ago. I was over there for five months. Imagine playing an American president sitting there surrounded by American actors, mumbling at me! Horrible feeling. Of course, when I stopped acting, I immediately went to a cockney accent. That made ‘em laugh. EDITOR'S NOTE: OF COURSE LBJ HAD A TEXAS ACCENT. WHICH ISN'T REALLY ENGLISH EITHER.

Are you quite content to see the series out?
These films? I think so; I haven’t really thought about it. They are such mammoth films that, apart from Daniel, each contributing actor isn’t used that much. This film has taken a year to shoot, I think, but I feel as if I have hardly been here. I do two days and then you have month and then you have a day. In terms of making more, I’d be happy to.

How much funnier is Mike Newell direction to Alfonso’s?
The films are quite different, but that is to do with the writing, not Alfonso or Mike. I got a few laughs in yesterday. Maybe that is why kids like Dumbledore, because he is funny, rather than a miserable old sod with a long white beard. EDITOR'S NOTE: THE VOTE IS STILL OUT ON GAMBON AS DUMBLEDORE. BUT SO FAR HE HAS PLAYED HIM TRUER TO BOOK ONE THAN HARRIS DID, BUT TOO DIPPY FOR THE SUCCEEDING BOOKS. THE STORY GETS MORE SERIOUS, AND THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TWINKLE AND TWINKIE.

Do you ever get frustrated with him, because he never seems to explain anything to anybody? There is a lot of exposition in the part, which is bit difficult at times, but I don’t mind.

Does it remind of your own school days at all?
Apart from the spells, that is…There were certainly no spells at my school. More like a smack in the mouth.



Rage against the Harry Potter machine One film critic has had more than enough of everyone's favorite boy wizard
By Dave White
MSNBC contributor
Updated: 5:31 p.m. ET Nov. 15, 2005

Because I’m a film critic, between now and the end of the year I have something like 200 movies I have to see. Okay lie. It’s more like 50. But still, 50 movies is a lot. And I’m not here to complain about seeing movies for a living. I’m excited about some of them.

“Transamerica” sounds kind of cool and weird, what with “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman getting a sex-change in it and all. “The Chronicles of Narnia” has my favorite anti-star, Tilda Swinton, in it, so I’m down for whatever she does. Terrence Malick’s “The New World” should be really, really slow and pretty, the kind of movie that probably took months to shoot because he’s such a maniac for things to be gorgeous — taking a whole day to shoot wind blowing a perfectly composed color combination of dead leaves across a road. I mean, I’m not saying he did that. But he probably would. I want to see “The Ringer,” too, that one with Johnny Knoxville pretending to have Down’s Syndrome so he can compete in the Special Olympics. You thought I was kind of high-brow until just now, I bet. EDITOR'S NOTE: IS PRETENTIOUS THE SAME AS HIGH-BROW? SMIRK....

Enough of the boy wizard
But “Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire” is not what I’m about at this particular moment.

And here’s why:

I’m beat-down by all the mandatory wizardry. It’s been five years of this very special magic boy and his magic friends and their fantastical Hogwartsing and Quidditching and wand-stroking and muggle-whatevering. It’s been five years of seeing them all on the cover of Vanity Fair and Time and Entertainment Weekly and witnessing armored trucks delivering loads of each new book and watching people ripping into the boxes of them like they’re Wonka Bars with a golden ticket inside.

I’ve had to deal with friends who are freaked out that I just sort of gave up on the third book and didn’t bother to read the fourth one or the fifth one or the sixth one, hearing them go on and on about this particular series but never hearing them get that wound up about any other book or film. I’ve seen grown-ups in Gryffindor sweatshirts and had the disturbing awareness of the existence of Harry Potter slash fiction (any kids reading this, you don’t need to know what slash fic is —just forget I mentioned it). I’ve seen the billboards in the air and the busses on the ground covered in giant bus-sized eye-level billboards and TV commercials and tie-in candies that taste like dirt and vomit and Christmas tree ornaments. I’ve watched Daniel Radcliffe go through puberty with Oprah and Conan and Regis and Total Request Live and the sheer existence-crushing cultural pressure to conform and like it all.

And I’m done.

Here was the last straw.

I just heard last week, from an “industry” pal who must remain nameless, a story about how many zits (what they’d call “spots” at Hogwarts) had to be digitally erased from the new movie.

It’s not true, of course. Or what if it is? They’re all 16 years old or thereabouts. Kids get zits. And these kids are megastars, each probably equipped with their own personal dermatologist on 24-hour standby.

But it was Hollywood Gossip and therefore actual important information I needed to know. And the craziest feature of this bit of fake-out complexion reportage was its delivery to me in super-secret-double-probation hushed tones, as though these kids had been discovered with track marks on their arms or nabbed by paparazzi hanging out with Kate Moss. There is someone out there, more than one someone, in fact, who can’t get enough of breaking news like this, fabricated or un. But it was the last crack in my I-can-endure-any-amount-of-showbiz-silliness-because-it’s-my-job armor. I was officially and formally Harry Potter-Fatigued. EDITOR'S NOTE: WHAT DOES THE OVER-HYPED, OVER-STARSTRUCK, OVER BS'D HOLLYWOOD REPORTAGE HAVE TO DO WITH HARRY POTTER? THE BOOKS OR THE MOVIES. KINDA THROWING THE BABY OUT WITH THE BATHWATER, AREN'T WE? AND SINCE WHEN DOES HARRY POTTER HAVE A MONOPOLY ON OVER-SATURATION, OR MINUTIA-MINING? (GOSH, NONE OF THOSE ART-HOUSE FAVES EVER RESORT TO HYPE...TERRENCE MALIK, ANYONE?)

Haters unite!

I found I wasn’t alone.

I spoke to my friend Lydia Popovich who runs the cranky cult website Hater Tuesday, an online haven for the culturally disgusted, about my personal dilemma as a member of the media hype machine who is already worn out by the tornado of publicity and product synergy and embarrassed by my professional participation in it.

Hell, this entire article is a part of that machine. I should be ashamed of myself for writing it, now that I think about it. EDITOR'S NOTE: YES YOU SHOULD. BUT NOT BECAUSE IT FEEDS THE HARRY POTTER BEAST; ONLY BECAUSE IT IS MORE CLAPTRAP ADDED TO THE CACOPHONY.

Lydia felt my pain. “I’m sick of that s--t, too, especially if you helped make even a little bit of it happen” she said, “But my real problem is the kids. Not the kids in the movie. Not the actors. The kids in the movie theater. There’s like hella kids in those theaters. I can’t get down with that. I’d have to sedate myself so much I’d fall asleep, which is what happened when I went to see the first one. So I never went back to see the others. The whole thing is like being sold a big Diet Coke that never gets empty.” EDITOR'S NOTE: HOW SAD. BITTER AND STUPID. SHE ISN'T EVEN USING HER ANGST FOR WIT.

This is true. Harry Potter is not simply a character in a kid’s book anymore. Harry Potter is a multinational corporation and he’s spying on you in order to market himself to you more effectively. You will have the Diet Coke with his face on the can and you will think about his magic. You’ll feel that magic with every sip and you’ll come back to that Diet Coke for more magical Harry feelings later, kind of like how actual Diet Coke makes you hungry and then thirsty for more Diet Coke. Soon you’re like a really dumb dog chasing its own tail until you pass out. EDITOR'S NOTE: IN POINT OF FACT, HARRY IS ONE OF THE LEAST EXPLOITED FRANCHISES OUT THERE. RELATIVELY SPEAKING. AND I'M BETTING THIS GUY KNOWS ALL ABOUT BEING A REALLY DUMB DOG CHASING ITS TAIL TILL IT PASSES OUT. (APOLOGIES TO ANY DOGS READING THIS).

So it’s time to get off the ride. It’s time to resist the onslaught. I have no choice in the matter. I work for The Man. But you do. You can skip it all. Pretend there is no boy wizard for a while until you really feel the need to read about him or see his movie. That’s what all this fiction is supposed to have helped you do anyway, right? Help you pretend? So it’ll be easy. During your Harry vacation you can go discover other stories on your own without anyone’s help. And if you decide to revisit Pottersville some day when you’re ready again you can check one of the books out of the library and or borrow one of your neighbor’s DVDs and enjoy it a few autumns from now, under a blanket with a cup of cocoa, in silence, alone. It’ll be all magical.

Dave White has a blog called Dave White Knows at Rabid Harry-philes looking to start a battle with him will be automatically redirected to EDITOR'S NOTE: NO SENSE HAVING A FIGHT WITH A BRICK WALL. HE'S HAPPY IN HIS SMALL-SCALE, IGNORANT, SELF-IMPORTANT LITTLE WORLD. AND WE ARE HAPPY OUT HERE IN THE BIG, SHINY, HAPPY (HARRY-INCLUSIVE) UNIVERSE.


Dan Radcliffe on the cover of Entertainment Weekly
The next issue of Entertainment Weekly (out this Monday) EDITOR'S NOTE: MEA BADDA...LAST MONDAY.... will feature Daniel Radcliffe on the cover. The issue will also contain a Q&A with the actor and a short interview with producer David Heyman


Post a Comment

<< Home