Sept. 19--J.K. Rowling must have really missed her world of wizardry. The "Harry Potter" author recently agreed to write a screenplay for Warner Bros. for a movie based on her book, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."
The story will begin 70 years before the start of Harry Potter's saga, and it will take place in New York.
It seems that on most nights you can flip through the cable channels and find one of the Potter movies. Sometimes two are playing at the same time on different channels, and you can see Harry, Ron and Hermione at age 9 in one film, and at age 19 in the other.
Amazingly, the cast, except for Richard Harris, who died after the second film, remained intact through eight movies. Of course, if somebody were paying me millions for every film, I'd have made it a point to show up, too.
But these were young actors, who were lavished with tons of money and adulation, and it's surprising that none became derailed by drugs or some other malady.
A couple of the kids turned into pretty respectable actors, including Daniel Radcliffe, 24, who played Harry, and is now a respected star of stage and screen.
The world Rowling created really was engaging, and I think her series might have taken its place alongside the greatest children's literature of all time had she not grown so resistant to editing.
The final five Potter novels appeared to me to have little or no editing. Each one should have been at least a third shorter, but when you're selling 450 million books, the publishing house is content to leave the author alone while it rings up the profits.
Even the bloated books proved superior to the films, which Rowling insisted adhere closely to her text. That miscalculation handcuffed the directors.
Originally, Steven Spielberg wanted to direct the first Potter film, but when he shared some of his ideas with Rowling, she was aghast. Too bad, because he might have been as creative on film as she was on paper.
I remember cautioning our kids, as we stood in line at the theater for the first movie, that a film treatment rarely equals the quality of the book. It didn't.
That's not to say the Potter movies were universally bad. They weren't. The characters were so engaging they often compensated for the inflated scripts.
Plus, many of the adult actors turned in memorable scenes. Maggie Smith in the final film, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, and Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort were quite good.
I also enjoyed watching Imelda Staunton play Dolores Umbridge, and cheered along with the rest of the audience when she was carried off by angry centaurs.
Truth is, I don't know why Rowling's shortcomings bother me so much. One night, as I strenuously voiced my complaints about her to my wife, she stared at me for a long moment before saying: "You're almost 60 years old and this stuff shouldn't matter to you. It's a children's series, after all."
At times, Mrs. Cuneo has a bit of Voldemort in her soul.
Rowling might be a hugely successful author, but she's a novice at screenwriting. That hasn't prevented Warner from giving her carte blanche. Most alarming was her comment after the studio suggested the idea for the movie: "I soon realized I could not entrust another writer with my creation."
Too bad, because every writer needs an editor.
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