Broadway on TV; Harry Potter flick

Pay per view, that slightly seedy side of cable TV known mostly for offering high-priced one-time "events" like boxing and wrestling matches, is going on Broadway.

Announced this week, the Broadway Television Network (BTN) teams players with backgrounds in both TV and theater. Just as important, it has secured agreements from Broadway unions to allow the broadcasts.

BTN aims to deliver live, one-time showings of Broadway hits (though it's first offering, "Smokey Joe's Cafe," will be on tape).

Live theater on TV is hardly a new idea, stretching back at least to CBS's "Playhouse 90" in the 1950s. But the rap has always been that the tube can never recreate the visceral experience of attending a live performance.

Though BTN concedes it can't exactly duplicate a front-row-center seat, it says technological advances can close the gap. The performances will be broadcast in the new, crystal-clear high-definition TV (HDTV) format and in surround-sound stereo, taking advantage of the sophisticated home-entertainment centers many people have in their living rooms today.

Numerous cameras, including backstage, will catch the action in ways a viewer in the audience never could. The broadcast will be preceded by a 30-minute behind-the-scenes preshow and offer other features at the intermission.

Who better to bring that schoolboy wizard, Harry Potter, to the big screen than Steven Spielberg?

The London Times reported this week that Spielberg has edged aside a long list of top directors vying for the project. The movie, which may be live action or computer-generated, will be based on "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," the first of a trilogy of phenomenally successful children's books by J.K. Rowling.

The movie will not be made by Spielberg's own DreamWorks studio, but by rival Warner Bros.

The director of "Schindler's List," "Jaws," "E.T.," and "Jurassic Park" will have to delay a long list of other projects to film the Potter fantasy, featuring souped-up flying broomsticks, invisibility cloaks, and a three-headed dog. Spielberg's other potential films include "A.I.," based on a story outlined by late director Stanley Kubrick; "Minority Report," a Tom Cruise vehicle; a script based on the popular book "Memoirs of a Geisha"; and a biography of aviator Charles Lindbergh.

Speaking of DreamWorks, an alert reader pointed out that on Jan. 7 this column failed to credit that studio with making the animated feature "The Prince of Egypt" (we said it was another studio, the one with the mouse). To set the record straight: DreamWorks did indeed dream up "The Prince."

*Send your comments on Arts & Leisure to entertainment@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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