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September 15, 1999 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-09-15

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 15, 1999 - 13

'Miss America' uses
new format, clothing

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'Amy' lays down the law of
legality and family relationships

Associated Press

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -
Eager to lure new viewers and des-
perate to bring back old ones, Miss
America has tried just about every-
ting to appeal to viewers in recent
ears.
She held a call-in poll on the
bathing suit competition She let
viewers choose their favorite contes-
tant. And she has tinkered endlessly
with nearly every aspect of the annu-
al live telecast from Convention
Hall.
Once a prime-time winner, the
pageant's Nielsen ratings have set
record lows in each of the past three
-ears. NBC-TV, which had carried it
or more than 40 years, gave up on it
in 1996. ABC hasn't had much suc-
cess, either.
Network and pageant officials are
trying another first this year, and it
just may work for the 79th annual
Miss America Pageant at 8 ptn on
Saturday.
ABC will air a one-hour special at
9 pm Thursday to introduce the 51
*omen vying for the crown.
"Up Close & Personal: The Search
for Miss America 2000," with Miss
America 1999 Nicole Johnson and
"Access Hollywood" anchor Nancy
O'Dell as hosts, gives brief profiles
of each contestant. The individual
segments showcase the women in
their own hometowns, talking about
their lives and their values-

The idea stemmed from an "up
close and personal" experiment in
last year's telecast. Videos of the 10
semifinalists, shot in their home-
towns, were incorporated into the
show. Viewers loved it, according to
Robert Beck, CEO of the pageant.
By expanding the idea into a
prime-time special airing two days
before the pageant itself, ABC and
the pageant hope to snag viewers
early and give them a reason to tune
in Saturday.
"This allows us to show the
dimensions of these women," Beck
says. "They're multifaceted, they're
well-educated, they're leaders and
they're active in charity groups and
in sports. Nobody knows that."
The three-hour pageant is airing at
8 p.m., instead of at 9p.m., in hopes
of attracting children who Beck says
make up a big part of the target audi-
ence. They won't have to wait until
midnight to find out who won.
The family orientation doesn't end
there. Siblings Donny and Marie
Osmond are the co-hosts this year,
bringing their apple-pie image to an
institution that prides itself on such
hokum. "The mere fact that this is
the final one of the century will
bring people to the table," says
Donny Osmond.
The contestants will wear all their
own clothes, not pageant-issue
"supersuits" or production number
costumes. "There are no cookie-cut-
ter patterns in the show," Margolis

AP PHOTO
A pageant hopeful practices her stuff,
says. "Each one of these kids is get-
ting the chance to express them-
selves as individuals. Everything you
see them in on the show is their own,
so they can let the audience know
who they really are."
That even goes for the shagadelic out-
fits worn by contestants in an "Austin
Powers" inspired video montage.
The segment, featuring a costumed
Mike Myers look-alike frolicking
with the contestants on the beach and
Boardwalk, is bound to raise some
hackles among pageant traditional-
ists. The sex-crazed superspy isn't
exactly the wholesome icon that
Miss America and the Osmends are.
Or is it the other way around?

Los Angeles 'I lops
In the pilot of CBS' new drama
series "Judging Amy," when Amy
Brenneman as the title character is
about to be sworn in as a superior
court judge in Hartford, Conn., some
rather sage advice is given her from
her social worker mother, Maxine
Gray, played by Tyne Daly.
The senior Gray, who, after all, has
appeared before the juvenile court
bench countless times, admonishes:
"Pee before you take the bench, don't
wear perfume, always make sure
there's no food in your teeth" and,
perhaps most significantly, "use your
instincts."
While the food bit is executive
producer-writer Barbara Hall's, the
rest is precisely what actress-execu-
tive producer Brenneman heard
growing up in Glastonbury, Conn., a
Hartford suburb, as the daughter of
Superior Court Judge Frederica
Brenneman. Dad is also a lawyer.
So when the chestnut-haired, gray-
eyed, Harvard-educated (class of
1987) actress - who was sexy offi-
cer Janice Licalsi on ABC's "NYPD
Blue" - decided she wanted to go
back into series television, she trust-
ed instinct, and partly modeled the
role after her mother.
With her colleagues - three of the
four executive producers are women
- Brenneman crafted the story of a
recently separated, singlemother of a
6-year-old (Karle Warren), who has
left a high-powered corporate prac-
tice in New York and high-powered-
lawyer husband and moved back
home. That puts three generations of

females under one roof, along with
Amy's floundering but talented
youtger brotherVincent (Dan
Futterman).
As the series opens, Brenneman's
character is experiencing emptiness.
"I go to Harvard Law, I excel, I do
this money law thing, and nothing
means anything," she said. "I see that
reflected in ay marriage, and so I go
home and start applying my legal
background to something with more
substance than making rich people
richer."
Brenneman dismisses compar-
isons to NBC's "Providence," which
also has a daughter giving up a high-
profile, big-city job to return home.
Besides the single mother aspect,
"Judging Amy" had its genesis
before "Providence" debuted last
season.
"About three years ago, my mother
had a big birthday, big decade
(70),"she said. "I made her a video-
tape. I went to the Hartford court and
spent about two days interviewing
people - social workers, lawyers,
probation officers. I thought, 'This is
a television show. But the cases are
so intense, especially of neglect and
abuse and incest, that it's got to have
the right tone. (It) has to be human
and funny, but these are better stories
than most of the ones I seeon televi-
sion.' So it did spark my brain."
Then last year, with several movie
projects ("Your Friends
&Neighbors," "Nevada") done,
Brenneman and producer Connie
Tavel refined the concept, and start-
ed pitching the series. Its lighter,

more human tone derives from the
mother-daughter interplay etweetn
Brenneman and !ialy, ais nell as the
atmosphere within the more infornal
juvenile court.
With pride, Brennenan notes that
her mother was in tie first graduat-
ing class at Harvard Law to admit
women in 1953, and the second
woman in Connecticut to get a
judgeship in 1967. "She wrote a lot
of the (case) laws that are in use
today about neglect and crack
babies..."
As a judge's daughter, Brenneman
witnessed the contrast between
courtroom and living room.
"I would watch my mother in her
robe - not unlike an actress on a
stage, and all of her most wonderful
qualities come out. She is the
smartest person in the room, she has
this incredible capacity for commu-
nication and compassion, and then
she takes off the robe and (it's):
'Where are the car keys? What are
we eating for dinner?"'
It's Daly's character, Maxine,
whot Brenneman says most reflects
her mother: "Maxine is a force of
nature. She loves her children fierce-
ly but can't always express it."
Daly, who says she's still trying to
figure out who Maxine really is, sees
"a sticky relationship with her
daughter..."
"What's emotionally clear to them
is their need for each other; what's
harder is the day-to-day of how their
personalities grate against each
other," she said.

Potter' finds many fans

Los Angeles Times
I happened to be sitting in an
English hospital theother day with my
nose in "Harry Potter and the
Chamber of Secrets" when an offi-
cious nurse spotted the children's
*aperbackin my hand and marched up
to me.
"You could at least read the adult
edition," she barked.
"I think that's hypocritical" I sput-
tered.
The nurse, whose children appar-
ently had long since grown intoadult-
hood, melted, a warm smile spreading
across her broad face.
"Oh, me too," she said. "I've read all
ree Harry Potterbooks."
It doesn't take a child or even the
slightest bit of magic, for that matter,
to figure out why the Harry Potter
books are such a hit with young and
old alike: The orphaned wizard fea-
tured in theseries is absolutely divine.
Author J.K. Rowling's third spell-
binding book, "Harry Potterand the
Prisoner of Azkaban," went on sale in
the United Stateslast week after a long
Wait for fans who hadn't already
shed tobuy it on the Internet. Or
who weren't lucky enough to have
friendssend them copies from Britain,
where it went on sale at exactly 3:45
one afternoon early this summer - a
time selected to avoidschool truancies
- and sold more than 60,000 copies
in the first three days.
That was more than the hungrily
awaited "Hannibal," Thomas Harris'
sequel to "The Silence of the Lambs,"
d more than any children's book in
e memory of British publishing.
In fact, the Harry Potter series is a
worldwide best sellerhaving been
published in 27 languages and made it
onto The New York Times list with
two books at once. The first Potter
book hit No. 1 on the Amazon.com list
nearly two months before it appeared
instores across the United States, with
the other two books on its heels.
,All told, the three books have sold
about 7.5 million copies worldwide
since the first one appeared in 1997.
The first two books, "Harry Potter and
the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Chamber
of Secrets," have been printed in more
serious-looking - dull - adult edi-
tions in Britain to reach childless read-
ers and adults who might fold under
the disapproving eye of nurses and
other strangers.
"We put out the adult editions after
* got a lot of fan mail saying that the
books had been pinched by parents
after bedtime reading," said
Rosamund de la Hey, head of chil-
dren's sales at the British publishing
house Bloomsbury. "There was
also a huge section of the population
that would notcome across the book in

the children's section, the 25-to-35-
year-old gap. And then there were the
people we heard aboutreading the
book on the train in the morning hid-
den behind the "Financial Times"
newspaper."
It is children, however, who truly
relish the books marketed for 9- to ItI-
year-olds. Kids read them over and
over, memorizing pages and acting out
parts.
"Children recognize the characters
and can empathize with them. They
have flesh and blood and are believ-
able," de la Hey said. "And it is a
school environment in which there are
no parents around, so they are full of
adventures."
For those who have not been fortu-
nate enough to read the books, Harry
Potter isa teen-age wizard who is both
underdog and hero. He was orphaned
as a 1-year-old by Voldemort - a
force so evil most only dare call him
You-Know-Who - who killed his
parents and left Harry with a light-
ning-bolt-shaped scar on his forehead.
He is scrawny, with rumpled dark
hair, and was raised by a mean, non-
magical aunt and uncle who never told
him about his special background.
Instead, they house him in a cupboard
under the staircase and give him such
holiday gifts as a coat hanger, tooth-
pick and an old sock of Uncle
Vernon's while his cousin Dudley gets
37 presents for his birthday.
On Harry's I1th birthday, wizards
seek him out to lead him to his destiny
- British boarding school. But not
just any boarding school. This is .
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and
Wizardry, founded in AD. 1000, with
the school motto "Draco Dormiens
NunquamTitillandus" (Never Tickle a
Sleeping Dragon). The school uni-
form is a black robe and black hat for
daily wear,with name tags, please.
Supplies include a caldron and magic
wand along with a hefty list of books .
for courses such as
PotionsTransfiguration and Combat
of the Dark Arts.
At school, Harry emerges as the
hero. Not only is he the best wizard of
his, generation, able to fight You-
Know-Who, but also the star of his
Quidditch team - a sport a lot like
soccer but played with four balls and
in the air, on broomsticks.
Making an appearance in the new
book are Dementors, frightening jail
guards from Azkaban who destroy
every happy memory one has ever had
and can suck out a human soul with a
kiss.
"They represent the coldness and
deadness of clinical depression,"
Rowling told The Telegraph Magazine
this summer. "Anyone who has had it
knows that feeling of emptiness. You

can'timagine not having it."
Rowling did. The books have been a
phenomenal success for the young
wizard's creator, whose rags-to-riches
success is almost as magical as Harry
Potter himself.
As an unemployed, divorced moth-
er, Rowling wrote her first book in
longhand over single cups of coffee in
Edinburgh cafes notable for the fact
that they were considerably warmer
than her poorly heated apartment. She
had about two hours at a stretch - the
length of her baby daughter's nap.
What she produced in those stolen
hours, and at night, is good, old-fash-
ioned storytelling in the British tradi-
tion of C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl,
absent the religion of Lewis and with
a few more morals than Dahl. The
result is a funny, quirky flight of fan-
tasy, a battle between good and evil in
which - so far - good prevails.
Harry Potter is a kind of modern
Peter Pan, except that Harry is grow-
ing up. He ages a year in each book -
he's 13 in "Prisoner ofAzkaban" -
and the series will end after seven
books, the length of time it takes to
graduate from Hogwarts.
Rowling told The Telegraph
Magazine that she doesn't believe
inwitchcraft, in "any of this, astrology,
alchemy, goblins, trolls,elves, man-
drakes, phoenixes, dragons, basilisks
-but it is a picturesque world. There's
poetry to it, and I have always found it
fun."
And she has spun gold out of words.
In addition to lucrative book sales, the
film rights to the first two books have
been soldto Warner Bros. for a reput-
ed seven-figure sum. At 33, Rowling
hasmoved into a three-bedroom house
with her 5-year-old daughter,where
she has to sequester herself from the
attention of the world's media and
fans.
Her life is getting brighter as she
plows ahead with the fourth Harry
Potter to me, but the books are getting
darker. You-Know-Who is stronger.
Harry discovers his hormones in book
four, and a death reportedly will take
place there.
"It is only by killing someone the
reader cares about that you will have a
sense of how evil it is to extinguish
human life," Rowling told The
Telegraph Magazine.
Children and parents need not
worry now. "The Prisoner of
Azkaban" is as delightful and uplift-
ing as the first two books. As for the
others, we'll all have to wait together.
Meanwhile, says de la Hey of
Bloomsbury, an unexpected offshoot
of Harry Potter's popularity is this:
"Apparently, applications from
American children to British boarding
schools have gone up."

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