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PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

Harry Potter: Everyone's Wild About Harry

Aired November 18, 2001 - 20:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, these days everyone's wild about Harry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harry is a universal hero.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: A hero who's just a boy with magical powers, and mischievous ideas.

Now the young wizard is making a move from the written page to the big screen. It's time perfect in a world in need of someone to vanquish evildoers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you want to try to help stop terrorism?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Now he's flying high in a movie of his own.

The story of Harry Potter, now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Harry Potter lives in a world of fantasy, in a place far, far away.

Just a boy, he's beloved and admired by millions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

DANIEL RADCLIFFE, ACTOR: Wow!

EMMA WATSON, ACTRESS: Will you be OK, Harry? You are a great wizard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is brave and adventurous, and he doesn't care what people tell him to do. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Harry is friendly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harry is not scared of anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Harry Potter is braver than anyone I've ever met.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harry's amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harry would try to help us stop missiles and stuff and terrorism, all around the world.

BURKHARDT: Indeed, the most famous boy in the world may have arrived at just the right time.

DAVID COLBERT, AUTHOR, "MAGICAL WORLDS OF HARRY POTTER": With recent events, children are obviously more frightened than ever. And it's fear of the unknown.

Harry suddenly represents the need to face fear and to conquer it. I do think that children are really going to find in Harry's story something that they need very much right now.

BURKHARDT: Harry's story is now Hollywood enchantment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The film was great.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I loved it.

BURKHARDT: "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" premiered November 4 in London.

CHRIS COLUMBUS, DIRECTOR: First and foremost, the characters and the themes, the courage, bravery, friendship, love -- all of those things are so important, as well as good overcoming evil.

SARAH FERGUSON, DUCHESS OF YORK: It's really important in this day and age with all that's going on that children should be allowed to dream.

BURKHARDT: The movie is based on the first of a series of novels chronicling the life of the young British wizard.

COLUMBUS: One, two, three, action!

BURKHARDT: Chris Columbus, the film's director, says Harry's best quality is his kindness, his decency.

But for all his goodness, Harry's life story begins sadly. It is believed he was born on July 31, 1980. A year later, he is an orphan. His father, James, a wizard, his mother Lilly, a witch, are murdered by an evil dark lord. Harry is bundled up and delivered to his aunt and uncle's home at 4 Privet Drive. With Harry, a letter explaining his tragic circumstance. COLBERT: He's the only person who have survived the killing curse. He's obviously an incredible powerful wizard. That's how he got his lightning scar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

RUPERT GRINT, ACTOR: You really have the scar? Wicked!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURKHARDT: There are also less visible marks, says Lee Williams, a fourth grade teacher.

LEE WILLIAMS, TEACHER: His loneliness, his isolation, the fact that he is an orphan, that he's been abused, physically and emotionally, by the Dursleys. And he's very much alone in the world.

BURKHARDT: While Harry comes from a dysfunctional family, he's also capable of extraordinary things, of magic. To his surprise, Harry discovers he can talk to shakes, infuriating his magic-fearing uncle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

RICHARD GRIFFITHS, ACTOR: What have you got to say for yourself?

RADCLIFFE: I swear I don't know how it happened! One minute it was there, and then it was gone. It was like magic!

GRIFFITHS: There is no such thing as magic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURKHARDT: But magic always finds Harry. A scene in the film, a very special invitation arrives at 4 Privet Drive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

RADCLIFFE: Dear Mr. Potter, we are pleased to inform that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of witchcraft and wizardry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

COLTRANE: Come this way, please, come on out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURKHARDT: Hagrid, a gentle giant, is Harry's guide to all things magic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

COLTRANE: You are a wizard, Harry.

RADCLIFFE: I'm a what?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURKHARDT: Soon, Harry is buying school necessities -- strange books, potion ingredients, and of course, a wand.

In September of 1991, Harry, now 11, embarks on his brand new life, as captured in the film.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

RADCLIFFE: Can you tell me where I might find platform 9 3/4?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 9 3/4? You think you are being funny, do you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a few moments, you will pass through these doors and join your classmates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURKHARDT: But at Hogwarts, Harry's troubles are not behind him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

ALAN RICKMAN, ACTOR: Mr. Potter, our new celebrity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURKHARDT: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continue, a look at Harry's creator, and the mini-monsters she created to terrorize our Harry.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURKHARDT: Person who knows Harry Potter inside and out is J.K. Rowling. On a train journey in 1990, Rowling says Harry popped into her life.

J.K. ROWLING, AUTHOR, "HARRY POTTER" SERIES: It came very suddenly, the idea for this boy who didn't know what he was until he was 11, and then he got this invitation to go off to wizard school. And I had this very physical response to the idea, I just felt so excited, I just thought it would be such fun to write.

BURKHARDT: While the English countryside flew by, images of Harry, Hermione, Ron, Hagrid and even Hogwarts materialized.

Like Harry, Rowling would come to know misery. In 1993, she moved to Edinburgh, Scotland. Divorced, she was a single mother with an infant daughter. Depressed and on public assistance, Rowling says she wrote about Harry to keep sane. Rowling would flee her dreary apartment for coffee houses, where she filled note books with Harry's story. The young boy became her knight in shinning armor.

ROWLING: I never dreamt Harry Potter was going to be the thing that saved us. Harry Potter was my personal ambition, and I often felt selfish for pursuing it.

BURKHARDT: The pursuit was a long one. It took Rowling, who had never had anything published before, five years to write book one, and then another year to find a publisher.

In 1997, Rowling's quest was successful.

ROWLING: By anyone's standards and certainly by mine, I'm not rich.

BURKHARDT: There are more than 100 million "Harry Potter" books in print worldwide. Rowling is working on book five in the series now.

Harry's story is published in at least 47 languages, from Albanian to Zulu. Harry's made the multi-millionaire Rowling one of the wealthiest women in Britain. And while she remains uneasy in public, Harry is very visible.

COLBERT: Harry is recognized everywhere he goes as a hero.

BURKHARDT: David Colbert is the author of "The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter." He says Harry, as well as the creatures he meets, are not unique.

COLBERT: Many of the creatures in the books come out of J.K. Rowling's imagination, and they're wonderful creatures. But also, many of them come from myths and literature and legend.

BURKHARDT: For instance, Harry's pal Hedwig.

COLBERT: Owls are the mail carriers in Harry's world. There's something about carrying the mail. It's almost as if they know, they know who the message is from, they know what it's about. Owl were the emblems of the goddess Minerva, who was also the goddess of wisdom.

BURKHARDT: Hedwig is named for St. Hedwig, the patron saint of orphans -- orphans like Harry.

And one can't forget Fluffy.

COLBERT: Cerberus is a three-headed dog in Greek mythology who guards the underworld. Well, it just so happens that a three-headed dog guards the sorcerer's stone in the first of the "Harry Potter" adventures.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

RICHARD HARRIS, ACTOR: Let the feast begin. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURKHARDT: And there's another link to mythology.

COLBERT: We've met Albus Dumbledore before. He's like Merlin. He has the long gray beard the long, flowing hair, and he dresses in robes. He's old, he's wise, he's somewhat mysterious. But his first name, Albus, it's the Latin word for white. So of course he's fighting the dark forces, the forces of evil. And it's the perfect name for a wizard who's doing that.

BURKHARDT: And don't forget the troll, the giant...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

COLTRANE: First years, come this way, please, come on out!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURKHARDT: And the Phoenix that rises from the flames. But it's Harry himself who is most legendary.

COLBERT: Harry is a universal hero. He's a hidden monarch, like King Arthur was. He was hidden away as a child so that he will be protected. He doesn't even know that he's a great wizard.

BURKHARDT: All heroes go on adventures and receive magical charms, like Harry does in the film.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

GRINT: Let's see them. Put it on. Wow!

RADCLIFFE: My body is gone!

GRINT: I know what that is. It's an invisibility cloak.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLBERT: Heroes have always had friends who help them, or they have friends with special skills. Luke Skywalker didn't go anything without R2D2 and C3PO.

BURKHARDT: And our hero, Harry, goes nowhere without Ron and Hermione. As seen in the film, he can't move forward without them.

While Harry may follow in King Arthur's footsteps, most of his young fans missed the legendary nuance.

WILLIAMS: I think the children all see Harry as a hero, but in the very simplest of the forms. He's the Superman of Hogwarts. He rescues his friends. He saves the day. He always come out on top.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to your first flying lesson. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURKHARDT: Coming up next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, will Harry's magic be strong enough to launch a billion-dollar franchise?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURKHARDT: The orphan boy who grew up to be a wizard is now famous around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harry had a thin face, black hair and bright green eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Three, two, one, Harry Potter!

BURKHARDT: Obsessed fans lined up at the midnight hour to get hold of J.K. Rowling's latest "Harry Potter and the Goblin of Fire." The fourth and latest book in the "Harry Potter" series burned up records left and right. The biggest advance order ever, biggest printing ever, biggest takeover ever of the "New York Times" bestseller list.

Hollywood was salivating, but Warner Brothers had already bitten. The film studio had secured rights for the first three Harry books at the bargain-basement price of $700,000.

DANIEL FIERMAN, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": They are expecting to roll naked in hundreds of millions of dollars. You know, I mean, this is it for Warner Brothers.

BURKHARDT: Daniel Fierman is with "Entertainment Weekly," like Warner Brothers and CNN all part of the AOL Time Warner company.

FIERMAN: If you're a movie studio, the thing you want more than anything else is a franchise. I mean, you can go back to it again and again and get all sorts of ancillary revenues streams from it. The merchandise, the tie-ins, the Coke bottles, the games, the blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

BURKHARDT: Warner Brothers got the hoped-for franchise deal by promising the anxious J.K. Rowling that they would stay true to her story.

COLUMBUS: I will say one, two, three and action, the food appears!

When I first met her, I said, "the thing I want to do is shoot this film in England using an all-British cast and be as faithful to the book as possible." And she said, "well, you obviously want to make the same type of film that I do."

BURKHARDT: Columbus, an American director, has effectively moved to London until the end of the Harry occupation.

FIERMAN: If Chris Columbus blows this, he's always going to be the guy who screwed up Harry Potter, you know. If Chris Columbus pulls this off, then, you know, he's got work for the next five years.

BURKHARDT: Millions are counting on Columbus to show them Harry Potter's world, but only one person knows exactly what that looks like.

FIERMAN: Chris Columbus turned to Rowling every time for details. She did everything from mapping out positions of all the buildings at Hogwarts to describing exactly how costumes go. How the Hogwarts crest was designed. And this is all in her head.

The fact that she was on the set and was being consulted every step of the way is bizarre, and probably makes her the envy of every author who's ever had his or her work adapted by Hollywood.

BURKHARDT: But Hollywood still hadn't found their Harry.

ROWLING: We're looking for Harry. I did actually meet my physically perfect Harry in Northern Ireland. I was just talking to group of about 200 kids and doing a reading, and, you know, I kept looking up as I was doing the reading, and then I looked dead center, and he was just sitting there, staring at me, and I completely lost my place. I went, "Harry!"

BURKHARDT: A look-alike, but not an actor. So the search continued.

FIERMAN: Finding Harry Potter was incredibly difficult. It took months and months and months. They saw thousands of children.

BURKHARDT: Only weeks before the cameras were to roll, 12-year- old actor Daniel Radcliffe was finally cast to play the literary hero.

RADCLIFFE: I have read the least of Harry Potter in my class (UNINTELLIGIBLE) did get the part somehow.

BURKHARDT: As the star, Radcliffe is atop a very big giant of a movie. It's a ton of pressure, but the young actor handled it well, with the director's help.

RADCLIFFE: Chris Columbus has been fantastic, and he's lifted all the pressure off my shoulders. Whether he's aware of this or not, he has done so.

FIERMAN: If these movies are as successful as everybody seems to think they're going to be, then Daniel Radcliffe is Harry Potter, I mean, now and forever.

BURKHARDT: Child labor laws were adjusted to help Radcliffe and his Hogwarts friends get their magic work done, but shooting on the first "Harry Potter" film still lasted 100 days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep an eye on the staircases. They like to change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURKHARDT: It's hard to say just how much all the Hollywood hocus-pocus cost.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was bloody brilliant!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLBERT: Let's just say it cost over $125 million. It was extremely expensive. There is a lot of special effects work. They put a lot of money into the feature to make sure that the movie looked good. It was really, really pricey?

Will they make their money back? Absolutely.

BURKHARDT: A Coke in Harry combo has already brought Warner Brothers $150 million in a promotional partnership. Rowling, Harry's creator, knows product spin-offs are critical to a children's movie, but was wary of selling out her young hero.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COKE AD)

NARRATOR: And you can experience the magic of Harry Potter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURKHARDT: But once the movie was OK'ed, the merchandise flowed. There's Harry, Hagrid, Fluffy, Hedwig, Scabbers the Rat, lunch boxes, CDs, trading card -- everything and anything from Harry's world, including (UNINTELLIGIBLE) every flavor beans.

FIERMAN: He will be inescapable. We haven't seen the tip of the iceberg yet.

BURKHARDT: At what point will children tire of looking at life through Harry-tinted glasses? Not soon, hopes Warner Brothers. The film studio has bought the rights to Rowling's next three books, Harry's entire life story.

While no one but J.K. Rowling knows for sure what's in Harry's future, it's clear that Harry Potter, once a mere literary legend, is on his way to screen stardom.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it is clear that we can expect great things from you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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