Jealous Muggles Hit Back

It had to happen, of course. With the Harry Potter series rocketing to the top of the list of literary blockbusters, other authors are beginning to take some nasty little swipes at Potter scribe J.K. Rowling. The latest entry in the bash-Harry sweepstakes comes from Booker Award-winning author A.S. Byatt, who calls Rowling’s work derivative, simple-minded, and composed “for people whose imaginative lives are confined to TV cartoons, and the exaggerated (more exciting, not threatening) mirror-worlds of soaps, reality TV and celebrity gossip.”

The End Of TV Advertising As We Know It?

New tracking data obtained by monitoring Tivo users suggests that TV advertising will be turned upside down. “This is the beginning of the end of that drunken orgy of dollars spent on broadcast TV as the ultimate ‘reach’ vehicle. Certain genres of programming are ‘stickier’ than others. The report said big-budget situation comedies and dramas tend to have the lowest retention and commercial-viewing rate because couch potatoes tend to record them and skip through the commercials rather than watch them live. Reality TV, news, and event programming such as the Oscars telecast, on the other hand, do significantly better at getting viewers to see the commercials.”

Radio The Way You Like It

A new streaming radio station in London attempts to gather data about what each listener likes and doesn’t like and tailor its music playlists. “Here’s how it works for Users can either fill out a profile or just begin listening. If a song plays to the end, the system logs this as a thumbs up. But if the user doesn’t like a song and hits the Change button in the player, it’s marked as a thumbs down. Over time, a preference profile is built.”

Choking On Blockbusters

Are audiences getting weary of blockbuster movies? “Except for “Finding Nemo,” “Bruce Almighty” and “X2,” virtually every mega-movie released since May has failed to live up to its hype at the box office – if it hasn’t tanked altogether. And even some movies with record openings – like “The Hulk,” which set the all-time mark for June – suffered steep second-week drops (70 percent for “The Hulk”), suggesting audiences are suffering from ever-shorter attention spans. Overall, ticket sales this summer are off a whopping 7 percent from last year.”

BBC To Launch New Writing Talent Competition

“This autumn the BBC is to help launch a groundbreaking nationwide talent competition. The project, designed as a cross between Pop Idol and the BBC’s current literary initiative, The Big Read, will take BBC writers and producers to theatres and public venues in 12 cities and towns across Britain in search of hidden writing talent. Six of the BBC’s leading television writers will go out to meet and advise hopeful entrants on their work, before five final winners are selected.”

What Would He Be Today, Shakespeare?

“If Shakespeare were alive today, there’s no telling what his place in pop culture might be. Musically, he might be another tattoo-branded Eminem or Tupac Shakur, scribbling out reams of rhymes on barroom cocktail napkins (but with a decidedly broader world view). If he gravitated toward TV, he likely would be found on HBO, cranking out barrier-breaking scripts as prolifically as Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing”) or David E. Kelley (“Boston Public”). Or perhaps the Bard would helm a show like “Law and Order,” a popular series just as well-known for, shall we say, borrowing plot lines. But given the visceral way with which Shake- speare toyed with universal human emotions, he would probably be most at home as a cutting-edge filmmaker.”

Illegal Art On Purpose

“Illegal Art, which opened last week at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Artists Gallery, showcases a variety of works that push the restrictions of current trademark and copyright laws. The exhibit is intended to illustrate the limits that such laws impose on artists’ freedom of expression…”

The Rise Of The Neo-Con Press

“New York is currently witnessing a mirror version of the birth of feminist publishing with a surge in neo-conservative (neo-con) imprints. Both Penguin Putnam and Crown have recently announced plans to launch lists specifically devoted to Rightwing material. Bookspan, which runs Book of the Month Club, has declared the formation of an as yet unnamed new club devoted to conservatism. The Right wing, which controls the presidency and both houses of Congress, is experiencing a delicious rush of popularity, and publishing – an opportunist business if ever there were one – is responding to this powerful trend.”

Was Stonehenge A Giant Vagina?

Why was the Stonehenge constructed? It’s long been a mystery. “A University of British Columbia researcher who has investigated the great prehistoric monument for several years has announced he has uncovered its true meaning: it is a giant fertility symbol, constructed in the shape of the female sexual organ. ‘There was a concept in Neolithic times of a great goddess or Earth Mother, Stonehenge could represent the opening by which the Earth Mother gave birth to the plants and animals on which ancient people so depended’.”