ABC snags the ''Harry Potter'' broadcast rights |


ABC snags the ''Harry Potter'' broadcast rights

Plus, news about Danny DeVito, Drew Barrymore, Ben Stiller, Rob Schneider, ''Roswell,'' J.D. Salinger, John Knowles, and more news

Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, ...

(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: Peter Mountain)

TUBE TALK Apparently, J.K. Rowling forgot to mention the class at Hogwarts that teaches you how to make half your production costs vanish. ABC has paid a reported $60 to $70 million each for the broadcast rights to both ”Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and the currently shooting ”Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” or about half what each film cost to make. The deal gives ABC exclusive rights for 10 years to air the films on broadcast TV or on sister cable outlets ABC Family and Disney Channel….

REEL DEALS Danny DeVito has come aboard as director of ”Duplex,” replacing Greg Mottola (”The Daytrippers”), who bowed out of the black comedy for undisclosed reasons, in what Miramax calls a ”mutual and amicable decision.” The film, in which Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore will play a couple whose search for a prime Manhattan apartment turns lethal, will shoot in January. At least Mottola’s been keeping busy, directing episodes of Fox’s hit sitcom ”Undeclared.”…

After six years in development, ”Harv the Barbarian” may finally reach the gates. Rob Schneider wants to star in the DreamWorks picture, playing a less-than-Conanesque warrior, with production aiming for a June start. No doubt critic David Manning will love the movie even more than he did ”The Animal.”

The mysterious residents of ”Roswell” may leave the planet sooner than expected. UPN chief Dean Valentine said yesterday that, despite his network’s order for 22 episodes this year, he may cut the order back to 19 or even 13 episodes if the show’s less-than-astronomical ratings don’t improve.

TROPHY TIME After 22 years, the Golden Raspberry awards – traditionally given out a couple days before the Oscars in recognition of the year’s worst films and performances – may have their own network TV telecast. ”The last thing TV needs is another awards show – except this one,” says reality TV producer Bruce Nash, who bought the broadcast rights and is looking for a network to air a one-hour Razzie gala. Of course, it’s not clear what studios would lend film clips to such a show, much less which celebrities would dare appear. ”But if, say, Sylvester Stallone wins for ‘Driven,’ maybe [his brother] Frank will show up,” Nash tells Variety.

COVER TO COVER J.D. Salinger fans will get another chance to glimpse into the reclusive author’s life, as his daughter, Margaret Salinger, plans to auction off 32 of his letters to her. The letters and postcards, which Salinger sent to his daughter between 1959 and their estrangement in 1993, when she was 36, will be auctioned off by Sotheby’s next month and could fetch $250,000 to $350,000. A Sotheby’s spokeswoman says the letters reveal the ”Catcher in the Rye” author’s evolution ”from an utterly adoring father of a little girl to a distanced and remote man at odds in his attempts to connect with is daughter as an adult.” We’ll probably have to take her word for it, however, since it’s unlikely anyone but the buyer will ever get to read the letters. A few years ago, a Supreme Court decision prevented biographer Ian Hamilton from quoting Salinger’s letters, ruling that, no matter who owned the papers, Salinger owned the words. But Margaret Salinger aired plenty of her 82-year-old father’s dirty laundry in her memoir ”Dream Catcher” last year, portraying him as a neglectful dad who was obsessed with homeopathic medicine and drank his own urine. Author Joyce Maynard described her own teenage affair with the then 50-something author in her book ”At Home in The World” three years ago. A year later, Sotheby’s handled her auction of 14 letters from Salinger, raising $156,000, which Maynard said she needed to send her kids to college. The buyer said he would return the letters to Salinger.

PASSING NOTES Novelist John Knowles, best known for his 1959 prep-school classic ”A Separate Peace,” died Thursday after a short illness at a rest home outside Fort Lauderdale. He was 75.