Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Goodbye, Howard

“‘Les Moonves is a snake!’ ranted talk show host Howard Stern on Nov. 15, just hours after the CBS president canceled Stern’s Saturday night TV show.

“Pro-family advocates hailed the move by CBS brass.

“‘It took over three years of our labors along with the efforts of several other organizations and the prayers and the letter writing of many of you, but finally, CBS dropped Stern’s Saturday night scourge of America’s airwaves,’ said American Decency Association (ADA) President Bill Johnson.

“‘Finally, the death knell has sounded for the televised “Howard Stern Radio Show,”’ said Parents Television Council (PTC) founder and President L. Brent Bozell. ‘Howard Stern never even came close to fulfilling his prediction that he would devastate his show’s competitors. Once the public saw the sewage that ‘Stern’ was offering, it wanted nothing to do with him.’

“During its three-year run, Stern’s television show has lost both advertisers and local affiliates.

“Congratulations to CBS for making the best programming choice of the fall television season.”

Martha W. Kleder, writing on “CBS Cleans House, Ousts Stern,” in the Nov. 21 issue of the Culture and Family Report

Empty stacks

“University libraries bring to mind undergraduates rooting through dusty stacks or sitting in reading rooms with their noses buried in tomes. These days, however, more and more students are entering libraries not through turnstiles but through phone lines and fiber-optic cables. Gate counts and circulation of traditional materials are falling at many college libraries across the country, as students find new study spaces in dorm rooms or apartments, coffee shops or nearby bookstore

“Clearly the burgeoning use of electronic databases has sent the buzz of library activity onto the Internet. The shift leaves many librarians and scholars wondering and worrying abut the future of what has traditionally been the social and intellectual heart of campus, as well as about whether students are learning differently now or learning at all.

“Library journals are publishing articles about the roles of the ‘old’ and ‘new’ libraries, and the tension expressed in those pages is almost palpable. Some librarians are fighting back with plush chairs, double-mocha lattes, book groups, author readings and even music. That mix works for Barnes & Noble, and it seems to be working at some colleges, too. But it costs money, and no one is sure whether it helps students learn.”

Scott Carlson, writing on “The Deserted Library,” in the Nov. 16 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education

Unmagical movies

“The anticipation surrounding ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,’ the film based on the book by J.K. Rowling has a lot more to do with commerce than with magic. It’s an ‘event’ movie in the same way that the ‘Star Wars’ movies are events. Few people expect these films to be classics in any real sense of the word. Instead, what is hoped for in the movie industry is something that is both more monumental and more mundane: a classic commodity.

“The commercialization of imagination is what Hollywood is best at, and worst at; a great fantasy film for children-of-all-ages can be a globally transporting experience, while a bad one can shut down an audience’s sense of wonder. What’s depressing about so many of Hollywood’s fantasy films is how distinctly unmagical they are.

“The filmmakers want to show us a magical world that is, at the same time, wholly believable. They want to create matter-of-fact miracles, but what they end up with is mostly just plain matter-of-fact.”

Peter Rainer, writing on “Harry Potter, Inc.” in the Nov. 19 issue of New York

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