Quick Takes

Harry Potter fans are livid with Warner

Call it “Harry Potter and the Revolt of the Muggles.”

A day after Warner Bros. announced that it would be pulling the sixth “Potter” film off of its November release schedule and instead releasing it next July to take advantage of skimpy competition in the summer, fans of the popular franchise were lighting up the Internet with their rage Friday. Thousands signed online petitions, others organized boycotts and protests and a vast number expressed their reaction with tears or clenched fists.

At, more than 12,000 fans had signed a demand that “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” in postproduction in London, be returned to the long-promoted November date. Their posted comments made clear that Warner Bros. Chairman Alan Horn had, for a day at least, replaced Voldemort as the main villian in the hearts of “Potter” fans.

“They are doing this for no other reason than to make more money,” 25-year-old Brooklyn resident Patrick Allen wrote in an e-mail to The Times. “This is ridiculous and I assure you that the millions of Harry Potter fans who have been looking forward to this release will not stand for it.”

-- Geoff Boucher

Spears nominated for MTV award

After delivering one of the worst performances in the history of the MTV Video Music Awards, Britney Spears has a chance to be crowned this year as the absolute best.

The rebounding pop queen is nominated for video of the year for “Piece of Me,” a clip that had fun with her reputation as a tabloid queen. Other nominees included the Jonas Brothers for “Burnin’ Up,” Chris Brown for “Forever,” the Pussycat Dolls for “When I Grow Up” and the Ting Tings for “Shut Up and Let Me Go.”

Other nominees announced Friday -- Paramore, Fall Out Boy, Slipknot, Linkin Park and Foo Fighters -- were in the category of best rock video.

The awards will be handed out Sept. 7.

From the Associated Press

Madonna is an inspiration at 50

Sure, Madonna may have scandalized the Vatican and shocked nearly every parent in America at some point during her long and provocative career full of shrewd image transformations.

But as the Material Girl hits the half-century mark today, she may be stepping into a role that even she, with all her marketing savvy, might not have dreamed up: poster child for the 50-and-fabulous set.

Who cares about those recent tabloid headlines linking her to the Yankees’ A-Rod? Many women of a certain age look at Madonna and see a wonderfully fit, stylish, vigorous woman who’s made a fortune based on smarts, talent and ambition and who just keeps on going. Her latest world tour kicks off in Wales next weekend.

So how does Madonna feel about the occasion? The pop star is not speaking publicly about it, says her longtime publicist, Liz Rosenberg. “I’m sure she’s happy to be an inspiration to women and men of any age,” Rosenberg wrote in an e-mail. But the birthday, she noted wryly, “is not quite the benchmark for her as it seems to be in the media, who have been talking about her 50th since she turned 40!”

From the Associated Press

Portrait may be by Da Vinci

Experts say a little-known portrait of a young woman, previously attributed to an anonymous German artist, is likely a drawing made by Leonardo da Vinci.

The 13-by-9.4-inch parchment, which could be worth millions if the new attribution is confirmed, was bought in 1998 for $21,850 by a private collector at an auction in New York, said Alessandro Vezzosi, the director of a museum dedicated to the artist in his hometown of Vinci.

Vezzosi said several experts have backed the attribution over the last few months, but he cautioned that further tests, including carbon-dating, must still be carried out.

From the Associated Press

Pronouncing ‘Beijing’ correctly

In the shadow of Olympic venues, Brian Williams has anchored NBC’s “Nightly News” this week in a city he calls Bay-jing.

Yet Bob Costas, Meredith Vieira and many of NBC’s sports announcers seem to be working in a different, more exotic place: Bay-zhing.

So which is it?

Williams is right, if you talk to experts in the Chinese language. He’s even recorded something about the Beijing pronunciation puzzle for NBC’s website, although it doesn’t seem to be required viewing for everyone at the network.

From the Associated Press