Won't anybody listen to the "content kings" over at Warner Bros.? Despite the fact that they actually have plausible reasons for bumping Harry Potter to next year — i.e the writers' strike had left them with a summer 2009 slate that lacked a single tentpole release besides Terminator: Salvation — tongues are clucking that there simply must be ulterior motives at play. The latest to toss out a conspiracy theory is daffy Fox News columnist Roger Friedman, who puts the blame squarely on Daniel Radcliffe's barely legal shoulders:
The real story? Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe will be right in the middle of his sensational, highly publicized run on Broadway in the play, "Equus." Radcliffe appears naked in the play, on stage, and has sex in it as well. That's not the image Warner Bros. wants associated with bespectacled Harry, who remains chaste and virginal.
Indeed, posters for Equus are up all over New York, of Radcliffe's naked torso superimposed on a horse's head. This is not the sort of thing that's taught at Hogwarts. For the movie to open on Nov. 21, Radcliffe would have to do publicity entailing answering questions about blinding horses and having sex with them vs. flying around and making potions.
There's just one thing, Rog: this whole Equus brouhaha? Warner Bros. has already been through it. When Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out last summer, it was right on the heels of Radcliffe's first (underage!) Equus run in London, where the production began. By now, the nudity is old hat — in fact, reports are circulating that Radcliffe's Broadway run isn't causing as big a fuss as promoters had hoped. Forgive us, but for once we're going to believe the official line from the studio heads; after all, we can think of another dark installment in a long-running franchise that did gangbusters business in its mid-July release date this year...