LAST CALL: WB can't quite sweep broomstick controversy under therug

Been bothered by any interesting protest groups recently? Frankly,

we're getting a bit bored with hearing about animal or human rights

groups, so it amused us greatly to hear about Warner Bros. being raked

over the coals by ... witches.



It seems the trouble is the broomstick-riding style of a certain Harry

Potter. Perhaps you've heard of the lad? Well, in the preview to the

Chris Columbus movie due out November 16, one of the apprentice wizards

is shown riding his broomstick with - shock! horror! - the brush at the

back.



As any card-carrying Wiccan knows, proper broomstick riding is done with

the brush at the front.



Interestingly, the British White Witches, the group less than charmed by

the broomstick gaffe, says the error is not an uncommon one, citing the

1960s and 1970s television program Bewitched as another example of a

mistaken brush-backward broomstick.



When challenged to display proper broomstick flying techniques by

Reuters News, however, high priest Kevin Carlyon said his three

broomsticks were grounded because he couldn't get flight permits from

the British Civil Aviation Authority.



Besides their own experience, the British witches insist that 16th- and

17th-century woodcuts show broomsticks being ridden with the brush at

the front.



No word from Madame Hooch, Harry's teacher (played by British actress

Zoe Wannamaker), who shows the wizard-in-training how to use the

broomstick for the first time. Warner Bros.' PR wizards were similarly

mum, no doubt hoping this latest outburst can quietly, but quickly fly

away.



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