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Wednesday, 29 March, 2000, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Columbus sets sail with Potter film
JK Rowling
JK Rowling thinks she's found her Potter in Northern Ireland
The man behind Home Alone and Mrs Doubtfire is to direct Harry Potter's Hollywood debut.

Chris Columbus is to head the team working on Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone, the first of four films based on JK Rowling's books to be made by Warner Bros.

Columbus said: "From the first time I read Harry Potter with my children, I fell in love with these wonderful characters and this world.
Chris Columbus
Chris Columbus: Scripted Gremlins and Goonies
"I'm thrilled and honoured to bring JK Rowling's classic story to the screen."

The film's British producer, David Heyman, said Columbus had been after the job for two years.

"His passion and enthusiasm are overwhelming. I know he will make a great film."

Columbus first made his name in Hollywood writing the scripts for Gremlins, Goonies and Young Sherlock Holmes. He also wrote, produced and directed Nine Months, starring Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore.

Filming on the much-anticipated film is expected to begin in the UK this summer.
Home Alone
Home Alone was another of Columbus' projects
Harry Potter made his debut in British bookshops in 1997 with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

In it, he is an 11-year-old who discovers he inherited magical powers from his parents - a pair of wizards who were killed by a powerful enemy.

Since then, JK's Rowling's character has become a publishing phenomenon selling millions of copies around the world, picking up both young and old fans.

She has script approval over the film project, and said: "If Warner Brothers do what they say they are going to do, then I think we are looking at a very faithful adaptation."
Harry Potter
The Harry Potter books have sold by the million
The role of Harry himself has yet to be cast, but the Edinburgh-based writer said she had met a "physically perfect Harry" while visiting Northern Ireland.

She said: "All his class mates had been apparently saying the same thing to him, but I don't know whether he can act, and a Northern Ireland accent might be a bit of a problem, but we could coach him."

Book four of the series of seven is due to hit the shops in July, which will see an older Potter distracted by girls.

Adolescent years

"Last time you met him he was 13. He's 14 now and he's started to realise girls are quite interesting.

"I tend to think that if someone is sufficiently engaged in one of the books, he's not going to be too disappointed if, at some point, his hero holds hands with a little girl."

On Tuesday, a primary school head teacher in Chatham, Kent, said she was banning pupils from reading the best-selling books because she felt they went against the Bible's teachings.

See also:

28 Mar 00 | Education
School bans Harry Potter
23 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Second-hand Potter bonanza
17 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Harry Potter books 'plagiarised'
04 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Harry Potter's Whitbread revenge
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