Endemol U.K. to film event; MSN, Telecom to broadcast

LONDON — J.K. Rowling is to give a reading from her fifth “Harry Potter” book at London’s Royal Albert Hall that will go out live on the Internet in what is expected to be the biggest Web event of its kind.

The June 26 reading, five days after “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” is published, will be filmed by “Big Brother” producer Endemol U.K. and broadcast via MSN in conjunction with British Telecom.

Rowling will field questions from 4,000 children in the audience and many more worldwide at the event, hosted by “Potter” pic star Stephen Fry.

Nine million Web users logged into MSN’s live Webcast of Madonna’s London gig in 1999, although many fewer saw the show because servers had trouble coping with the demand.

Hopes are high for bigger numbers this time as “Harry Potter” is the most pre-ordered book in publishing history.

“This is an example of the Web doing more than TV could ever do,” said Peter Cowley, director of interactive media at Endemol.

“There isn’t a venue anywhere in the world that could host the millions of Harry fans,” said MSN marketing manager Tracy Blacher. “This is what the Web should be about — taking fans to the heart of the action whether they’re in Houston, Harrogate or Hong Kong.”

The free Webcast will be available at www.msn.co.uk/harrypotter.

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