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DON'T BOOKMARK 'READING ROOM'.

Byline: David Kronke Television Critic

GO FIGURE: Hallmark Channel's ``The Reading Room'' champions reading and great literature, yet it features awfully pedestrian, predictable, prechewed and digested story line and characterizations.

James Earl Jones stars as William Campbell, a wealthy widower who honors his wife's deathbed wish that he open a free reading room in his childhood neighborhood in the inner city. He transplants his vast library (which mainly looks like those rows of fake books you see in displays at furniture stores) to a modest corner shop, where he's met with indifference, ingratitude and even outright hostility.

(In one inadvertently comic moment, Georg Stanford Brown plays a local minister who virtually threatens him, Campbell's presence offends him so.)

Campbell's place is robbed and repeatedly vandalized and he's car-jacked (maybe his wife didn't love him as much as he thought and her request was payback from the grave). But slowly, and with an inevitability matched only by death and taxes, the community embraces him fully.

``The Reading Room's'' drama and sentiment are tissue-thin bordering on trite, with even its ostensibly gritty moments overly sanitized - the kids with that menacing hip-hop racket emanating from their low-rider are more clean-cut than the Thugs Lite of ``West Side Story.'' Performances are as perfunctory as the plotting. Read a book instead.

David Kronke, (818) 713-3638

david.kronke(at)dailynews.com

THE READING ROOM - Two stars

What: James Earl Jones stars as a widower who moves his vast library to the inner city.

Where: Hallmark Channel.

When: 8 tonight.

In a nutshell: Pedestrian, sanitized uplift. Read a book instead.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

William Campbell (James Earl Jones) gets a show of love and support from kids in ``The Reading Room,'' at 8 tonight on the Hallmark Channel.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 26, 2005
Words:292
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