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1. Happy Halloween! New Umbridge Story from J.K. Rowling

As a Halloween treat, J.K. Rowling has released her new story detailing Dolores Umbridge’s personal history. The story can be found in the “Dolores Umbridge” chapter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. J.K. Rowling gives light to the parents Umbridge is so ashamed of, and tells of her back-stabbing climb up the ranks at the Ministry of Magic. Visit Pottermore now, to read the exciting full story!

 

Halloween is a very important holiday throughout the Harry Potter books–from a troll in the dungeon, to a Death Day Party, to the first Hogsmeade visit of the year. Halloween is cause for huge celebration in J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world. One can enjoy a great feast at Hogwarts, in a Great Hall decorated with Hagrid’s extra giant pumpkins. From all of us at Leaky, we would like to wish everyone a very Happy Halloween! Please share with us your favorite Potter Halloween stories below in the comments!

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2. Daniel Radcliffe Answers Fan Questions on Reddit

Dan Radcliffe participated in an AMA today on Reddit and answered fan questions about filming the Harry Potter series and more. You can see the questions and answers here, but please be advised that there is strong language throughout.

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3. J.K. Rowling releasing new Umbridge short story

Pottermore has announced that J.K. Rowling intends to give us a treat, instead of a trick, this Halloween. Our favorite author has penned new material to add to Professor Umbridge’s character profile on Pottermore. The new addition will be a 1,700 word back story of the infamous Dolorous Umbridge. The update post on Pottermore reads:

 

“Umbridge is not only one of the most malicious Potter characters, she is the only person other than Lord Voldemort to leave a permanent physical scar on Harry. The new exclusive J.K. Rowling content provides a rich, 1,700-word back story about Umbridge’s life filled with many new details, as well as Rowling’s revealing first-person thoughts and reflections about the character.”

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4. J.K. Rowling dispels rumors on Twitter

J.K. Rowling took a writing break today to make a short visit to Twitter, her first since unleashing a riddle upon her followers. She tweeted this morning to dispel any rumors of her partying it up in a London bar, as she celebrated handing in a “romance novel” to her publishers. J.K. Rowling denied being finished with any projects, or that she was even working on a romance novel. She joked that she was “rock and roll” and did like to enjoy a drink even when she hasn’t finished a book, as it is her right to do so. The “Rowling stone,” as one follower punned, said:

 

There’s a story in today’s Mail that I was in a London bar on Monday ‘celebrating’ handing in a ‘romantic novel’ to my publishers…

1) I haven’t handed in ANY kind of novel to my publishers. I’m only half way through my current book. 2) It isn’t a ‘romantic’ novel.

And 3) (brace yourselves) I sometimes have a drink even when I haven’t finished a book. Yes, that’s how rock and roll I really am.

well you are a Rowling Stone…. That was a horrid pun, wasn’t it?

 · 17h

. One of my old classes (when I was teaching) used to sing the theme from Rawhide at me. The memory still makes me laugh.

Back to work now. See you when I’ve finished something X

 

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5. WB Confirms David Yates to Direct “Fantastic Beasts,” Will Be a Trilogy

Yesterday, Warner Bros. confirmed that the first “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” film will be directed by David Yates, who directed the final four Harry Potter films. Producers David Heyman and Lionel Wigram, and screenwriter Steve Kloves will also be back for “Fantastic Beasts.”

As reported previously the films will be a trilogy, with release dates in 2016, 2018, and 2020.

You can read more here.

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6. MUDBLOODS Interview

We reviewed MUDBLOODS, a documentary about the UCLA Bruins Quidditch team and their dream of competing in the 2011 Quidditch World Cup in NYC. It was a pretty great film. Today, MUDBLOODS is officially available to the world, with a digital release available at mudbloodsmovie.com. We recently had the chance to do a Q&A with the director of MUDBLOODS, Farzad Sangari. Without further adieu, here are his answers to all of our pressing questions:

1) How do you think the Quidditch scene differs from other subcultures?

Sub-cultures in general have a lot in common because they are isolated as being different or “other” than mainstream culture.  I think what makes quidditch unique however is that the Harry Potter series is such a recognizable part of mainstream culture.  Everybody knows what is, or at the very least has heard about it.  They might not know what quidditch is, but they know where it came from and that immediately affects their view of it – either positively or negatively.   I found there wasn’t much middle ground.  I think what differentiates the quidditch scene is that in the face of this cultural phenomenon, they are looking to distinguish themselves as something distinct.   Added on top of that is the fact that they are also fighting for legitimacy as a sport within the sporting world.  In the end, I think the quidditch sub-culture, like any group that is marginalized, labeled and misunderstood, deserves a chance to be presented in a true and honest way.

2) What challenges did you face as an outsider trying to capture this form of fan culture?

I think another thing that makes quidditch unique is how open and inviting the people associated with it are.  They actively desire to share quidditch with anyone who is interested because they know they’ve created something special.  Being an outsider was something I was initially very concerned about because I didn’t want the players, organizers and fans to feel like I was coming at it with any pre-determined agenda.   That’s happened to them in the past, which makes how open and inviting they continue to be even more revealing about their character.   However, once the people I met understood where I was coming from, I developed such strong relationships with them that there were no issues in terms of access.

3) What was it like making the film, knowing there was a very real chance that the Bruins wouldn’t win the World Cup?

This was the first time a good number of west coast teams went to the World Cup, so there was definitely a risk that the team might not do well.  We didn’t really know what would happen.  Nobody knew, but that’s what made it exciting.  We also got lucky in who the team was matched up against and how dramatic the games were.  If this wasn’t a documentary, and UCLA played the teams they ended up playing, and the results ended up the way they did, I think it would actually feel fake.  But the fact that it was real made the journey that much more incredible.
4) Similarly, how do you think the narrative of defeat and perseverance in the face of loss speaks to the greater quality of Quidditch?

One of the things that most impressed me about quidditch was the level of sportsmanship I observed not just on each team, but between the teams.  All the teams are part of this larger community so they share a level of understanding with each other that supersedes the outcome.  That doesn’t mean they don’t want to win because they very clearly do, and they are willing to sacrifice themselves for their teammates in remarkable ways.  Yet, because of the idiosyncratic nature of the game, and also I think because of its connection to Harry Potter, there’s a strong level of respect even amongst the teams that play the hardest against each other.   In terms of dealing specifically with defeat, I think the UCLA team (and I think this stems from the way Tom Marks, their captain, ran the team) provides a wonderful example of how sports approached in this manner can shape your life in positive and meaningful ways.

5) What has the reception to the title of the film been like?

Overall the reception to the title has been positive especially among quidditch players who are very self-aware and approach their sport with as much humor as competitiveness.  I understand that some fans of the series have expressed concern about the title.  They are as passionate and protective about the series as quidditch players are about their sport because both of these things have had a profound impact on their lives.  However, it’s important to note that while the series and the sport are connected, they are also distinct.  Moreover, if you watch the film, you will see right away that we are not using “mudblood” in its original, derogatory tone.   It is being adapted to fit the needs of this film in a new context in the same way that this group of brash yet imaginative individuals have adapted a fictional game based on magical elements into a new, real-life sport.

6) Any funny stories from filming/behind the scenes?

One thing that was an inside joke for us as we were shooting in New York is that the location of the World Cup, Randall’s Island, is a place with a lot of athletic fields that also hosts large outdoor events and concerts.  Yet the island also happens to be the home of a massive sewage treatment plant as well as a psychiatric hospital.  Both of these are very near the fields where they held the tournament.  We thought this (especially the psychiatric hospital) was an amusing backdrop for an event where thousands of spectators came to watch hundreds of quidditch players run around on broomsticks.  I tried to put as many shots of the hospital into the film as I could.

7) Was everybody with the Bruins/IQA cool about the idea of doing the documentary? Were there any fears of misrepresentation?

I think I answered this with question #2 … but overall the team was very cool.  This is because of the way Tom brought us in.  We essentially became part of the team.  We were at every practice, scrimmage, and event they had, so by the time we went to New York with them, the team had already accepted us as part of the group.

8) Anything you wish could have made it into the film but had to be cut?

We actually have some extra content available at mudbloodsmovie.com of things we could not fit into the movie for a variety of reasons.  My personal favorite is the Wizards With Attitude clip.  This is a little more background on the wizard rap group in the film.

9) You obviously spent a huge amount of time on this film. So after everything, how has Quidditch, and perhaps the greater Harry Potter fandom even, changed the way you view the world? Has it?

This experience has had a big impact on me personally.  I was exceedingly impressed by the passion I witnessed from everyone involved in the film. This includes quidditch players, organizers and fans of both the sport and of Harry Potter.  All of the people I met shared a willingness not only to commit themselves to what they cared deeply about, but to do so openly and without reservation.  It’s easy to be moved and inspired by people with that kind of confidence.

10) I heard Harry and the Potters playing in the background of the film a few times. Did you actually get a chance to see them play at all, or was this pure happenstance?

This was more by happenstance.  There was a stage at World Cup V and we did shoot some stuff from the performers who attended; however, my shooting partner, Jason Knutzen, and I were primarily focused on getting everything we could from the three storylines we were following; the team, Alex and Katie.

We’d like to thank Mr. Sangari for taking the time to answer all of our questions. You can learn more about the film at mudbloodsmovie.com.

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7. First Look at Dark Arts Expansion at WB Studio Tour

Readers may recall that the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London will be receiving its first permanent addition since it opened in 2012. This addition will focus on the Dark Arts and includes an expansion of Malfoy Manor, a model of Nagini, props from Borgin and Burkes, and a model of Umbridge’s office along with her costumes:

 

Previously not much more than a fireplace, the Malfoy Mansion set has had a serious revamp. The huge fireplace is lit up, with two vast chandeliers casting shadows over a number of unpleasant additions. Suspended above the table is the film’s model of Charity Burbage, the unlucky Hogwarts professor (uncanny, down to the ladders in the foot of her tights) while poised by the Death Eaters is the huge model of Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, which Bohanna and his team made specially for the exhibit.

The original latex Nagini had deteriorated, and this new model is made of hardier stuff: urethane skin and foam. “Basically what you have in your sofa cushions,” says Bohanna, “so it’s soft and easy to pose.”

The Dark Arts exhibit, like the wider tour, is a real show of imagination, creativity and talent. The Horcruxes, items where Voldemort stored parts of his soul, are displayed in a well-locked cabinet. As with many Potter props, huge numbers had to be made: 40 lockets, for example. “Jonathan, who made them, only thought he’d be making two or three. He ended up spending five months,” says Bohanna.
Stunts and close-ups present different requirements: the display version of the basilisk fang used to destroy Tom Riddle’s notebook is a rubberised one designed not to hurt if you accidentally stab yourself with it.

You can read more about the new additions here. The Dark Arts expansion opens on October 14th.

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8. PotterCast 255: Equality FTW!

New PotterCast! It’s not about those dang tweets of JKRowling’s – that’s coming soon. While we wait to tear apart that bit of juicy Fantastic Beasts news, we have a very special episode about an organization we haven’t discussed in detail in seven years here on PotterCast. Seven years! Insane. The HPA has been flourishing in that time and now has become a global organization that turns fans into heroes.

Learn about how the organization has been changing the world, how fans are becoming heroes, and how you can help right now by going to EqualityFTW.org and getting some kick-ass stuff.

We also talk about Emma Watson at the UN, the future of the Leaky Cauldron and PotterCast…and more! Special host Paul DeGeorge joins in, and we hear from several more members of the HPA!

Update your iTunes feed (which you can subscribe to at this link) or download the episode right here! And, we’ll be back with another episode very soon!

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9. MUDBLOODS Review

I have played Quidditch. Yes indeed. At LeakyCon 2014, I put a broom between my legs and played Chaser in the LeakyCon vs. Harry Potter Alliance Quidditch match. I understood the concept of Quidditch before that point. I had a vague idea of the rules. But until I played in that grueling 20 minute match, I had absolutely no idea how much physical exertion is involved in the game.

Quidditch is a marathon sport. You don’t stop ’til you drop, or until someone catches the snitch, and playing the game myself gave me so much more respect for those who do it professionally. And so imagine my delight when I was given the opportunity to screen the upcoming documentary MUDBLOODS, which follows the saga of  the UCLA Bruins Quidditch team and their dream of playing in the 2011 Quidditch World Cup in New York City.

I had a lot of thoughts about what the film would or could be like going in, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the end. MUDBLOODS is not a perfect film, but it does manage to capture the visceral thrill of the sport, and help outside audiences to understand just exactly what something like this can mean to people.

First, let’s talk about the name. I still can’t decide whether I like it or not. To an outsider, the word Mudblood has no connotation at all, it means nothing- certainly not something associated with wizards, sports, or wizardly sports. For us magical types, it has a decidedly unsavory note- being, by definition, a slur based around blood purity. In the context of the film, it makes some sense- the people involved in this sport are people from a non-magical background bringing something magical to life. But that conveniently ignores that the term ‘Muggleborn’ is the correct way to refer to people with magic that have no wizarding parentage.

This is but one of many parts of the film where the filmmakers struggle with their outsiders’ perspective, and it really is one of the main flaws of the movie, as far as I’m concerned. The film, and by extension some of the people who play Quidditch, cannot decide whether they are nerds for playing a sport on broomstick or not, and whether they should be proud or ashamed of this. And so the film takes the pride and shame in equal measure- focusing on the frustrations of the players and the IQA to be taken seriously by other athletes- but also giving attention to the caring and supportive community that surrounds the sport, where players don’t judge each other and are proud to be who they are.

I’ve seen documentaries about Potter before. We Are Wizards focuses on the Potter phenomenon at large and was directed by somebody also from the outside, seeking to understand the cultural power of the Potter universe. It was fantastic. Similarly, The Wizard Rockumentary was a documentary focusing solely on the fandom-specific wonder of wizard rock. It was made by fans and for fans, and also captured an excellent and unique angle. So I’ve seen this done before. And in both cases, the filmmakers handled the subject well. In The Wizard Rockumentary, it was with the loving reverence of fans. In We Are Wizards, it was with the respect and admiration of an outsider seeking to understand. I’m not sure that MUDBLOODS aspires to the respect of these two films in its tone, and it may be because the people involved in the film are not so unified as our wonderful fandom.

Quidditch players come from all over, with lovers of the books and people who had never so much as watched one of the movies both taking part in the sport. This jives with the official stance of the IQA, which is that Quidditch is separate and distinct from the rest of the Potter world. Of course this is a tenuous line to walk, because Quidditch as a sport owes its very existence to the books that J.K. Rowling wrote. But then there are also legal considerations, as well as that fierce desire to be legitimized in the athletic world, that perhaps go a ways to explain this arms-length approach.

MUDBLOODS attempts to offset this by bringing in Katie Aiani, a Harry Potter super-fan who speaks at length about her love of the books and what they have meant to her. These scenes are frankly out of place and awkward in terms of pacing. While it is nice to have more context provided to the greater Potter phenomenon, Aiati’s personal anecdotes do very little to make members of the fandom feel connected with the film, and equally little to bridge the gap between outside audiences and the larger phenomenon. Given that the IQA does exist slightly adjacent (but by no means separate) from the fandom, this connection could have been better integrated than a passing reference to conventions, musicals, and wizard rock. And no offense to Ms. Aiati, but I think a better choice would have been to talk to the players who have fandom connections.

So the voice of the film is a bit stunted, but the narrative is mostly strong. It’s divided into two streams, with one following Captain Tom Marks and his team, the UCLA Bruins, in their goal to raise enough money to travel to NYC and play in the World Cup, and the other following IQA founder Alex Benepe as he makes preparations for the 2011 World Cup, and then oversees it as it happens. The narrative works mostly well- particularly the UCLA story. This is mostly thanks to the narrative focus on the enigmatic Mr. Marks, who is a strong leader for the team, and a true focal point for the film to revolve around. Through his efforts captaining, he has a strong underdog team that stands a good chance in the World Cup. Thanks to his leadership efforts, the team manages to fundraise enough money to allow them to travel to New York.

This is where the film truly shines. The narrative is about the journey, the people, and their dream. The UCLA team are a varied bunch, but all have a true love for the sport and really demonstrate this throughout the film. Mr. Marks, in particular, motivates and inspires his team in ways that other sports would be envious to have.

The narrative does kind of taper out on the IQA side, though. There is some mild drama before the World Cup that ultimately leads nowhere and is never brought up again. The footage shot during the World Cup mostly consists of following Benepe around as he oversees things and gives interviews. Benepe is best described as delightfully eccentric, but the segments of the film devoted to him fall flat because there’s no narrative, no drama. Undoubtedly there could be an entire documentary devoted to the Quidditch World Cup, and MUDBLOODS sometimes feels like its aspiring to take that spot. But ultimately it massively underdelivers on that front, always returning to its central narrative of UCLA, leaving these IQA segments feeling like out of place filler.

Speaking of out of place filler- there’s plenty of it. It spans everything from the rap careers of some of the UCLA players, to Katie Aiani’s wand for her future child, and Alex Benepe driving around in a golf cart pointing out the Ford Anglia parked on the grounds of the World Cup.  The film clocks in at an hour and 25 minutes, but if you actually removed all of the extraneous scenes that ultimately don’t serve the narrative, the film would probably clock in closer to an hour. Maybe less. Again, the desire to be taken seriously- in this case to have a feature length film- overrides the best choice: vigorous editing to have a higher-quality film. The story of UCLA is extremely compelling, and so it’s disappointing that it didn’t just get more footage, perhaps more back story about the team and how it was founded, instead of these half-baked attempts to broaden the scope of the film.

The film also suffers from a few other wonky aspects- the animation, for example. There are animated overlays and interludes, and the art is goofy and light-hearted, a lot like Quidditch. But it’s also pretty sloppy and poorly drawn, which, in longer segments, really detracts from the legitimacy of the film. It ends up looking like the work of a 12 year with Macromedia Flash back in the early aughts. I feel like the animation really could have benefited from the skills of somebody like Domics, who is nothing if not light-hearted and goofy, but also a very good animator.

The film really hits its stride once the World Cup begins, however, around the 40 minute mark. The tension flares, as UCLA really does have a good team, but favorites Middlebury quickly crush them in one of the pool round matches. The whole tournament is really well paced, and features some truly excellent cinematography throughout the various matches. The film also manages to find strong emotional notes in both wins and losses. I won’t give away the ending, but ultimately MUDBLOODS was never about winning. Quidditch as a sport is overwhelmingly positive and supportive, and this really does translate to a remarkable atmosphere and relationship between the teams. They all compete incredibly fiercely (Quidditch is a rough sport, and some of the hard tackles caught on film will make you wince in sympathy), but are just as fierce in their admiration for each other, in victory and in defeat.

And if there’s one thing MUDBLOODS really, really nails, it’s the way Quidditch, like all things Potter, brings people together and unites them under a spirit of non-judgmental community. The UCLA Bruins, by the end of the film, seem much more like a family than just a team, and it makes it that much more inspiring to watch them go and put their dreams on the line together. And while they well and truly are dedicated athletes, this quote from Captain Tom Marks really sums up the beauty of it all- “We can’t lose the fact that we’re running around on damn broomsticks. That’s the truth of this. We’re playing Quidditch.”

Here’s to that. Despite its faults, MUDBLOODS is an exciting and heartwarming film, and definitely recommended for Potter fans. The film is coming out October 14th, and will be available online at Mudbloodsmovie.com, and if you use the code LEAKY, you can get $1 off the price of admission. Not bad, right? After you’ve watched the film, leave your thoughts in the comments! I really want to know what other people think of this one.

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10. J.K. Rowling’s teasing Tweets

Our favorite author, J.K. Rowling, made another visit to twitter–her first since the finale of the Scottish Referendum. Her first tweet was to let us, her fan base, know that she was busy working on many projects, including a novel and a screenplay. It is safe to assume that the screen play is her first script as a screen writer for The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series. The novel….well, that left fans guessing a little more. We already know that Ms. Rowling has an unlimited amount of Comoran Strike mystery novels planned, and a publishing pattern of one mystery novel a year seems to be emerging. However, noticing how her fans seem to be captivated by analyzing her tweets, Jo thought she’d play the game with us, and leave more cryptic, teasing tweets for her fan base to riddle out while she was working away. The temptation of playing games seems to be more powerful than the urge to continue work; take a look:

Lumos CEO says children in institutions at risk of trafficking and exploitation –

Very busy at the moment working on a novel, tweaking a screenplay and being involved in campaigns. Back when I’ve finished something!

Everytime tweets I stop what ever I’m doing and analyze it for an hour.

. See, now I’m tempted to post a riddle or an anagram. Must resist temptation… must work…

Cry, foe! Run amok! Fa awry! My wand won’t tolerate this nonsense.

Something to ponder while I’m away X

.‘s cryptic tweet,”Cry, foe! Run amok! Fa awry!” is clearly an anagram meant to warn us that her “fur work canoe may fray.” Duh.

“Newt Scamander’s History of New York Fauna: One town, my tale” Warmer.

is this the start of the film?

. Much warmer.

The solution is the first sentence of a synopsis of Newt’s story. It isn’t part of the script, but sets the scene.

What do you think Jo is up to? Leave comments below, and on Twitter, and maybe we can figure this one out together!

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11. Alfred Enoch in “How to Get Away with Murder”

Harry Potter’s Alfred Enoch (Dean Thomas) has begun a new chapter in his career–as law student, Wes Gibbins, in ABC’s new original series How to Get Away with Murder. Enoch plays one of the lead roles as a (more humble) student in a very competitive law school class. He and a few other highly ambitious students, along with their incredibly brilliant professor, and criminal defense attorney, Annalise Keating (Viola Davis), become involved in a “life-changing” murder plot. From the producers and writers of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, the show is advertised to be America’s “next big obsession”. More can be read here.

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12. Ravenclaw Wins Pottermore House Cup for the Second Time in a Row

Ravenclaw has won the latest Pottermore House Cup and set a record in the process: they are the first House to ever win the Cup twice in a row. Congratulations Ravenclaws!

It was a close competition, and all four houses deserve recognition for their excellent efforts! Hufflepuff took the lead for much of the championship, but Ravenclaw snuck ahead of Gryffindor into second place just before the house points were concealed in the Great Hall on Saturday, September 20. The eagles’ triumphs earned them 1,192,309 points in the last six days of the championship, allowing them to soar to victory with a final total of 32,279,991 points.

You can read more here.

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13. Emma Watson on Gender Equality

As a United Nations Women’s Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson has been hard at work promoting support for women around the world. Recently, Ms. Watson stood along side UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, to launch the UN’s “HeForShe” Campaign, at UN Headquarters in New York. The HeForShe Campaign calls for boys and men world wide to participate in the gender equality movement. The campaign hopes to have one billion boys and men become advocates for stopping women’s global inequality. Ms. Watson, giving a speech at the event, spoke at length about her experiences and what she hope to see happen through the campaign. Rappler reports:

 

“It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals. We should stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are.”

“I want men to take up this mantle so their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human, too and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves,” Watson said.

“How can we effect change in the world when only half of it is invited to participate in the conversation? Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too.”

“I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society. I’ve seen young men suffering from illness, unable to ask for help for fear it will make them less of a man …. I’ve seen men fragile and insecure by what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality, either. We don’t want to talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are.”

Watson said liberating men from stereotypes ultimately benefits women.

“When they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don’t have to be aggressive, women won’t be compelled to be submissive. If men don’t need to control, women won’t have to be controlled. Both men and women should feel free to be strong,” she said.

“You might think: who is this Harry Potter girl? What is she doing at the UN? I’ve been asking myself at the same thing. All I know is that I care about this problem and I want to make this better. And having seen what I’ve seen and given the chance, I feel my responsibility to say something.”

“The more I spoke about feminism, the more I realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain is that this has to stop.”

“Why has the word become such an unpopular one? I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men,” she said.

“My life is a sheer privilege because my parents didn’t love me less because I was born a daughter. My school did not limit me because I was a girl. These influences are the gender equality ambassadors that made me who I am today. They may not know it but they are the feminists needed in the world today. We need more of those.”

She stressed that both men and women must work together for the girls and women who are less privileged than she. She cited women who earn less than men for doing the same work, child brides, and girls who are unable to finish their education.

The full length article from Rappler and the transcript of Ms. Watson’s entire speech can be read here.

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14. Happy Birthday, Hermione Granger!

September 19th marks the birthday of Hermione Granger, the brightest witch of her age. Please join us in wishing Hermione a very happy birthday and in hoping she gets many new books as gifts!

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15. J.K. Rowling Donates to Local Town Hall

J.K. Rowling has given a generous donation to a Perthshire community project, turning Aberfeldy Town Hall into a music and drama center. One of Ms. Rowling’s official representatives confirmed that our favorite author has donated a generous amount to the project, but is inclined to keep the specific amount confidential. The project is said to need approximately 1.5 million pounds in funding. The Courier reports:

 

“The refurbishment of the B-listed building will cost £1.5 million but we had a generous donation from JK Rowling. We are not allowed to say how much it is.”

A spokeswoman for JK Rowling confirmed she had made a donation to the project but declined to comment further.

Locus Breadalbane has submitted a planning application to Perth and Kinross Council which would see the space transformed into a 182-seat venue.

Documents presented to council planning department show that two existing flats in the building will be ripped out and the space used to house a lesser hall, kitchen, green room and toilet facilities.

External sheds and an older extension will be demolished, with two new building enlargements being made.

“This and local area support will be an important aspect of the funding process The next fundraising event will be a silent auction on September 20 within the town hall.”

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16. WB Studio Tour Gets Dark Arts Addition

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London has long been a mecca for Potter fans, and now it’s about to get… a bit more sinister. The Tour has announced that they will be adding in a whole new feature to the tour dedicated to the Dark Arts, the first addition to the tour since it’s opening in March of 2012. So we’re expecting new sets and props, but what does that entail specifically? Read on:

The current Malfoy Manor fireplace will be expanded to showcase the full set which became the headquarters of Lord Voldemort’s followers, the Death Eaters, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1. Visitors will be able to peer into the drawing room that features ornate chandeliers, an imposing fireplace and the long, grand table around which Bellatrix Lestrange, the Malfoy family, the Death Eaters and Voldemort sat. The mannequin of captured Muggle Studies teacher Charity Burbage will be suspended above the set, while a life-like model of Voldemort’s loyal 20-foot snake Nagini will sit on the mahogany table, which will be framed by the costumes of the rat-like Peter Pettigrew and Potions master Severus Snape.

This set was one of my favorite pieces in the films, and I can’t even imagine how stunning it will be to be able to walk through it! The new addition will also modify the set of Dolores Umbridge’s office. While previously dedicated to her vomit-inducing sensibilities, it will now include Remus Lupin’s costumes, magical projector, and gramophone from Prisoner of Azkaban. Definitely an improvement, if you ask me.

Sarah Roots, Vice President of Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, commented: “The Dark Arts feature will be our first new permanent addition since opening in March 2012 and we’re looking forward to unveiling it just in time for Hallowe’en. It will showcase the darkest parts of the films and include some props and costumes that have never been on public display before.”

The new addition is set to launch on the 14th of October, but that’s not all! To celebrate the launch, the Great Hall, one of the most stunning sets on the tour, will be modified from the 17th of October to the 3rd of November to feature a section of the Halloween Feast from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. How exciting is that? The Studio Tour is also modifying other parts of the tour, including dimming the lights in Diagon Alley and filling it with ominous music, as well as having Death Eaters on patrol! Witches and wizards taking the tour will have the option to brush up on their dueling techniques by taking part in an interactive wand combat lesson.

So while the new sets are permanent fixtures, this celebration will be limited to just those 2 weeks between October 17th and November 3rd. If you can get out the tour by then, you simply must! The rest of us will be jealous.

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17. PotterCast 254: Live from LeakyCon 2014!

It’s a PotterCast! This time we were LIVE from LeakyCon 2014, and we have a special co-host in Mark Oshiro!

Join John, Frankie, and Melissa to discuss the new Wizarding World, all the fun of LeakyCon 2014, and more. Also: we are making a real effort to get PotterCast back to its regular posting schedule again and are looking for editors. If you this this can be you, email us at staff@pottercast.com!

You can listen to PotterCast by subscribing on iTunes right here, or by downloading the episode directly.

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18. J. K. Rowling Hints Patronus Test Might Come to Pottermore

Today on Twitter, a fan tweeted J. K. Rowling, wondering about an official Patronus test and Rowling hinted that it might be coming soon:

 

Keep close to Leaky for all Pottermore updates!

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19. Happy Birthday, Rupert Grint!

Today, August 24th, marks the birthday of Rupert Grint, who plays faithful friend Ron Weasley. Please join us in wishing Rupert a very happy birthday and many happy returns.

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20. Happy Birthday, Rupert Grint!

Today, August 24th, marks the birthday of Rupert Grint, who plays faithful friend Ron Weasley. Please join us in wishing Rupert a very happy birthday and many happy returns.

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21. Life in the Leaky Cauldron! Alert! Alert!

It’s taken years. It’s taken tears. It’s taken a revolution in technology and a new coding system. BUT THE LEAKY CAULDRON IS FIXED. (Or… about 90% fixed.)

Over the past few years, the reason that we haven’t made a lot of updates to the Leaky Cauldron is that it was made, during the last time it was designed, with a coding system that was probably too advanced for us. When it broke down we needed a programmer who not only knew what they were doing but had enough experience in our site to be able to handle it. And as our coders and volunteers grew up and on… we didn’t have it.

SO FINALLY WE HAVE REDONE THE SITE. This is wholly the work of looonnnngtime Leaky hero John Noe, and a bunch of volunteers who we have dubbed Leaky Cauldron Angels. You’ll find them on the staff page, and they are the reason we have been able to get this going again.

Most things are back and going: MyLeaky’s profiles are working, but points will be restored over the coming months (hopefully in time for Sept. 1). You can still comment on each other’s walls. We have a fancy new design. We are no longer celebrating the release of DH1. (Man, we were REALLY looking forward to that movie.) Progress!

If you’re reading this you are likely one of the people who is still with us after all this time. That is incredibly special to us, and we thank you. This is the first and largest step in bringing the Leaky Cauldron back to its former polish. We are gathering more team members very soon, so please keep an eye out on this page for more!

Enjoy a functioning (but of course still leaking…) cauldron! If you find any problems that you’d like to tell us about, please email john@the-leaky-cauldron.org.

Note from John: Hey Leaky peoples! There will be a few obvious formating and missing feature issues that we’ll be ironing out here for the next few days, but do please feel free to leave us comments with suggestions or questions (or go ahead and email if you can’t comment.)

We hope most of you remember your MyLeaky names (or email addresses) used to login – you should be able to reset your passwords no problem. If not, we will be addressing a way to help you with that later this week.

 

Big Thank You’s to the Leaky Angels - Sarah Wilkes and Andrew Hanson - especially for leading the cleanup efforts on our featured content in the Crafts and Essays sections so far!!

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22. J.K. Rowling tweets about Scotland Referendum

As reported previously this summer, J.K. Rowling has voiced her opinions and views on the Scotland Referendum that will determine whether or not Scotland will remain united with the UK, or become independent. With voting taking place later this month (September 18), the push for last minute support from the people for both sides of the campaign has been quite intense. Ms. Rowling, who was featured on the cover of this mornings Daily Record and Forbe’s 12 Powerful Quotes from Business and World Leaders Rejecting Scottish Independence list, has taken to Twitter to continue expressing her views, starting early this morning and continuing until just a few moments ago (this article will be updated with further tweets if our favorite author continues to post them):

 13hPLEASE RETWEET: The front page of today’s says it all – No Thanks to independence.

Just been sent this link and I must say I’m proud to be on any list with Billy Connolly

I can’t say I consider myself a ‘world leader’ though. Maybe of worlds inside my head? In the real world I can barely lead my dog.

Independent fact checking on NHS/Scottish independence from . Last paragraph says it all if you’re busy!

Please keep watch on Leaky for possible information to come!

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23. First Images from the Set of The Casual Vacancy

The first images from the set of BBC One’s adaption of J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy have surfaced. The Daily Mail has released images of actress Keeley Hawes in her role as Samantha Mollison. Also on set was Michael Gambon (Professor Dumbledore), who plays Keeley Hawes’ fictitious husband, Howard Mollison. The photos also include shots of Hetty Banes-Russell, who plays Howard Mollison’s business partner Maureen Lowe, in costume; Keeley Forsyth, as drug addict mother Terri Weedon, being applied with make-up bruises and sores by costume artists; and Rory Kinnear, prowling around set in his small role as Barry Fairbrother, who dies in the first scene of the novel. The Daily Mail reported:

 

The mini-series will also star Julia McKenzie as Howard’s wife Shirley and Simon McBurney as deputy headteacher Cubby Wall.

The Casual Vacancy was Rowling’s first novel following her wildly successful Harry Potter series, and was the first targeted at an adult readership.

Rowling’s book was first optioned by BBC One in the UK in 2012, but only started production once HBO signed up to co-produce the series for the US too.


The images and the rest of the article can be viewed here.

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24. Emma Watson speaks against Nude Photo Controversy

As reported previously, Emma Watson was appointed as a UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador. As a part of her new position, Emma Watson has been speaking out against injustices against women around the world. Recently many female celebrity personal iClouds were hacked, and hundreds of nude photos were stolen and posted on a public website. Even though Ms. Watson was not targeted in this incident, she spoke out against the public display of the photos, and those who viewed and commented them, tweeting:

Even worse than seeing women’s privacy violated on social media is reading the accompanying comments that show such a lack of empathy.

The Sydney Morning Herald went on to discuss others that share Ms. Watson’s views, those who don’t, and Apple’s response to this iCloud security breech. You may read more here.

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25. Happy Birthday, John!

It’s John Noe’s birthday! If you don’t know who John Noe is, you should: he’s been the main designing force behind Leaky for a decade, and has remade the site several times since its inception. He is one of the three hosts of PotterCast, and most recently stepped in as Leaky Cauldron Savior, fixing our site from our broken coding and paving the way for Leaky’s forever future. We are lucky to have him and I’m extraordinarily lucky to call him one of my best friends. I hope you’ll join me in thanking J for all his hard work and wishing him the happiest of days today!

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