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1. Harry Potter Read-a-thon for HPA's Accio Books!

Earlier this month, the Harry Potter Alliance in Chicago had a read-a-thon for their Accio Books book drive. As many fans know, the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) is an international non-profit organization, constructed by Harry Potter fans, that fights injustice using morals and themes found in the Harry Potter books. The HPA's Accio Books drive focuses on raising awareness for literacy needs world wide; in this specific event literacy needs close to home, in Chicago. 

The Alliance for Awesome at Loyola sponsored the Accio Books read-a-thon in Chicago. This Accio Books supported two charities: Open Books and Reading is Fundamental. Eric Scull from MuggleCast, one of our friends at Mugglenet, opened the read-a-thon by reading the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Entertainment included Wizard Rock performances from Tonks and the Aurors, the Remus Lupins, and Seen and Unforeseen. There was a silent auction, costume contest, trivia, snitch scavenger hunt, among many other fun activities. The event weekend raised $1,571 to be split evenly between Open Books and Reading is Fundamental.

Congratulations to the Alliance for Awesome and the HPA for another successful drive, and being a force of fans for good. Hopefully there will be more future events held by the HPA, as well as the Alliance for Awesome, Loyola, to report soon.

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2. Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan to Open July 15th

Today, Universal Studios Japan announced that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter area will open at their park on July 15th, 2014. The prime minister of Japan, the US ambassador to Japan, Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), and Harry Potter set designer Stuart Craig were there for the announcement:

Universal Studios Japan hosted an event today, to celebrate the announcement of the Grand Opening of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” which meticulously recreates some of the iconic locations from the world of Harry Potter.  Universal Studios Japan revealed that “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will open on July 15, 2014.  The announcement culminated with the unveiling of the magnificent Hogwarts castle, the focal point of the land.
 
Universal Studios Japan welcomed special guests from Japan and around the globe: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan; Ms. Caroline Kennedy, Ambassador of the United States of America to Japan; Academy Award®-winning art director and production designer for the Harry Potter films, Stuart Craig; actress Evanna Lynch, who played “Luna Lovegood” in the Harry Potter film series; world-renowned architect Tadao Ando; and Universal Studios Japan ambassadors, and beloved musical act, SMAP, gathered for the celebration.
 
When Prime Minister Abe and Ambassador Kennedy announced the opening date, Hogwarts castle was illuminated with a spectacular show of lights and brilliant fireworks.
 
Event Overview
The evening’s celebration began with an “owl” delivering a letter from Hogwarts to President and CEO of Universal Studios Japan, Mr. Glenn Gumpel, who was revealed on stage with the letter in hand to introduce the honored guests.
 
Guests Evanna Lynch, Stuart Craig, Tadao Ando and SMAP were greeted on stage with loud cheers, and the appearance of United States Ambassador Kennedy was met with thunderous applause. Following her remarks, she introduced special guest Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for the momentous occasion.
 
With distinguished guests from around the world gathered, Mr. Gumpel presented the letter from the wizarding world to Prime Minister Abe and Ambassador Kennedy, who together, reading from the letter, announced “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter”  opening date.  At that moment, Hogwarts castle was illuminated with a radiant light show with fireworks, which unveiled its towering scale and lit up the night sky.
 
Following additional remarks by Prime Minister Abe, Ms. Evanna Lynch led the guests in casting the spell “Lumos!” followed by more dazzling fireworks to the further the excitement and joy of the crowd.
 
A special website, where you can begin to explore “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” online, has now launched.  Please visit www.usj.co.jp/harrypotter in the official Universal Studios Japan website.
 
Universal Studios Japan received an annual 10 million visitors for the second time this past March 19 (day 353 of fiscal year), which is the first time USJ has achieved this milestone since the park’s opening in 2001, and, thanks to all, continues to perform strongly. With the much-anticipated opening of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” USJ looks to continue to attract more visitors from both Japan and worldwide.

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3. Live Coverage of the 2014 Quidditch World Cup on Pottermore

We have some really exciting news from Pottermore: J. K. Rowling is adding new content to the site about the current Quidditch World Cup as it takes place in real time. Information about the opening ceremonies and the first match, which was between Norway and the Ivory Coast, can be viewed in the newly opened area of the Daily Prophet offices, which is in Diagon Alley. The reporting was done by none other than Ginny Potter:

Hot off the press! Reporting from the Patagonian desert for the Daily Prophet, Ginny Potter brings you the latest news of the 2014 Quidditch World Cup. 

Visit the Daily Prophet offices in Diagon Alley, recently opened on Pottermore.com, to read all about the opening ceremony of the tournament, and why it is bound to reignite the debate about restricting mascots ‘to herbivores, creatures smaller than a cow and nothing that breathes fire’. 

Find out why the Argentinian Council of Magic has come under fire from Chief Consulting Magizoologist, Rolf Scamander, and read his exclusive interview with the Daily Prophet. 

You can also read the report from the official Daily Prophet Quidditch correspondent, Ginny Potter, about the eventful first match of the 2014 Quidditch World Cup between Norway and Ivory Coast, which was played on Sunday. The last time these two teams met, the match lasted for five days. Find out which team was victorious this time around, and read more post-game analysis. 

Visit the Daily Prophet offices in Diagon Alley on Pottermore.com to read this exclusive writing by J.K. Rowling. Remember to keep an eye out for more reports from the Patagonian desert!

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4. Happy Birthday Emma Watson!

Today Emma Watson is celebrating her 24th birthday! Ms. Watson is currently shooting her first takes of Regression, today, as it is the first day on set. According to Emma's tweet, the first day of shooting is "a very cool birthday present". Please join us in wishing Emma Watson a very happy birthday!

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5. J. K. Rowling to Guest Edit BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour Takeover Week

J. K. Rowling updated her Facebook to announce that she'll be a guest editor on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour Takeover Week from April 28th to May 2nd:

J.K. Rowling will be one of five guest editors in BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour Takeover week, from 28th April to 2nd May 2014. She will guest edit the Woman’s Hour programme on Monday 28th April, followed by Kelly Holmes, Naomi Alderman, Doreen Lawrence, and Lauren Laverne as guest editors on subsequent days. Her programme will look at such topics as the issue of orphanages, and why so many children continue to be cared for in institutions worldwide; the power and myth of the shoe in popular culture; and why Scotland has the highest number of multiple sclerosis sufferers in the world.
Many thanks to SS for the tip.

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6. Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Open at Universal Hollywood in 2016

In an official press release Universal Studios announced that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will open on the West Coast in 2016:

This monumental transformation, the most significant undertaking in the theme park's storied 50 year history, will have substantial impacts across all facets of L.A.'s economic spectrum from job creation to tourism. Representing the single largest investment ever made, this sweeping makeover began in 2012 with the introduction of the award-winning mega-attraction, "Transformers: The Ride-3D" and will culminate in 2016 with the much-anticipated Los Angeles debut of "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™."

You can read more here.

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7. Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Open at Universal Hollywood in 2016

In an official press release, Universal Studios Hollywood announced that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will open on the West Coast in 2016:

This monumental transformation, the most significant undertaking in the theme park's storied 50 year history, will have substantial impacts across all facets of L.A.'s economic spectrum from job creation to tourism. Representing the single largest investment ever made, this sweeping makeover began in 2012 with the introduction of the award-winning mega-attraction, "Transformers: The Ride-3D" and will culminate in 2016 with the much-anticipated Los Angeles debut of "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™."

You can read more here.

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8. Hannah Hart is Coming to LeakyCon 2014

LeakyCon was excited to announce the arrival of a new special guest, Hannah Hart, to LeakyCon 2014 in Orlando. Hannah Hart, an avid Potter fan, is most well known as a YouTube sensation with her series "My Drunk Kitchen." Ms. Hart will be leading a special edition of "My Drunk Kitchen" at LeakyCon 2014, with a Potions 101 class. You can read more about Hannah Hart and LeakyCon here and register for LeakyCon 2014 here.

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9. Video: Dan Radcliffe on The Tonight Show

Dan Radcliffe appeared on The Tonight Show last night, where he discussed his upcoming Broadway play, "The Cripple of Inishmaan" and played a game with host Jimmy Fallon.


You can watch the clips of Radcliffe on the Tonight Show here and here. Please be advised that there is some mature content.

"The Cripple of Inishmaan" previews on Broadway on April 20th.

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10. "J. K. Rowling: A Bibliography" to be Published in December in the US, in April in the UK

A new book concerning the writings of J. K. Rowling, "J. K. Rowling: A Bibliography" is being published later this month in the UK, and on December 18th in the US. The summary of the book is as follows:

This is the definitive bibliography of the writings of J. K. Rowling. In addition to complete bibliographic details of all her books, pamphlets, original contributions to published works and broadcasts, there is detailed information on Rowling at auction, on significant reviews and on scholarly work on Rowling. This will be the first source on Rowling consulted by textual scholars, book collectors, auction houses, critics and researchers. The aim of the book is to record fact and dispel rumour on the fascinating publishing history of the Harry Potter series.


Many thanks to SS for the tip.

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11. Three "Fantastic Beasts" Megamovies Planned

A New York Times article on WB CEO Kevin Tsujihara reveals that there are three "megamovies" of "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" planned:

[September] is when Warner announced that Ms. Rowling had agreed to adapt for the big screen her “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” a 2001 book billed as one of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts textbooks. Three megamovies are planned. The main character will be a “magizoologist” named Newt Scamander. The stories, neither prequels or sequels, will start in New York about seven decades before the arrival of Mr. Potter and his pals.

Convincing the famously independent Ms. Rowling to dive back into film was a coup. “When I say he made ‘Fantastic Beasts’ happen, it isn’t P.R.-speak but the literal truth,” Ms. Rowling said in response to emailed questions. “We had one dinner, a follow-up telephone call, and then I got out the rough draft that I’d thought was going to be an interesting bit of memorabilia for my kids and started rewriting!”

She added, “When Kevin got the top job, he brought a new energy, which rubbed off. He’s a very engaging person, thoughtful and funny.”

You can read the rest of the article here. Many thanks to Hypable for the tip.

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12. Noah in Theaters Today!

Emma Watson's anticipated new film, Noah, opened in United States' theaters today! There has been much publicity surrounding the film, with a lot of promotional involvement from Ms. Watson. If you have seen the film, please share your reactions with us, below in the comments!

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13. Harry Potter Stuntman Speaks About Accident That Left Him Paralyzed

Harry Potter stuntman David Holmes recently spoke to The Mirror about the accident on set that left him paralyzed for life:

Rehearsing a flying scene – recognised as one of the most dangerous in the business – he was hurled into a wall, breaking his neck, and leaving him paralysed for life.

But, speaking for the first time about the trauma, he reveals how his initial concern wasn’t for himself.

“My first thought was, ‘Don’t ring Mum and Dad, I don’t want to worry them’,” says David.

Disaster struck at Warner Bros Studios in Leavesden, Herts, in January 2009 when he slammed into a wall after being pulled backwards at speed by a high-strength wire.

The “jerk back” stunt is designed to replicate the effects of an explosion.

David, who is now in a wheelchair, says: “I hit the wall and then landed on the crash mat underneath. My stunt co-ordinator grabbed my hand and said, ‘Squeeze my fingers’. I could move my arm to grab his hand but I couldn’t squeeze his fingers.

“I looked into his eyes and that’s when I realised what happened was major.

“I remember slipping in and out of consciousness because of the pain levels. I’d broken a bone before, so recognising that weird feeling across my whole body from my fingertips right down to my toes, I knew I had really done some damage.”


Holmes also spoke about how he first got his job working on the Harry Potter films, and how he keeps in contact with a lot of the cast and crew:

He was spotted as a potential Radcliffe double by stunt co-ordinator Greg Powell who he met just before the series started and was asked to do a broomstick test.

“I found myself in this wonderful studio strapped to the back of a truck, getting towed down the runway, dragging my feet along the floor in front of Chris Columbus, the director.

“So that’s how I got my job.”

David appeared in all the Harry Potter movies from The Philosopher’s Stone in 2001 until the accident in 2009.

He says: “It was an amazing experience. I loved it and Dan was an absolute pleasure to work with. The cast and crew were like a second family and I remain in touch with a lot of them to this day.”

You can read more, including about how Holmes now races a specially modified car and opened his own production company, here.

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14. Part Two of Quidditch World Cup History Now Available on Pottermore, Rowling Comments on House Pride Week

Last week, J. K. Rowling added a new entry about the Quidditch World Cup to Pottermore and promised that more would follow and today the second part of the entry has been added:


Last week we brought you the first part of J.K. Rowling’s exclusive writing on the history of the Quidditch World Cup, and today we’re pleased to announce that the second part of this entry is now available on Pottermore.com! Visit ‘The Golden Stadium’ Moment in Chapter 8 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to read all about the Quidditch World Cup (1990-2014)!

...

Prepare yourself for the Quidditch World Cup 2014, which begins in April, by reading about the qualifying stages of the tournament. Find out which country is rumoured to have used Inferi to intimidate their opposition during the qualifying stages of the tournament, and which 16 countries will be competing.

You can read more here.

Additionally, J. K. Rowling posted two items on her Twitter about House Pride Week:




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15. Live Q&A on Emma Watson's Twitter

Ever felt like asking Emma Watson a question? She's hosting a spontaneous live Q&A on her twitter right now! Send her a tweet @EmWatson with the #AskEmma.

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16. Bloomsbury to give Potter books a Makeover

As reported previously, Scholastic gave the paperback editions of the Harry Potter novels a whole new look. Recently, Bloomsbury has decided to follow suit and apply new cover art to the UK paperback editions of the series. Johnny Duddle will be giving the books new front cover, spine, and back cover design. The inside of the books will also be updated with new font for the ease of children, an updated bio for J.K. Rowling, and a Pottermore section that will give instructions on how to use Pottermore. Pottermore will be publishing the e-versions of the new books. Leakynews posted:

Jonny Duddle is best known for his award-winning picture books, including The Pirate Cruncher and The Pirates Next Door (winner of the Waterstones Children’s Prize and shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize). He has a background in the computer games industry and is highly skilled at character development. His work has appeared in Aardman films and Terry Pratchett novels.

Mr. Duddle is, as you can expect, entirely thrilled with this development: “I’m hugely excited to work my way through the wonderful books. I couldn’t have asked for more enjoyable subject matter. It’s exciting, daunting and I feel the weight of responsibility, and I’m just hoping that my illustrations faithfully reflect the characters and world created by J.K.Rowling.” That last bit is certainly more than Mary GrandPre can say (anyone remember Snape with a gigantic moustache as chapter art?), so I’m personally glad he’s taking the commitment seriously.

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17. More Material on Pottermore and More to Come

As promised, showing support for the Scottish rugby team by tweeting #wizards4scotlandrugbyteam, J.K. Rowling has posted more material on the Quidditch World Cup on Pottermore. In this new entry, which can be read here, Rowling tells us of the foundation of the Quidditch World Cup, its rules, and a few of the catastrophic events that have occurred at the matches. J.K. Rowling comment on the release of the new material on her twitter, as well as promised even more on the 2014 Quidditch World Cup if fans continued to show support for the Scottish rugby team. (She also promised to tweet about something other than rugby, and commented on a fan's artwork of Lupin). Please join together and give another big twitter cheer for the Scottish rugby team!


You wonderful people retweeted , so go to for a load of new information on the Quidditch World Cup!

But I've got more! Scotland play Wales tomorrow. RT one last time and get full story of the 2014 Quid World Cup.

And I'll tweet about things other than rugby from now on, I promise. For starters: midnightnox175 has drawn the perfect Lupin

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18. Universal Opens a Window on Hogwarts Express Experience

Universal has released a few new details about the Hogwarts Express journey that will take place at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this summer. The ride will connect people from the Hogsmeade to the Diagon Alley side of the park, the latter of which is the much-anticipated expansion slated to open this summer.


While there is still no opening date announced, universal has revealed a few stills from the Hogwarts Express ride:






 
 
These stills are taken from the animation a rider on the train will see when they look out the "window" of the Hogwarts Express. The windows will not gaze upon their real surroundings (the backlot of Universal) but video screens that will make the riders feel as though they are chugging through the Scottish highlands. 

Universal said guests will enjoy two different experiences, depending on which way you are traveling (to Hogsmeade or London). Looking out the windows will reveal an "incredibly authentic and magical adventure." Hagrid will fly alongside the train on his motorbike, Buckbeak will swoop over the lake, the Weasley twins will ride up on their booms, the Knight Bus will be seen swerving through traffic, and more. (There are several theories about what will take place during this ride floating around the net, including a Dementor attack.) 

Park-to-park admission is required to ride the train between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade; the price for a two-day park pass rose a few percentage points a couple of weeks ago, to $195.99

We will keep you updated on the details as they emerge - and don't forget, LeakyCon, which is returning to Orlando this summer, is planning a very special evening at Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, tentatively planned for the night of July 30. You can find out more info about the conference at LeakyCon.com

What do you think of these revelations? What do you most want to see on the Hogwarts Express?

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19. Sarah Phelps Screenwriter of BBC adaption of "The Casual Vacancy"

As BBC announced their plans for adapting Dame Agatha Christie novel's in celebration of 125 years of publication, they also mentioned the screenwriter of the mini-series adaption of J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. Acclaimed screenwriter Sarah Phelps, who will be adapting Christie novels, was listed with The Casual Vacancy among her many credentials. Hypable also pointed out that The Casual Vacancy is also listed as "In Development" on Phelps' profile, on her agents website. Many thanks to Hyapble for the tip! The mini-series adaption of The Casual Vacancy is set to premiere later this year.

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20. John Hurt Donates Doodle to National Doodle Day

As readers may recall, quite a few Harry Potter actors are participating in this year's National Doodle Day, and now John Hurt (Mr. Ollivander) has also donated a doodle for the charity auction. Hurt donated a doodle of a dog, which you can see here. This doodle and many others will go up for auction on National Doodle Day, March 7th, which is this Friday. The auction will run for seven days and the proceeds will go to Epilepsy Action, which you can learn more about here.

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21. Emma Watson Talks Ron/Hermione on Red Carpet at the Oscars

This past Sunday, on the red carpet at the Oscars, Emma Watson spoke about J. K. Rowling's recent comments on the Ron/Hermione pairing, saying that the quote was "taken out of context":

Rowling recently made waves when she confessed last month that she regretted pairing up Harry's best friends at the end of her beloved series. In an interview in Wonderland magazine (conducted by Watson herself!), Rowling shared, "I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment."

...

Watson also seemed somewhat pessimistic about the longevity of the popular pairing, sharing at the time, "I think there are fans out there who know that too and who wonder whether Ron would have really been able to make her happy."

But Watson's tune may have changed just a bit, as the starlet took to the red carpet at tonight's Oscars (her first time attending the big show, if you can believe it) and told MTV's own Josh Horowitz, "It was a real shame, because the quote that she gave was completely taken out of context."

Watson implored fans to read the interview a bit more closely to more keenly understand what Rowling was saying about the cherished romance, and perhaps reduce their outrage just a bit. Ron and Hermione forever? It's still magic to us.

You can read more and see the video of Watson responding to the question here.

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22. Video: Dan Radcliffe in "The Simpsons"

Dan Radcliffe will be voicing a character on an upcoming episode of "The Simpsons" and a video showing his character, Diggs, and of Radcliffe in the recording studio has been made available online. You can watch it here or below.


The episode will air this Sunday, March 9th.

Thanks to SnitchSeeker for the tip.

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23. J.K. Rowling "If you re-tweet, I'll put loads on Quidditch on Pottermore"

This morning, twitter once again seemed to come a live for wizards and J.K. Rowling. As it is always a treat when our literary Queen takes time to post a tweet, it was a pleasant surprise to see her twitter a buzz with more rugby. Low and behold, Ms. Rowling was even responding to direct tweets and retweets directed at her. She made one request of her fans, if we retweet #wizards4Scotlandrugbyteam she would give us "loads" of new material on the Quidditch World Cup on Pottermore. As her twitter says:

    J.K. Rowling 
No, you worked, the wizards just cheered. What a win!

All 3 suspected wizard-borns playing for Scotland tomorrow! If that makes no sense, try

Scotland-France . If you lovely people re-tweet I'll put loads on Quidditch World Cup on Pottermore x

It's "retweet"

Sorry James - retweet - could have saved a whole character.

Ladies and gentleman, you heard the Queen--go retweet!

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24. Happy Birthday Professor Lupin and Happy Belated Birthday Professor Trelawney

Today, March 10, please join us in celebrating the birthday of a beloved Defense Against the Dark Arts professor's birthday: Remus Lupin! To many Lupin was more than just a Hogwarts professor. He was a great member of the Order of the Pheonix, mentor, and family friend. Along side a fellow staff member, we also celebrate the rather unique Professor Trelawney's birthday, as her birthday was yesterday. Please celebrate for these wonderful Hogwarts staff members!

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25. "Noah" portion of Emma Watson's Wonderland Interview

Miss Watson posted a tweet earlier today, with an attached photocopy of a segment from her interview with Wonderland magazine. As reported previously, Miss Watson was the guest editor for the newest edition of Wonderland, for which she was interviewed as well as conducted interviews (including one with J.K. Rowling). The picture can be seen here on Miss Watson's twitter, and below:




Miss Watson also posted a new trailer for her new movie, Noah, which will be released in theaters March 28.


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