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26. Eddie Redmayne Appointed OBE

Newly welcomed star of’ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Theory of Everything Oscar winner and Red Tony Award winner Eddie Redmayne has been appointed Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

His contributions to drama were honoured as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Birthday Honours yesterday.

Others appearing on the list of those honoured included Benedict Cumberbatch and Gordon Aikman, whom J.K. Rowling, who received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2001 for her contribution and services to children’s literature, offered support for in her recent tweet:

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The recent reveal of Eddie’s leading role as Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts was exciting to say the least, so as we welcome Eddie to the Potter family, join us in congratulating him on this achievement!

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27. Harry Potter Series Featured in New “Oxford Companion”

In news that might make even Madam Pince crack a smile, the Harry Potter series has been featured in the new edition of The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature, published this past March in the UK, and June 1 in the US.  This leading encyclopedia of children’s literature of all types now includes entries on J.K. Rowling, Hogwarts, Muggles, Quidditch, and the Dursleys, with the Harry Potter series getting the longest entry in the entire book.

According to a review published in The Guardian, the 2nd edition of The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature, by Daniel Hahn, finally includes more than 900 new entries relating to developments in British and American children’s literature since its original publication in 1984.  Other authors added to the book include Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, Eion Colfer and Stephenie Meyer, but, of course, nothing has changed the landscape of children’s literature in the last thirty years like Harry Potter has. The Guardian reports:

In the last 30 years – during which The Companion became the major source of guidance and information for anyone with a personal or professional interest in the subject – the world of children’s literature has changed again. Hahn has introduced more than 900 new entries covering modern phenomena such as crossover books, graphic novels, YA literature and books in translation…as well, of course, as individual books and writers who have emerged since the mid 80s. He has wrestled with his conscience (to paraphrase slightly from the preface) and included such items as Stephenie Meyer’s infamously awful but undeniably influential and significant Twilight series, as well as all the writers we are, occasional supercontrarians apart, glad exist: JK Rowling

Amazon describes The Companion:

The last thirty years have witnessed one of the most fertile periods in the history of children’s books: the flowering of imaginative illustration and writing, the Harry Potter phenomenon, the rise of young adult and crossover fiction, and books that tackle extraordinarily difficult subjects. The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature provides an indispensable and fascinating reference guide to the world of children’s literature. Its 3,500 entries cover every genre from fairy tales to chapbooks; school stories to science fiction; comics to children’s hymns…

More information, and the opportunity to purchase The Companion, is available on Amazon (here), Barnes and Noble (here), and the Guardian Bookstore (here); or learn more at your local library.

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28. J.K. Rowling and Emma Watson recognized for their Philanthropy

J.K. Rowling and Emma Watson have earned a place on The Independent‘s eighth annual “Happy List.” The list honors extraordinary people who extraordinary things for causes they care about. Emma Watson was named for her work with the United Nations, as the UN Women’s Ambassador. Her devotion to gender equality and work with her HeForShe campaign has brought her world recognition outside her role of Hermione Granger in our beloved Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling is as full of writing talent as she is generosity. The Independent recognized her for her use of social media (Twitter) to address social issues, as well as her children’s charity, Lumos, and other donations she has made to her home country of Scotland. The Independent wrote:

 

J.K. Rowling

The wizard of words is a staunch defender of equal rights, using Twitter to challenge everyone from misogynists to the homophobic Westboro Baptist Church. As well as donating huge sums to combat social deprivation in Scotland she founded charity Lumos, which works to end the institutionalisation of children worldwide.

Emma Watson

The 25-year-old Harry Potter actress became a star of the humanitarian stage after launching HeForShe, a UN campaign to include all men in the fight for gender equality. Her first of many impassioned speeches extended a “formal invitation” to men to participate in the conversation. She has gone on to campaign for women’s rights. Hermione who?

 

The list is composed of celebrities and non-famous heroes alike. The list of household names can be read here, and the entire coverage of the list can be read here.

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29. “Regression” Trailer, “A Little Chaos” Movie Clip, and More

A new Regression trailer, featuring Emma Watson, has been released, following the release of its recent promotional poster. Fans will recognize many of the mini-scenes from the first trailer. However, this trailer builds more terror and suspense, echoing the posters quote “Fear Always Finds its Victim.” In this trailer, fans also see more of David Thewlis’ (Remus Lupin) role as the psychologist. Expanding her post-Potter acting portfolio, this is the first thriller/horror role Emma Watson has starred in. Regression opens in US theaters August 28. Perhaps comparable to Daniel Radcliffe’s role in The Woman in Black, the new Regression trailer can be seen below:

 

A sneak peek of Alan Rickman’s new movie project, A Little Chaos, has been released. As reported previously, Alan Rickman is writing, directing, and starring in his new movie. A Little Chaos follows the life of a woman gardener (Kate Winslet) as she designs the gardens of Versailles for Louis XIV (Alan Rickman). The new clip shows Stanley Tucci making a grand entrance and meeting leading lady, Kate Winslet.

 

Matthew Lewis was happy to announce, via Twitter, that his TV show, Bluestone 42, is now available to view in the United States on Hulu. Unfamiliar with the American TV/Movie streaming service, Matt called the company’s name “charming,” and thanked them for bringing his “little show” to “the colonies.”

 

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Daniel Radcliffe’s Victor Frankenstein movie has been pushed back, yet again. Originally set to premier in January, then pushed back to October 22nd in time for Halloween season, the movie has been placed into the Thanksgiving weekend movie slot. This places Frankenstein in viewing competition with the well-anticipated final installment of the Hunger Games series. Deadline reports:

By making the switch, Fox takes the Frankenstein film out of October and before the Halloween holiday and puts it into the other [Thanksgiving] slot. The latest version loosely based on the classic Mary Shelley novel follows the relationship between the doctor and his assistant Igor with the monster not appearing until the end of the film. This is the second time the film has been pushed. It was originally skedded for January. Enough said.

The Martian will now bow on a weekend [of October 22nd] with the following films: Focus Films’ London Has Fallen, The Weinstein Co.’s Adam Jones starring Bradley Cooper and Sony’s The Walk starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt

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30. Release dates for “Career of Evil” by Robert Galbraith

J.K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith have announced the publication dates for the upcoming Cormoran Strike crime novel, Career of Evil. The book, which will be published by Little, Brown Book Group, is set to be released in US on 20th of October and in UK on 22nd of October.

galbraith1

galbraith2Career of Evil is the third novel in the Cormoran Strike series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. Galbraith’s website offers the following synopsis for the upcoming novel:

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

The previous novels in the Cormoran Strike series are The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm.

 

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31. New Emma Watson ‘Regression’ Movie Poster

As reported previously, last February, Emma Watson is starring in thriller, Regression. The film follows Angela Gray (Emma Watson) as she accuses her father of “unspeakable” crimes, which he has no recollection of committing. Detectives follow the case, uncovering secrets, while a psychologist (played by David Thewlis, Remus Lupin) works with Angela and her father. The movie, which will be released later this summer on August 28, released a new promotional poster featuring Emma Watson. This image of a terrified Emma Watson is captioned with “Fear Always Finds Its Victim.”

 

regressionposter

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32. Pottermore’s New Timeline and Site Updates!

Pottermore has been undergoing a major site update, and making changes to enhance the Pottermore experience. They began the upgrade this last April, when they addressed FAQs on their future JK Rowling-approved plans for the site. These can be read here. Today Pottermore tweeted about their first major addition to the site. Reading new writings from JK Rowling just because a whole lot easier with the Pottermore Time Line of the Wizarding World. This new timeline, accessible after uses have logged into their Pottermore account, lists famous witches and wizards in chronological order based on when they lived in wizarding history. Users will recognize common names–such as Salazar Slytherin, Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena  Ravenclaw, and Merlin–as well as many less familiar names. All witches and wizards listed come with new writings from JK Rowling that have been posted on Pottermore. This timeline makes it easy to go back and read new content users may have missed as they journey through the Harry Potter books.

 

 

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33. J.K. Rowling Discusses American Wizarding School

Other than Hogwarts, which is the school of magic that serves only Britain and Ireland, not many other wizarding schools were mentioned in the Harry Potter series. The Beauxbaton Academy of Magic in France, and Durmstrang Institute in Bulgaria, were the only other European schools mentioned, nothing outside the continent. It has long been believed by many in the Harry Potter fandom, ever since the publication of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, that the Salem Institute of Magic was the fictional American school for witches and wizards in the Harry Potter universe. (Rowling mentioned in an interview that the American school would be mentioned in book four). The American school of witchcraft and wizardry, was supposed to be mentioned in Goblet of Fire, but never made an appearance. It has long been speculated that the witches giggling under a spangled banner, which read “Salem Institute of Magic,” at the Quidditch World cup, were students of the American school of witchcraft and wizardy. As Rowling is known for making very clever references, the American school has long been thought to be located in Salem, MA–home of the infamous Salem Witch Trials–and thus, long believed that the Salem Institute of Magic was the American school. This morning, Rowling tweeted and debunked all of our theories. However, she did give us hope that we would soon learn of the American magic school in the “Fantastic Beast Films.”

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We have officially learned that the American School will not be in New York–Salem, MA may still be in the running–and will be named from immigrant origins. Native American traditions are important to this school, but naming which tribes would give away the location of the school.

 

When first digesting this news, it was hard to believe that Rowling was not contradicting herself from statements she made in interviews 15 years ago (which can be forgiven, that was so long ago now) when Goblet of Fire was released. When Rowling made her visit to our Pottercast (episode 130) in 2007, she reconciled contradicting statements made about Hannah Abbot’s blood status (once mentioned in an interview as muggleborn, and later in Deathly Hallows as having wizarding ancestors buried alongside Harry’s parents in Godric’s Hallow) by “splitting it in half” and “let’s call her half-blood.”

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34. A Game for Summer: Trivial Pursuit’s World of Harry Potter!

USAopoly and Hasbro have developed a World of Harry Potter version of the classic Trivial Pursuit game. For fans of Trivial Pursuit and fans of Harry Potter, there is fun in store for players of all ages and with all levels of Harry Potter knowledge. This Harry Potter version of Trivial Pursuit is a perfect game for summer–whether it is family game night, burning time while traveling to exciting destinations, challenging your friends to see who knows the world of Harry Potter best, or following your roommate around the house spontaneously shouting questions at them (guilty), there are many ways to enjoy this game.

The World of Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit is made for easy clean up and travel. The pieces of this game include a deck of cards and one dice–yes, that’s it–stored in a pie-shaped wedge container that takes up very little room. If you choose to play by the rules, the object of the game is pretty simple: be the first player to collect 6 cards. To win six cards, you roll the colored dice, answer the corresponding question; if you answer correctly, you roll the dice again, and answer a Wedge question. This repeats until you answer incorrectly, which ends your turn. To win 6 cards, you must answer 12 questions correctly. For lightning rounds, you could win a card by answer one question correctly; for longer games you can add the cards as an extension pack to the classic Trivial Pursuit board game and play the standard board game. Or if you’re like me, you can just rattle off questions to your friends who claim to be Harry Potter experts, and claim eternal bragging rights and glory when you get more of them correct.

If you are looking for a little bit of fun to add to your summer, keep this slice of Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit in mind. If you can answer all 12 questions (pictured below) correctly, I’ll give you a shout out on Leaky :) NO CHEATING! (Click on the photo of the playing cards to enlarge the picture).

HP TP 2015_PR_webScreen Shot 2015-06-06 at 1.08.06 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 1.08.43 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 1.09.15 PM

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35. J.K. Rowling Makes a Donation to Labour Party Deputy Leader

J.K. Rowling is known for her generosity to charities, political parties, the reconstruction of a community parish, and practically anything else she believes in and supports. Ms. Rowling donated one million pounds to the Labour party back in 2008, but this marks her first donation to an individual candidate. The lucky MP is Tom Watson. Tom Watson and Ms. Rowling share a common interest in the Leveson Inquiries on invasive journalism, and specifically phone hacking. Tom Watson was a leader in uncovering phone hackings by journalists after his phone was hacked. Ms. Rowling became especially concerned when her children were approached by reporters, photographed, and notes were slipped into her 5-year-old son’s school bag. The Guardian reports:

 

It is the first time the best-selling creator of Harry Potter has given money to an individual politician. According to Watson’s declaration to the register of members’ interests, he received £4,000 from her in May.

The money will be seen as a boost, and a sprinkling of stardust, on Watson’s bid for the high-profile and influential party role. He is seen as one of the strongest candidates among a crowded field of seven.

The pair are believed to have become acquainted during the campaign to uncover phone hacking at the now-defunct News of the World. Both were witnesses at the Leveson inquiry into press intrusion.

According to the entry, which was sent to the registrar last week, Watson received £4,000 from “Joanne Rowling” on 11 May. This is the same name that she used to donate £1m to Labour in 2008, her only other donation to a party or politician.

Rowling told the Leveson inquiry that her personal details were “blagged” by someone on behalf of a newspaper. She also said that her children had been photographed and that a reporter had slipped a note into her then five-year-old son’s schoolbag.

 

Watson, the MP for West Bromwich East, was at the forefront of the campaign to uncover hacking at News International newspapers after his own phone was hacked. He memorably questioned Rupert Murdoch about alleged criminal activity by his newspapers in front of a parliamentary committee and wrote a book about it.

A spokesman for Watson told the Guardian: “Tom’s delighted that JK Rowling has made a generous donation to his deputy leadership campaign. She is obviously a hugely talented and successful author but she is also a tireless campaigner for a range of charities and causes, particularly those that work on behalf of women and children around the world.”

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36. Eddie Redmayne “Thrilled” for “Fantastic Beasts”

In an interview with The London Evening Standard, Eddie Redmayne expressed his excitement for his new role as Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Admitting that he could not say much else beyond how he felt about the movie project, reminded us of how little we know of the “Fantastic Beast” movie project. As Eddie enjoys a bit of a break between movie projects, we do know that filming has not yet begun for “Fantastic Beats.” The London Evening Standard reports:

Speaking to the Standard last night, he said he enjoyed the original Harry Potter novels and “always loved that world”.

He said: “I’m hugely excited, JK Rowling’s a genius, I am so thrilled to be a part of it but I can’t say a single word beyond that…I’ve always loved that world and I feel thrilled to be invited into it.”

Speaking at a dinner in his honour at Quaglino’s in Mayfair in his capacity as international ambassador for Omega, he said he has been enjoying some “gentle downtime” with wife Hannah Bagshawe.

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37. Warner Bros. to Preview “Fantastic Beast” Merch at Expo

PR Newswire shared an announcement from Warner Bros. on their Twitter, saying that “Fantastic Beast” consumer products may be previewed at a Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. The Licensing Expo, which will take place June 9-11, “has connected the world’s most influential entertainment, character, fashion, art and corporate brand owners and agents with consumer goods manufacturers, licensees and retailers.” Warner Bros. released a statement saying that they will be present:

From J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World Comes the Eagerly Awaited Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

WBCP Broad Licensing Programs Support DC Entertainment’s Extensive Content, Including Batman, DC Super Hero Girls, DC Super Friends, DC Comics TV Portfolio and More, for Boys, Girls, Preschoolers, Teens and Adults

WBCP’s Robust Portfolio Includes Film, Television, Animation, Games and Classics.

BURBANK, Calif., June 5, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — With a powerhouse portfolio of entertainment properties—anchored by a theatrical slate of tentpole films, a fan-driven TV portfolio, global initiatives with immersive worlds, all-new animated content developed for younger fans, and a diverse lineup of pop-classic favorites—Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) soars into Licensing Expo 2015 with an unrivaled lineup of content support and partners that will drive its licensing, merchandising and retail business in 2016 and beyond.

“WBCP arrives at Licensing Expo with an unmatched portfolio of content and product offerings, led by the most anticipated feature film events of 2016—DC Comics’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the first time fans will see Batman and Superman together in a theatrical event; DC Comics’ Suicide Squad, the first-ever theatrical team up of some of the most iconic Super-Villains; and from J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” said Brad Globe, President of Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “Content is the cornerstone of our robust programs, and we have an unparalleled lineup of collaborations and partnerships, which is a testament to the trusted relationships we have built with all of our licensing and retail partners.”

The wizarding world continues to delight audiences with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J.K. Rowling’s screenwriting debut, which marks an expanded creative partnership between Warner Bros. Entertainment and J.K. Rowling, and which will be fully supported by WBCP to offer fans an exciting licensing and merchandising program. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the first in a new film series from J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, is inspired by Hogwarts textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and the adventures of the book’s fictitious author, Newt Scamander.

“We are incredibly excited to further explore and dig deeper into our already strong portfolio with an eye towards content creation, allowing us to offer initiatives for girls, boys and preschoolers on a global scale,” said Karen McTier, Executive Vice President, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “With programs like DC Super Hero Girls, Batman Unlimited, DC Super Friends and more, WBCP is creating new content and building impactful activations with partners around the world.”

To see what other exciting product lines Warner Bros will be presenting, the rest of the statement can be read here.

Thanks to SnitchSeeker for the heads up.

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38. New Songs to be Included in Emma Watson’s “Beauty and the Beast”

Disney composer, Alan Menken, revealed more details of Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson. In an “Artist to Artist” series interview at the Lincoln Center in New York, Menken announced that two new songs were being created for the film. These songs will debut alongside the original songs featured in the classic Disney animated version of the film. A song titled “If I Can’t Love Her,” from the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast, will not be included. The new songs, titled “Forevermore” and “Days in the Sun,” will not give Emma Watson more singing time–the former is to be sung by the Beast, and the latter by the castle staff. Youth Health Magazine reports:

The report revealed, however, that “Forever More” will be sung by Beast who will be portrayed by Dan Stevens, as he finally understands the meaning of love and how to love. “Days in the Sun” will be sung by all the servants in the palace that will be about the servants reminiscing of the happier days when they were still humans before being turned into objects.

Aside from these additional songs, songs from the 1991 animated film will still be included. This means that crowd-favorite and scene-opener song “Belle” will be a much-awaited treat for Emma Watson fans worldwide.

However, Menken also shared that the song “If I Can’t Love Her” from the Broadway production will not be included in this live-action “Beauty in the Beast” slated for a 2017 release date. As much as he would have liked to include the song, he claimed that it would not go well with the upcoming remake.

Its exclusion from the Emma Watson-led “Beauty and the Beast” simply raised questions as to how many new songs are coming from the teamwork of Tim Rice and Alan Menken.

Emma Watson arrives with the entire live-action “Beauty and the Beast” cast on March 17, 2017.

emma watson beauty and the beast

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39. Emma Watson visits Children at Great Ormond Street Hospital

Thursday, Emma Watson visited kids in Great Ormond Street Hospital in support of its children’s charity. She took a break from preparing for Beauty and the Beast to pop in and give well wishes a few lucky young fans. Snitchseeker posted a few Instagram and Twitter photos that relatives took of Emma and the recovering patients. These can be seen here.

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40. J.K. Rowling Confirms more Characters for “Fantastic Beasts”

Last week, Hypable posted speculative reports from Variety and The Wrap about other characters that would surround the protagonist, Newt Scamander, in the “Fantastic Beast” films–Queenie, Tina, and Jacob. With little to nothing known about this movie series, speculations are tense, and Eddie Redmayne being confirmed as Newt was the first confirmation from those acutally working on the project. J.K. Rowling, through her ever-event filled Twitter feed, confirmed two more characters. From Hypable, The Wrap, and Variety, this is what we knew last week:

Tina: Described as “grounded.” Testing for this role are Saoirse Ronan (pictured above center), Dakota Fanning (above right), Allison Sudol, and Lili Simmons.

Queenie: Tina’s older sister and described as a “bombshell.” Testing for this role are Kate Upton (above left), Katherine Waterston and Elizabeth Debicki

Jacob: Described as Newt’s “rival,” testing for this role are Steve Zisis, Zack Pearlman and Dan Fogler.

All three of the roles are leads opposite Newt. Yes, these details are very basic. They’re worth sharing, however, because we currently have no idea what this story is going to be about or who the characters are. It’s a start!

 

J.K. Rowling became more open about the two female characters, to play opposite Newt, on her Twitter. We now can confirm Queenie and Tina (Porpentina) as characters, and that Queenie is the younger sister (not older).

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According to Hypable, Tina is important because she is Newt Scamander’s wife, and we now know that she will be playing a large role in the films (though I can find no official source to confirm this…but the Harry Potter Wiki, which sites Ms. Rowling’s tweets).

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41. Happy Birthday Draco!

Yesterday a lizard was named for the spell that almost killed Draco Malfoy (Sectumsempra). Today our reptile Slytherin friend, being alive and well–having survived the Battle of Hogwarts with a little help from Harry (who saved his life twice in one day)–celebrates his 35th birthday. Draco is married to Astoria Greengrass, and they have a son, Scorpius Malfoy. J.K. Rowling gave a heads up to Draco’s birthday yesterday, but may remain silent today; having revealed over Pottermore last Christmas, that Draco didn’t have a “heart of gold under that sneering,” and was truly a despicable character, something tells us she and Draco probably wouldn’t be celebrating each others’ birthdays together. Though Jo also expressed concern for those of us that continue to fawn over Draco, please join us in wishing this prince of Slytherin a very happy birthday!

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42. Sectumsemper, A New Lizard Species Named from Harry Potter

Yesterday, the BBC reported that a new species of lizard had been found amongst fossils in a drawer of unidentified rocks at the University of Bristol. The fossilized lizard, discovered by student, Catherine Klein, showed signs of having incredible self-sharpening teeth. Its teeth could continue to get sharper with each bite it took, and cut past one another with finite precision. Ms. Klein named the new lizard Clevosaurus sectumsemper. As many fans will notice, the name is strikingly similar to the Half-Blood Prince’s original slashing spell, Sectumsempra. All the more praise of J.K. Rowling’s cleverness, Ms. Klein pointed out that the would sectumsemper means “always cut.” The BBC reports:

 

Measuring just 11cm (4in) from snout to tail, Clevosaurus sectumsemper is the smallest of the “Gloucester lizards”.

As part of a summer project, 21-year-old undergraduate Ms Klein extracted thousands of fossils from the rocks and was able to show “enough differences” from known clevosaurs to call it a new species.

It was able to “self-sharpen” its “blade-like teeth” with each bite.

“The species name sectumsemper means ‘always cut’, and was chosen to reflect this,” Ms Klein said.

“It is also a nod to the Harry Potter character Severus Snape, who made a spell called sectumsempra.”

He unwittingly uses the spell – which acts on its victim like an “invisible sword” – against nemesis Draco Malfoy, and gravely injures him.

 

This bit of news, coming within days of the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) announcement of it’s dementor wasp, only gives more awe to the effect that J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has had, and continues to have, on the world.

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43. Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood Announcement!

A couple of days ago, on June 2, 2015, Warner Bros made a rather large announcement about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood. The highly successful theme park will be opening its West Coast location in the Spring of 2016. The main attraction of the Wizarding World Diagon Alley, is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The Hollywood version of this ride will be an immersive “hyper-realistic” 3D-HD experience; riders will be given 3D Quidditch goggles to wear on the ride–adding more enhanced 3D technology to the ride than its Orlando or Japan version. Most everything else appears to be true to its Floridian and Japanese sister-parks–though there was no mention of the Dragon Challenge ride, the Flight of the Hippogriff will be Universal Studio Hollywood’s first outdoor rollercoaster. Universal Studios Hollywood Announced:

“Harry Potter is an exhilarating multi-generational global phenomenon that has captivated the world’s attention across every one of its mediums, from books and movies to exhilarating theme park adventures,” said Larry Kurzweil, President of Universal Studios Hollywood.  “With its imminent arrival to The Entertainment Capital of L.A., Universal Studios Hollywood is thrilled to bring our guests a new, compelling experience of ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ as we embark on this next chapter in our storied history.”

“The momentum behind J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world is as strong as ever and we are incredibly excited to bring Hogwarts to Hollywood,” said Brad Globe, President, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “Fans around the world have experienced the magic at ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ in Orlando and Osaka and we look forward to continued success with our partners at Universal Studios Hollywood as we offer more fans a chance to step into this immersive environment.”

“Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” is an achievement in pioneering theme park ride technology featuring a groundbreaking robotics ride system, fused with elaborate filmed action sequences and immersive visceral effects.  Sporting Quidditch-inspired 3D goggles, guests will venture through journeys experienced by Harry and his friends, spiraling and pivoting 360-degrees along an elevated ride track on a whirlwind adventure of a lifetime.

At Universal Studios Hollywood, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” will make its U.S. debut as a dynamic 3D-HD adventure designed to further immerse guests in an already captivating storyline.

Also within “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” the enchanting family coaster, Flight of the Hippogriff will debut as Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor coaster.

“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will resonate with immense detail, inviting guests to revel in Harry Potter’s epicurean world with the opportunity to enjoy authentic food and beverage at multiple locations, including: Three Broomsticks™ and Hog’s Head pub, as well the Magic Neep and Butterbeer™ carts.

A foray through the shops will add to the authenticity of the land with eight retail shops and locations, including Honeydukes™, Ollivanders™, Owl Post™, Zonko’s™ Joke Shop, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, Dervish and Banges, Gladrags Wizardwear and Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods™.

As excitement builds for the Spring 2016 arrival of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” in-park guests at Universal Studios Hollywood are able to experience and purchase authentic merchandise, including wands, robes and other collectibles from “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” available within the Features Presentation shop, located just inside Universal Studios Hollywood’s main entry.

The announcement video can be viewed here or below.

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44. New Interview with Jonny Campbell, Director of “The Casual Vacancy”

J.K. Rowling fansite Always J.K. Rowling had the amazing opportunity to have an exclusive interview with the director of the mini-series adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s The Causal Vacancy, Jonny Campbell. Mr. Campbell gave very detailed answers to the questions proposed–subject matter ranging from his involvement and experiences with making The Casual Vacancy, to advice for those wishing to have a career in directing. Always J.K. Rowling reports:

1. How much creative control did you have when filming “The Causal Vacancy”?

The role of the director is to be responsible for the storytelling as it moves from script to screen, to visualise and breathe life into it and so you are inevitably at the controls of that creative process – not to be a control ‘freak’ (!) – but to coordinate and steer all the departments from the script and cast to locations, production design, make up and costume to cinematography. Obviously, many thousands of decisions constitute this process and many of those are likewise guided and influenced by comments or suggestions from producer and executive producers along the way.

3. What is your favorite scene and character?

Krystal has to be my favourite character. Hard to single out one favourite scene, but would choose the sequence of scenes where she and her Mum Terri are reconnecting. In ep2 sitting eating some soup talking about Fats and then becoming emotionally overwhelmed that they are finally having a normal conversation as mother and daughter. Then in ep3 the moment when Krystal first hands Robbie back over to Terri before going on her date and then later sitting in the garden looking at the stars together.

5. Were there any particularly challenging scenes?

1) Howard’s nightmare – maggots and worms don’t respond to direction and they get everywhere. 2) Robbie scenes – there was a lot of violence and bad language in many of his scenes, but they were never shot while Robbie was there, even though he is in the scenes. This meant a lot of planning to film around him – effectively recording dialogue and shooting action twice over. 3) the river scenes – filming in or near water is always tricky and incredibly time consuming – some sequences were shot over several days too, which necessitated weather continuity. We were very fortunate that we had such a good summer.

8. There are a lot of political and social themes that are particularly relevant today in the UK as we are coming up to a general election. Is this something you were very aware of while filming and did it change any filming decisions?

I think the themes in this story will always be relevant, not just at this time. The fact that there was an election coming up the year after we started the project was never even mentioned as it was totally irrelevant to the story, contrary to what some people have thought. Sarah Phelps, the screenwriter does have an acute social conscience, as does J.K. Rowling, but the story is about how people react to a sudden death in a small community – the minutiae of grief – and how the ripple effect of this death passes through the lives of a host of characters. The election element is merely a side issue and a plot device to explore these peoples’ lives in public and behind closed doors. The real vacancy was not on the council, it was in their lives and their hearts.

The rest of this interesting interview may be read here, on Always J.K. Rowling.

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45. Quidditch World Cup Round Up–USQ World Cup 8, BQC, and More

As most of you know, it is that time of year again–time for the real, and very intense Quidditch World Cup. This year, however was a little different. Though America hosted  World Cup 8 this past weekend (April 11-12), it was the US Quidditch World Cup 8 (which became a trend on Twitter, earned it’s own Snapchat Live Story, and got a tweet from J.K. Rowling). Last year, Quidditch World Cup 7 (the IQA World Cup)–which regularly hosted teams from the UK (or another European team that won within the region), Australia, Canada, and the United States every year–saw all European and Oceanic teams refuse their bid to World Cup, due to costs and protesting against the World Cup being held in America every year when Quidditch was growing elsewhere in the world. Since then, the IQA dissolved into Quidditch Associations by country: USQ (United States), QUK (United Kingdom), AQA (Australia), Quidditch Austria, Belgium Muggle Quidditch, Quidditch Canada, FQA (France), DQB (Germany), AIQ (Italy), AMQ (Mexico), Muggle Quidditch Netherlands, NR (Norway), and QD (Turkey). (The IQA, which remains the head to the massive Quidditch Association body, also completely restructured its internal bureaucracy in 2014, along with it’s tournament structure.)

This year, each region was responsible for hosting its own National tournament, or World Cup, rather than all attending one large World Cup. Do not fear–there are still IQA’s Global Games, which hosts an international tournament between all countries. Three years ago, IQA also held it’s first Quidditch Olympic games, which we will hopefully see more of in the future. The European Games will be held in Sarteano, Italy, July 24-27, 2015.

 

Of the national games, the UK held it’s national cup last month, and (as mentioned above) the US finished its US Quidditch World Cup 8 this past weekend. The BBC reported on the UK tournament, saying:

Hundreds of players have competed in the UK’s biggest ever quidditch tournament, playing a sport adapted from the Harry Potter books.

Wollaton Hall and Park in Nottingham, known for being used as Wayne Manor in a Batman film, was chosen to host the second British Quidditch Cup (BQC).

Sixteen teams competed when the British Quidditch Cup was first held in Oxford in November 2013, and 23 teams have competed this time.

Ms Maidment has previously played for Nottingham Nightmares, a team from the University of Nottingham.

She initially became interested because of her love for Harry Potter, but now sees the sport as separate from the books.

“It’s like rugby mixed with dodgeball,” she said.

“There are a few injuries but we are currently working on re-evaluating the rules to minimise that, because if the injury rates continue as they are people aren’t going to carry on wanting to play it.

Radcliffe Chimeras, from Oxford University, were favourites to win the competition.

The Radcliffe Chimeras were upset by Southampton QC 1. All scores and bracket play of BQC 2015 can be seen here.

 From the BBC on the US Quidditch World Cup 8:

But the game isn’t just played by Harry Potter fans, with some of those taking part in the World Cup saying they enjoy the athletic side too:

“We have people on our team that have never read the books or seen the movies,” said University of Ottawa team founder Clare Hutchinson. “Quidditch is not necessarily all about Harry Potter anymore.”

Quidditch becoming separated from its Harry Potter roots has been a rather heated conversation amongst those in the Quidditch sphere for some time. Being on a Quidditch team myself, it is safe to say that we almost NEVER talk about Harry Potter, though I too joined because of my love for the series. The sport has become just that, a sport in and of its own right, much like basketball, soccer (football), and other athletic competitions. Despite this feeling amongst the athletes and those particularly involved in Quidditch, National and World competitions draw a lot of Harry Potter fans and spectators.

Rock Hill, South Carolina–The US Quidditch World Cup was an experience; a truly fun event for people of all ages. Opening ceremony saw 80 teams–79 United States teams (winners from Northeast, Mid Atlantic, Midwest, West, South, Southwest, Northwest regions within the US) and 1 Canadian team–parade onto the field, each behind their region’s flag, and teams holding up their college flags, much like the Olympic opening ceremonies. After a few opening words from original founder of Muggle Quidditch, USQ and USQ CEO, Alex Benepe, and the mayor of Rock Hill, South Carolina, national anthems were played–the only Canadian team single-handedly singing ten times louder to “Oh Canada” than the 79 American teams singing “The Star Spangled Banner” combined–and the games commenced.

80 teams played each other on 10 fields in Swiss-style tournament play (teams with the same record, and similar score differential played each other) for five guaranteed games, before beginning bracket play. Those finishing tournament play with a record of 3-2 had a bid at bracket play. Highly ranked teams played on fields where live streams broadcasted the games to viewers across the world, and those sitting comfortably in the VIP club house above the field.

Between games, players rested in their designated team tent in the Players’ Village (an impressive sight of rows and rows of tents that we wish were bigger on the inside than the outside). Booths to visit included USQ T-shirt stand, Alivan’s Wand and Broom Closet, Harry Potter Alliance,  Harry and the Potters Wizard Rock band, and Peterson Brooms–each offering their own unique merchandise (including player trading cards from USQ). A local Medical Center sponsoring USQ World Cup 8 also had a booth, and gave out free first aid kits and sunscreen (Quidditch is notorious for it’s injuries, being a full-contact sport). Both adults and kids alike braved the heat in their Wizarding robes–most from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter–and on the second day of tournament, kids (and kids-at-heart) were able to participate in a costume contest. Afternoon entertainment was provided by Harry and the Potters, who gave an energetic live-performance between the games. With thousands of people swarming the Manchester Meadows sports facility, there was one food truck (besides a Chick-fil-A concession stand), serving carnival classic foods, with a never ending line, that magically never ran out of food.

At the end of bracket play on Sunday, the final four teams battled it out in attempts to overthrow favored-to-win Texas teams. Though the crowds cheered heavily for non-Texas teams, Lone Star (a community team from Austin, Texas) swiftly beat Maryland, and University of Texas pushed the Lost Boys (a Los Angeles-based team made up of players from many California colleges) all the way back to California. As the two Austin teams went head-to-head, evenly matched-athleticism kept the score low and tight (both teams alternately leading by one) before the Snitch was released onto the pitch. The players fought hard, sustaining injuries from torn muscles to a broken broomstick stabbing through a player’s hand. A professional Snitch kept the crowds pumped up and entertained, with a little sass and great technique for throwing Seekers. After several saves, the Snitch was caught by the University of Texas, awarding the team 30 points, and their third consecutive national title.

Throughout the course of this weekend’s events, US Quidditch World Cup 8 earned it’s own Snapchat Live story–available to be viewed by anyone with a Snapchat, and also became a trending hashtag on Twitter. Though it had many supporters, much of the hashtag trend was due to Muggles who didn’t understand how real-life Quidditch could be such a big deal, big enough to show up in their Snapchat feeds. However, J.K. Rowling came to the rescue, with a quick quip and TS Eliot quote, saying:

 

I feel like this has maybe gone slightly too far now…  

. “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” TS Eliot


Congratulations to Texas and Southampton QC 1. Good luck to those who have yet to complete their national tournaments.

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46. Happy 25th Birthday Emma Watson!

Emma Watson celebrated her birthday today, April 15. She turned 25. For as young as she is, Emma has accomplished so much beyond her role as Hermione in the largest movie franchise in history. She is truly a role model to other girls, and an inspiration to both men and women alike. Please join us in wishing this incredible young woman a very Happy Birthday!

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47. “Very Good Lives” now on Sale for Lumos, JKR and Lumos USA

Early this morning, J.K. Rowling tweeted a reminder that her Harvard Commencement address was published today and that all proceeds will go to Lumos.

J.K. Rowling also took a trip to New York City last week to launch Lumos USA. With Lumos CEO, Georgette Mulheir by her side, J.K. Rowling addressed the United States importance to Lumos involvement. Lumos posted:

In launching Lumos USA, Patron J.K. Rowling said:

“Children need families, and families need their children and I believe it is entirely possible, with concerted effort, to help to transform the way the world cares for disadvantaged children. We owe this to the eight million children living in orphanages around the world, most of whom do have parents and families who, given the right level of support, could care for them at home.”

Encouraging reform of the funding that supports orphanages is a key part of Lumos’ work. It has played an important role in influencing the way that European Union aid is now spent – to support community services for children and families, not to build or renovate institutions and orphanages. Lumos USA will build on this advocacy activity by working with US Government departments – including the US Agency for International Development – and bodies such as the World Bank to promote a similar funding principle. The right of children to live in families is one of the core principles of the US Government’s Action Plan on Children in Adversity.

Georgette Mulheir, the Chief Executive of Lumos – who last year was named by a prestigious US academic website as one of the world’s 30 most influential social workers – said:

“The USA, its citizens and, indeed, the international community have a huge role to play to influence the agenda on children outside of family care. Foreign policy, development aid and individual giving can help shape the future for vulnerable children and their families in a sustainable way, ensuring that no child is denied the right to family life”

The United Nations is currently creating a set of post-2015 ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) – a set of aspirations and principles, which will influence how billions of dollars in aid are used around the world. Early drafts have stressed the importance of child health, development, education, and protection, but do not recognize that a family is the only effective way of providing those vital elements.

To celebrate the launch of Lumos Foundation USA, Lumos is raising funds to reunite children with families. For the next month, Lumos USA will run an online sweepstakes giving every eligible US resident who donates over $10, the opportunity to win one of four generously donated prizes: two signed copies of J.K. Rowling’s ‘Very Good Lives’; a VIP trip for four to Universal Orlando Resort to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter; and tickets to Comic Con in San Diego in July 2015.

One hundred percent of all donations to Lumos go directly towards its projects on the ground.

The sweepstakes can now be entered here. J.K. Rowling tweeted about releasing a copyright-free piece about Lumos on her website, to spread the word about lumos.The lengthy article can be read on her website, here. Some may be read below:

The names ‘orphanage’ and ‘care home’ can conjure up benign images. People donate money willingly and generously, believing that the children living in such institutions have been rescued from a life barely worth living. This, I have learned after ten years of reading research and talking to experts in the field, is an idea predicated on lack of knowledge about the reality of what institutionalization does to a child, and about the real reasons that children find themselves in care homes.

80% of the eight million children living in orphanages and institutions worldwide are not orphans. They have at least one living parent, and that parent usually wants to care for them personally. To those of us fortunate enough to grow up in the privileged First World, it might seem inconceivable that a parent would voluntarily give up the care of their child to an institution. We take for granted the medical and welfare systems that support the care of children at home. Institutions spring up where no such systems exist, where there is cultural discrimination against disability, where conflicts and disasters have destroyed livelihoods and – by far the largest driver of institutionalisation – where parents are so poor that they fear the only way to save their child from starvation is to place them in residential care.

Ten years ago, after those first dreadful experiences of visiting orphanages, I made contact with several experts in the field of deinstitutionalization. This led me to found Lumos, an international non-profit organization. Its aim is to help countries reform childcare and protection systems, moving from building orphanages towards systems that help families to stay together.

The good news is that this is an entirely solvable problem. Lumos has spent 10 years working in Europe, where institutionalization of children was a major concern, especially in formerly Communist countries. Lumos advocates retraining institutional employees as community-based health and social workers. Institutional buildings can be repurposed to house community services. Encouragingly, a ‘tipping point’ has now been achieved: most countries in that region have plans to end institutionalization. Furthermore, the US government and the European Union are taking a lead in changing the way foreign assistance is delivered, to move the focus onto protecting and supporting families.

However, there is still much work to do. The United Nations is currently creating a set of post-2015 ‘Sustainable Development Goals’, which aim to ensure ‘no-one is left behind’. Lumos is concerned that, while early drafts focus on the importance of early childhood development, they contain no recognition of the essential role that parents play in nurturing and raising children. Meanwhile, the numbers of children in so-called orphanages continues to rise in areas outside Europe. Lumos has now begun work in the Latin American and Caribbean region. We have started in Haiti, where approximately 30,000 children are currently living in almost entirely privately funded orphanages. Once again, we find the familiar ratio of 80% non-orphans, and recognize the driving force of poverty.

Lumos has a single, simple goal: to end the institutionalization of children worldwide by 2050. This is ambitious, but achievable. It is also essential. Eight million voiceless children are currently suffering globally under a system that, according to all credible research, is indefensible. We owe them far, far better. We owe them families.

The Today show had the chance to catch up with Jo, and talk about Lumos:
Various images and videos of J.K. Rowling in New York can be found on Twitter, from MSNBC, MuggleNet, SnitchSeeker, The Empire State Building, New York, J-14 Magazine, and more. As soon as WordPress let’s me post a few here, they will be up.

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48. New Robert Galbraith book and More from JK Rowling’s Twitter

J.K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith have been tweeting back and forth to each other this morning, to talk about Robert Galbraith finishing his third Coromoron Strike novel. Tweets reveal that the book with be published by Little, Brown this autumn (a specific date is promised later). The novel is titled Career of Evil. Please visit J.K. Rowling’s twitter to read the hilarious exchange between Robert Galbraith and herself….or herself and herself?

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49. The Battle of Hogwarts Anniversary

Today we remember and honor those who fought the Battle of Hogwarts. We especially remember those who gave their lives for the Second Wizarding War–not just at the Battle of Hogwarts, but in the dark days preceding it as well. Today we also celebrate Harry Potter’s victory over Lord Voldemort, and commemorate all those who greatly assisted him to his victory.

J.K. Rowling took to Twitter to honor the Anniversary of Hogwarts. She began with apologizing for the death of Fred Weasley, and offered to apologize for a death every anniversary. She began with Fred, saying, “Fed was the worst for me, so I start with him.”

Who do you miss the most? Who do you acknowledge for their contributions? (For we all know it would have taken Harry twice as long to figure it all out if it weren’t for his dear friend Hermione Granger).

Please share your thoughts with us, and join us in this day of celebration and remembrance.

 

*Important sidenote: J.K. Rowling tweeted yesterday, “I wonder what odds we’d get on the royal baby being born tomorrow and called Victoria?” Well, hold your breath because J.K. Rowling may have just won that bet. We do not know the name of the royal baby, but it was indeed born this morning, the Anniversary of Hogwarts, and it is a girl. More proof that J.K. Rowling is magical?

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50. Harry Potter Stars help Judi Dench’s Sustainability Project

Judi Dench called upon British stars to join her in raising awareness for clean waters and marine life.  She asked her fellow actresses and entertainers to pose naked, using only various marine wild life to cover themselves and maintain their modesty. Among those who contributed to the project were Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix), Fiona Shaw (Petunia Dursely), and Zoe Wanamaker (Madame Hooch). Judi Dench’s sustainability project is to honor World Oceans Day on June 8. Moviepilot posted a quick-quipped article, saying:

The scaly and scandalous Fishlove campaign seeks to raise awareness about the damage being done to our open waters – all too often plagued by reckless over-fishing – and hopes to inspire more people to buy their pesci products from sustainable sources.

Keen not to let the younger stars have all the fishy fun, 80-year-old James Bond star Judi Dench said she was drawn to the campaign because she has “always loved the sea.” I’d be hard pushed to argue with her, considering how up close and personal she got with the marine life…

“The best part of the shoot was that it is not every day you get to cuddle one. The worst part was that I didn’t get to eat it.

“I hope the campaign will achieve awareness of what we are doing to the planet.”

Please visit Moviepilot to read the entire article and see more photographs of other stars.

The pictures are provided by the Sunday Times, and photographer John Swannell.

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