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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: J.K. Rowling, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 465
1. PEN America Updates Website for Gala Honoring Rowling

As Leaky reported earlier this year, PEN America released a press statement, saying Rowling was to be honored with the Allen Foundation Literary Service Award at the PEN America Gala this May. The PEN America website has been updated to give details on the event.

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There will be two honorees for the Gala–J.K. Rowling and Michael Pietsch. The website describes the two honorees, the reason for the reception of their awards, and the event, saying:

 

On Monday, May 16, New York’s literati will gather at the PEN America Literary Gala at the American Museum of Natural History to honor fierce opponents of censorship around the globe. As violence from Mexico to Russia and China to France this year has forced many to consider compromising democratic values in a shortsighted bargain for security, more and more writers—including honorees J.K. Rowling and Michael Pietsch—have joined PEN in defending freedom of expression and the free flow of ideas.

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling will receive the 2016 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award for the extraordinary inspiration her books have provided to generations of readers and writers worldwide. Since her rise from single mother to literary superstar, J.K. Rowling has used her talents and stature as a writer to fight inequality on both a local and global level. Herself the frequent object of censorship in schools and libraries across the globe, as well as online targeting, Rowling has emerged as a vocal proponent of free expression and access to literature and ideas for children, as well as incarcerated people, the learning-disabled, and women and girls worldwide.

 

The Gala will take place Monday May 16, 6:30 PM, at American Museum of Natural History in New York.

If there are any Harry Potter fans out there willing to pay between $12,000-$50,000 for a table, you can make your reservations here. Buying a $25,000 or $50,000 table gets you a private cocktail reception with J.K. Rowling. (Though, adding a $50,000 purchase to ones shopping cart is daunting–even if you just do it for kicks and back out before making payment.)

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2. Best Selling Kids Series | February 2016

This month's our list of hand-selected series from the nationwide best selling Children's Series list, as noted by The New York Times, features James Dashner's Maze Runner series and Ransom Riggs' Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series.

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3. Analysis of Newest “Fantastic Beast” Clip, Everything We Know so Far

This last weekend, Pottermore released a new clip from behind the scenes of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them at the 3rd annual Harry Potter Celebration. They also included an analysis of the video, that basically reiterated what the video showed.

However, we Potter fans know that these things reveal much much more, if one only looks close enough. The following is an analysis of the behind the scenes clip from “Fantastic Beasts” and a cumulation of everything we know so far. We actually may know a lot more than we think…

First, Let’s Talk Characters

The full cast list on the Fantastic Beasts IMDB has gotten long. It includes gala dinner guests, MACUSA receptionists,  witches and wizards (uh, duh), upper class wealthy people, lower class hard working citizens, criminals, a candy store girl (?), exterminators (exciting! Are they big beasty exterminators?), executioners (scary!), factory workers, bank workers, aurors (of course), jazzy people (it is the Roaring 20’s, full of wizard Gatsby parties), gangsters (New York Wizard Mob?), customs officials (immigration to the US has always been a big thing, but there was a big wave in the early 1900’s), Senator Henry Shaw and a Henry Shaw Jr., and journalists (hopefully not the Rita Skeeter kind)! There are even people cast as “beasts”–we have a big foot (Sasquatch) and Edd Osmond has been cast as a Demiguise:

Wow. All those characters make quite a story! But what do we know about the characters with names?

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[Picture: Dan Fogler as Jacob stands in front of a drugstore/soda fountain/candy shop]

Remember Modesty? According to the WB Casting call out, we know that Modesty as,

“a haunted young girl with inner strength and stillness. She also possessed an ability to see deep into people and understand them. Modesty met Newton Scamander during his travels in New York, at which time she was between the age of eight and twelve.”

Ron Perlman plays a character named Gnarlack–sounds wizard worldly.

Samantha Morton as “Mary Lou” is the leader of the “Second Salemers.” EW described her character as, “The narrow-minded leader of the fanatical Second Salemers, a group looking to expose and destroy wizards and witches.”

Ezra Miller plays Credence, or as EW revealed, “Perhaps the cast’s most mysterious character. He’s Mary Lou’s troubled adopted son.” One can make a lot of speculations about what that means…

Let’s take a look at Graves, “a powerful auror and the right-hand man of the American wizarding world’s president,” whom we now know as President Seraphina. We saw, in the first trailer, Katherine Waterston’s Tina Goldstein approach, nervously and somberly, the MACUSA leader and a congress of people to make a case for Newt. This serious looking President is probably not a friend of our Newt; he is stirring up a lot of trouble in an already dangerous and tumultuous society with No-Maj relations. Graves, by default is probably not a friend of Newt’s either.

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Similar to the trio in Harry Potter, we know that there are four main characters. We’ve known this since the EW report last year, but they stressed this in the second clip. Pottermore highlighted this with a quote from David Heyman, saying, “This isn’t just Newt’s story; Jacob, Tina and Queenie are all at the centre of it. ‘All four central characters are outsiders. Part of the journey of this, for each of them, is coming into themselves,’ says David Heyman.” With the EW report last year and this clip, we actually know quite a bit more about this quartet.

Jacob Kowalski (played by Dan Fogler) is just a little blue collar No-Maj, returning home from war and wanting to start a bakery….and accidentally finds himself on a magical adventure.

EW had described him as: “An optimistic No-Maj (aka Muggle) factory worker/aspiring baker who gets introduced to the wizarding world when he meets Newt. Fun fact: He’s the Harry Potter franchise’s first Muggle main character.”

In the new clip, Dan opened up about his character Jacob, saying: ‘Jacob is back from the war and now he’s trying to get his life together and open up a bakery. He just happens into this very magical situation,’ he says. Dan also believes that Potter fans will ‘feel the nostalgia and the love they have for the movies in a whole new light.’

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We assume that the simple bedroom that we see Eddie sitting in is Jacob’s, some how the two are very good friends. Or at least Jacob is holding Eddie’s case a lot…

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Actually, Newt hardly ever seems to have a hand on his case. No wonder some of the beasties get out!

 

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Newt needs to be more responsible with that case. He looses it a lot. He looses the contents of it…it’s a good thing he’s a Hufflepuff, and must be well adept at finding things.

Half of the new quartet is made up of Tina and Queenie Goldstein. Tina will eventually become Newt’s wife, but until then this is what we know.

EW: Queenie is “Tina’s younger sister and roommate, a big-hearted free-spirit “legilimens” who can read minds.” Porpentina, or Tina, is described, “an ambitious worker at the Magical Congress of the United States of America (aka MACUSA, the U.S. version of the Ministry of Magic) who meets Newt. Tina is relegated to an office well below her abilities after she stood up for the wrong person. She longs to fight for what’s right.”

Pottermore wrote:

Alison [Queenie] also has some interesting comments about the relationship between the Goldstein sisters: ‘You have two sisters, who have raised each other and have a very deep bond.’ We can’t be sure but this shot makes it look like Alison knows what Katherine is thinking. Which is entirely possible –  after all, she’s playing a Legilimens.

Katherine says her character Tina is ‘very soulful; she has a lot of heart and strengths and courage.’

Tina’s career at MACUSA has stalled but she’s certainly at the heart of this story. We saw some very intense moments with Tina, wand in hand and looking very serious indeed. ‘The job we have to do is to make it seem natural and you kind of have to ignore your own sense of wonder watching it,’ says Waterston.

 

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Awe how sweet…now what about Tina’s future trouble maker husband, Newt Scamander? The two have a couple of wonderful moments together it seems, though with the trouble Newt causes, I doubt it was love at first sight.

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Newt is the leading man, and EW described him as, “An eccentric globe-hopping English “magizoologist” wizard who’s far more comfortable around beasts and creatures than he is around other people. Comes to New York on a quest with his case full of magical habitats containing rare and endangered species.”

We already know Newt doesn’t keep a good eye on that magical case of his, and little beasties escape and reek havoc. As Eddie says in the new feature, “‘And this one catalyst sets in motion this sort of insane amount of events that just cause chaos. And at the core of it, is this quartet.’”

Let’s Talk Set

1926 New York, MACUSA…we’ve actually seen quite a lot of it! From the photos EW first revealed on set of Fantastic Beasts, to the behind the scenes snippet that just came out, we see lots of the streets of New York.

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Looks like they wander into a barn at one point…perhaps to capture a beast? And then goof around and pretend to be beasts…

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But what about MACUSA? We got our first description of MACUSA from EW upon the release of the official Fantastic Beasts movie poster:

“1. ARCHITECTURAL WIZARDRY: The Magical Congress of the United States of America is hidden from Muggle view inside the very real Woolworth Building (New York’s tallest structure in 1926). Wizards enter through an ultra-fast-spinning revolving door into a grand lobby. While this Fantastic Beasts stage is a rather massive 250 feet long and 50 feet high, the ceiling will be extended with special effects to reach nearly 700 feet to represent “an empty cathedral of light, a hugely impressive, brilliantly lit space,” says production designer Stuart Craig.”

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“2. THE PHOENIXES OF THE ORDER: J.K. Rowling’s screenplay included these four golden phoenix statues (two unseen) that bracket the MACUSA entrance, paying homage to those who died during the Salem witch trials – a major traumatic event in the history of American wizard and No-Maj (a.k.a. Muggle) relations. Notes Craig: “Throughout, the magical world is grounded in the context of the Muggle world, born out of things familiar and real.”

“3. GOLD, NOT JUST FOR SNITCHES ANY LONGER: Loosely based on the interior of the Gothic art-deco American Radiator Building in midtown Manhattan, the MACUSA design includes a heavy use of gold to “bring a richness to the decoration. Given that this is the seat of power of the government in the magic world, it’s appropriate that it is gilded.”

“4. MAGICAL HERALDRY: The official MACUSA emblem, based on the U.S. presidential seal, includes the etching of an American flag combined with an abstract phoenix

 

The behind the scenes trailer gave us a clearer picture of MACUSA and its phoenixes, and weird Puritan statues in the middle:

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We also get a first (fuzzy) glimpse at the MACUSA seal:

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During the Harry Potter Celebration, Pottermore and J.K. Rowling released a lot of information about wizarding schools around the world. We know from previous J.K. Rowling tweets that the North American (USA?) Wizarding school, Ilvermorny, will be featured in the first Fantastic Beasts films. The description and detail of the other schools–Castelobruxo (Brazil),  Mahoutokoro (Japan),  Uagadou (Africa)–is amazing. One can only hope that future Fantastic Beasts films will travel around the world to these schools too. J.K. Rowling says to keep watching Pottermore for more details….

 

Let’s Talk Wands…

Newt’s wand was originally thought to be “vegan.” It was “simply wood,” according to EW. Why vegan? Because Newt was a zoologist who cares lot about animals, loves them and connects with them more than people, so his wand would be “vegan.” However, the recent reveal that Newt’s wand was made from lime wood, shell, and bone, seems to contradict that original theory. Bone definitely doesn’t make it vegan.

What wands are made of is important. But wands look like is even more appealing to fans (because, of course, by this time next year we will be buying replicas of them). In the new video, we actually see many of the characters’ wands up close.

Newt shows off his quite a lot throughout the two small videos we have.

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Tina becomes more brave about using her wand, and even does magic in front of a No-Maj! Don’t worry, it’s just Jacob…a wounded Jacob.

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Queenie’s and Graves’ wands have a little flare to them. They each have shiny handles, though we are sure specifics about those will come later:

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Let’s Talk Beasts…

The troublemakers. We actually haven’t seen any of the “fantastic” beasts yet. There have been a couple beast castings (see above) and EW did release a small list of beasts we can expect to see. Those beasts include a Niffler, Ashwinder, Lethifold, Augurey, Bowtruckle, Crup and Merepeople. Descriptions of all of these creatures can be found in book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It would be really bad if an Ashwinder got into that barn the quartet is in…Other than that, we have a beastie Fantastic Beasts logo, and that is about it.

I think that pretty much sums up all that we are allowed to know of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them so far. The two videos we have so far can be seen below. Enjoy! We will update you with more news when we can!

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4. J.K. Rowling to Receive the PEN America Center’s Award for Free Speech

PEN America has announced that Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling will receive the 2016 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award from PEN America Center.

The PEN America Center describes themselves as, “working to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others.”

The PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award is awarded to “critically acclaimed authors” whose works contain a message against oppression in any form, and strive to be an example for the good of humanity.

As said by Rowling herself, the Harry Potter series–which one cannot doubt holds much “critical acclaim”–embodies the themes of morality and mortality. There was even viral news about a recent study that showed that reading Harry Potter made people more open minded, empathetic and less prejudicial.

Rowling will be honored for her work with Harry Potter, as well as her defense of the freedom of expression and free flowing speech and ideas. The PEN Announcement states:

 

Since her rise from single mother to literary superstar, J.K. Rowling has used her talents and stature as a writer to fight inequality on both a local and global level. Her charitable trust, Volant, supports causes in the United Kingdom and abroad that alleviate social exclusion, with particular emphasis on women and children. In 2005 she founded Lumos, a nonprofit organization that works to help the eight million children institutionalized around the world regain their right to a family life. Herself the frequent object of censorship in schools and libraries across the globe, as well as online targeting, Rowling has emerged as a vocal proponent of free expression and access to literature and ideas for children, as well as incarcerated people, the learning-disabled, and women and girls worldwide.

“Through her writing, Rowling engenders imagination, empathy, humor, and a love of reading, along the way revealing moral choices that help us understand ourselves,” said author Andrew Solomon, president of PEN America. “Through their experiences with Rowling both on and off the page, countless children have learned not only the power of speaking their own minds, but the critical importance of hearing others. A gifted storyteller, fierce opponent of censorship, advocate for women’s and girls’ rights, and staunch defender of access to education, Rowling uses all of the tools at her disposal to create a better and more just world for our children.”

 

The PEN Awards have also released a list of other nominees. The entire announcement, list of awards and nominees can be read here. The awards will be presented at the PEN America Literary Gala at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on May 16.

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5. An Insider’s Account of the Birth of the Harry Potter Films

Producer David Heyman received his just recognition at the Producers Guild Awards over the weekend.  Gary Oldman presented him with the David O. Selznick Achievement Award, saying, “I’ve never seen him settle for second-best,” according to Deadline‘s account of the event. Director Alfonso Cuaron called the award “very well deserved,” and Heyman accepted humbly, “This is an extraordinary honor, all the more so because it’s given to me by my peers and the PGA who really understand what it is I do and what a crazy calling we have as producers….it’s the greatest job in the world. I wouldn’t change it for the world.” PGA released a video of David Heyman’s acceptance speech on YouTube, and can be seen below:

But how did Heyman find Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone before most people had even heard of J.K. Rowling?  In an extensive interview for Produced By, the bi-monthly publication of the Producers Guild of America, Heyman answered this and more questions about his impressive career in film-making– revealing the true story of how the beloved Harry Potter films began– and his amazing orchestration of it all.

After being laid off from work with a major studio, Heyman opened a small office in London and decided to focus on books being published in Britain.  Heyman told Produced By,

“I set out to be a bridge between the U.S. and U.K. and decided to make books a central part of my business. One, I’m a voracious reader. Two, books had probably the best ratio of development to film at the time. At the time, the British books weren’t so aggressively pursued, so I thought I could distinguish myself.”

According to David Heyman, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was almost missed by his London office. Talking about how it all started Heyman said:

We had three shelves for incoming manuscripts and screenplays: priority, medium priority and low priority. Tanya Seghatchian, my very bright development executive, read an article in a trade publication about a book that hadn’t yet been published. She called the agent. The book came in and sat firmly on the low priority shelf for a couple of weeks before Nisha, my secretary, who only read material from that bottom shelf, took it home. At our Monday morning I asked, “Anybody read anything good?” And Nisha replied, “Yeah, I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” I said, “Hmm, not sure about that title. What’s it about?” “It’s about a young boy who goes to wizard school,” she replied. My interest was piqued.

With that, the Harry Potter film producer became one of J.K. Rowling’s first true fans. Heyman described his experience to Produced By, saying:

I couldn’t put it down and there began my Potter odyssey… I thought if I was lucky, it might be my Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I had no idea that it would become what it became. What I did know was that I connected with it. It made me laugh. It moved me. I related to Harry and the characters at Hogwarts. We all, in our own way, feel like outsiders. And no matter who we are, no matter how successful, no matter how happily married we are or what good friends we have, there are times where we feel alone. At least I do. And I felt that story was something that people could connect with. It was about something: being true to yourself. It was about loyalty and friendship and fighting prejudice and so much more.

After Warner optioned the film, screenwriter Steve Kloves and author J.K. Rowling really hit it off, thanks to Heyman’s introduction. Heyman talked of how the two writers bonded, saying:

As Kloves was writing the films, the books became wildly successful. All of a sudden they were No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 on the New York Times bestseller list. Now there’s all this pressure as he’s trying to finish the script. At the same time, Jo, who had written the first two or three novels essentially without any expectations, now had all this expectation. And she was struggling as she had written herself into a little bit of a hole on Goblet of Fire but had a firm publication date! They really bonded through that shared experience and challenges.

Once director Chris Columbus joined the project, production designer Stuart Craig was the film’s first hire.  Then, the team scoured Britain for young actors to play the three leading roles.  They felt confident in their choices for Ron and Hermione but opened the search to the U.S. and Australia before finding just the right person to play Harry. Heyman told the legendary casting story to Produced by, saying:

One evening, Kloves and I went to the theater and seated in the audience, I noticed this boy with big round blue eyes. He seemed an old soul in a young body. And then this voice called, “David, great to see you.” Sitting next to the boy was his father, an agent I knew called Alan Radcliffe. The play started but I paid little attention to what was going on up on stage. I kept on turning around and looking at this boy. When the play finished, I went to find Alan and his son, but they’d gone. So the following morning I called ICM and asked if Alan would allow Daniel to visit the studio to meet Chris. Alan said, “Why don’t you meet him first, and then we can decide.” So Dan, his mum and I went out for a cup of tea and we spent two hours chatting. Dan had this incredible energy. He was so curious and intelligent—a curiosity and intelligence that have helped make him the actor he is today.

The team had a list of accomplished adult actors that they wanted, and they all accepted because the children in their lives loved the books.  The Wizarding World was established. David Heyman remembered how it all unfolded, saying:

We made the first two [Harry Potter films] back-to-back, we were prepping the second as we were posting the first. Chris did a brilliant job. I wouldn’t be sitting here today having a conversation with you [at Produced By] were it not for Chris. He cast our three leads and so many others, chose Stuart and many of our department heads and helped create the film world and an atmosphere and culture in front of and behind the camera that lasted till the end. And he directed two beautiful films.

But that was just the beginning.  David Heyman then explains how director Alfonso Cuaron and others joined the franchise that became a family.  The focus, however; was always J.K. Rowling’s storytelling. David Heyman talked of the consistency of J.K. Rowling’s voice shining through each film despite differing directors:

One of the things I’m proudest of in the Potter series is that in each film a director’s vision shines through. Jo Rowling’s voice is front and center, clearly, but each director channeled that voice and has made their films their own. Without that voice, a film is a blancmange and I am not a fan of blancmanges. A director with a vision is essential, even, or maybe especially within a franchise. Having said that, we never approached Harry Potter as a franchise. We were simply trying to make each film the best it could be!

 

This only skims the surface of the story.  To read more about the birth of the Harry Potter films and to learn about other great projects David Heyman has done, see the cover story for the December/January Produced By, here.

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6. Congratulations, Producer David Heyman!

This weekend, David Heyman, producer of the Harry Potter films and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will be honored with the Producers Guild Awards’ David O. Selznick Achievement Award for his work on the eight Harry Potter films, Gravity, Testament of Youth, and Paddington, among others.  In anticipation, Heyman has been interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter for its Jan. 29 issue.

David Heyman is excited to return to the Potterverse with Fantastic Beasts.  After all, he got the film rights to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1997, before the book series had become an international phenomenon.  When first talking about what to do next, Heyman and producer Lional Wigram hoped to make a mockumentary about Newt Scamander and his work in magizoology, but J.K. Rowling came back with a plan for a more traditional feature film.  Heyman says,

Jo Rowling created such an incredibly rich and deeply conceived world. What you read in the books is in some ways just the surface of this world. I’d ask her about the [character Sirius Black’s] family tree because we had to paint it on the wall [for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix], and the book only had two names, and half an hour later I’d receive a family tree going back six generations with 100 people. I’m sure Newt Scamander and his story have been in her mind for many years. 

When asked if Fantastic Beasts is designed to be a franchise, Heyman answered conservatively, “We’ve talked about making a couple, but with all these things — and this may be a failing of mine — I don’t look at them as franchises; I look at them as films. We want to make each film as good as we can because if you don’t, you won’t have a second film or a third.”

Congratulations on the David O. Selznick Achievement Award, David Heyman, and thanks for all that you’ve done to bring J.K. Rowling’s books to life on screen!

To read more of the interview, read the Jan. 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter, or see here.

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7. Five Family Favorites with Arwen Elys Dayton, Author of Traveler

Arwen Elys Dayton, author of Traveler, selected these five family favorites.

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8. J.K. Rowling finished “Hallows” 9 years ago, Today

2016 is turning out to be a big year for Harry Potter anniversaries. J.K. Rowling, who has a tweet pinned to her time line honoring the great, late David Bowie, also mentioned that she finished the final installment of the Harry Potter series 9 years ago today, in her Balmoral hotel room.

 

It has been well known, and Rowling has commented several times her reaction to finishing the series. She was heartbroken…for a good while. Truth be told, so were we.

 

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In other J.K. Rowling Twitter news, Jo has recently changed her profile picture and header. Before Christmas, J.K. Rowling’s header held a lot of hidden Easter Eggs for fans of Potter, Strike, and more. During Christmas, we got a look at her Christmas tree, which also contained Harry Potter-referencing ornaments.

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What references are we to interpret from a raven or J.K. Rowling having fun in bumper cars? We don’t know, we will get back to you with that one? Maybe, just maybe, this time Jo decide to be a normal, fun, social-media loving human being, with no clever hidden messages. Maybe.

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9. J.K. Rowling Honors comedian Peter Kay

J.K. Rowling appeared in the BBC documentary Peter Kay: 20 Years of Funny to pay tribute to comedian and friend Peter Kay. The documentary aired on Christmas Eve.

The synopsis is as follows:

Documentary looking at the career to date of Peter Kay. Intercut with clips from Peter’s television shows and stand-up tours, the programme charts Peter’s life in comedy from Bolton schoolboy to award-winning, record-breaking comic, actor, writer and director.

An in-depth interview with Peter gives rare insight into his comedy roots and early ambitions, and shares the stories behind the creation and production of TV classics like Phoenix Nights, Max and Paddy’s Road to Nowhere, Britain’s Got the Pop Factor, and Car Share.

Contributors include JK Rowling, Paddy McGuinness, Danny Baker, Matt Lucas, Reece Shearsmith, Richard Curtis, Susan Boyle, Cat Deeley, Jason Manford, Dave Spikey, Jo Enright, Ted Robbins, Lucy Speed, Pete Waterman and Rick Astley.

Rowling spoke about Kay’s talent as a comedian and as a writer, branding him ‘a born entertainer’, and of her experiences with him as a friend.

She commented on the character of Brian Potter, from the series That Peter Kay Thing:

‘You had this real character, with a real disability, and that disability did not define the character in the slightest, and I was very interested in the way that he did that.’

On Car Share, a sketch depicting the character ‘John’ (Peter Kay) in the car on the way to work :

‘Obviously it’s not Peter, but there are aspects of the character that very much made me think of driving around with Peter in the car, talking, and just talking utter rubbish at each other and turning up the radio, and turning down the radio and shouting at the radio – I’ve done all those things with Peter so yeah, I loved it. I absolutely loved it. 

On his talent as a British Comedian of over two decades:

‘He’s a genius at what he does, and it’s amazing to watch’

The documentary can be watched on BBC iPlayer in the U.K., but can also be seen on Youtube (below) for the rest of our readers!

Rowling appears around the 00:45, 25:20, 46:00, and 50:45 minute mark below:

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10. A Christmas Gift from Pottermore?

Pottermore is counting down the days until Christmas (it’s tomorrow!) and this has left fans wondering…does Pottermore just have a lot of Christmas spirit or are they planning on doing something special for fans?

When specifically asked, on Twitter, if there will be a surprise for fans, Pottermore said that there maybe and we’ll just have to wait until tomorrow to find out. That basically means yes. They wouldn’t tease us just to leave us hanging–a website run by J.K. Rowling isn’t that cruel, the woman has a heart of gold.

 

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So let us speculate: what will Pottermore be giving us for Christmas?

Is it a new piece of writing from J.K. Rowling about cannon within the Harry Potter series? We haven’t seen new writings from our favorite author in a while–not that we blame her, she’s working on stage plays and movie scripts filled with extra Harry Potter cannon.

Will it be breaking news of either Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them or Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? The secrecy around both of these Potter projects have us sitting on the edges of our seats. We have been waiting (perhaps not so patiently), pining for more.

What about bringing back aspects of old Pottermore? Perhaps, this Christmas, Pottermore will give us back the Sorting Hat quiz, or even a new Patronous Quiz, from J.K. Rowling. Or perhaps another engaging interactive activity for fans that makes the new Pottermore more than just a Harry Potter Buzzfeed. We have been promised these additions to the site would eventually appear, and it has been months since the new Pottermore was put online.

Whatever Pottermore’s plans are for fans on Christmas, it is sure to be great–or at least we hope it is something more exciting than a list of the 25 reasons the Christmas Holiday is so important in the Harry Potter books.

Happy Christmas Eve everyone!

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11. Sotheby’s Auction of Signed Illustrated “Philosopher’s Stone” Exceeds Expectations

Last month, we reported that a signed Deluxe Edition of Jim Kay’s illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was to be auctioned for charity. Sotheby’s auctioned a Deluxe Edition of Philosopher’s Stone, signed by both J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay, to benefit Lumos.

The book was expected to be sold for 2,000-3,000 GBP. Not surprisingly, Harry Potter soared beyond expectations. The signed special edition book was able to raise 13,750 GBP for Lumos! We can only imagine how proud J.K. Rowling must be.

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Sotheby’s gave details of the item up for auction, and the auction itself:

 

Hailed by the publishers as “the landmark publishing event of 2015″, the first full-colour illustrated edition of Rowling’s novel was released, as a trade edition, on 6 October. A sumptuous deluxe edition, in a larger format, was published on 5 November. THIS IS THE FIRST COPY OF THE DELUXE EDITION. It is accompanied by a letter of provenance from Publishing Director of Bloomsbury Children’s Books, that notes “this is the first advance copy of the Deluxe Edition. It was hand bound ahead of the binding of the rest of the print run and sent from our printer in Italy… ready for signing by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay.”

 

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12. Last Chance to support LUMOS!

This is the last call for donations to help the LUMOS campaign to raise its goal of $60,000!

The campaign is going towards furnishing the first-of-its kind Special Education Unit in Moldova with specialised equipment needed for disabled students. The unit was built after a similar campaign on Indiegogo last year with the goal of ensuring that children with disabilities no longer need to be needlessly separated from their families in order to gain access to education.

There are still loads of brilliant perks on the Indiegogo page for the campaign, which you can find here.

LUMOS’s campaign ends on December 22nd and is currently at $54,507, so make sure you get your donations in ASAP!

 

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13. David Yates on building the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ cast

Pottermore have released details of an exclusive interview with David Yates on set of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Ezra Miller, Collin Farrell, explosions and (predictably) a lot of rain make an appearance on set, as Yates talks about directing the first of at least three Fantastic Beasts films after directing the last four Harry Potter movies:

‘I’m so excited about this. J.K. Rowling was just inspired to set this movie in 1926 with a completely new set of characters’ he says. ‘I spent seven years doing four of her Harry Potter films so I was desperate to read this script, but also nervous, you know. 

‘It’s a beautiful script; it’s really fun. It’s fresh. She’s got such a gift for creating adorable characters. These ones are special, they’re really moving and funny. You see bits of yourself in them, or you see people you know.’

After watching the trailer on Tuesday, we’re definitely excited to get to know these new characters – with humour, mystery and a fresh new (…old?) era of wizard culture to explore, Fantastic Beasts is certainly gearing up to be a great story!

On Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne):

‘Newt is just fascinating. Probably anyone who’s ever done some sort of geeky thing will relate to him… And filmmaking is a geeky profession,’ he says. ‘Newt’s obsessed with beasts and cataloguing facts about beasts.’

Yates tells the mysterious Pottermore Correspondent that he was ‘obsessed with lenses and cameras’ when he was growing up, and said he ‘really get[s] that aspect of someone who’s truly obsessed with something.’

Lucky us Potterheads have just the right amount of experience with slightly geeky obsessions – Newt sounds right up our alley!

We also get told a little more about Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston):

‘Oh she’s so adorable because she’s sort of so career-obsessed. A lot of us who work really hard can sometimes relate to that. Jacob is everyman, or everywoman, he’s pure and I like that. Queenie’s glamourous and somehow worldly but innocent. They’re so great.’

And finally, Yates addresses how he built the cast around Redmayne’s character:

‘It was like putting a rock band together. We saw so many people. We got Eddie, he was our anchor and I knew once we’d got him, we had to build the world around him. The other characters in this world had to react to him, they had to have a chemical reaction with Eddie. So we went to New York and saw some really fine actors, a lot of them, over two or three days, one after the other in the same room, all of them with Eddie. ‘

‘Eddie has done certain scenes from this movie so many times with so many different actors. When he was with Katherine, there was just something. It was amazing and I just thought, it’s got to be Katherine. It’s got to be. Then with Dan… Eddie and Dan are like Laurel and Hardy, so it had to be him. It’s funny, how they just clicked.’

Read the full interview here, and watch the new Fantastic Beasts trailer here!

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14. Harry Potter Tops the Charts of Audibles Top 10 Audiobooks

It is happening again! The Harry Potter series is known for breaking records and topping charts, especially when it comes to selling books. Rumor has it that the New York Times Bestseller list used to be one list…until Harry came along and nabbed the top spot, and wouldn’t leave. Then they had to break down the list into separate lists based on categories.

Whether or not that is true, Harry Potter is infamous for being one of the best selling books of all times (just trailing behind the Bible, which has sold and distributed over 5 billion copies–really, who can beat that?).

Audible released its list of the Top 10 Best Selling Audiobooks. Not surprisingly, we find Harry at the top once again. In fact, not just the top, but the middle and bottom too. Individual Harry Potter books took five of the ten spots available on the list! See below:

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To see additional lists from Audible, please visit abcnews.com, who has published all of Audible’s weekly lists.

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15. IT IS HERE: The 1st “Fantastic Beasts” Trailer

We finally have our first look at the Harry Potter spin-off series due to be released next November. At about 5:30 AM EST, the Fantastic Beasts twitter released the trailer, which was followed by a retweet from J.K. Rowling:

The video can be viewed on this page.

Now, as a first look, what does this video tell us? It tells us quite a bit–more than the EW articles that gave us our first bits and pieces of inside knowledge. Newt opens the trailer by repeatedly saying “Lumos Maxima.” We know that at one point on his journey to re-incase the escaped Beasts, he has to venture somewhere very dark–so dark that it is not easy to cast a Lumos spell, perhaps due to dark magic.

We are introduced the MACUSA–The Magical Congress of the United States of America–and it’s leader. At time marker 0:49, a woman–in an excellent headdress (pause at 49 seconds and just stare at it, it is so cool)–played by Carmen Ejogo, stands in front of a thrown-like chair, and the MACUSA seal. The seal is reminiscent of the United States seal. Though, instead of and Eagle, the MACUSA seal sports a blue Phoenix, it’s wings outstretched, with an American flag for a body, and the words “Magical Congress of the United States of America” encircling it. 

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This woman, who stands so majestically in front of a group of people, as Tina testifies to Newts unfortunate situation, is obviously a leader. Is she just a congressional leader, or does the Wizarding World far outshine the No-Maj United States government in diversity and equality, by choosing it’s (possibly first) African-American and woman president in 1926?

At 0:48, we see Katherine Waterston, who plays Newts future-wife, Tina Goldstein, standing and testifying in front of the MACUSA leader. She is flanked on either side by a small crowd of people–the MACUSA congress–some members are dressed more elaborately than others, leaving some to question if the MACUSA congress is made up of more than one house, like the No-Maj American Congress.. On the square space of floor she is standing on, there is a white star in the middle of a pale grey-blue circle. The star has five points, and in each of the five points lies a golden circle. What this symbolizes, I’m sure Jo will tell us later (she has all the minute details in that brilliant brain of hers).

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This scene opens (0:37) with Tina walking onto the Congressional floor, wearing a simple outfit (dress pants, plain dress shirt, and plain suit jacket) and holding a brief case–possibly Newt’s brief case?–and turning to address her spectators. Are we to get the feeling that Tina is in trouble? That this is a hostile environment? I get that feeling–she looks hesitant, nervous, and possibly scared.

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Tina’s opening dialogue (0:48) tells us quite a bit. At this point, it is only the day after Newt entered NYC with a case, and the Beasts escaped. That was quick. It also explains J.K. Rowling’s first cryptic tweet on the films–New Scamander only meant to stay in New York a few hours…

Market 0:57 gives us our first look at what appears to be MACUSA from the street view, as well dressed men, and someone carrying a case (as Tina narrates “a case full of magical creatures”), walk towards a white stone building with a sweeping gothic arch around its front door. The hand carrying the case is walking through a grandly decorated room, with marble tiled floor and well dressed passers-by. The hand carrying the case is wearing a suit, not Eddie/Newt’s fantastic blue coat. This suggests that Newt has been separated from his magical case.

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At marker 1:08, as Tina narrates “and unfortunately some have escaped,” we see a professionally-dressed Graves (played by Colin Farrell)  standing in a destroyed apartment–a poor tenant apartment in New York–looking out of a massive hole in the side of the apartment building. We can only imagine what magic, and what beast, made that hole. We know that Graves plays a high ranking MACUSA official, and he is probably sent to the scene of the crime to assess the damage and how to further proceed with the matter.

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Newt had been in that apartment. At marker 1:20, we see Newt perched on a simple bed in a room that looks like it belongs in the destroyed apartment. He opens his case to check on his beasts, letting out horrid screeching and roaring. He quickly snaps it shut, but not before Tina asks “it was open,” and Newt timidly responds “just a smidge.”

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Freeze the frame at marker 1:29, and we see Newt running along the brick roads of New York, firing grand spells (with no-maj Jacob, played by Dan Fogler, running behind him and holding Newt’s case). A woman’s voice, eerily similar to Maggie Smith’s (though she is NOT, I repeat, NOT apart of these films in anyway–who is ever yelling just sounds like her), yells with warning, “Mr. Scamander!” Newt is using powerful magic on the streets in a wealthy part of town. The buildings have columns, dressed with green garland, possibly for Christmas, and large, neat display windows. The plaque on the side of this building reads “Voclain &…”–we can only assume it is a prominent business of some sort.

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That is it for our first look. If one does look very closely, the backgrounds of important title frames, such as “in 2016,” “writer J.K. Rowling,” “invites you to return,” and “to the wizarding world,” appear against backgrounds of scales, feathers, fur, and other magical animal skins and bodies. It is a nice touch, and shows the excellent attention to details these films will have.

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Pottermore also gives their official review of the trailer, and provides wonderful high-def screenshots that were far getter than the ones I managed to snap–though they snapped the exact same scenes. Their review and photos can be seen here. IMDB took note of all the actors faces, and a more fleshed out cast list can be seen here.

What do you think of the first trailer? Do you see anything we might have missed?

 

 

 

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16. J.K. Rowling on Trump: “Voldemort was nowhere near as bad”

J.K. Rowling has taken to Twitter to voice her opinion against Republican candidate Donald Trump’s controversial campaigning against muslims and refugees in the U.S.

In the BBC article Rowling posted, one person tweeted the following:

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Jo agreed, saying ‘Voldemort was nowhere near as bad':

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Rowling frequently takes to twitter to voice her political opinions and engage with fans, and has also recently tweeted about a certain issue with plot in one of her writing projects (as she is currently working on multiple):

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We wish her luck with her writing, and compliment her Christmas tree decorating skills – which seem up to scratch, judging from the portion shown in her latest Twitter header, of course!

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17. ‘The Casual Vacancy’ and ‘The Gamechangers’ up for Writer’s Guild Award

The BBC’s adaptation of The Casual Vacancy and BBC 2’s The Gamechangers – starring Daniel Radcliffe – have been nominated for ‘best short form drama’ by the Writer’s Guild.

The series – directed by Johnny Cambell – features Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore), and is inspired by J.K. Rowling’s book of the same name.

The awards – held 18th January 2016 – will see The Causal Vacancy and The Gamechangers compete with each other as well as ITV’s Code of A Killer.

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18. My Writing and Reading Life: Laurel Gale, Author of Dead Boy

Fans of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book will embrace this darkly funny debut novel from Laurel Gale about Crow, a dead boy, who has a chance at friendship—and a chance at getting his life back.

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19. J.K. Rowling Named Scotland’s Most Influential Author on Twitter

Unsurprisingly, J.K. Rowling is being recognized as Scotland’s top writer on Twitter, according to Edinburgh Evening News.

Though Rowling is originally from England, she resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. She regularly enchants her 5.8 million Twitter followers with witty, pensive, funny, and opinionated tweets.  Her Twitter content ranks her above Scottish DJ Calvin Harris, who came in second place, as well as popular Scottish writers Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin.

Rowling is known for her prolific and sometimes provocative tweets, and does not shy away from discussing politics and questioning Twitter users who spread abuse. Of course, she also tweets about Harry Potter from time to time:

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The title of top tweeter was determined by research conducted for the Scottish Book Trust, ahead of Book Week Scotland, an annual host of events held across the country from the 22-29 of November. Criteria for choosing the winner of the title included how much a writer engages with his or her audience, as well as how often they post to Twitter.

Danny Scott, the book trust’s social media manager, said: “The authors at the top of this list all interact with their audience and aren’t afraid to offer an opinion, or, indeed, be themselves.

“In many ways, the research proves authors are becoming as much of a commodity as their novels.”

Trust chief executive Marc Lambert added: “The list is a mixture of artists, children’s authors, crime writers and journalists, reflecting the dynamism and diversity of the Scottish literary scene. They are all harnessing the power of social media to stimulate discussion and debate books.

“This is exactly in keeping with what Book Week Scotland is all about – reaching out to a wider audience and encouraging people to discover and enjoy the benefits of reading and writing.”

You can read the full article here.

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20. “Career of Evil” in Final Round of Goodreads Choice Awards

Robert Galbraith’s latest novel. Career of Evil, has made it to the final round of Goodreads 2015 Choice Awards. It is up for an award in the “Best Mystery and Thriller” category.

However, it has not won yet. In this final round Robert and Jo need your vote! Up against titles such as Stephen King’s Finders Keepers, and this years hit, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Career of Evil will need your votes.

You can vote here, on Goodreads. Voting is open from now until November 23rd–vote now!

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21. J.K. Rowling Featured in the Guardian Weekend Conversation Special

The Guardian announced today, through Twitter, that J.K. Rowling would be one of the many names taking part in their “Conversations Special” of their weekend edition. The tweet released a promotional picture featuring J.K. Rowling and Lauren Laverne.

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The Weekend edition of the Guardian is out tomorrow!

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22. J.K. Rowling to Pay Tribute to Peter Kay

Radio Times is reporting that J.K. Rowling is to her good friend, Peter Kay. Kay is known as one of the best stand-up comedians in the world. Celebrating his “20 years of Funny,” Kay is obviously very good at making people laugh, holding a 2012 Guinness Book of World Records certificate for biggest stand-up show, selling millions of tickets on tour.

J.K. Rowling will be paying this tribute to her friend on a BBC1 special program, dedicated to Kay, airing on Christmas Eve. Radio Time states:

 

If you are going to have someone sing your praises then one of the most successful writers on the planet is probably as good a person as any…

Rowling is an old friend of Kay’s and in 2009 was pictured dancing with him at a charity ball.

And in 2011 she was spotted watching Take That perform at Glasgow’s Hampden Park with the comedian. 

The profile show, Peter Kay: 20 Years of Funny, will chart the Phoenix Nights and Car Share star’s life from his childhood growing up in Bolton, via the places and people who have influenced him, to his rise “to become a household name and national treasure”. 

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23. J.K. Rowling’s Lumos: Help Kids with Disabilities

Last year, J.K. Rowling’s Lumos raised $30,000 on Indiegogo to build a first-of-its kind Special Education Unit in Moldova with a goal to ensure that children with disabilities no longer need to be needlessly separated from their families in order to gain access to education. This year, Lumos is asking people to join them in collecting money to help furnish the unit with specialized equipment that the children will need in order to attend school.

J.K. Rowling founded Lumos to help countries reform their services for disadvantaged children and the organization has a goal of ending the institutionalization of children by 2050 to support their belief that children need families rather than orphanages.

This year’s project is aiming to reach to $35,000 USD. Both J.K. Rowling and the official Lumos Twitter page have shared links to the campaign along with their encouragements for donations.

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The campaign can be found from here. Please note that there are different kind of perks available for those who donate, from rare Hogwarts maps to thank you videos and signed copies of The Tales of Beedle The Bard. 

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24. J.K. Rowling visits the set of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’

Yesterday. J.K. Rowling visited the set of the first Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them film, tweeting a photo of her chair on set, and (amusingly, seeing as she wrote the screenplay and is, well, J.K. Rowling) an I.D. badge!

When asked by a fan whether she was visiting Cursed Child or Fantastic Beasts, Rowling tweeted a serpent ’emoji’, indicating the latter.

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We can only imagine what’s happening on set at now, and can’t wait to see what Rowling’s first original screenplay brings!

Production for the film wraps in January, as confirmed by Jenn Murray last week. Set in 1926 and centred around the core characters of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), Tina (Katherine Waterston), Queenie (Alison Sudol), and Jacob (Dan Fogler) amongst others, the first Fantastic Beasts instalment is set to be released November 18th 2016.

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25. Best Selling Kids Series | December 2015

This month's best selling kids series from The Children's Book Review's affiliate store, First 100, is a great series for babies and toddlers ready to absorb information about the world around them.

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