Thursday, May 31, 2007

BREAKING Harry Potter News!

Editor's Note: I think we read a rumor about this idea a while ago, but a non-dweeb actually sent me the breakingnews update. (Sad, when NON-dweebs trump the QOTD, eh?)

Universal Studios to open Harry Potter theme park!



Universal Studios and Warner Brothers made a joint announcement this evening from Leavesden Studios on the set of Dumbledore's Office to reveal that a Harry Potter theme park is currently in development.

The image is the first piece of concept art for the park: Hogsmeade Village.

Here's what we learned from Potter set designer Stuart Craig and a representative from Universal Studios (both of them hosted the big reveal):-

"The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort"-

Concept art of an owl's eye view of the park.

Announcement was made live via internet at 12:01 AM EST today to select media.

Areas of park to include Hogsmeade, Hogwarts Castle, and the Forbidden Forest.

20 engineers working on project.

Universal came to WB looking for authenticity.

Potter park to be built in "Islands of Adventure" area of Universal. Editor's Note: This is Universal ORLANDO, by the way. So finally, there will be an actual reason to go there. (Most of the time, while we're Disney'ing, it never seems enticing enough over at Universal to bother missing a Disney day to go over there).

Opening early 2010.

Universal's Potter website to be available at this link soon.
http://www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter/


Concept art of Hogwarts Castle.

JK Rowling has been involved "since the very beginning" of the project. Also "supportive and encouraging."

Have been in design for at least a year and a half.

Important that the theme park represents the entire saga from Book 1 to Book 7

In a rather cute way to end the announcement, the Universal representative asks Stuart Craig, "Now where's Dumbledore?" Stuart paused for a moment, looked around the office, and replied, "He was just here."

Here's the official Press Release:

Harry Potter(TM) to Cast Spell on Universal Orlando Resort
Harry Potter "Theme Park within a Theme Park" Scheduled to Debut in 2009 -- Fans to be Immersed in the Adventures of the World's Most Popular Wizard


Concept art of Hogsmeade Village.

ORLANDO, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Universal Orlando Resort are partnering to create the world's first fully immersive Harry Potter themed environment based on the bestselling books by J.K. Rowling and blockbuster feature films from Warner Bros. Envisioned as a "theme park within a theme park" and titled "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter," the new environment will become part of the experience within Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park at the Universal Orlando Resort.
Source: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

"Over the years we've received thousands of letters from fans around the world wishing they could visit Hogwarts and the wonderful locations described in each of J.K. Rowling's beloved stories," said Barry Meyer, chairman and CEO, Warner Bros. Entertainment. "Working with Universal Orlando Resort, we are confident that we'll be able to provide Harry Potter fans with an incredible experience that upholds the richness of J.K. Rowling's books and delivers on the authentic detail portrayed in our films."

"We will rely on our company's rich movie heritage and expertise in transforming film concepts into theme park entertainment experiences," said Ron Meyer, president and COO, Universal Studios. "The Harry Potter stories are among the most compelling of our time. The millions of people who have read the books and seen the movies will now be able to experience the world of Harry Potter in person."

Inspired by J.K. Rowling's compelling stories and characters - and faithful to the visual landscapes of the films - "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" will provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience the magical world of Harry and his friends. The fully immersive, themed land will enable guests to visit some of the most iconic locations found in the books and the films including the village of Hogsmeade, the mysterious Forbidden Forest, and even Hogwarts castle itself.

"The plans I've seen look incredibly exciting, and I don't think fans of the books or films will be disappointed," said J.K. Rowling. Editor's Note: Of course, if she has killed off Harry Potter, will we WANT to visit? (As it would just bring back traumatic memories....)

"We have a profound sense of responsibility for the Harry Potter franchise at Warner Bros. Bringing the magic of J.K. Rowling's written word to the motion picture screen was the first step in expanding this amazing and imaginative world. Working with Universal Orlando Resort to bring it to life in a physical environment that you can walk through, relax in and ride on is the natural next step for fans to experience and enjoy," said Alan Horn, president and COO, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Expected to open in late 2009, the new environment will feature immersive rides and interactive attractions, as well as experiential shops and restaurants that will enable guests to sample fare from the wizarding world's best known establishments. Also debuting will be a state-of-the-art attraction that will bring the magic, characters and stories of Harry Potter to life in an exciting way that guests have never before experienced. Editor's Note: If this were Disney, I'd be more inclined to believe this.

"We are going to devote more time, more money, more expertise and more executive talent from throughout our entire organization and creative team - as well as from Warner Bros., our partners - to ensure that this entire environment is second-to-none," said Tom Williams, chairman and CEO, Universal Parks and Resorts.

Brad Globe, president of Warner Bros. Worldwide Consumer Products, added: "In Universal, we found the right partner whose unparalleled commitment will ensure that this is a world class destination. Their track record of success and the consistently high level of entertainment at all of their parks gave us the confidence to know that they will meet -- or exceed -- the extremely high expectations we all have for this project."

The Academy Award-winning production designer Stuart Craig, who has worked to bring the world of Harry Potter to life in all of the feature films to date, leads the creative design for the area to ensure it remains faithful to the look and feel of the films.

"Our primary goal is to make sure this experience is an authentic extension of Harry Potter's world as it is portrayed in the books and films," said Craig. "I am very excited to be working closely with the Universal Orlando team to bring the area to life."

The Universal Orlando resort destination (www.universalorlando.com) includes two dramatically distinct and adjacent theme parks, the Universal Studios motion picture and television theme park and Universal's Islands of Adventure, Orlando's most thrilling and exhilarating theme park. Universal Orlando also includes CityWalk, a 30-acre dining, shopping, club and live-entertainment venue as well as premier on-site Loews hotels and world-class film and television production facilities.

Harry Potter continues to be a global phenomenon. The series of books by author J.K. Rowling has been translated into 65 languages with more than 325 million copies sold in over 200 territories around the world. The films, produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, have grossed more than $3.5 billion at the box office worldwide. Each of the four Harry Potter films produced to date has the distinction of making it into the all time top 20 grossing films worldwide. The fifth film in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix(TM), will be released in theatres on July 11, 2007.

HARRY POTTER characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Harry Addendum

Judge upholds schools' decision to keep Harry Potter books
A suburban Atlanta judge on Tuesday upheld the decision of Georgia school officials to keep the best-selling Harry Potter books in Gwinnett County school libraries.

Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Ronnie Batchelor issued the ruling after hearing arguments from attorneys for the school system and from local mother Laura Mallory, who wants the books removed. Mallory was not represented by an attorney at the hearing.
Afterward, Mallory said she may take her case to federal court. Editor's Note: What is that line about foolish consistency....??? Persistent little idiot, ain't she?!

Mallory has tried to ban the books from Gwinnett County school library shelves since August 2005, arguing that the popular fiction series is an attempt to indoctrinate children in witchcraft. Editor's Note: Wanna make a bet she's never READ the HP books? (Assuming, that is, that she CAN read...)

School board members have said the books are good tools to encourage children to read and to spark creativity and imagination. In May 2006, the county denied Mallory's request. In December, the state Board of Education upheld the county's decision.

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, published by London-based Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, tell stories of children with magic powers. They have been challenged numerous times since 2000, making them the most challenged texts of the 21st century, according to the American Library Association.Editor's Note: All those OTHER satanic tomes should write J.K. Rowling a thank you note for taking so much of the heat!

Harry Potter, so much, so little time

Potter casts a spell on Brown
GORDON BROWN today revealed one of his plans for his first few weeks as Prime Minister - to read the next Harry Potter book.

Mr Brown arrives in 10 Downing Street less than three weeks before Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is published on July 16. And the next Prime Minister, a personal friend of Capital author JK Rowling, named the book as one he hopes to get through over the summer. Editor's Note: Good thing ruling ENGLAND doesn't take much TIME....

Don’t Spoil the Story, Pleads J.K. Rowling
Author of Potter series hits back at websites posting spoilers for seventh novel.

As the release date for the final Harry Potter book looms, speculation and rumors abound. But sprinkled into the mix are also spoilers for the book’s plot.

The problem has prompted a response from author J.K. Rowling, who is denouncing the websites posting spoilers. She states that the spoilers will only ruin the pleasure of reading the final installment.

Rowling maintains that she is not worried about profits, that the people will buy the book regardless, but she wants those who have grown up with Harry to take this last adventure step-by-step with him.

Rowling also praised the webmaster of website The Leaky Cauldron, who posted an editorial denouncing spoilers and stated that the website would not post any spoilers submitted.

Anticipation is high for this final novel in the series, and Rowling has said that she will never write another Harry Potter book, though she hinted that she might be persuaded to do a companion encyclopedia for charity at a later date.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be released on July 21. Editor's Note: Here's a question, though....how are these miscreants GETTING the spoilers?

And speaking of the spoilers and such...

Harry Potter and the last instalment
WORD is that there are spoilsports out there who have been sending emails to a leading Harry Potter fan site (http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/), hinting at the content and ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

An AP wire service report quoted Leaky Cauldron webmaster Melissa Anelli, writing on her site, “If Harry dies, we don't want to know about it until J. K. Rowling decides to tell us.” Most fans would agree that, as much as the suspense is killing them, they would rather wait to read the book to know what Harry Potter will face next.

There is little less than a month before the final instalment of Rowling's series is published on July 21. Fans have already started placing orders for the book, fearing that copies will be sold out on the day and they will have to (gasp!) wait a couple of weeks to find out the fate of their hero.

Nicholas Wong of Sungai Buloh, Selangor, has placed an order for the Bloomsbury children's edition of Deathly Hallows. He regrets it but only because he doesn't think much of the cover art:

I am disgusted. Is that Harry, Ron and Hermione? They look completely different. It's horrible, and, in my humble opinion, a bit too colourful. I was expecting something darker, something better fitting for the final book.

“I am disappointed. How could the artist mess up this huge task?” Editor's Note: Just to show that no one bites the hand the feeds quite like a dweebfan!

Still, Wong feels that “life goes on. The book will come out, millions will buy it, and the story itself will not change no matter what the cover looks like. It just goes to show that you can't judge a book by its cover.” Editor's Note: Actually, I was thinking it just goes to show that reading and comprehension aren't the same thing....

Another fan, Usha, doesn't think the cover is so bad: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has the most interesting cover among all the seven books. Harry, Hermione and Ron look in desperate need of a makeover – they look like they have been through a dreadful ordeal – but I am sure that there is a reason for this.” Editor's Note: It's only a month or so away, gang. We have to review the book cover, we're so absent things to discuss?

Usha too has pre-ordered the book: “Knowing that this the last time I'll be able to wear a HP tee and line up in front of a bookstore as it opens devastates me deeply.”

She is “dying to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. With a title like that, who wouldn't be? I have so many questions as well as several hunches about what will happens next.”

But ... “Knowing J. K. Rowling, she will just shock readers with a totally unexpected ending,” says Kervindran Mohanasundaram from Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur. “Let’s just face it – how many of us expected Dumbledore’s death in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince?” Editor's Note: Umm...me.

Kervindran isn't optimistic about Harry's chances of survival in Death Hallows, “ I do think that misfortune will befall Harry in his final battle against Voldemort. Either he dies with his nemesis, or he loses his loved ones. After all, absolute victory cannot be gained without huge loses, although I do acknowledge the fact that Harry has already suffered those loses.

“It is even possible that the death of another loved one would be the factor that pushes Harry to his limits and allows him to successfully annihilate his enemy. No matter what the ending is, the books have given me a great time. I must thank Rowling for the wonderful moments she has given me.”

HARRY POTTER BOOK MADE IN "TOTAL DARKNESS"
The seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series is apparently being printed in "total darkness" in a bid to avoid leaks about the novel's plot. Editor's Note: So look for a bunch of bruised printing guys, blinking at bright lights.

According to reports security is so tight for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that German workers at the GGP print factory in the small town of Poessneck are being forced to work in pitch black conditions so that they cannot read any of the books.

The Cold War-style security measures follow high-profile leaks of information in the run-up to the publication of the previous three books.

Other failsafe schemes in place see workers' bags and cars searched as they arrive and leave, while GGP employees have already been told they will be sacked if they are found to have smuggled copies out or placed bets on the novel's ending.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has already revealed that one, possible two or three, major characters will die in the final literary instalment of her best-selling series. Editor's note: Which I gather is one less than she initially PLANNED to kill. (Didn't she say that she had spared someone that originally was slated to die?)

Harry Potter under lock and key
J. K. Rowling's seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series will hit bookstores July 21.
But until then, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" is under wraps.

Judy Dewey, director for the Madison Library District, has planned ahead to meet the demands on the popular book series. When the books arrive they will be processed, but no one will be able to crack open the first page until the release date. The director and her assistants have all signed disclosures they would not.

Dewey has the competitive edge. She knows Wal-Mart will be open and selling Deathly Hallows just after midnight. She is ready to satisfy the library district's patrons.

"The books will be ready (to check out) on the release date," Dewey said, "at 10 a.m. when the library opens." Editor's Note: And there will be no talking above a whisper, and no eating in the main hall!

"We have 33 holds on volume seven. I suspect as we get closer to the release (date) we'll get more and more," she said.

Judy Dewey has been the director for over five years and through her leadership circulation has increased 66 percent.

"We've purchased 10 to 15 copies and we may have more. We'd like to satisfy the holds as quickly as possible," Dewey said.

Her competitive edge is that she has also purchased and will have the audio versions of Harry Potter. The library will have both books-on-tape and the CD.

It isn't unusual for Wal-Mart to be open and selling the hottest items on their release dates, but Deseret Book also has plans to be opened to accommodate their customers. Both stores are taking pre-orders and have discounts to do so.

Merchants and the library director are eager to satisfy their customers' reading interest. The merchants will keep their shelves stocked and the librarian plans to place some phone calls.
The library has an automated phone call system to notify patrons when the book they've requested is available. But because there is a seven-day hold on any item, Dewey plans to make some personal phone calls.

"With 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,' we won't rely upon it. I mean the system will place the call, but we'll also call personally, to see if the interest is still there," she said. "If they've already purchased it because they decided not to wait, we want to move people up on the list."

Dewey expects 1,300 people will come through the doors the first day of the summer programs and 1,000 every day for the rest of the week.

The library will be giving away copies of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" as part of its prize drawing.

The end is near
How will the Harry Potter series conclude?


The last word is “scar.”

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows won’t be released till July 21, but the author has said the final word of the seventh and concluding book will be “scar.” Editor's Note: Anyone besides me just get MAJOR goosebumps???!!!

Plenty of Pottering to do before new book, film arrive
J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
won't be out until July 21, and the film version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix isn't due until July 13, but here are six tips for preparing for what promises to be a very Harry summer:

1. Laugh: Some Massachusetts teens have reduced the Potter characters to hand-puppet silliness. Videos, T-shirts and more are on http://www.potterpuppetpals.com/.

2. Play: With every movie comes a new video game. Explore Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, debuting June 25 for most platforms.

3. Browse: Explore fan sites (http://www.mugglenet.com/, www. the-leaky-cauldron.org, www. sugarquill.net, http://www.hp-lexicon.org/); the publisher's site (www. scholastic.com/harrypotter); the movie http://harrypotter. warnerbros.com); or the creator (http://www.jkrowling.com/).

4. Analyze: The books have spawned a cottage industry of Potter predictions and punditry. Try mugglenet.com's What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7.

5. Listen: The fund-raiser CD Wizards and Muggles Rock for Social Justice is due out next month with bands such as Harry and the Potters (www.eskimolabs.com/hp) and Draco and the Malfoys (http://www.evilwizardrock.com/).

6. Reread: The ambitious can dive into Books 1 through 6 again. Don't have time? Get by with only Book 6 (Half-Blood Prince) and the Phoenix film. Or for your summer vacation, try the audio versions, masterfully told by Jim Dale. Editor's Note: At the risk of repeating myself, these books on tape are FABULOUS. Jim Dale does an amazing job of it and it is a wonderful way to experience/re-experience the books. FYI...

'Wisdom of Harry Potter' author to offer fall college course
Students at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, will be able to enroll in a course titled "Thinking about Harry Potter" during their fall term next year.

The course's instructor, Edmund M. Kern, is the author of The Wisdom of Harry Potter: What Our Favorite Hero Teaches Us About Moral Choices (Prometheus Books, 2003).

"Today's college students are like no others in history," said Kern. "They had the chance to grow up right along with Harry Potter. I'd be foolish to pass up the teaching opportunities that those circumstances offer me."

Following closely upon the publication of the finale of JK Rowling's series, the course will be interdisciplinary in nature and focus upon Harry not only as a literary phenomenon but as the biggest pop-cultural event of the era. It will explore Rowling's stories in terms of their relation to history, legend, and myth, take up debates about their contested aesthetic merit and ethical values, and take stock of their broader social and political implications.

Enrollment in the course will be by consent of the instructor only.

"I had to find a way to keep things manageable and in line with the small class sizes typical of Lawrence courses," said Kern. For this reason, only students who have already mastered all seven books of the Harry Potter series will participate.

Kern has never demanded over four thousand pages of text as a prerequisite for a course before, and he can't imagine other circumstances that would allow him to do so again. "I'm not going to assign Rowling's books. I'm simply going to assume that my students have a copious knowledge of them," he said. Editor's Note: oooooo...pick me, pick ME!

Interested students will have to write brief explanations of why they should be in the course. Kern hopes this requirement will allow students to "select themselves," but he is afraid that he might have to turn some students away. The course will involve serious scholarship, but Kern insisted it will also be fun. "I want to make sure I end up with the most dedicated fans of Harry Potter," he adds.

In keeping with the academic demands of the course, students will complete short research projects of their own design. "We might get a book of essays out of all this," Kern offered, "but ultimately, I just want my students to apply the skills they have developed in a wide variety of college courses to something that they've enjoyed, witnessed, and really been a part of. "

A member of Lawrence's Department of History, Kern first heard about Harry Potter from his students. "Back in '98 or '99, they began to ask me about the books, because I teach a course on the history of religion, magic, and witchcraft. Little did I know then, how things would turn out."

Britain to issue Harry Potter stamps
THEY'LL DEPICT U.K. BOOK COVERS







LONDON - Britain's Royal Mail is issuing a series of seven stamps depicting the covers of the best-selling Harry Potter books just before the final volume goes on sale.

Millions of the stamps will be issued on July 17 as part of the post office's tradition of celebrating "social themes and important occasions central to our way of life," said Julietta Edgar, who is in charge of special stamps at Royal Mail.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" goes on sale July 21.

"There's no doubt that J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels, published in dozens of languages worldwide, have made a phenomenal impact on our reading habits," Edgar said.

Rowling's fantasy series has sold more than 325 million copies worldwide. She has said two major characters will die in the final book, which is being released under tight security.

'Order of the Phoenix' 138 minutes long
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will have a running time of 138 minutes and 4 seconds (2 hours, 18 minutes and 4 seconds), according to the British Board of Film Classification . Editor's Note: YAY!! Longer is better!! (don't go to a bad place...OddBob, Joel, Dave....this means YOU).

The book is so durned long, I'm surprised the movie isn't THREE hours!

The BBFC recently rated Order of the Phoenix 12A, meaning no one under 12 years old may see the movie without an accompanying adult. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rated the film PG-13 in the U.S. which places kids under 13 under the same restriction.

'Lucius Malfoy' too superstitious to attend Harry Potter premiere
Jason Isaacs Editor's Note: Yummy Yummy Yummy! , famously known to "Harry Potter" fans as Lucius Malfoy will not be present at the July premiere of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix".

And Isaacs apparently seems to have no regret and guilt over the fact that he won't make it to the first screening of the fifth instalment of the blockbuster series.

Isaacs recently confessed that his absence in all the previous Harry Potter premieres has made him superstitious, and hence he doesn't want to mess up with things.

"I haven't been able to go to any of the premieres, and you know how superstitious actors can be. It's best this way, so I don't mess things up," the National Ledger quoted him, as saying.
Meanwhile Isaacs is busy shooting for his "Good" feature film in Budapest, Hungary, with Viggo Mortensen. Editor's Note: oh my golly....Viggo Mortensen and Jason Isaacs on the same screen!? That's almost too much loveliness for any one projector.

Isaacs is also occupied with the second season shooting of his Peabody Award-winning Showtime "Brotherhood" series in Providence, R.I.

Magic, Mayhem And Dumbledore’s Army
‘Order Of The Phoenix’ movie conjures up the dark side of Harry Potter

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" will be bigger and more complex than its predecessors, according to Daniel Radcliffe, who has virtually grown up as the star of the movies based on the J.K. Rowling books.

"On an emotional level, there's much bigger stuff than I had to do in the fourth film," Radcliffe told SciFi Wire.

In "Order of the Phoenix," Harry returns for his fifth year of study at Hogwarts and discovers that much of the wizarding community has been denied the truth about the teenager's recent encounter with the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). As Voldemort returns, Hogwarts has become the wizard world’s version of a police state, and the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), refuses to teach students any practical defense methods, leaving them unprepared to fight Voldemort. As a result, Harry and his friends Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) form "Dumbledore's Army" to train Hogwarts students to defend themselves.

"Order of the Phoenix" will have darker, more mature themes in it than in previous Harry Potter movies. According to Radcliffe, the film is more about political intrigue and the search for the truth.

"There's no major physical action set pieces, other than, of course, the final standoff between Voldemort and Harry and Harry and Voldemort and all the Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix." Radcliffe added "That's going to be pretty spectacular, I think."

On top of all the pandemonium at Hogwarts and the intrigue both at the school and the outside world, "Harry goes through what every teenager goes through, in a way. He feels angry. And, of course, Harry's feelings are exacerbated by the fact that he has had all of these troubles in his life, and has had people trying to kill him at numerous times, really," Radcliff stated.

Harry's relationship with his godfather, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), figures prominently in the story, as Harry's attitude and demeanor become increasingly conflicted and angry. "There's a lot going on inside of Harry's head that makes him more interesting to do," Radcliffe said. "And I think, for an audience, he becomes a more charismatic sort of character to watch, because he is so of two different sides."

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" opens in theatres on Friday, July 13.

6 Harry Potter 5 TV Spots!
Editor's Note: If you can't WAIT for the movie....watch the ads!

Warner Bros. Pictures has provided ComingSoon.net with no less than six TV spots from the highly-anticipated Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, opening in conventional theaters and IMAX on July 13.

You can watch the spots here!
http://www.comingsoon.net/films.php?id=4661

Monday, May 28, 2007

OddBob celebrates Star Wars a little bit more

Editor's Note: A 3-day weekend brings out the REALLY odd, in our OddBob. So here are a few more SW-related, cross-dweebfranchise polinations that OB sent to us.

Enjoy?




Editor's NOte: And what's REALLY odd is that OB didn't even make any...ahem...LIGHTsaber jokes when he sent this one in. (Guess he knew I would lower the standards without his help?)


Editor's Note: And how disturbing is THIS one???!!!