MuggleNet is the world’s #1 Harry Potter website! As a result, it has received a considerable amount of press attention over the years, especially during peak Potter periods – book and movie releases. Below you can find an archive of press articles in which MuggleNet was mentioned. Unfortunately, it is not complete; we have been recognized several other times by a number of media outlets but haven’t managed to keep a record of them.

If you have found MuggleNet mentioned in the press somewhere (past or present), please submit it using our feedback form on the Contact Us page!

How Snape became Harry Potter's most unlikely sex symbol - October 2015

How Snape became Harry Potter's most unlikely sex symbol - October 2015

By Alice Vincent | The Telegraph | October 3, 2015, 2:00 p.m.

His appeal isn’t immediately apparent. A sallow-faced, sadistic teacher with lank hair and thin lips, Prof Severus Snape’s sole aim in life, up until book seven in the Harry Potter series, appeared to be the downfall of J K Rowling’s daring young wizard.

Among his many despicable acts, he killed Hogwarts’ kindly headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

But to everyone’s surprise, not least the author herself, Snape has become the most popular character in the Harry Potter universe.

In countries all over the world, from China to Thailand (the books have been translated into 68 languages), readers have become obsessed with the miserable, middle-aged teacher, penning heartfelt tributes to his tortured soul and writing tens of thousands of short stories and novels about their hero online (some of them decidedly X-rated).

On one website alone, there are 47,000 pieces of fiction about Snape, another hosts a staggering 28,000 artistic interpretations, including one brooding picture of the character, as portrayed by Alan Rickman in the films, with the caption: “I think he’s given us all a love potion.”

In America, recently, there was an entire convention dedicated solely to the teacher.

When Bloomsbury conducted a worldwide poll to find fans’ favourite character in 2011, Snape romped home with 13,000 votes. So, the internet is bracing itself for a flood of forthright opinions on Tuesday when the first ever official illustration of Snape appears in a new edition of Rowling’s series opener, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

The book, which will also feature drawings of Harry, Hermione, Ron, Hagrid, Dumbledore, Prof McGonagall and dozens of others, is being published by Bloomsbury to bring a new readership to the much‑loved series. Jim Kay, the award-winning artist who was given the daunting task of reinterpreting Rowling’s well-known characters, has been commissioned to illustrate all seven books and has been praised by the author for his “moving” creations.

But Kay’s Snape, published here for the first time, looks very different to the Rickman interpretation. Shrouded in darkness, he has a vertiginous hook nose and resembles nothing so much as a goblin. This is actually more faithful to Rowling’s original description of Snape, but it is sure to stir up chatter within the cauldron of Harry Potter fandom.

“Snape fans will have their views, but whatever they make of Jim Kay’s drawing, it won’t put them off,” says Dr Eleanor Spencer-Regan, who teaches at the Department of English Studies at Durham University. “We are interested in his character, not his appearance. We always thought there was more to him than just this mean teacher.”

But one of the key attractions of Snape is his complexity. Although he starts as Potter’s nemesis – a villain in cahoots with Lord Voldemort, the murderer of Harry’s parents – the Potions Master is revealed in the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as a double agent who has been guarding Harry’s life as compensation for the death of the boy’s mother, Lily Evans, the unrequited love of his life. During the climactic Battle of Hogwarts, Snape makes the ultimate sacrifice so that Harry can live.

Rowling spun this tale with gossamer, hooking her 450 million readers on cliffhangers that grew steeper with each passing publication, and it was this, together with the mystery surrounding Snape’s real motives, that made the character so fascinating. It is his questionable loyalty that made Snape a favourite, says Daniel Hahn, editor of the Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature: “You spend a year thinking he’s entirely different from what he’s proved to be. Whatever Snape does, however much he redeems himself, he’s still going to have that weird hair and that scary voice. Those things are quite potent.”

In fact, fans, especially female ones, started to flesh out Snape through online fiction just two years after he appeared on Rowling’s pages, many of them imagining he had a softer side.

As Laura Jones, intern with fan site Mugglenet, says, “By the end, all Snape fans felt vindicated. He was good – and we knew it all along.”

Their intuition surprised Rowling. She was shocked when, as early as 1999, a fan asked her if Snape would fall in love. “There’s so much I wish I could say,” she managed to reply. “You’ll find out why I’m so stunned if you read book seven.”

Hungry fans clung to theories – many thought he was a vampire, or Harry’s father – and sussed Snape and Lily’s connection (his full name was an anagram of Perseus Evans) years before the big reveal. Now they know, they say they identify with him because they, too, have been bullied, suffer unrequited love, or, in some cases, blame themselves for the death of loved ones.

For Spencer-Regan, Snape is as much of a tragic hero as the Brontës’s Mr Rochester or Heathcliff. As one post online surmises: “He’s a cold, mean and selfish man on the outside, but inside he is a hurt, sad, depressed and lonely little boy.”

Neatly, Rickman was among the first to hear Rowling’s intentions for his on-screen character: the author told him so he could fully commit to the role. Rickman’s casting added fuel to the simmering heat of Snape worship. “He’s the reason a lot of people like him: he’s not made to be extremely unattractive in the films,” Jones explains, “his hair looks like a L’Oreal commercial.” On blogging platform Tumblr, one of the tamer collages reads: “even though Severus Snape and Alan Rickman are old enough to be my grandfather, I want to marry them. I really do.”

Rowling treats the fans well. On Pottermore, the digital Harry Potter platform, she has shed more light about Snape’s grim, deprived childhood and her adolescent chemistry lessons that inspired his draconian potions instruction.

But a trail of breadcrumbs has been scattered throughout her novels, too, and readers continue to learn Snape’s narrative anew. For instance, his first words to Harry: “What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?” translate, using the Victorian language of flowers, to “I bitterly regret Lily’s death.” Similarly, Snape is frequently rude about James, the schoolground bully who fathered Harry, but never his wife, Lily.

There is, then, more to be found in this most enchanting of characters. As a fresh version of Snape appears on the page, perhaps a new generation of readers will find themselves under his spell.

#PotterItForward - September 2015

#PotterItForward - September 2015

See all #PotterItForward press on our #PotterItForward page!

"Harry Potter"'s Luna Lovegood Writes Heartfelt Post Urging Fans to Audition for "Potter" Spin-Off "Fantastic Beasts" - July 2015

"Harry Potter"'s Luna Lovegood Writes Heartfelt Post Urging Fans to Audition for "Potter" Spin-Off "Fantastic Beasts" - July 2015

By Emily Zauzmer | | July 13, 2015, 5:20 p.m. EDT

Calling all girls ages 8 to 12! Think that you don’t have a shot at landing a role in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? Luna Lovegood wants you to think again.

On Monday, the Harry Potter fansite MuggleNet posted an ad for an open casting call for the role of Modesty in the upcoming movie adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s 2001 Harry Potter spin-off. That casting call served up a heavy potion of nostalgia for Evanna Lynch, who landed the part of Lovegood – the spacey-but-brave Ravenclaw who becomes one of Harry’s closest allies – in the final four Harry Potter films after noticing a similar casting call on MuggleNet in January 2006.

Lynch, 23, took to her Facebook page to offer inspiration to young girls debating whether or not to chase their show business dreams by auditioning for the film, which will star Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne. “I just want to encourage any girls out there who are tempted to go for this but feel like it’s impossible or bigger than you are, to put all those alleged obstacles out of your mind and just go as you, nothing more, nothing less,” she wrote.

Lynch, who is an avid animal rights activist, offered her own remarkable story as an example of beating the odds. “I was shy, awkward, too-sensitive-for-this-industry, had not one professional credit to my name,” Lynch recalled of her Harry Potter audition. “I only went out of love for the books and a fierce desire to tell Luna’s story the right way….I’m sure there were better, prettier, more established actresses who went for it but I don’t think any of them loved Luna as much as I do.”

One American mother piped up in the comments section that she is trying to secure passports so that she can take her ambitious daughter to the London casting call. Lynch replied, “You’re an awesome parent, regardless of whether or not it works out!! It’s amazing to hear the lengths you would go to help your daughter pursue her dreams and she’ll go far with that positive mindset.”

And if you do not fit the gender and age descriptions of Modesty, Lynch has advice for you, too: “The rest of us can go cry into a pillow for being too old/male/already frikking cast, and then submit our headshots for a role as a crumple-horned snorkack.” (Lynch previously used the crumple-horned snorkack, a creature that both Lynch and Lovegood adore, to poke fun at Benedict Cumberbatch.)

Whether you are aiming for the part of Modesty or a turn as a crumple-horned snorkack, Lynch’s touching advice might just cast the spell you need to take a leap of faith and audition for the film.

Expo Patronum! Fans attend Harry Potter convention at ExCel - April 2015

Expo Patronum! Fans attend Harry Potter convention at ExCel - April 2015

By Seema Hakim | Newham Recorder | April 21, 2015, 14:00

Excited Harry Potter enthusiasts came together over the weekend to get a special taste of the magical wizarding world.

Expo Patronum, organised by US-based fansite MuggleNet Live, aimed to bring cast members and fans together to celebrate the entire Potter series.

The first fan-based convention, held at the London ExCeL Centre, in Custom House, invited fans to take part in question and answer sessions with actors including Warwick Davis (who played Filius Flitwick) and Alfie Enoch (who played Hogwarts student Dean Thomas).

Fans also had a chance to take part in a wand choreography session.

Claire Furner, from MuggleNet Live, said the day went “amazingly well”.

She added: “Attendees and talent alike seemed to enjoy the intimacy of the whole affair and have been nothing but positive over on social media after the event.”

Many of the 200 fans dressed up as their favourite characters for the day.

Claire added: “The aim was bring fans together.

“We wanted to celebrate the Harry Potter fandom as it currently stands – seven books, eight films and millions of fans still incredible passionate for this story.”

During the day, money was also raised for Lumos, a charity set up by Harry Potter author, J.K Rowling, which aims to help millions of children around the world.

Expo Patronum, the Mugglenet Live 2015 Convention Interviews - April 2015

Expo Patronum, the Mugglenet Live 2015 Convention Interviews - April 2015

By Colin Hart | HeyUGuys | April 21, 2015

On Saturday a HeyUGuys crew of Alice Alexander and myself were invited to attend Expo Patronum, the physical incarnation of Mugglenet Live, for their first ever convention at London’s Excel Centre.

Whilst some conventions are massive, sprawling affairs with seething masses jostling for space Expo Patronum was an intimate gathering with an almost family feel to it, albeit a very welcoming and excited family… almost Weasley-esque it could be said.

This was a massive deal for both them as since they began in 1999 they have grown to be a formidable online entity. Attendees and helpers seemed to have come from across Europe and the US to help make this event as memorable as possible and it was superb to see such an event take place.

As with many other conventions the day consisted of a variety of panel sessions with various cast and crew but then it finished with practical Quidditch and wand work sessions in the late afternoon. through the day we were fortunate to be given time with the various special guests who were present.

Below are the interviews from our sessions with the various panel members feilding such questions as:

  • What do the actors think about having a Marauders TV series based around the exploits of Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs?
  • Whose favourite memory was Ralph Fiennes struggling to keep his balance on a trail of fake blood in Malfoy Mansion?
  • Which Harry Potter actress when talking about bad boys suggested the best option was “a Gryffindor in the streets, a Slytherin in the sheets”?

Anna Shaffer, Afshan Azad, Georgina Leonidas, Jessie Cave & Natalia Tena

Robbie Jarvis, Nick Shirm, Harry Melling & Chris Rankin

Jon Campling and Nick Moran

Gary Tomkins, Eduardo Lima & Miraphora Mina

It was a great event, we’re certainly looking forward to the next one.

Interviews: Colin Hart
Video: Alice Alexander

Harry Potter convention heads to ExCel - April 2015

Harry Potter convention heads to ExCel - April 2015

By Seema Hakim | Newham Recorder | April 17, 2015, 13:09

Harry Potter fanatics are invited to attend a convention on the world of wizardry at the ExCel this weekend.

Fans can explore the world of Hogwarts through MuggleNet Live – a convention organised by an American fan site.

This is the first convention produced by the site and it intends to bring fans together to celebrate the Potter series past, present, and future.

The event will have guest panels, signings, photo booths, and exciting exhibitions featuring cast and crew.

Stars including Warwick Davis (Filius Flitwick), Jessie Cave (Lavender Brown), Anna Shaffer (Romilda Vane), and Chris Rankin (Percy Weasley) are listed to attend the event.

Emerson Spartz, chief executive of Spartz Inc and founder of, said: “The MuggleNet Live! convention is situated at the perfect time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future with Harry Potter cast and crew members, and the entire Wizarding World fandom and its wider community.”

Emerson founded the site at the age of 12 in 1999 and it has since become a leading news site for fans. Claire Furner, from MuggleNet Live, said: “It’s the first event of its kind for MuggleNet and to host it mere miles from where the films were shot, feels very right.”

The convention will also be raising money for Harry Potter creator J K Rowling’s international charity called Lumos which works to end 
the institutionalisation of millions of children around the world. Claire added: “We saw it as an opportunity to celebrate where the fandom is now, and the exciting future ahead, so if we are able to make a sizeable donation to Lumos as a result of this fan get-to-together, then that would be an amazing outcome.”

The event takes place on Saturday from 9am at ExCel, Royal Victoria Docks. Visit

Discover creative secrets and meet stars at Harry Potter expo at the Excel Centre this weekend - April 2015

Discover creative secrets and meet stars at Harry Potter expo at the Excel Centre this weekend - April 2015

By Rachel Bishop | The Wharf | April 15, 2015, 15:51

Fans will be brought together to celebrate everything to do with Harry Potter – and to see what is in store for the future of the wizard world

Fan site MuggleNet will host MuggleNet Live! 2015: Expo Patronum this Saturday – focusing on everything to do with our favourite wizard.

Visitors will be able to meet stars of the movies, the crew, and plenty of special guests from the Harry Potter world, including Alfred Enoch, who played Gryffindor Dean Thomas, Afshan Azad who portrayed Hogwarts student Padma Patil, art director for the whole series Gary Tomkins and fantasy favourite Warwick Davis.

A spokeswoman for MuggleNet said: “At the event you will be able to participate in Q&As with the actors from the films as well as secure their autographs and join them in the photo booth.

“Guests will also be able to discover creative secrets from the films’ graphic designers, MinaLima, and art director, Gary Tomkins, and learn wand movements from the series’ choreographer, Paul Harris. And for those who upgrade for the Signature Experience, you will enjoy an exclusive VIP experience where you will be able to interact with the guests in a more informal setting.”

“We have hosted live podcasts over the years and joined panels at other conventions, but this is the first of this kind of event for us. After 15 years online, we thought it was about time”.

April 18, 10am, Excel Centre, Royal Victoria Dock, £45-100, .

'Los Angeles Times' crossword contains clue about MuggleNet - March 2015

'Los Angeles Times' crossword contains clue about MuggleNet - March 2015

Los Angeles Times | March 12, 2015

Screenshot from mobile app is pictured above. Answer = Fanfic.

Harry Potter Fans: How to Unleash your Inner Wizard - February 2015

Harry Potter Fans: How to Unleash your Inner Wizard - February 2015

By accordgroup | | February 26, 2015, 09:34

Unleash your inner wizard with some of our favourite websites, attractions and cookbooks!

As we here at Orlando Ticket Deals offer tickets for Universal Studios (the place to find the Wizarding World of Harry Potter), we know as well as anyone the effect that Harry, Hermione and Ron have had. If you have already booked your Orlando tickets and want to celebrate Harry Potter right now, here’s some of our favourite ways for Potterheads to unleash their inner wizard.


With millions of Harry Potter fans from all over the world, the internet has served as a fantastic source for them to join together and celebrate the boy wizard. Among the best of these is MuggleNet, serving as a resource for everything from the best sections of the books to the best moments on screen.

Regarding themselves as the number one Harry Potter site, we spoke to MuggleNet for their best tips on how to release your inner wizard. Here’s what some of the team members came up with.

Dress the part.

–          Felicia Grady

Keep an open mind. Magic can be found anywhere as long as you are willing to see and accept it.

– Amy Hogan

Believe in the magic of the everyday. Every great wizard was once just a student trying to find their way.

– Alison Siggard

Don’t be afraid to have a little fun!

–          Mary Alice Wojcicki

Find others to enjoy the magic with!

–          Victoria Velasco

Harry Potter Fan Fiction

Another fantastic resource for Potter fans is Harry Potter Fan Fiction, the place to find thousands of stories relating to the Wizarding World. Whether you’re a self-confessed Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, Slytherin or Ravenclaw, there’s a fan-fiction tale to suit all types of fans. With the 80,000 or so works all split into relative categories, it’s easy to find a story you like and fall in love with the magical world once again.

With such expertise on Harry Potter, they were the perfect people to offer tips on how to unleash your inner wizard:

“Stay active in the fandom! Even though it’s been almost eight years since the release of the final Harry Potter book, the fandom is still going strong. Read and write fan fiction (at HPFF!), discuss the books with your real life and online friends, reread the books, introduce the books to today’s children, go to conventions, and go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!”

We got in touch with Harry Potter Fan Fiction to find out why enthusiasts should check out their website, and here’s what they had to say:

“Harry Potter Fan Fiction is solely dedicated to the world of Harry Potter. After 14 years of operation, HPFF remains one of the few dedicated Harry Potter Fan Fiction sites on the Internet. This allows for more precise searching amongst more than 80,000 stories currently in its archive. With such a large amount of stories and the ability to narrow searches, it is easy for any reader to find exactly what they are looking for.

“The community. Many of our users have said they came for the stories and stayed for the sense of community. Our forum has an active, dedicated community of Harry Potter fans who are always eager to discuss Harry Potter, writing, and a wide variety of other topics. Through our forum, members can get assistance with plot ideas, request reviews, find beta readers, and more.”

–          Harry Potter Fan Fiction



Offering more than just details on the books, Potterish offers everything from details about the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and even information about what the actors from the movies are doing now. There really is a wizard’s sleeve of fun to be found through Potterish, such as the origin of Azkaban and other names, the locations where the films were shot and even errors that appear in both the books and films.



The fan site to beat all fan sites, Pottermore is a fantastic online experience created by J.K Rowling that has been built entirely around the Harry Potter books and is the place to head for those who want to explore the world of the boy wizard in incredible detail. Whether you want to find out which Hogwarts house you belong to, learn how to brew a potion or even cast a spell, Potterheads have hours of fun to contend with.


Harry Potter Alliance

A non-profit organisation run by Harry Potter Fans, The Harry Potter Alliance calls upon the love of Harry Potter to help change the world for the better. From ensuring that all Harry Potter Chocolate is made using fair trade ingredients, to campaigning against the most fundamental issues of human rights, the Harry Potter Alliance remains a fantastic organisation.


Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour

First opening in March 2012, the Warner Brothers Studio Tour literally brings the world of Hogwarts to Hertfordshire, with visitors able to stroll the grounds of the School of Magic, step inside the Great Hall and even walk along Diagon Alley. After you’ve toured the grounds, you can even enjoy a nice glass of Butterbeer. As you can see from the image below, it really is an unmissable experience for fans of the Harry Potter films. If you aren’t in a position to discover the Wizarding World of Harry Potter through our Orlando theme park passes, the Studio Tour offers a fantastic alternative.


The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook

There are so many unique food and drink recipes described and highlighted through the books, with Butterbeer perhaps the most famous of all. It’s led to many people trying to recreate them in their homes, and perfecting these recipes could provide the perfect Harry Potter dining experience. Fortunately, Dinah Buchotz has gone to the effort to document the very best food and drink recipes in the Unofficial Harry Potter Cook Book. With Hagrid’s Treacle Fudge and Pumpkin Pasties just two of the delights on the menu, it’s the perfect book for those who want the complete experience of the world of wizards.

We asked Dinah for her best tips on how ‘Muggles’ can release their inner wizard, and here’s what she had to say:

“Be Bold.

Try new foods. Experience what you’ve always wondered about and learn about things you never knew existed.

“Creating good food is a type of magic in its own right. Unleash your inner wizard and discover the magic of Harry Potter food. You will feel wizardly and Hogwarty when you recreate your own Hogwarts feast, topped off by Harry’s favorite dessert, treacle tart.

“Food plays an important role in Harry Potter; it’s interwoven so thoroughly into the setting that it’s almost like its own character. Who doesn’t want to fall through the pages right into Harry’s first sumptuous feast at Hogwarts, with its twenty-plus dishes?

“The cookbook is a must-have for fans because it contains recipes for all the foods mentioned in all seven books in one place. Each recipe has been carefully researched and tested to provide you with the most authentic feel of the culture of Harry Potter’s world.

Here’s to good cooking and happy eating!”


Image Credit: MuggleNet, Harry Potter Fan Fiction, Warner Brothers Studio Tour, Dinah Buchotz

Submitted by accordgroup on Thu, 26/02/2015 – 09:34

Fandom Friday: Harry Potter - February 2015

Fandom Friday: Harry Potter - February 2015

All aboard the Hogwarts Express, as we visit the world of Harry Potter fandom…

By Claire Furner | Radio Times | February 20, 2015, 6:00 p.m. GMT

Every Fandom Friday spotlights a different film or television fandom. This week, Claire Furner from MuggleNet takes us inside the magical, creative world of Harry Potter fans, who continue the story even after the books dried up.

Harry Potter was a phenomenon like no one had seen before. Obviously things like Star Wars and Star Trek had their enthusiastic fans but – I am going to sound like a millennial idiot! – fans used to have to post things to magazines, and there was a delay before it was printed. Now fandom is immediate and constant.

One of the reasons Harry Potter got so big is it came just as people were comfortable or oblivious enough to let their kids run riot on the internet. Those kids were 10 or 12, but now they’re in their early 20s and still going. The period between the Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix books, about two to three years, was when the fan explosion occurred and became what it is today. It wasn’t just fan sites but fan fiction, fan art, wizard rock, so many things. There was so many charities set up in the name of Harry Potter: the HP Alliance has done amazing work over the years.

Now we’re entering a new phase. When Harry Potter was at its peak there was news every day. Books were coming out, films were coming out, the cast was talking about it. Since then the films have ended, the books have been out a while, things have been a lot slower. Warner Bros. only release stuff every couple of months, but the fandom keeps going.

People simply want more. If you look at Marvel and Disney in general, they keep extending their universes. It does not just begin and end with the movie. Without more official stories, people will create their own.

It inspires creativity all the time. It’s more about discussion and fan-created content, as opposed to Warner Bros. or Bloomsbury giving us stuff. We have to be proactive, and the creativity is staggering. I personally am not a cosplayer but you see people dressing up in amazing outfits that almost rival the real costumes. They are dressing up as beautiful golden snitches!

MuggleNet as a fan site has been running about 15 years in October/November. Last year we were thinking about how we could transition the fandom from its current state, which is quite quiet but still very passionate, to a much wider group with varied enthusiasms. So we decided to do a live event MuggleNet Live! 2015: Expo Patronum. It’s not focused just on meeting that celebrity from that film – although we will have special guests – but an interactive event focused on the fans.

I’m 24, I work full time for a social media agency and I work on MuggleNet in my spare time ­­– although it takes quite a few hours. When I joined two and a half years ago, the first convention I went to was LeakyCon, which was run by The Leaky Cauldron, another fan site. It was the first time I had engaged with the Harry Potter fandom in ‘real life’ rather than online. All of a sudden I was in this room with 2000 Harry Potter fans of various ages, meeting people I worked with over the internet but who I hadn’t actually met.

StarKid were performing and the fans were going absolutely mental. It had nothing to do with the actors attending or even JK Rowling discussing the books. It was a bunch of singers who sang songs based on Harry Potter, and everyone was going crazy for them. It was purely a fan-created event, it had nothing to do with the official outlet. That has probably been my biggest moment, when I went “Oh wow this is bigger than I ever realised.”

As told to Jonathan Holmes

Harry Potter coming back for Christmas - December 2014

Harry Potter coming back for Christmas - December 2014

December 7, 2014

Eric Scull, MuggleNet’s Senior Contributing Editor, appeared on the Morning Report on Radio New Zealand to talk about Pottermore’s daily festive surprises during December 12-23, 2014.

J.K. Rowling dishes on Dolores Umbridge in her new short story - October 2014

J.K. Rowling dishes on Dolores Umbridge in her new short story - October 2014

By Michael Frye | TimeOut New York | October 31, 2014, 9:57 a.m.

Just in time for Halloween, J.K. Rowling released an eerie essay this morning, detailing the background of Harry Potter villainess Dolores Umbridge. Just reading the latest entry brings all the wizarding nostalgia flying right back (accio childhood!). Here in New York, there are some wicked events that true Potter fanatics can take part in to keep the fandom alive. The Metropolitan Museum of Art hosts a muggle-guided Harry Potter themed art tour throughout the year. Immerse yourself in The Goblet of Fire by attending a real Yule Ball with wizard rock group Harry and the Potters. The Bell House hosts an annual PotterCon, and film star Rupert Grint is further proving his acting chops on Broadway. J.K. Rowling has also strived to keep the story alive with her fan site Pottermore which has been gorwing a reputation as the Silmarillion to the Harry Potter universe. In her new 1,700-word entry, we learn not only what makes Umbridge tick, but we also learn about Rowling’s personal connection with the witch, and how one of the most malicious characters in the series is rooted in the author’s own past. But the Umbridge story is just a piece of the Halloween treat, with over 5,500 words detailing Thestrals, various Ministers of Magic, Trelawney and much more.

We spoke to one of the best sources for Harry Potter news, Kat Miller, Marketing and Creative Director at MuggleNet about what she hoped to see in the new story.

This new story by J.K. Rowling is supposedly a backstory to Dolores Umbridge, what do you think will be the most surprising thing we learn about her past?

I don’t want to theorize about a specific incident, but I would be SHOCKED to learn that Umbridge had any moments of redemption. I see her, in many ways, as more evil than Lord Voldemort. Situations that contradict that would be most surprising to me. She is a sad, lonely woman, and I do hope for her sake that there is love in her childhood…but like the best villains, I doubt it.

Why do you think Umbridge has become such an iconic Harry Potter villain?

We’ve discussed this before on our global re-read of Harry Potter, Alohomora!. I believe that Umbridge’s form of evil is so powerful because it’s REAL. Lord Voldemort, yes, is evil, but we live in the Muggle world and that kind of evil—the magical kind—isn’t something that we have experienced firsthand. There are people that exist in the Muggle world who are just like Umbridge; sadistic, biased, and cruel. That’s far scarier, because we have all dealt with that form of evil.

Pottermore has been posting various ‘tricks and treats’ on their site, revealing clues about the new story including a lot of hints at Bellatrix Lestrange. How do you think she will play into the Umbridge story?

Well I believe that the hints actually leaned towards a story about Azkaban prison, which of course plays a big part in Order of the Phoenix, with the mass breakout that happens early on. I believe Bellatrix will come into play in that story.

We got our first taste for Umbridge’s cruelty from the blood quill, making her ‘the only other person to permanently scar Harry’ as Pottermore first announced with this story. Do you think we will finally learn about its origins in this story?

I think this ties back to her childhood, and J.K. Rowling does love to create elaborate back-stories for her characters, starting in their early years. On Alohomora!, we concluded that we believe the blood quill was used on her as a child, thus why she uses it on her students. We tend to repeat the mistakes of our parents, and Umbridge is no exception.

When we first meet Dolores Umbridge, she is the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic with no hint at stopping there. What details do you think the extended story will cover on her rise to power?

I am hoping that we will get some insight into what caused Dolores to turn into the woman that she is today. We know quite a bit about her time at Hogwarts, but I am interested in her early years. I am also dying to find out what she was doing during the timeline that is Half-Blood Prince. She very clearly did not change her stance on many things after Lord Voldemort was proven to indeed be back, so why did she continue to blindly work for the Ministry of Magic? Obligation? Because she agreed with it’s direction? A bit of both? I am dying to find out!

Harry Potter fans flummoxed over origins of Albert Runcorn name - July 2014

Harry Potter fans flummoxed over origins of Albert Runcorn name - July 2014

By Oliver Clay | Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News | July 31, 2014, 10:34 a.m.

HARRY Potter fans remain flummoxed over the origins of a character name that links Halton to one of the biggest story franchises in history.

Albert Runcorn appears in series finale The Deathly Hallows and is a civil servant with the Ministry Of Magic who uncovers wizards whose parents have no magical ability – ‘muggles’ as they are described.

Scottish actor David O’Hara portrays him in the film adaptation.

The Harry Potter Wikia website notes that the name Albert derives form the Germanic word meaning noble and bright, adding that Runcorn is a town and cargo port.

Kat Miller, of fan site MuggleNet, said she and others have struggled to figure out whether there is any intended link, but that they had speculated on the Runcorn’s link to Saxon princess Aethefleda and her father Alfred, the town’s industrial past, and its name of Rumcofen, meaning cove, during ancient times.

She conceded these theories appeared to be clutching at straws.

She said: “JK Rowling has never commented on Runcorn before, so we have absolutely no information on him!”

Meet the First Viral Snapchat Stars - July 2014

Meet the First Viral Snapchat Stars - July 2014

By Laura Stampler | TIME Magazine | July 24, 2014

The secret to how some Snapchatters earn $100,000 for a week’s work and stand out in a medium that is all about disappearing

Three twenty-something guys, armed with smart phones and a neon yellow soccer ball, are scrambling in different directions in a crowded New York City Whole Foods. Shaun McBride just maneuvered around bandana-wearing Chris Carmichael to score a “goal” into a shopping cart, and now they have to escape before getting caught by startled shoppers or, worse, security.

“I got the shot!” says Jerome Jarre, breathing heavily outside of the grocery store. It is 30 minutes before the beginning of this month’s World Cup final, and they have to finish their Snapchat Story before the game starts. Together, the trio has an audience of almost 2 million people, and pockets of the fans have gathered around Union Square to take pictures of the social media personalities.

They are among the first viral stars of Snapchat, a popular mobile app created in 2011 on the premise that friends would send each other photos, videos, and doodles that would self-destruct in 10 seconds or less. Unlike Instagram or Vine, it wasn’t built to be a sharing platform to broadcast creative content to the masses but to be shared intimately with acquaintances. But Snapchat has grown up fast and now large companies are trying to reach its audience and are handing some of its most loved users six-figure paychecks to do it.

Building a Staying Following on a Disappearing Medium

When Jin Long Shi, 14, saw on Snapchat that his favorite social media celebrities were just a few blocks away, he ran out of his apartment — only stopping to buy them a box of Munchkins from Dunkin’ Donuts — to watch them shoot. “Before this, I didn’t know you could have followers on Snapchat and create stories, I thought you just used it to take selfies and send funny things to friends,” Shi says.

Shi came primarily for Jarre, 24, who describes himself as an “outgoing Borat Frenchman.” His creative niche is slapstick and playing pranks on strangers. Jarre gained his celebrity from his 6-million follower Vine account, but he has recently transitioned his focus primarily to Snapchat after downloading it a month ago.

“Why would Christophe Colomb go to America? Why would we go to the moon? It’s fresh, anything can happen there,” he says.

Jarre, who has 1.2 million Snapchat followers, says that the new medium is building his portfolio from 6-second videos to 2-minute narratives and increasing his followers. (Snapchat launched a Story feature in October that allows users to create a longer narrative that is displayed to all of their friends, rather than directly send to select followers, that lasts a 24-hours and can be viewed multiple times.) After 18 months on Vine, he had accumulated 800,000 Instagram followers. After three weeks on Snapchat, that number grew 1.3 million. Jarre shared his Story statistics, showing his zany narratives — “that always end with a positive message” — get viewed upwards of 1.1 million times and screen grabbed upwards of 43.9K times:

“It’s the most viral platform ever because people need to screenshot, share, and talk to their friends,” Jarre says. “Because it is disappearing in 24-hours, they have to tell their friends or else no one will see it… There’s an insane word of mouth power. That’s how Shaun gained his followers from scratch.”

Shaun McBride, whose “Shonduras” Snapchat account has more than 140,000 followers, is known by brands, social media celebrities and agencies as a Snapchat pioneer. The 27-year-old snowboard sales rep from Ogden, Utah is a self-proclaimed member of the “Facebook generation,” and he didn’t have a social media presence at all until his six sisters, who are in high school and therefore Snapchat’s key demographic, pressured him into making a Snapchat account in November.

McBride’s Snapchat specialty is turning the ordinary into the extraordinary, and often silly, with detailed finger doodles over pictures. This caught on with his sisters’ friends and soon their entire high school had requested to follow him. He started getting notifications that his photographs of silly scenarios, like pictures of dogs he turned into Disney princesses with Snapchat’s drawing tools, were getting screen-shot hundreds of times. McBride says that when he would send out prompts to followers, asking them to send in a picture of a quarter in exchange for a personalized drawing, “Thousands of people sent me pictures of quarters. I spent the whole day snapping them back because I didn’t want to be rude. I was like, is this for realz?”

How to Engage With Snapchat Followers

As McBride’s following grew from hundreds to tens of thousands, he began building a presence on other social media sites so that his fans could see his content even after it disappeared. This is when his work started getting picked up by media outlets and companies (including Taco Bell, Disney, and MLS) began reaching out to work with him. That’s one of the ironies of Snapchat celebrity: It depends on screengrabs from other social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter.

“Snapchat is not like Twitter and Facebook, it’s not about likes, it’s not about followers,” Snapchat spokesperson Mary Ritti says, noting that the app doesn’t even track the number of Snapchat friends people have.

“Maybe it’s just a too cool thing,” says Molly Mitchell (Snapchat name: biggie_molls), who does marketing at men’s short-shorts company Chubbies. “Snapchat is the hipster of the social media world. It’s elusive and you need someone else’s commonplace app to purvey its content.” Mitchell gained brief Snapchat celebrity after she created an Instagram account chronicling the Snapchats she sent her friends of her relationship with her boyfriend.

Over the four hours of storyboarding and shooting their 86-second World Cup Snapchat, Jarre, McBride, and Carmichael discuss the possibilities of posting videos of their stories on YouTube.

Carmichael, (Snapchat name: ChrisCarm), keeps a Tumblr to showcase his comic book-esque Snapchat stories, which often end on cliffhangers. “My theme is that my bandana talks to me, and it’s my mentor,” Carmichael, 27, says. “It takes me on an adventure. A big story that is never ending.”

Since the medium is still young, Snapchat users are working together to find the best way to engage with fans. One of McBride’s first collaborations was with Boston-based Michael Platco (Snapchat name: mplatco), who doodled on red gloves to have a cross-country boxing match. They asked fans to Snapchat in who they wanted to win, so that they would have influence over the match.

Shortly after the boxing match, which ended in a draw, Disney flew McBride to Disneyland and Platco to Disneyworld to simultaneously launch the theme parks’ Snapchat accounts in their first-ever paid Snapchat gigs. Since then, Platco has worked with food site GrubHub and “Harry Potter” fan site MuggleNet. (He is very active in the Snapchat-Harry Potter market, which does, in fact, exist).

Snapchat prowess has also led to full-time office jobs. Dasha Battelle (Snapchat name: dabttll) is known for her stylus-free, intricate artwork, which helped land her a job on Mashable’s visual storytelling team.

Good Snapchatting Pays Off… Literally

Just as companies pay top social media users for their Instagram and Vine abilities, they are starting to shell out cash to those who “get” Snapchat. And for good reason. The popular communication tool has a stronghold on a very young, obsessive and viral-savvy demographic of potential buyers—although the company doesn’t disclose figures, it has an estimated 30 million active monthly users, 71% of whom are under 25.

Compensation ranges widely. Consulting can pay up to $150 an hour and although Snapchatters and companies wouldn’t publicly disclose specific payments, two top Snapchat users said that the most coveted stars now earn anywhere from $1,500 a day to more than $100,000 for a week’s work for a company. That’s in the ballpark of what influencers on other social platforms are getting paid. Marcus Johns told Business Insider that a Vine ad campaign paid off his college tuition, and advertisers have sent influential Instagram users on fully paid trips around the world to Instagram events from their accounts.

Some companies have been hesitant to invest in Snapchat since the branded content doesn’t have a permanent afterlife, as it would on Instagram. But Vayner Media founder Gary Vaynerchuk, a leading social media adviser, thinks discounting Snapchat is shortsighted.

“Why anybody thought that a disappearing piece of content isn’t valuable is insane to me,” says Vaynerchuk, explaining that before technology existed to record television shows, the content within the commercial breaks disappeared. “Last time I checked, when I’m listening to a car commercial on Z100, that sh-t disappeared.”

Vaynerchuk and Jarre co-founded GrapeStory, an agency that pairs top Vine, Instagram, and now Snapchat users including McBride with companies. Sour Patch worked with GrapeStory and Logan Paul, a social media leader, to launch its Snapchat account in early July, and Sonic will use another top user to launch its account in August.

When McBride walked around the grounds of DisneyLand in a Mickey Mouse hat that read “Shonduras” over Memorial Day weekend, he thought that Snapchat had the potential to supplement some of his income as a fun side business and creative outlet.

“This month, I hope to make more than I did last year in my real job,” he says. “It’s insane.”

Harry Potter trip a dream for Cody family: Contest win brought disbelief - July 2014

Harry Potter trip a dream for Cody family: Contest win brought disbelief - July 2014

By Rachel Walton | | July 14, 2014

Many will enter but few will win. But, in this case, the Richardsons did win.

More than 18,000 people entered a contest at It was an all-expense-paid trip for four to a VIP/media preview of the new Diagon Alley at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., June 17-20.

After entering the contest because her daughter Quincy asked, Letha Richardson wasn’t expecting anything.

“When they called us on the phone and said we won, I thought it was spam,” Letha said. “When you sign up for things online, you never think you’re going to win. I was totally shellshocked and in disbelief.”

This was the Richardsons’ first big trip they’ve taken.

“My favorite part was being there as a family,” Abby Richardson said. “It was our first family vacation ever.”

Universal Studios gave out three of these packages to Harry Potter fan-based websites. There were 12 visitors who won and about 800 people there total, including the media and celebrities.

“We feel extremely blessed to have had this opportunity,” Letha said. “It was almost like it was planned out for our family. Everything worked out perfectly.”

The beginning

The Harry Potter books and movies had been a part of the Richardsons’ lives long before this trip.

“Quincy has been the Harry Potter queen all her life,” Letha said. “When the books came out, she found them and started reading them when she was young.”

Quincy showed the books to her sister and soon everyone was involved.

“Our family embraced the whole idea of the books and the story,” Letha said.

Quincy wanted to visit the place the movies were filmed in London but they couldn’t afford it.

“When the idea came out they were going to build a theme park in Florida, Quincy wanted to go,” Letha said. “For the last few years we’ve been trying to find a way we could go but we haven’t been able to. Then, with this promotional event, it happened.”

The celebrities

The Richardsons were able to see some of the actors and actresses from the movies.

The actors and actresses in attendance were Domhnall Gleeson, Helena Bonham Carter, Matthew Lewis, Robbie Coltrane, James and Oliver Phelps, Bonnie Wright, Tom Felton, Evanna Lynch and Warwick Davis.

The guests were not allowed to take cameras into Diagon Alley.

“A little red rope was what separated you and the celebrities,” Letha said. “Their body guards wouldn’t allow you to shake their hands or get autographs.”

These restrictions didn’t stop the celebrities. They would wave at the guests and Carter complimented Quincy’s spectrespecs.

“The Phelps twins stayed for most of the opening and actually spoke with people, which was neat,” Letha said.

Several TV stars were there with the media, including Jimmy Fallon and Mario Lopez.

Diagon Alley

The Richardsons entered Diagon Alley about 9:30 p.m. June 18 and stayed until 1:30 a.m. June 19. They agreed Diagon Alley was “more than they could have imagined.”

“Everything was so spectacularly real and beyond expectations,” Quincy said. “It was amazing.”

Letha said it was just like the movie.

“For me, it was almost like when Hagrid took Harry through the broken brick wall and it was a whole new world,” she said.

“It felt the same way to us. It was like we were transported to a whole different place. There was not one detail overlooked.”

Mark Richardson, Letha’s husband, added, “The whole park was so realistic and everything was handicapped accessible, which was important.”

One of Quincy’s favorite parts was something that “overpowered your senses.”

“There was a dragon on top of Gringotts that breathed fire,” Quincy said. “It would get really hot and then evaporate.”

The details the park covered included the workers.

“They trained the associates so they’re all in character,” Letha said. “Even if you speak to them and ask how to go somewhere, they tell you in a British accent. It’s not that way in the Hogsmeade part of the park.”

Letha said the trip experience was unforgettable.

“It’s a special feeling to have your biggest earthly dream come true,” Letha said. “To have an experience like this is something special and it’s so memorable.”

“I don’t know if anything can top this.”

Adult Harry Potter Fans delight at new installment from J.K. Rowling - July 2014

Adult Harry Potter Fans delight at new installment from J.K. Rowling - July 2014

89.3 KPCC | Take Two | July 9, 2014, 9:06 a.m.

Fans of Harry Potter had a special treat this week: a new installment from author J.K. Rowling on the boy wizard.

The 1,500-word story was published on her website,, Tuesday morning.  It’s the most complete update of the boy wizard since the last book of the series “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” came out in 2007.

There are some interesting new details about Harry and his close friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, who are in their 30s in this new story.

For many fans who grew up with the beloved characters, the update was a welcomed surprise, says Alison Siggard, who first began reading the Harry Potter series at the age of five.

“It’s exciting that we’re seeing them in adult life as we’re getting into adult life, as well,” said Siggard, now 20. Siggard is currently a writer for the site,

Video: J.K. Rowling Gives Glimpse of Potter - July 2014

Video: J.K. Rowling Gives Glimpse of Potter - July 2014

MuggleNet’s UK Publicity Representative, Claire Furner, was on SkyNews Sunrise to speak about the new Dumbledore’s Army piece J.K. Rowling wrote on

Watch the video here!

Quidditch players are leaving Harry Potter behind as they aim for athletic credibility - June 2014

Quidditch players are leaving Harry Potter behind as they aim for athletic credibility - June 2014

By Jessica Contrera | Washington Post | June 29, 2014

The Nike-clad coach barked out the words as they appeared on the screen: Rules! Opponents! Officials! Teammates! Self!

Her audience was still attentive more than an hour into her presentation. They soaked it up as she encouraged them to prove themselves, to be what they knew they could be: athletes.

Athletes, with coaches and referees and rule books and tryouts and fans.

But also with brooms.

And a guy who runs around as if he is a magical flying ball.

No capes though — they tossed that idea years ago, they promise.

Welcome to the third annual conference of the International Quidditch Association, held this weekend at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Quidditch, of course, is a game invented by J.K. Rowling and detailed in her seven “Harry Potter” novels. In the game, wizards fly on brooms to score points by catching, throwing and shooting balls through elevated hula hoops.

Adapted by muggles (non-wizarding folk) at Middlebury College in Vermont in 2005, the phenomenon has grown to include more than 4,000 players on 300 teams around the world, mostly based at colleges and universities, although several cities have community teams as well.

The game is typically played on a 30-by-48-yard field on which athletes run with brooms or PVC pipes between their legs, throw volleyballs or dodgeballs at each other and through hoops. Scoring is complex, and the highest-value maneuver involves catching a human embodiment of the “snitch,” who sprints around the field of play.

“Attitude is what matters most,” the coach, a paid speaker, was saying now. “Especially when you want to be taken seriously.”

To be taken seriously, the quidditch players have been adapting the culture of more respected sports by certifying their coaches, standardizing the rules and recruiting talented athletes. The conference this weekend, where some 40 players gathered to improve their coaching, refereeing and team-management skills before playing in a small tournament Sunday, was part of that effort.

But they’ve also been trying something else to gain respect: ditching Harry Potter.

In recent years and in conferences such as the Washington gathering, the players have been actively disassociating themselves from the fantasy world in which their sport was born.

Though most still love the series, they have decided that the sport has outgrown its children’s-novel roots.

And they’re not alone. Seven years after the final book was released and four years after the last movie premiered, the fan base for the Boy Who Lived — on Web sites, at conferences and in this college-popular “sport” — is carrying on the Potter legacy by leaving Harry behind.

Enduring and adapting

Record-breaking sales, the highest-grossing film series of all time, Diagon Alley replicas . . . you remember.

For more than a decade, the world was taken with the magical universe in which 11-year-olds could steal their dads’ flying cars, discover invisible rooms, fight evil wizards and, of course, learn inspiring lessons from it all in the end.

The Potter mania hasn’t faded quickly, especially with Warner Bros.adapting Rowling’s fictional encyclopedia “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and the Universal Studios Potter attractions.

The fan-based institutions that brought together the diehard Potter lovers are still alive and well. But they too are shifting away from Harry Potter to survive.

At its peak, top Potter fan site had more than 50 million visitors per month. Its founder, Emerson Spartz, said traffic dropped in half after the last movie came out in 2011.

But in the three years since, the stream of visitors has been consistent, even as posts shifted focus from the books and movies to news about the movies’ actors, theme park and J.K. Rowling’s new novels. “Look at ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Lord of the Rings’ or ‘Star Trek’,” Spartz said. “Those series have all taken pauses from an official perspective, but their community of fans remain strong and vibrant.”

A similar fan site,, was known for organizing each year the world’s largest Harry Potter conference, called LeakyCon. Today, LeakyCon advertises itself as an event for multiple fan bases, from Disney to “Twilight” to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Quidditch has followed suit. It was once common for players on college campuses to wear capes, dress as characters from the books and talk about “bringing fantasy to real life.” Today, Harry Potter isn’t mentioned in the online history of the International Quidditch Association.

Instead, hoping to attract former varsity athletes, the group highlights that the activity is a full-contact sport. This year, they are even changing the rules so that all quidditch coaches must be tested and certified.

“As we’ve pushed to be more of a sport, and as the average college team has become more competitive, it becomes more intimidating for the casual Harry Potter fan who has never played a sport before to join,” said Logan Anbinder, who has played for the University of Maryland team and the Silicon Valley Skyfighters, a community team. “And that’s kind of sad.”

Homage to the original star

The day after the quidditch coaching session, the conference continued with meetings on injury prevention, tournament planning and referee training.

But for one hour on Saturday afternoon, 15 players gathered in convention center room 147A for a discussion on Harry himself.

The group was made up primarily of the players who came to quidditch first as Potter fans. They are no longer the majority of the participants.

One had tried to start a team in the second grade. Another still runs a blog where she writes in character as Narcissa Malfoy. One bought a new Hogwarts robe every time she outgrew the previous one, so that she could keep dressing as Hermione.

The question on the table was right up her alley: Who was a better friend to Harry — Ron or Hermione?

“Hermione is way more useful. I mean, what does Ron do?”

“Just because they fought, true friendship is sometimes hating each other’s guts.”

“Hermione isn’t under the same pressure and circumstances as Ron!”

A few players flipped through tattered copies of the books to make their points, their inner fandom now out in full force.

Back and forth they went: Is Voldemort redeemable? Is it fair for J.K. Rowling to say Dumbledore was gay after the series ended? Does your house affiliation matter after you graduate from Hogwarts?

And then it was time to be done. They gathered their books and headed over to the next room, where for the first time they could be certified as official quidditch coaches. The questions took a different form: When can a team be disqualified? When can a player be banned from the league? Does a medical professional need to be present at each match?

They would always be Potter fans, but these days, being athletes mattered more.

10 Reasons You're Going to Love Diagon Alley – Universal Orlando Resort's New Wizarding World of Harry Potter Addition - June 2014

10 Reasons You're Going to Love Diagon Alley – Universal Orlando Resort's New Wizarding World of Harry Potter Addition - June 2014

By Caleb Graves,, Senior Contributing Editor | Fandango | June 26, 2014, 9:02 a.m.

This past week, we attended the special preview event of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort. But it wasn’t just special. It was downright magical, in just about every way. The park opens for everyone on July 8, and here are the 10 reasons you are going to love it.

1. The park is full of incredible detail

If you’ve seen Universal Orlando Resort’s first section of the Wizarding World, Hogsmeade, you know they re-create the Harry Potter world in stellar fashion. But they truly went above and beyond in creating Diagon Alley.

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Each shop and spot in the park brings to life the imagined world of J.K. Rowling’s novels, from the grandeur of Gringotts bank, to the cluttered and comfy feel inside the Leaky Cauldron, to the diverse assortment of shop signs hanging through the alley.

2. Gringotts is PERFECT

Gringotts is absolutely breathtaking. After walking along the bricks, you immediately notice the massive structure at the end of the main path. The building is pristine and magnificent – and also a little different than when Harry sees it on his first journey to Diagon Alley.

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A massive dragon sits atop the bank, inspired by the Ukrainian Ironbelly that escapes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This guy doesn’t just watch you from high in the sky, but will periodically roar and breathe real fire – it’s hot! – above Diagon Alley.

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The wonder continues inside with an elaborate lobby, with goblins ready to assist you in all your banking needs. You can continue down into Gringotts, full of even more incredible and awesome props and design work, as you approach the Escape from Gringotts ride.

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3. Actors from the films show up through the park

We were able to chat with several of the actors from the film during the preview, both on the red carpet and during panels the next morning. They sounded just as excited about the park as we are! What makes the experience even more amazing? Some of these actors are actually part of the park.

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Look for Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley), Warwick Davis (Griphook), Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange) and Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort) inside the Escape from Gringotts ride, and catch Oliver and James Phelps (George and Fred Weasley) flying alongside your journey aboard the Hogwarts Express.

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4. Make the journey between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley

Now that both parks will soon be open, you will be able to journey between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley on the Hogwarts Express. The train is just stunning as you get onto Platform 9 ¾.

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Yes, you do go through King’s Cross Station in London. We won’t spoil all the details of how you get onto the platform, but the effect is pretty remarkable!

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You’ll watch a scene as you sit in your compartment that parallels either the journey to Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley, depending which direction you’re traveling. As you move along, you’ll also see the silhouettes of Harry, Ron and Hermione just outside and listen as they move up and down the train.

5. Purchase shop items from the books

Those unique items found throughout Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books? Plan on buying some while in Diagon Alley. You’ll be able to snag Skiving Snackboxes and Pygmy Puffs from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, your own wand from Ollivander’s, robes from Madam Malkin’s, a broom or Bludger bat from Quality Quidditch Supplies, and so much more.

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You can also purchase an interactive wand, which allows you to interact with several of the shops and spots throughout Diagon Alley. A beautiful map of the area will show you where you can use Alohomora, Reparo and more.

6. Enjoy live performances

In the bustling Carkitt Market area of Diagon Alley, you’ll have to catch a couple of wonderful live performances. We know how much Molly Weasley loves Celestina Warbeck, but after seeing the renowned singer and her backup singers the Banshees in person you’re sure to become a fan, too. Songs include “You Charmed the Heart Right Out of Me,” “A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love,” and more created by J.K. Rowling herself. The only thing bigger than Celestina’s personality is that incredible voice!

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You can also catch a brilliant performance of the Tale of the Three Brothers, reimagined from that brilliant scene added to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The props and puppets in this performance are fantastic and bring the story to life in a whole new way.

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7. Butterbeer 2.0 – Ice Cream!

Nothing quite matches the chilled sweetness of Butterbeer, already available in Hogsmeade. You can also grab a Butterbeer in Diagon Alley in places such as the Leaky Cauldron, but you can also get it in a totally new way – ice cream! Florean Fortescue’s offers several incredible ice cream flavors, including strawberry and peanut butter, earl grey and lavender, and salted caramel blondie.

But the real attraction is the Butterbeer-flavored ice cream, allowing you to capture that creamy butterscotch flavor in a cup or cone. You’ll definitely be stopping back in for more.

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8. Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

When you stroll into Diagon Alley, your eye will surely catch the brightly colored exterior of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. The large Weasley prop stands in the front window, tipping his top hat to entering patrons.

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You feel the Weasley effect as soon as you walk in, with the very best joke items from the crafty twins lining every wall. There are things moving all through the store, and you can even catch sight of fireworks when looking up into the ceiling.

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Whether you’re looking for a bit of mischief, the most novel of toys, or maybe even a love potion, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes is a must-see!

9. Dare to wander down Knockturn Alley

Diagon Alley wouldn’t be complete without the dark detour of Knockturn Alley. Just a peek down the beaten path creates an ominous feel, daring you to venture into darker territory.

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You’ll be able to take a look around Borgin and Burkes, filled with dark objects, Death Eater materials, and even the vanishing cabinet. The entire area has a demented feel to it, matching Harry’s wrong turn down the alley. You’ll spot a few other shops, including one that is dedicated to poisons and venoms.

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Do be careful, though – don’t let one of the more regular patrons back you into a dark corner!

10. You feel like you’re walking into Rowling’s world

All of these individual experiences combine for an unparalleled immersion. The striking detail, fire-breathing dragon, interactive wands, brightly colored store signs, and everything else make you feel like you really are stepping right into J.K. Rowling’s world.

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Take a moment to stand in the middle of the alley as other patrons go about their business and do a 360-degree turn. You’ll see that the magic is indeed all around you and feel like the Muggle world is very far away.

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The Universal Orlando Resort creative team took no shortcuts in crafting this magical world, and they have created a new addition to the Wizarding World that any Harry Potter fan will love.

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You’ll have your chance to venture down Diagon Alley before long. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley opens to the public on July 8!

Emma Watson as 'The Little Mermaid' - February 2014

Emma Watson as 'The Little Mermaid' - February 2014 | February 27, 2014

Claim: Emma Watson will be starring in a live-action version of The Little Mermaid.


Example: [Collected via e-mail, February 2014]

I saw a thing earlier this morning saying there’s talk of a Little Mermaid live action movie to be released in 2015 starring Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe.

Origins: Disney’s 1989 animated feature film version of The Little Mermaid, the Danish fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, was a smash hit and the movie credited with revitalizing the Disney company from the doldrums of the post-Walt era (which began with Walt Disney’s death in late 1966). Emma Watson is the actress who portrayed Hermione Granger in the hugely successful series of eight films made between 2001 and 2011 based on J.K. Rowling’s immensely popular Harry Potter books. Combining those two elements by creating a Disney-produced live-action version of The Little Mermaid featuring Emma Watson in the lead role would therefore have tremendous appeal to a very large fan base.

Alas, no such project is in the works. Rumors of a live Little Mermaid movie starring Emma Watson are nothing more than a repetition of an April Fool’s Day joke originally posted on the Harry Potter fan site MuggleNet back in April 2013:

Emma Watson cast as Ariel in live action ‘The Little Mermaid’

Emma Watson will certainly be living the princess lifestyle this year, after reports have linked her to different projects where she will portray classic Disney princesses Belle, from Beauty and the Beast as well as the title role in Cinderella (although Emma has since turned down that role). Completing the trio is Ariel, from The Little Mermaid, originally released as an animated feature in 1989.

Emma was seen leaving an aquatics facility this past weekend in Los Angeles. We can only assume that this means she has started training for her role as Ariel. Yes, training. As this is a live action film, Emma must take on several aquatic disciplines including SCUBA-diving, synchronized swimming, and diving. In addition to athletic training, Emma will also be singing the original songs from the animated version such as “Part of Your World.”

We look forward to seeing Emma Watson in all of these royal roles, and hearing her sing!

Which princess are you most excited to see Emma as?

Harry/Hermione or Ron/Hermione controversy - February 2014

Harry/Hermione or Ron/Hermione controversy - February 2014

  • Radio New Zealand – Eric Scull
  • CBS Radio News – Caleb Graves
  • Yahoo Movies – Kat Miller

February 2, 2014

Eric Scull, MuggleNet’s Senior Contributing Editor, appeared on the Morning Report on Radio New Zealand to talk about J.K. Rowling’s recent comments to Emma Watson in the magazine Wonderland about Ron and Hermione’s relationship.

February 2, 2014

Caleb Graves as a contributing editor for MuggleNet provides his opinion in a brief segment on CBS Radio News.


4 Reasons Harry Potter Fans Are Outraged and 5 Reasons Why They Shouldn’t Be

By Joal Ryan | Yahoo Movies | February 3, 2014, 4:19 p.m.

Did J.K. Rowling pull a George Lucas?

In a recent interview with Wonderland Magazine, the wizard saga’s author says one of the book’s central couples, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger (played in the film series by Emma Watson), is together for all the wrong reasons.

“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really,” Rowling says, per London’s Sunday Times which published excerpts from the Wonderland interview. “For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”

But Rowling’s second thoughts don’t stop there, apparently. In fact, it sounds as if they approach Lucas-ian levels of revisionism. Blares the Sunday Times’ headline, “J.K. admits Harry should have wed Hermione.” (In the books and movies, Harry marries Ron’s sister Ginny; Ron and Hermione end up as husband and wife, too.)

In a tweet that perhaps summed up initial reaction to the Rowling quotes, the Harry Potter fan site wrote, “Harry/Hermione WHAT?”

Harry/Hermione WHAT?

— (@MuggleNet) February 2, 2014

What’s behind the outrage? And why — maybe, just maybe — is it wrong? A rundown:

4 Reasons Fans Are Upset

1. They’re “mourning the death of [their] childhood.” It says so right there in this tweet from an aggrieved reader.

Excuse me, I’m mourning the death of my childhood.

— Mitali (@AlleyofBooks) February 2, 2014

The basic gripe: We, the generations of fans who have been reading the books, watching the movies and debating the minutia since as far back as the late 1990s, don’t appreciate having our memories messed with.

2. They’re stunned, frankly. “In the series, J.K. Rowling hinted so many times Ron and Hermione would end up together … I think most people were thrown a curveball,” says Kat Miller,’s creative and marketing director.

3. They’re tired of being thrown curveballs, maybe. “She’s been kind of doing this a lot since the end of the series,” Miller says of Rowling. At a reading in 2007, for instance, Rowling said she always thought Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore was gay. (That revelation proved more surprise than outrage.)

4. They think everything was fine the way it was. “Claiming that [Ron and Hermione] shouldn’t be together would mean rewriting a large part of the series, and basically all of ‘Half-Blood Prince’ and ‘Deathly Hallows,'” went one fan comment on “In other words, the books would be completely different and in my opinion not as good.”

5 Reasons Fans Shouldn’t Be Upset

1. Rowling has the right to change her mind. “Authors change their minds all the time after the fact,” Amanda Cockrell, director of the children’s literature program at Hollins University said via email. “Rowling just has a huge stage on which to announce her second thoughts.”

2. She is not pulling a Lucas. The “Star Wars” creator, who has the right to change his mind, too, went far beyond thinking out loud about his artistic regrets: He changed and re-released his movies. At this point, there is nothing to suggest that Rowling’s musings are anything more than musings.

3. We haven’t read the Wonderland interview in its entirety. It’s being released on Thursday. In a post last weekend, suggested that fans hold their fire until seeing the Rowling interview (which was conducted by Watson herself!) in its entirety and in context.

4. Ron and Hermione’s marriage wasn’t exactly universally blessed. There is, in fact, a subset of Potter fan-fiction writers who reject how Rowling paired off her characters in the epilogue to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

5. The Potter legacy will be about the books and the films — and not quotes Rowling gave to a magazine. Today, a kid will pick up “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” She won’t have any idea what Rowling said or didn’t say to Watson. She’ll just read, and if she likes it, she’ll read the next book and the next after that. If she ever discovers Rowling’s postmortem thoughts, she’ll probably consider them a curiosity; she and her generation and the generations to follow will not take comments personally. Says Miller of the current uproar, “This is only going to affect the people who grew up with the books.”

Which, granted, is a lot of people.

Attention Harry Potter Fans! Nine Magical Places and Events You Won't Want to Miss - January 2014

Attention Harry Potter Fans! Nine Magical Places and Events You Won't Want to Miss - January 2014

By Casey Mullins | | January 27, 2014, 5:50 p.m.

Maybe you shout “CRUCIO!” in your sleep to your alarm clock, perhaps you wish “Accio, peanut butter sandwich!” actually worked, or maybe you’re just a regular old muggle with an appreciation for J.K. Rowling’s series about ‘the boy who lived.’ Even though the last movie came out several years ago, Potter fandom has not died down one bit — nor do I believe it ever will with new generations being constantly introduced to the books that started it all. Just like any fan, there are times when you want to be surrounded by people who get you, people who won’t wonder why you mutter unforgivable curses under your breath at the guy who just cut you off, or wonder what you mean when you say “I could sure use a butterbeer right now.” Don’t worry little wizards and witches, there are lots of people out there who understand and gather together several times a year to revel in all the wizarding world has to offer. From a fan run getaway in Texas to an all out academic battle based on the criminal past of Sirius Black, below are a few places and events at which you can get your Harry Potter nerd on.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Clearly the most obvious place to get a Harry Potter high is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWHP) at Universal Orlando. Even if I weren’t a Harry Potter fan, Universal’s re-creation of Hogsmeade and Hogwart’s Castle are cool enough to impress even the most cynical theme park attendee. I could spend all day at the WWHP, but I’d need to leave everyone else behind — I’d want to wander and see every little corner of every little shop, and drink my butterbeer with wild and private abandon.

A Celebration of Harry Potter

Naturally, Universal Orlando would have an event at The WWHP in their Islands of Adventure park. While it’s a little too late for most of us to attend this one (as it begins January 24th), it’s not the first time Universal Orlando has offered a gathering like this. It can be assumed that these types of events will continue on as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter grows and continues to see enormous success. One perk of this particular event, is that it is official rather than run by fans — meaning more involvement with the actual cast and crew of the original movies. Guests of A Celebration of Harry Potter will also most likely get a sneak peak into Diagon Alley, a much anticipated addition opening this summer.

Diagon Alley

Universal just released photos (like the one on the right), and information about the newest addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — King’s Cross Station, and Diagon Alley. If you’re familiar with Universal Studios theme park, the attractions are being built just to the right of San Francisco, before you hit MIB and the Simpsons. Not only will you be able to take the Hogwart’s express back and forth between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, you’ll be welcomed by a whole new group of experiences, treats, and features unique to Harry Potter. Some of the announced attractions include, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, a larger and more interactive Ollivander’s wand shop, as well as the Leaky Cauldron and Knockturn Alley. Universal Orlando’s newest Harry Potter addition opens summer of 2014.

Camp 9 3/4

Camp 9 3/4 is an adult camp (ages 16 – 96) that promises to be the least expensive Harry Potter experience available. Some camp offerings include Quidditch matches, house cup championships, nightly wizard rock concerts, and Harry Potter book/movie debates. The best part? “We exclusively rent out the entire camp facility, which means no muggles!” Camp 9 3/4 takes place October 10 – 14, 2014 in Marble Falls, Texas. The registration fee is $250 – $400 (the site isn’t terribly clear about what this includes). Find out more here.


A fan based conference that started around Harry Potter, and has grown to include almost any fan, LeakyCon claims to be a cross between ComicCon and SXSW. Any age is welcomed, although the suggested age is 11+. You can expect celebrity appearances, Wizard Rock concerts, book signings and a marketplace. This is a great conference for the young adult who is into everything at the moment (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Dr. Who, etc.). LeakyCon takes place July 30 – August 3, 2014 in Orlando, Florida at the Orange County Convention Center. Registration is $100-$350 (does not include travel or lodging). Find out more about LeakyCon here.


“You bring the wands, we’ll bring the magic” is the tagline to this small by-fans-for-fans Harry Potter conference taking place Memorial Day weekend in 2015. The theme will be ‘Wizarding World’s Fair’. Since the event is still awhile away, there isn’t much more information, but there is an option to sign up for a mailing list for further and new information. Event takes place May 21-25, 2015 in Laconia, New Hampshire at the Margate Resort.

Alohamora [sic]

With no specific dates or announcements for 2014 or beyond, Alohamora [sic] was a conference held in London in partnership with LeakyCon, allowing those in Europe to celebrate the boy who lived in the place he was born. From the looks of Facebook it was a very successful event, so hopefully they’ll follow it up with another successful gathering of wizards and witches. Watch their Facebook page for updates about the Alohamora conference.

Harry Potter Festival and Academic Conference

Held at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, Harry Potter Conference is an even deeper and more academic gathering of Potter geeks. Free and open to the public, some of last year’s presentations included ‘Expelliarmus! Revenge and Incarceration in the Harry Potter Series‘ as well as ‘Shhhh! Hermione and the Marginalization of the Hogwart’s Library.’ I personally would love to hear college professors discuss the merits of wizarding and magic. While no specific details have been released for 2014, it takes place at the same time as Chestnut Hill’s Harry Potter Festival.

International Quidditch Cup

Did you know there are more than 300 Quidditch teams all over the world that compete against each other? THIS IS A REAL THING. I mean they don’t fly, but there are broomsticks, snitches, keepers, beaters and quaffles. Even better? It’s a completely co-ed sport. You can find an event to attend, a team to join, or find out how to begin a team of your own, on their website.

For those of you wondering if a themed conference is right for you, MuggleNet has put together an article that runs down what you can expect at almost every Harry Potter conference — from costumes, schedules to planning. (One tip: Bring money! You’re going to want to buy everything from the conference marketplaces). You can read that article here.

Expelliarmus! Hogwarts fans lay into Russell Brand over his 'Harry Potter poofs' jibe at Cambridge University - January 2014

Expelliarmus! Hogwarts fans lay into Russell Brand over his 'Harry Potter poofs' jibe at Cambridge University - January 2014

By Charlie Scott | Cambridge News | January 16, 2014, 6:05 a.m.

The storm surrounding Russell Brand’s Harry Potter jibe continues to darken, as fans of the lightning-scarred boy wizard join equality rights campaigners in condemning his comment.

The president of Cambridge University’s LGBT student society demanded an apology from Brand after the controversial comedian joked “shut up you Harry Potter poofs” to students at the Cambridge Union Society on Monday evening.

And now Brand has drawn the wrath of an army of Potter aficionados., which attracts up to 14 million people each year and reaches 204 countries around the world, has told the News “it is time for humour of this nature to be banished”.

During his appearance at the Cambridge Union Society, Brand singled out different college crests on the walls of the debating chamber, and when students cheered he told them: “Shut up you Harry Potter poofs”. Kat Miller, marketing and creative director at, lamented the comedian’s words, but said it was the “sort of behaviour we have come to expect from Brand”.

She went on: “He is, in general, an offensive comedian who uses slurs to try and get a laugh. That’s never funny, in my opinion.

“Also it’s clear from his comments that he hasn’t read the Harry Potter novels, because if he had, he would realize that they’re about love, friendship, and bravery – qualities which he clearly knows nothing about, if you judge his comments to be true.

“It’s time for humour of this nature to be banished, or saved for private quarters. It’s 2014. Let’s show some compassion towards others and work towards equality.”

Eric Scull, a MuggleNet senior contributing editor, added: “The Harry Potter fan community is among the very most diverse fan communities out there.

“People, young and old, from all walks of life and of all gender orientations find real magic in the story of the boy wizard and his friends.”

Potter v Brand – how they measure up


Schooling – Hogwarts

Magic powers – He can do spells, ride broomsticks and has an unerring ability to love

Career high point – Defeating the Dark Lord

Career low point – Standing helpless as Professor Dumbledore was killed in front of him

Weapon of choice – His 11-inch wand made of holly, with a phoenix feather core


Schooling – Italian Conti Academy of Theatre Arts

Magic powers – His control of the English language, observational humour and, um, way with women

Career high point – His celebrity memoirs, Booky Wook 2: This Time It’s Personal, has received rave reviews

Career low point – When he and Jonathon Ross left lewd voicemails for Andrew Sachs in 2008 as part of his radio show

Weapon of choice – Don’t go there

Daily Mail falls for MuggleNet's 2013 April Fools' post - January 2014

Daily Mail falls for MuggleNet's 2013 April Fools' post - January 2014

  • Daily Mail Article
  • MuggleNet April Fools’ Post

The must-see TV of 2014: Magical musketeers, epic war dramas, the return of Broadchurch… get set for a bumper year on the gogglebox

By Christopher Stevens | January 3, 2014, 7:59 p.m.

It looks like being a bumper year on TV. All the mainstream channels are pulling out the stops to attract the biggest audiences with everything from new drama and documentaries to reality shows and sit-coms, as well as the return of some established favourites. The satellite channels are beefing up their schedules, too, in the race to compete. Mail TV critic Christopher Stevens presents his pick of the best, funniest, scariest — and most missable — shows of 2014


Wolf Hall (BBC2, unscheduled): Shakespearean actor Mark Rylance will play Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s ruthless political puppetmaster, in this adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker-winning novel, telling how the Tudor despot rid himself of first wife Catherine of Aragon and married Anne Boleyn.

Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell (BBC1, autumn): A splendid mixture of magical adventure and costume drama, this seven-part serial, stars Eddie Marsan and Bertie Carvell as the two greatest wizards in England during the Napoleonic Wars, who join forces against a Dark Lord. It’s Harry Potter meets Jane Austen.

Downton Abbey (ITV, September): Back for a fifth series, this drama lost its way in 2013 but kept its audience thanks to the brilliance of its cast. What the show needs this year is a major new character, someone to spin new plotlines. But downstairs staff must stay unchanged — how would we cope without Carson the butler and housekeeper Mrs Hughes?

Jamaica Inn (BBC1, Easter): This Daphne du Maurier romance was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in the Thirties and made a star of Maureen O’Hara. This time it is Jessica Brown Findlay, who played Lady Sybil in Downton, who takes the lead as the young woman sent to live with her villainous uncle at a remote Cornish pub.

The Casual Vacancy (BBC1, unscheduled): J. K. Rowling’s first novel for adults was critically panned but popular with readers. This tale of a picture-box village riven by hidden enmities is perfect for the small screen. The all-star cast includes Minnie Driver, David Thewlis and Helena Bonham Carter.


Grantchester (ITV, mid-autumn): James Runcie, whose father Robert was Archbishop of Canterbury, has created parish clergyman Sidney Chambers, the Church of England’s answer to Father Brown. In this six-part series, he solves murders and drinks beer with his friend, a scruffy police inspector called Geordie Keating. Filming starts in March, with Jason Watkins as the sleuthing vicar.

Prey (ITV, unscheduled): The brilliant John Simm stars with comic actor Ade Edmondson. DC Marcus Farrow (Simm) is forced to go on the run in Manchester in a desperate bid to clear his name after he is accused of murder. Producer Nicola Shindler explains the action is shot ‘guerilla style’ from the back of a Transit van. That could be superb — or disastrous.

Quirke (BBC1, unscheduled): Crime noir set in Fifties Dublin, starring Gabriel Byrne as a pathologist who probes the city’s criminal backstreets to solve the deaths of victims who end up on his mortuary table. Acting heavyweight Sir Michael Gambon plays a judge, and the three feature-length episodes are co-written by Andrew Davies, whose adaptations include Vanity Fair and Little Dorrit.

Broadchurch (ITV, unscheduled): The hit drama of last year, Chris Chibnall’s tale of a provincial seaside town ripped asunder by lies will be back for a second series, but the writer promises it will not be a copycat murder story. ‘Take nothing for granted!’ he says. Olivia Colman will be back as DS Ellie Miller, and fans are desperate to see the return, so far unconfirmed, of David Tennant as DI Alex Hardy (pictured above with Colman).

Endeavour (ITV, spring): The early years of Inspector Morse, starring Shaun Evans as the young copper in Oxford and Roger Allam as his mentor, DCI Fred Thursday, returns for a second four-part series after its acclaimed run in 2013. Chief writer Russell Lewis, who produced scripts for both Lewis and the original Morse, insists, ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet, matey!’


The Great Fire (ITV, autumn): King Charles II and the diarist Samuel Pepys are the chief characters in this historical drama, set over four days in 1666 as a blaze begins in a family bakery owned by Thomas Farriner and sweeps the capital. Written by Tom Bradby, the political editor of ITN, this big budget drama promises to be spectacular.

Happy Valley (BBC1, March): A six-part serial by Sally Wainwright, who wrote Last Tango In Halifax. Sarah Lancashire, who played a toffee-nosed head teacher in Last Tango, stars as police sergeant Catherine Crowther, trying to foil the kidnapping of a businessman’s daughter but haunted by the death of her own child.

Lost Honour (ITV, unscheduled): Based on the story of retired teacher Christopher Jefferies’s wrongful arrest for the murder of his tenant, Joanna Yeates, in Bristol two Christmases ago. Director Roger Michell, who was taught at Clifton College by Jefferies, says: ‘It’s a story that celebrates our right to be eccentric.’

Troy (C4, February): Street magic featuring 24-year-old German conjuror Troy Von Scheibner, who specialises in performing stunts for ordinary members of the public who don’t realise they are being fooled — or filmed. ‘Magicians can come across as weird, dark and mysterious,’ Troy says. ‘I’m a normal human being – people just don’t expect the magic!’

Lambing Live (BBC2, March 24-28)): Kate Humble (above) and Adam Henson have been presenting this heartwarming series for five years, and the marvel of watching new life appear, with the dramas that can happen when things go wrong, never wears thin. The show is so popular that some B&Bs in Wales and Cumbria now offer Lambing Live weekends for visitors to experience the real thing.


The Ark (BBC1, late February): With 2014 marking the centenary of WWI’s outbreak, prepare for a rush of dramas and documentaries about life in the trenches. The Ark is a six-part series about medics in a field hospital, starring Oona Chaplin and Suranne Jones as volunteer nurses. The Ark is a six-part series about medics in a field hospital, starring Oona Chaplin

37 Days (BBC2, February): Screening across three nights, this drama, with a cast including Tim Piggott-Smith, Ian McDiarmid and Sinead Cusack, traces the events that led to the carnage, from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, to the eruption of hostilities between Britain and Germany on August 4.

The Great War (BBC1, unscheduled): Jeremy Paxman presents a four-part documentary series exploring how the lives of British people were changed by the ‘war to end all wars’. It marks the start of more than 130 specially commissioned programmes scheduled over the next four years.

Our Story: The Great War (ITV, summer): Another four-parter to mark the outbreak of war, this time a dramatised documentary starring Alison Steadman and Daniel Mays. It includes the story of Harold Gillies, the New Zealand doctor who pioneered the use of plastic surgery on men disfigured in the fighting. Inspiring.

Royal Cousins At War (BBC2, unscheduled): King George V and Kaiser Wilhelm were both grandsons of Queen Victoria, and this two-part documentary explores how old feuds within the royal family helped to escalate tensions between Britain and Germany before the war.


Musketeers (BBC1, late January): One of the year’s biggest productions, stretching across ten episodes, this retelling of the classic adventure tale by Alexandre Dumas stars Luke Pasqualino as D’Artagnan, the young swordsman who joins forces with King Louis’s bodyguard in 17th century Paris to foil the evil Cardinal Richelieu — played by new Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi.

The Game (BBC1, late spring): A six-part Cold War spy thriller in the tradition of Tinker Tailor, starring Brian Cox, Tom Hughes and Judy Parfitt. Cox, as head of MI5, assembles a maverick team of agents to uncover a Soviet spy ring.

Hostages (C4, mid-January): Tense U.S. drama, with Toni Collette (pictured) as the White House medic who is ordered to kill the President on the operating table by extremists who have taken her family hostage. Each of 15 hour-long episodes covers one day in the drama, with as many twists and surprises as we’ve come to expect from similar shows such as Homeland and 24.

Love/Hate (C5, autumn): The gritty Dublin gangland drama starring Aiden Gillen from Game Of Thrones returns for a second series. It earned rapturous acclaim from Irish critics but failed to make an impact in Britain, perhaps because we don’t expect quality drama from C5. If you love The Wire, you’ll want to see this.

Turks And Caicos (BBC2, February/March): Writer David Hare has assembled the cast of the year for the second instalment of his Worriker trilogy. Starring Bill Nighy as disaffected spy Johnny Worriker, it also features Hollywood A-listers Christopher Walken, Winona Ryder, Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes. Unmissable.


Big Ballet (C4, February): Wayne Sleep, the diminutive dancer who once packed West End theatres but is now best remembered for eating jungle bugs on I’m A Celebrity, makes a telly comeback teaching overweight amateurs to do the pas de deux. Typical C4 voyeurism, but at least the music will be nice. (C4, unscheduled): Comedian David Baddiel has written this one-off pilot, an old-fashioned family sitcom shot on mobile phones. Meanwhile another comedy that started as a C4 pilot, the wickedly funny Toast Of London, starring Matt Berry as a useless thespian, will return for a second series — and is on the way to cult status.

Car Share (BBC, unscheduled): This BBC1 sitcom will premiere on iPlayer several weeks before its TV broadcast, and stars Peter Kay and Sian Gibson as two supermarket employees who have to share a car to work to comply with their employer’s ‘eco-friendly’ policies. Over six episodes of bickering and heart-to-hearts, their relationship takes some surprising turns.

Rev (BBC2, spring): Back for a third series, the melancholy comedy about a vicar in an inner-city parish and his wife, a struggling solicitor. It stars Tom Hollander (above) and Olivia Colman, which ought to be reason enough for anyone to give it a try. Don’t expect to fall about laughing, but there’s lots of touching lines to make you smile.

Miracle Hunter (C4, probably April): All over the world, people claim to have superhuman powers. Some are frauds, some deluded — but might there be a few who defy science? Presenter Simon Farnaby goes in search of the real X Men ‘mutants’, from psychic healers to levitators. Sometimes amazing… sometimes amazingly funny.


Fleming (Sky Atlantic, February): The author of the James Bond thrillers based the tales on his own adventures and the stories he heard as a WWII naval intelligence officer. Ian Fleming was also a gambler with a thirst for vodka martinis and a lover of fast cars — this four-part drama tells his story, with Dominic Cooper and Lara Pulver.

The Following (Sky Atlantic, late January): Kevin Bacon stars as an FBI agent and James Purefoy as a serial killer as this horror thriller returns. Bacon claims he read the scripts in one sitting: ‘It scared the hell out of me but I couldn’t put it down,’ he said. It has the same effect on viewers.

Yonderland (Sky1, unscheduled): Simply the funniest show of 2013, this family-friendly fantasy from the Horrible Histories team has not yet been confirmed for a second series — but its rapturous reception must make it certain to return. Martha Howe-Douglas is Debbie, a housewife who discovers a magical world in her kitchen larder filled with elves (below), puppets and very silly humans.

True Detective (Sky Atlantic, February): Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey are police investigators in a 17-year hunt for a Louisiana serial killer. This eight-part psychological police thriller has overtones of the supernatural — complex and intriguing.

The Smoke (Sky1, February): This eight-part firefighter drama stars Jamie Bamber of Battlestar Galactica and Broadchurch’s Jodie Whittaker. The series focuses on the White Watch crew of a London fire station, and features big-scale special effects with explosions and blazes.

BBC casting news for ‘The Casual Vacancy’ mini-series; Includes names from ‘Potter’ films

By Keith Hawk | April 1, 2013, 8:10 a.m.

Ever since it was announced back in December that J.K. Rowling’s first novel for ‘grown-ups’, The Casual Vacancy, would be turned into a BBC miniseries, everyone began formulating their own list of perfect actors to portray each character.

Despite Neil Blair’s earlier Tweet saying that casting would begin in late spring, BBC has announced a selected number of the show’s cast members, including a few familiar names from the Harry Potter films.

Here are the names that BBC has released of the chosen actors and actresses and the roles they will play:

  • Samantha Mollison- Minnie Driver
  • Terri Weedon- Helena Bonham Carter
  • Colin “Cubby” Wall- David Thewlis
  • Parminder Jawanda- Indira Varma
  • Vikram Jawanda- Raza Jaffrey
  • Stuart “Fats” Wall- Alex Etel

Danny Cohen, controller of BBC1, commented on the casting selections:

“The experience alone of finding these actors and actresses was very demanding, but also very rewarding. We are so lucky to have J.K. Rowling’s continued support and participation during the casting process as we attempt to bring these amazing characters to life as they were in her mind.”

No word yet on casting for the remaining characters or crew. Did any of your predictions come true? What are your thoughts on the selected cast? Do you have any ideas for the other characters?

Building a parallel library - November 2013

Building a parallel library - November 2013

C’mon, which Potterhead hasn’t been to MuggleNet,” says Rupal Bhandari, exclaiming her urge to share books in every possible way. Carving a library right from scratch, Rupal Bhandari and Vanita Ganesh, the duo from Kamla Nehru College have come a long way into enticing their peers in the world of books.

By Isha Arora | Deccan Herald | November 5, 2013

Tracing the idea back to its roots, Rupal shares, “After an hour-long lecture about literary criticism, our professor, Sanam Khanna, introduced this idea to me while we were standing in the corridor outside class. She asked if I’d want to work on something like that and now I think ‘Thank God, I said yes’.”

Brewing from that conversation, the Open Library under the KNC Book Club started taking shape in the beginning of the semester. This library comes from the basic idea of sharing what you read. Nestled under of the staircases of the college, the library has a bookshelf along with a few bulletin boards. “The bookshelf is always open, and whoever wants to borrow a book from there can just write their name on the log, and take the book with them. They can come back to return the book later, or if they want to keep the book with them, they can simply bring us another book, and enter it in the log, and leave it on the shelf,” explains Vanita, sharing the principles on which their library functions.

Finding us wondering about the concept, Rupal adds, “That’s how it works, and to be very true, we didn’t think it would work initially. But you know what, it works, and people do not steal books, and we are surprised by that too!”

On a monthly basis, the library invites Delhi-based authors for one-on-one discussion and book signings. “Sitting a few inches from an author, they get a chance to tear down their characters while the authors join in their bandwagon to understand the readers closely.

From Christie’s detective fiction to hard-core literature like Dickens and Hardy, the collection keeps on changing as per what comes in and goes out. Their basic idea is to provide an option for people to pick up as many books as they want. In the upcoming semester, they plan to give a makeover to this reading place by involving art-maniacs (the art society of KNC) and also introduce it to students from other colleges.

Watching Harry Potter Helps the World Learn English - December 2012

Watching Harry Potter Helps the World Learn English - December 2012

Marketwire via Comtex | December 10, 2012, 7:01 a.m.

Expelliarmus! An international study has found that Harry Potter films help people across the world learn English.

Research by Kaplan International Colleges, a leading provider of English courses, revealed that Muggles around the globe are improving their language skills by watching the eight-part Harry Potter movie series.

The study showed that 79% of people said that watching films helped them to understand English better and the wizarding adventures of Harry Potter were the most popular movies for enhancing language learning.

Kaplan discovered that 24% of people increased their understanding of English from watching the boy wizard while 11% claimed that the epic romantic disaster film Titanic helped their learning. Seven percent said their language skills were boosted by Pixar’s Toy Story.

Keith Hawk, Senior Staff Member at MuggleNet, said: “It is certainly not surprising to the millions of ‘Potterheads’ that the Harry Potter films have been selected as the number one way to learn English through the cinema.”

“The Harry Potter series will assist any child or adult willing to learn the English language through the use of cinematic or literary mediums.”

The research also revealed that those people who said Harry Potter helped them learn English were more likely to want to travel to the UK to study the language.

London was one of the most-used filming locations for the series, featuring in every film from the Philosopher’s Stone to the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

Kevin McCarthy, Head of Study at London & Partners, said: “London is a welcoming and diverse city awash with familiar sites people would have seen on Harry Potter films such as platform 9 3/4’s at King’s Cross and Leadenhall Market. There are so many instantly recognisable places.

“The student-friendly capital is also a key place to come and learn English or take a course in higher education, with hundreds of different courses and thousands of opportunities available to learn both in the classroom and whilst exploring its culture and 300 free museums and attractions.”

Along with films, Kaplan asked hundreds of their past and present language school students whether watching television shows, listening to music, reading comics or playing video games helped them to understand English.

The results have been turned into Kaplan’s How to Learn English Infographic, which was created by graphic designer Sergio Fernandez Gallardo.

About Kaplan International Colleges

Kaplan International Colleges is part of Kaplan, Inc., an international education services provider offering higher education, professional training, and test preparation. Kaplan is a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company.


MuggleNet is the world’s no. 1 Harry Potter fan site. The site is composed of news, editorials and synopses of the Harry Potter books and films. MuggleNet is owned by Spartz, Inc., an Indiana corporation registered by Emerson Spartz in 2007.

About London & Partners

London & Partners is the official promotional organisation for London attracting and delivering value to businesses, students and visitors. London & Partners is a not-for-profit public private partnership, funded by the Mayor of London and our network of commercial partners.

To view the image associated with this press release, please visit the following link:

New J.K. Rowling Book: Harry Potter Author to Publish 'The Casual Vacancy' - April 2012

New J.K. Rowling Book: Harry Potter Author to Publish 'The Casual Vacancy' - April 2012

By Cristina Merrill | International Business Times | April 13, 2012, 9:17 a.m.

J.K. Rowling, the British author behind the publishing phenomenon that was the Harry Potter series, is aiming for grown-up success with her new, adults-only book coming out this fall.

The Casual Vacancy is scheduled for release on Sept. 27, the Associated Press reported.

The story, which will be available in hardcover, e-book and audio forms, is about a man whose death causes a stir in his small English town. Things get heated when a battle commences for his empty local council seat. The clamor over the seat, according to a synopsis on the Little, Brown Book Group website, becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

The book marks Rowling’s first fictional foray after the world of Harry Potter. It will be published by Little, Brown & Co., marking a break from Scholastic, which published the U.S. versions of the Harry Potter books.

Although I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much, my next book will be very different to the Harry Potter series, Rowling said of the new partnership when it was announced in February, according to a report in the Guardian. The freedom to explore new territory is a gift that Harry’s success has brought me, and with that new territory it seemed a logical progression to have a new publisher.

Staffers at the Harry Potter website believe that The Casual Vacancy will be another storytelling success for Rowling.

One thing is for sure, the characters will be richly developed and the readership will not be disappointed, managing editor Keith Hawk told IBTimes in an email. Miss Rowling doesn’t do anything randomly when she writes, every detail is carefully planned throughout her stories. senior managing editor Micah Tannenbaum definitely plans to read the new book and believes it will be a best-seller, but doesn’t expect it to come close to Potter glory.

Nothing will match that again in our lifetime, Tannenbaum wrote in an email.

That might be fine with Rowling, actually.

She spoke about the experiences Harry Potter brought her in a 2010 interview with Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey asked Rowling whether she felt the need to top Harry. Rowling said she didn’t.

It was amazing, Rowling said of the Harry Potter frenzy. It was also insane at times. And there are parts of that insanity I’ll be quite glad to leave. She added: I’m so grateful I had it, on so many different levels.

J.K. Rowling's adult novel titled 'Lairs of Lady Po' - April 2012

J.K. Rowling's adult novel titled 'Lairs of Lady Po' - April 2012

By Stephan Lee | Entertainment Weekly | April 2, 2012, 12:41 p.m.

April Fools’! Yesterday, the merry pranksters at Mugglenet posted the news, which they claimed came from a press release from Little, Brown, J.K. Rowling’s new publisher. They also included an “official image” that depicted an old-timey typewriter holding a blood-splattered sheet of paper — it seemed to confirm rumors that Rowling’s next book would be a crime thriller. The alleged title, Lairs of Lady Po, has a bit of Rowling’s whimsy to it, but as many clever Ravenclaws have pointed out, it’s actually an anagram of “April Fools’ Day.” (Take out your parchment and try it for yourself! It’ll make you feel like Hermione).

Little, Brown didn’t exactly deny the Lady Po title when we reached out for confirmation — the rep simply said that they “don’t have any more information to share on the J.K. Rowling title” at the moment — but it looks as though we’ll have to wait a bit longer for real details. It was a fun tease, though. A real Rita Skeeter move, Mugglenet.

Harry Potter Fans Consider Life Post-Potter - July 2011

Harry Potter Fans Consider Life Post-Potter - July 2011

‘For those who have been so involved and grown up with the series, it feels like a chapter of your life has closed,’ one expert says.

By Josh Wigler | MTV News | July 22, 2011, 7:09 p.m.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” has been in theaters for a week, kicking magical tail at the box office and basking in the glow of rave reviews from critics. All good things, to be sure, except for one not-so-tiny wound: “Harry Potter” is officially over.

“Wait … there’s no ‘Part 3’?” joked a wistful Micah Tannenbaum of MuggleNet, commenting to MTV News on the fact that the “Potter” series is finally ending. “It’s a bittersweet feeling. For those who have been so involved and grown up with the series, it feels like a chapter of your life has closed, but at the same time, you’re eager to see what’s next. J.K. Rowling always has something up her sleeve.”

MTV’s very own “Potter” expert Terri Schwartz, who was one of our main commentators during the “Harry Potter” World Cup, is one such reader to have grown up alongside the Boy Who Lived, giving her a unique perspective on the cinematic ending of Jo Rowling’s magical franchise.

“It is fair to say that I grew up with ‘Harry Potter,’ so now that the movie series is over, there is an overriding sense of finality to the era that wasn’t there when the last book came out,” she said. “I definitely feel like I will never experience another pop-culture phenomenon quite like this again in my lifetime.”

Indeed, it’s a popular sentiment. For many fans, the end of “Potter” marks not just the end of a franchise, but the completion of a massive zeitgeist-defining tale the likes of which won’t be repeated anytime soon. There’s a sense of pride among “Potter” fans for having been around to witness such a narrative gift, but it doesn’t come without a bittersweet cost.

“I think the fans are experiencing mixed emotions,” Tannenbaum said. “It’s a bit different than when ‘Deathly Hallows’ the book was released in 2007, because you still had several movies to look forward to. Now what?”

Thankfully, there is a place to turn: Pottermore, Ms. Rowling’s online haven where muggles across the world can rediscover the majesty of “Potter” all over again.

“It’s a good thing [she] decided to announce Pottermore just before the last film hit theaters,” Tannenbaum said. “I have a feeling it will cure any lingering post-Potter depression and provide fans the ultimate online experience. With all the books being re-released over time with new content, fans can experience the series all over again.”

Pottermore is still several months away, of course, but fans aren’t without options: “Deathly Hallows, Part 2″ is still in theaters, of course, and judging by last weekend’s record-breaking box-office numbers, it’s a sure bet that many Potterheads will be heading back to Hogwarts this weekend.

” ‘Part 2’ is definitely the strongest of the ‘Potter’ films, so it is exciting to see that this last movie is holding steady to be the strongest of the bunch,” Schwartz said. “It just solidifies the fact that this is the most successful movie franchise in cinematic history, which is a title it well-deserves.”

“The box-office results are impressive,” Tannenbaum added. “I think the fact that ‘Part 2′ shattered midnight, opening-day and opening-weekend records here in the U.S. as well as records overseas shows the series’ reach. It’s the fastest film ever to the half-billion mark, and it has only been in theaters for a week! Plus, it just passed ‘Star Wars’ as the highest-grossing franchise of all-time. Definitely going out with a bang.”

Growing up with Harry Potter - July 2011

Growing up with Harry Potter - July 2011

By Henry Hanks | CNN | July 15, 2011, 12:01 p.m.

(CNN) — Like the moment that Harry Potter first learned he was a wizard, Raleigh Browne can vividly recall when he first heard of the adventures of the “Boy Who Lived.”

“It was the summer between my kindergarten and first-grade years when my mom returned home from the bookstore with a copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,’ ” he said. “She laid the paperback down on our kitchen table and told me that a number of her friends had told her that the ‘Harry Potter’ books were wonderful stories, and she wanted me to try ‘Sorcerer’s Stone.’ My mom offered to read it aloud to me.”

He said he was instantly mesmerized once she started reading it to him. “After a few more nights of reading with my mom, I could restrain myself no longer, and I picked up the book and began to read it on my own.”

He was about to enter first grade, but the Mechanicsville, Virginia, resident soon devoured the first four “Potter” books, and a few years later, he made that fateful journey to the bookstore to pick up the final book, “Deathly Hallows.”

He can even remember the number of the reserved copy that the store called for him to pick up: 372. He said the dedication spoke deeply to him, and he recalls reflecting on the series after nine hours of reading the final part of the story.

“These fantastic books have made a profound impact on my life,” he said. “These books have shaped the way I think, act and live.”

He sees Harry Potter as a friend whom he knows better than some of his real friends, and Dumbledore as a mentor.

Browne is one of many iReporters who said that they felt a kinship to Harry Potter, having literally grown up with the character.

A lasting friendship

Anna Venckus of Memphis met her best friend, Madeline Trantham, through “Harry Potter”: “When we were in third grade, we were hanging out in her room (I was already obsessed with ‘Harry Potter’), and I asked her if she’d ever heard of ‘Harry Potter.’ She said yes, she’d seen a couple of the movies. Somehow I got her to read the books and she began to love it, too. We became so close so quickly — all because of ‘Harry Potter.’ ”

Since then, the pair has seen every movie since “Order of the Phoenix” together, and went on Thursday night to see the midnight showing of the final film. She describes their relationship as “closer than sisters.”

“Her ‘altar ego’ is Hermione, and mine is Ginny,” she said. “Thank You, J.K. Rowling. Because of you, I have the best friend a girl could ask for.”

The lessons of ‘Potter’

For Katie Mahoney, it was an encounter with Rowling that started her on the way to making Harry a significant part of her life. The author was signing books at her elementary school, and her friend got a signed copy of one of the “Potter” books, which peaked Mahoney’s interest. “Once I started reading ‘The Sorcerer’s Stone,” I couldn’t put them down,” she said. “I loved that the hero was young and easy to relate to. Harry could be anyone, since he is grounded in the real world, but is then whisked away to the wizarding world.”

The West Lafayette, Indiana, resident said she has learned many life lessons from the stories: “(The books) taught me about right and wrong, and how the ends do not justify the means. The books also taught me about human nature, how your actions can have a significant effect way down the line.”

She would greatly anticipate every new installment, going to sites such as to find out anything she could about the next book.

Now that the books and movies have come to an end, she doesn’t see them going away anytime soon. “Certainly Harry will live on in events like Quidditch, which I don’t see slowing down anytime soon. Many colleges have already recognized it as a sport,” she said. (In fact, she took part in the 2010 Quidditch World Cup in New York.)

“With bands like Draco and the Malfoys, the Whomping Willows, the Parselmouths, the Ministry of Magic and Harry and the Potters, Harry will have a place in music as well.”

An ‘Army’ of friends

Laura Bucklin from Solon, Iowa — who, at 21, is the same age as Harry Potter would be now — remembers the moment in 1998 when her friend lent her the first book.

“I’ve been captivated ever since,” she said.

In high school, she and a group of friends would constantly discuss the books and movies, and dressed up as “Dumbledore’s Army” during their school’s homecoming week. This tradition extended to the openings of each film.

“I love Ron, so I tied up my long hair in a bun and stuffed it under a red wig that my mom and I cut ourselves from a ‘Scooby-Doo’ Daphne wig,” she said.

She said that she posted an iReport to let her friends know that she was thinking of them when she went to see the final movie since she is doing an internship out of town.

Inspired by the wizarding world

Dylan Hurwitz remembers being disappointed at age 11 — soon after he began reading the books — when an owl didn’t arrive to whisk him away to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Instead, the books inspired him to create more art. He made a stop-motion animated film of the first book. He drew scenes from the books, or created new scenes he hoped to see in future books. He wrote fan fiction and went on to write his own 200-page fantasy story.

“I would often play the movies on TV and mute it, and watching the action onscreen, improvise new songs,” he said, adding he’s interested in a career in writing musical scores for movies.

He said Rowling’s rags-to-riches success and the imaginative stories stirred a passion for artistic expression.

Whether “Harry Potter” influenced art, relationships or simply the pure joy of reading, it’s clear the books and movies won’t soon be forgotten, especially for those who grew up with them.

As Browne put it, ” ‘Harry Potter’ has defined my generation, and while our ‘Harry Potter’ era may be drawing to a close, the series will live on forever.”

Harry Potter lives on through fan fiction - July 2011

Harry Potter lives on through fan fiction - July 2011

Few fictional characters have the magic of Harry Potter. He’s sold 450 million books worldwide and drawn thousands of people to New York for the American premiere of his final movie. CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller introduces us to some spellbound fans who refuse to let Potter’s story end.

By Michelle Miller | | July 11, 2011, 6:58 p.m.

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling wrote the final chapter of the seven-book series in 2007. But since then, tens of thousands of amateur authors have picked up the tale, among them Jaida Jones. Writers like her pen new Potter plots on dozens of websites, often spinning new stories about the characters.

“Their imaginations run rampant,” she said. “Instead of keeping it in their heads, they’re like I have this hilarious idea and I’m going to write it down and share it.”

Jones read her first Potter book at age 11. By college she and a friend had co-authored The Shoebox Project, a history of the fictional Hogwarts school of magic.

“In the end, you know it was just our story,” she said, “and I don’t think anyone other than J.K. Rowling can know exactly what the truth of the characters is. But we as readers get a feeling for that truth and we want to be a part of their lives.”

Fan fiction started in the 19th century, with stories and parodies based on “Alice in Wonderland,” Sherlock Holmes, and even Jane Austen. Then came the sci-fi follow-ups to “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” movies.

But fan fiction really exploded with the Internet. One fan fiction website,, has 2 million stories posted. Some 500,000 of them are based on Harry Potter.

“It’s huge,” said Emerson Spartz, who launched the fan Web-site MuggleNet when he was just 12 years old.

“Harry Potter was the gateway drug for books for a generation. I think with the power of the Internet combined with the intricate and detailed world that J.K. Rowling created also helped to catalyze a generation of writers.”

The point of fan fiction is not to make money, but to share the stories — and keep the magic alive.

Author J.K. Rowling doesn’t seem to mind. This fall, she’ll launch her own website Pottermore, which may offer even more fan fiction fodder well after the last credit rolls on the big screen.

Rowling's next spell: Creating Pottermore for fans - June 2011

Rowling's next spell: Creating Pottermore for fans - June 2011

By Carol Memmott | USA TODAY | June 23, 2011, 7:40 p.m.

Harry Potter fans are rejoicing over J.K. Rowling’s announcement of Pottermore, an online world in which she promises to provide new details about the lives and adventures of the boy wizard and his friends.

But Pottermore’s news was nearly eclipsed by a bigger revelation: The Potter series will soon be available in e-book form.

Fans have wondered why the books have never been in digital form; now they know she was saving them for the Pottermore debut in October.

“Pottermore will be the place where fans of any age can share, participate in and rediscover the stories,” Rowling said Thursday from London in a YouTube video.

“It will also be the exclusive place to purchase digital audio books and, for the first time, e-books in the Harry Potter series. I’ll be joining in, too, because I will be sharing additional information I’ve been hoarding for years about the world of Harry Potter.”

It’s unclear how the e-books will be priced or whether they will be compatible with all e-reader formats.

The new material Rowling is promising on her website will include more details on the characters, objects and places in her beloved series.

“Fans are really excited,” says Andrews Sims, editor of the fan site “It’s a pretty big day for Potter fans to hear so much from J.K. Rowling and see this project that’s going to be coming out later this year.”

Of the e-books, Sims says: “Fans have wanted Harry Potter e-books for a long time. I’m glad they’re finally doing it. This is obviously one of the greatest book series of all time, and now it’s available for a lot of people who want to experience it through an e-reader.”

Edward Drogos, senior site editor for, another fan site, says he’ll be first in line to buy the e-books and read them on his iPad. “Pottermore is an amazing addition to what Jo (Rowling) has already created for us.”

Pottermore is being developed in a partnership with Sony and will be an outlet for Sony products designed for Potter fans.

Fans who visit and submit their e-mail addresses will be contacted by the site following the opening of registration on July 31, Harry’s birthday.

On that date, an online challenge will be launched in which the first million people to complete their registration will gain early entry to the website.

J.K. Rowling previews mysterious Pottermore site - June 2011

J.K. Rowling previews mysterious Pottermore site - June 2011

By Brandon Griggs | CNN | June 17, 2011, 1:56 p.m.

(CNN) — Harry Potter fans, already an excitable bunch, are in a tizzy over a mysterious new website from series creator J.K. Rowling that hints at future Harry Potter-related content.

The site,, launched Thursday with a single teaser page depicting two owls against a dark pink background and the words “Coming soon …” above Rowling’s signature.

Clicking either owl takes visitors to Rowling’s YouTube channel, where a video screen counts down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until a Rowling “announcement” — set for 7 a.m. ET Wednesday.

There’s also a new Pottermore Twitter account, which as of Friday morning had posted only two tweets: one linking to the YouTube page and another mentioning a Google Maps-powered puzzle game that revealed the letters “POTTERMORE.”

Blogs and Twitter are full of fans hyperventilating about what it all means.

“!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This Is like the most exciting thing that’s happened in a realy long time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve been freaking out and running around the house screaming :)” posted one user on MuggleNet, a Harry Potter fan site.

Guesses range from an online game to a digital comic book to a virtual Harry Potter encyclopedia to a new promotional effort for the final movie in the franchise, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” which hits theaters July 15.

What it probably doesn’t mean, however, is a new Harry Potter book. A representative for Rowling told UK newspaper The Guardian on Thursday, “All we can say is that Pottermore is the name of J.K. Rowling’s new project. It will be announced soon, and it is not a new book.”

Andrew Sims of MuggleNet wrote on Thursday: “I saw a preview of Pottermore recently and can tell you that it is fantastic. I’d say more but I had to make an unbreakable vow concerning its secrecy.”

What do you think “Pottermore” will be? What do you want it to be? Let us know in the comments below.

Harry Potter test screening earns rave reviews - August 2010

Harry Potter test screening earns rave reviews - August 2010

By Sean O’Connell | | August 23, 2010 Reviews of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” started leaking out of Chicago now that Warner has begun spinning its sure-to-be-hit film for test audiences and fans.

Though strict embargoes would be in place for any professional critic, “Potter” fans flooded the Web site Mugglenet with praise. Stay away if you want to avoid major spoilers for the upcoming film. (Though really, if you read the book, you know what’s going to happen anyway!)

Director David Yates reportedly was in attendance at the Chicago screening. Fans who attended posted to Mugglenet that the first part of “Deathly Hallows” is “the most perfect Harry Potter film ever.”

“The movie on a whole is amazing and dark. Everyone was on top of their game,” said a reader named Kyle.

Another poster, Gaby, said, “I don’t remember feeling this satisfied with a Harry Potter movie since Chamber of Secrets.”

Positive reviews aren’t that surprising. Yates has done a bang-up job on the last two “Potter” films (“Order of the Phoenix” and “The Half-Blood Prince”), which led to him earning the right to film J.K. Rowling’s massive seventh tome.

Click over to Mugglenet to read more spoiler-heavy reviews. Or, if you can stand it, just stay patient, as “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” arrives in theaters on Nov. 19.

Harry Potter's Butterbeer Recipe Uncovered? - July 2010

Harry Potter's Butterbeer Recipe Uncovered? - July 2010

Associated Press | July 2, 2010

Got butterbeer?

Harry Potter fans are all abuzz about butterbeer, and they’ve got the foamy mustaches to prove it.

The cold and creamy, frothy drink is the most popular food item at the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, according to Universal spokesman Tom Schroder, with visitors lining up to try it.

“Then they would walk around and have this mustache on,” said Sabrina Sampson, 11, of Richmond, Va., who described the drink as tasting “like cream soda. It was somewhat thick, and it was really sweet, and then it got salty as you swallowed it, like butterscotch.”

Schroder said that about half the visitors to The Wizarding World sample butterbeer.

“There may be no bigger product launch smash this year than butterbeer,” said.

“It’s interesting that one small thing they can sell for a few dollars is getting as much attention as the rides,” said Gabe Travers, who reviewed the park for, the NBC affiliate in the Orlando area.

Immediately after The Wizarding World’s June 18 opening, butterbeer was one of the most searched-for terms on the Internet. A butterbeer recipe on got 3,445 hits when the park opened, up from an average 350 daily views before the opening, according to spokesman Andrew Sims. Now the recipe is averaging 1,200 daily views.

Even, a site for fans of Disney World, has a separate thread for comments related to Universal’s butterbeer.

Universal would not release its butterbeer recipe, but press materials describe the drink as “reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch.”

In the Harry Potter books, butterbeer appears to have an inebriating effect, and some older online recipes include butterscotch schnapps, but the Universal version is nonalcoholic. In Bon Appetit’s January 2002 issue, author J.K. Rowling was asked what butterbeer tastes like, and she said: “I made it up. I imagine it to taste a little bit like less sickly butterscotch.”

The version sold at The Wizarding World was tasted and approved by Rowling herself.

“Everyone knows butterbeer was approved by J.K. Rowling, so people want to taste it and see if their tastebuds match up,” said Travers.

Visitors to the park see a large wooden barrel that bears the word “BUTTERBEER” as soon as they enter, and they can buy it from a street cart and inside The Three Broomsticks restaurant and Hog’s Head pub.

Butterbeer is sold in two varieties, regular and frozen, but many people buy both. “There are some two-fisted butterbeer moments happening,” said Schroder. The consensus among online fans appears to be that the frozen version is more delicious.

The drink is drawn from a tap, like a beer, and the dense, whipped topping is added from a separate tap. It’s served in cups, about $3 ($4 for frozen) for a disposable cup and about $10 ($11 for frozen) for a hard plastic souvenir stein.

Travers said if he were trying to make the drink at home, he’d “start with a good cream soda.” The hard part, he said, would be the topping: “It tastes like a Werther’s caramel candy but the foam had the consistency of a dairy or latte type of foam. It’s pretty dense; it floats on top.”

Robert Lima of Warwick, R.I., who says he still loves “all that is Harry Potter” even though he’s 24 years old, tried butterbeer a week after the park opened and described it as “frosty magical goodness!”

But Sabrina Sampson had one small reservation: “It was too sweet to chug down, but it was good for the first five sips or so.”


No need to travel to Hogsmeade (or to Universal Orlando) to get a taste of Harry Potter’s butterbeer. Universal isn’t giving out its recipe, but we’ve created an easy version of the formerly fictional drink made famous by the young wizard.


Start to finish: 1 hour (10 minutes active)

Servings: 4

1 cup light or dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

6 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

3/4 cup heavy cream, divided

1/2 teaspoon rum extract

Four 12-ounce bottles cream soda

In a small saucepan over medium, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 F on a candy thermometer.

Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the rum extract.

In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes.

To serve, divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses (about 1/4 cup for each glass). Add 1/4 cup of cream soda to each glass, then stir to combine. Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped topping over each.

Explaining Harry Potter's Lasting Magic - July 2009

Explaining Harry Potter's Lasting Magic - July 2009

By Hillel Italie, Associated Press | | July 14, 2009, 5:29 p.m.

As the Harry Potter series wraps up this summer, we can look back at two remarkable narratives: Potter the boy wizard and Potter the cultural phenomenon.

Potter the wizard’s fate will be known July 21 with the release of “Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows,” Book 7 of J.K. Rowling’s fantasy epic. Worldwide sales of the first six books already top 325 million copies and the first printing for “Deathly Hallows” is 12 million in the United States alone.

Potter the phenomenon doesn’t compare for suspense, but like the wizard’s tale, it is unique and extraordinary and well placed in tradition. Like “Star Wars” and “Star Trek,” it is the story of how a work of popular art becomes a world of its own — imitated, merchandised and analyzed, immortalized not by the marketers, but by the fans.

“Every phenomenon is a kind of myth unto itself, a myth about how a phenomenon becomes a phenomenon. The story of how the public embraced Potter only gives more momentum to Potter in our culture,” says Neal Gabler, an author and cultural critic whose books include “Walt Disney” and “Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality.”

True phenomena are never planned. Not “Star Trek,” a series canceled after three seasons by NBC; or “Star Wars,” rejected throughout Hollywood before taken on by 20th Century Fox, which didn’t bother pushing for merchandising or sequel rights. The public knew better — the young people who screamed for the Beatles or watched “Star Wars” dozens of times or carried on for years about “Star Trek” after its cancellation.

In the beginning, “Harry Potter” simply needed a home. Several British publishers turned down Rowling, believing her manuscript too long and/or too slow, before the Bloomsbury Press signed her up in 1996, for $4,000 and a warning not to expect to get rich from writing children’s books. An American publisher had bigger ideas: Scholastic editor Arthur A. Levine acquired U.S. rights for $105,000.

“I can vividly remember reading the manuscript and thinking, ‘This reminds me of Roald Dahl,’ an author of such skill, an author with a unique ability to be funny and cutting and exciting at the same time,” Levine says.

“But I could not possibly have had the expectation we would be printing 12 million copies for one book (‘Deathly Hallows’). That’s beyond anyone’s experience. I would have had to be literally insane.”

For the media, the biggest news at first was Rowling herself: an unemployed, single English mother who gets the idea for a fantasy series while stuck on a train between Manchester and London, finishes the manuscript in the cafes of Edinburgh, Scotland, and finds herself compared, in more than one publication, to Dahl.

“In fact, if there is a downside to Rowling’s story it is the distinct danger she will be called ‘The New Roald Dahl,’ which would be an albatross around her slender shoulders,” the Glasgow-based The Herald warned in June 1997 with publication of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” the first Potter book.

“Philosopher’s Stone” was released in England during business hours with a tiny first printing. Bloomsbury suggested that Rowling use initials instead of her real name, Joanne, out of fear that boys wouldn’t read a book by a woman.

The book quickly became a commercial and critical favorite and just kept selling. In July 1998, the Guardian in London noted that Rowling was more popular than John Grisham and declared “The Harry Potter books have become a phenomenon.” At the time, “Philosopher’s Stone” had sold 70,000 copies.

The first book came out in the United States in September 1998, renamed “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for young Americans and promoted by “Meet Harry Potter” buttons. Potter was first mentioned by The Associated Press that November, when Rowling was interviewed in New York during a five-city U.S. tour. Potter appeared a month later in The New York Times, cited well down in a roundup of holiday favorites.

“When the Potter books first came out, we didn’t know they would sell millions of copies, but we all read them and loved them and we thought they were the kinds of books that would really grab a child. We hand-sold the heck out of them, the same way we would with any book that was so well written,” says Beth Puffer, manager of the Bank Street Bookstore in New York City.

By January 1999, the AP was calling Potter a sensation, noting in a brief item that “Joanne Rowling has gone from hard-up single mother to literary phenomenon.” In July 1999, the “p-word” appeared in long articles in the Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly and the Times, which observed that “Hannibal Lecter and Harry Potter are shaping up as the summer’s must reads,” but then added, with a bit of a wink, “Harry who?”

By 2000, Harry was a friend to millions, the toast of midnight book parties around the world. For a time, the first three Potter books held the top positions on the Times’ hardcover fiction list of best sellers, leading the newspaper to create a separate category for children’s books. The fourth work, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” had a first printing of 3.8 million in the United States alone. The release date became 12:01 a.m., sharp, “so everyone could come to it at the same time — no spoilers!” according to Scholastic spokeswoman Kyle Good.

Potter was pulling in all ages. Rene Kirkpatrick, a buyer for All for Kids Books & Music, an independent store based in Seattle, says the appeal to grown-ups set Potter apart. She began noticing that adults not only read Rowling, but would browse through other titles in the children’s fantasy section.

“People were beginning to realize that there was some extraordinary literature written for people under 19,” she says. “It doesn’t feel odd anymore for adults to be seen reading children’s books. … Potter has made a big difference.”

“Potter has greatly expanded the real estate for young adult fiction,” says Doug Whiteman, president of the Penguin Young Readers Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA). “The teen section of a bookstore is now quite a substantial area, shopped in not only by teens, but by parents.”

Meanwhile, Potter was alive and breeding on the Internet, thanks to fan sites such as and Potter Web masters Emerson Spartz of Leaky Cauldron [sic] and Melissa Anelli of Mugglenet [sic] agree that between 2000 and 2003 the Potter galaxy exploded again, from publishing phenomenon to cultural phenomenon. Spartz notes the release of the first Potter movie, in 2001. Anelli refers to the three-year wait for book five, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”

“Around 2000, message boards, mailing lists, blogs were starting to form into the community hubs we have now. So the fans, who were desperately awaiting word on the fifth book … obsessed together on the Internet, writing their own fan fiction, having huge discussions picking every last piece of the canon apart and finding whatever way possible to make the wait tolerable,” says Anelli, who is writing a history of Potter, due out in 2008.

“This built on itself exponentially until, by the time the fifth book came out in 2003, there was a rabid, active, flourishing online community that was spilling off the Net and into bookstores.”

No longer was Rowling called the new Dahl. Now, publishers looked for the next J.K. Rowling. Countless works, from Cornelia Funke’s “The Thief Lord” to Christopher Paolini’s “Eragon,” were compared to Potter. Again, a common symptom, like all the “new Bob Dylans” or the science fiction projects that followed “Star Wars,” including the first “Star Trek” movie.

Along with imitators come the products: Beatle wigs, “Star Wars” sabers, “Star Trek” clocks, Harry Potter glasses. And along with the products come the spinoffs, whether business books such as Tom Morris’ “If Harry Potter Ran General Electric,” or Neil Mulholland’s “The Psychology of Harry Potter” or John Granger’s “Looking for God in Harry Potter.”

“I think the reason that authors write books about J.K. Rowling’s works and readers buy them is because being a fan of Harry Potter is about much more than just reading and enjoying Ms. Rowling’s book series,” says Jennifer Heddle, an editor at Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster that is publishing Anelli and has released more than 100 “Star Trek” related titles.

“I think it is similar to ‘Star Trek’ in that it takes place in a richly imagined world that invites fans to immerse themselves in every aspect. I think it’s even closer to ‘Star Wars’ because it’s also a very mythic story that appeals to a broad audience that crosses all age and gender lines.”

Unbounded by age or format, phenomena are amphibious creatures: The Beatles were sensations on television and film and in books, which continue to come out, and sell, more than 30 years after their breakup. “Star Trek” produced a string of popular TV spin-offs and was adapted into a series of hit films, video games and novels, just as “Star Wars” inspired its own line of best-selling books and games. A live-action TV series is planned for 2009.

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” the fifth Potter film, is a guaranteed blockbuster. The first four Potter movies have grossed more than $3 billion worldwide, and sales for the soundtracks top 1 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks the retail market. Potter is the rare literary series to inspire a video game and is expected to have a theme park, in Orlando, Fla., by 2010.

While fads fade out, phenomena last, thanks to the same folks who got them started: the fans, the people who hold “Star Wars” conventions, play Beatles songs for their children, post their own “Star Trek” videos online or the Potter fans around the world already vowing to continue.

“I think we’ll always have Harry Potter conventions-conferences, and the appeal won’t end once it’s off the ‘new releases’ shelf,” Anelli says. “The mania will never be this intense again but this series will have life in the real world for a very long time.”

“When something has staying power, it’s because it strikes some kind of fundamental chord,” Gabler, the cultural critic, says. “Kids identify with Harry Potter and his adventures; they identify with his empowerment. It’s all very circular. We feel empowered by making a phenomenon out of something like Potter and Potter itself addresses the very idea of empowerment.”

Voldemort Hath No Fury Like Angry Harry Potter Fans - September 2008

Voldemort Hath No Fury Like Angry Harry Potter Fans - September 2008

Studio Delays Movie, Gets Death Threats; ‘I Hope You Choke on Your Own Saliva’

By Lauren A.E. Schuker | The Wall Street Journal | September 8, 2008, 11:59 p.m.

Jean Fink, a 51-year-old Los Angeles artist who also works as an administrative assistant, was so distraught after a night of fitful sleep that she dashed off a scathing message to the man who’d betrayed her. “I can’t breath amymore [sic] because you just ripped out my heart,” she wrote in an Aug. 15 email.

Her tormentor: Alan Horn, president of Time Warner Inc. ‘s Warner Bros. On Aug. 14, Mr. Horn announced the unusual decision to delay releasing the newest installment of the Harry Potter film series, initially set for release in November, for another eight months. “What he was doing was screwing up the world,” fumes Ms. Fink. “I wasn’t p- like I was going to go kill the guy, but I was angry. And I’m not done yet.”

After Warner Brothers announced it was moving the release date for “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” from November 2008 to July 2009, executives’ inboxes were flooded with emails from angry fans. Read some examples. Some emails have been edited for clarity.

To a world of wand-wielding Harry Potter loyalists, the studio executive had crossed to the dark side. Within hours of Warner Bros.’s decision to postpone the release of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” to next July, hate mail began to pour into the studio. An online petition expressing fans’ disgust with the decision garnered more than 45,000 signatures. The studio says it even received death threats. “I hope you choke on your own saliva,” snarled one fan in an email.

While executives’ private email addresses circulated via the Web, angry homemade videos were being uploaded onto YouTube. In one, Greg and Penny Gershman overlaid their own subtitles to a German film about the final days of Adolf Hitler. “How am I supposed to get my Potter fix now!” Hitler violently shouts, according to the new subtitles, when told of the delay by one of his officials. He adds: “We are going to make Warner Brothers suffer.”

The withering attacks over a family-friendly franchise like Potter show how the nature of fan uprisings has grown increasingly hostile. Thanks to the Web, angry fans can arm themselves with the latest information and speedily deliver profane brain dumps straight into executive email boxes. When CBS canceled its drama “Jericho” last year, fans deluged its network with vicious emails and a cavalcade of nuts — a sly reference to a word used in the finale. As a result, CBS changed its mind and ordered up new episodes.

Victim of Success

It’s an unpleasant new challenge for the entertainment industry, which is more used to quaint letter-writing campaigns like the one that briefly saved the television show “Star Trek” from being canceled in the late 1960s.

But Warner Bros. is in some ways a victim of the same forces that drove its success. The five prior Potter films have grossed almost $4.5 billion in world-wide box-office revenue, making the series the biggest franchise in history. In the past, Warner Bros. has invited staffers of Potter fan Web sites to movie premieres to help whip up hysteria ahead of upcoming movie releases. With its transgression, Warner Bros. inadvertently unleashed this powerful force against itself.

On Aug. 19, Mr. Horn issued a formal apology assuring fans that the studio “would certainly never do anything to hurt any of the films.” He also noted a “silver lining,” which is that “Half-Blood Prince” would now open closer to the studio’s seventh planned Harry Potter film, due out in November 2010.

But die-hard fans, sometimes called “Potterheads,” weren’t appeased. Kerry McGee, a 24-year-old office administrator from Townsville, Australia, says Mr. Horn’s attempt to create a positive spin on the delay “put fuel on the fire.” In response to Mr. Horn’s apology she sent 30 angry letters to Warner Bros. in bright red envelopes — an allusion to “howlers,” a magical kind of hate mail in the Potter world that screams loudly at the recipient and explodes violently if left unopened.

A studio spokeswoman declined to comment on Mr. Horn’s behalf for the story, saying that Mr. Horn’s apology spoke for itself. People at the studio say that while they knew that tampering with the Harry Potter release date could stir up dark forces, the studio never expected the current onslaught.

Potter fans felt particularly betrayed by the studio for giving them such late notice about the delay. In late July, just two weeks before the announcement, the studio released a trailer for the film, which explores the teen wizards’ early struggles with romance and promises the shattering death of a major character. And Time Warner’s Entertainment Weekly had just put Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe on its cover.

Crass Admission

An eight-month delay for a big-budget movie is highly unusual. But because Warner Bros. elected not to associate the Harry Potter movies with many corporate sponsors, “Half-Blood Prince” is less encumbered with the kind of deadlines typically faced by major Hollywood movie releases. (The film is delaying some ancillary products, like Electronic Arts Inc.’s “Half-Blood Prince” videogame.)

Many fans felt Warner Bros.’s stated reason for the delay — that the film would make a bigger splash in the middle of summer — was a crass admission that the studio cares only about bigger box-office returns. “YOU just slapped the face of EVERY Harry Potter Fan and told us you don’t care what we want — you only want our money!” stormed Natalie DeGennaro, a 50-year-old electronic-design engineer who lives in Hillsborough, N.C., in an email she sent to Time Warner Chief Executive Jeffrey Bewkes, Warner Bros. Chairman Barry Meyer and other executives.

“You are blasted, greedy, money-driven executive b-,” wrote Lauryn Adams, a student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Anthropological experts on Potterheads aren’t surprised by the venom. “A lot of our fans live in a fantasy world that they share with hundreds of thousands of other people — so when some people get angry, they feed off each other,” says Melissa Anelli, who runs fan site “The Leaky Cauldron” and has written a book about the Harry Potter phenomenon that comes out this November.

To appease fans, the studio could release some additional teaser or content, suggests Andrew Sims, who helps run MuggleNet, a fan site named after the Potter term for someone lacking magical powers. “If something new came out, everybody would forget about it. But I got to be honest, a little part of me died inside when I heard about the delay,” the 19-year-old college student said in a telephone interview.

Some think the outsized reaction could actually be a boon for the studio. Steve Sansweet, who runs fan relations for George Lucas’s Lucasfilm Ltd., says “Warner Bros. should be delighted. Sure, they have a problem on their hands, but they are also seeing the passion of their fans. The real problem comes when you have fans that don’t give a damn.”

The fans, however, are still angry. Many are still signing petitions planning protests and uploading angry videos to YouTube. Ms. Fink, the artist and administrative assistant, recently stood outside Warner Bros.’s Burbank lot with a large sign. “Dear Mr. Horn,” she scrawled in red marker. “You will forever be known as ‘The man who changed Harry Potter’s release date.’ Are you happy now?”

“Harry Potter is for the fans, he’s for the underdogs, and so am I,” Ms. Fink says. “I won’t stop fighting this.”

Time for MuggleNet creator to spread his wings - August 2008

Time for MuggleNet creator to spread his wings - August 2008

Spartz, ND senior, working on new book, Web site.

By Margaret Fosmoe, Tribune Staff Writer | | August 10, 2008

SOUTH BEND — It’s been a busy summer for Emerson Spartz, who is writing a new book, planning a new Web site and visited U.S. troops in the Middle East in the company of Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis. Yet Spartz, a 21-year-old University of Notre Dame senior, still has found time to spend several days a week reading in the Hesburgh Library. “I have this burning desire to learn everything there is to learn. The world is such a fascinating place to me,” said Spartz, of LaPorte. Spartz created the popular “Harry Potter” Web site as a 12-year-old home-schooler. The site by and for fans of the fictional boy wizard is going strong, with more than 20 million Web hits a month. Spartz has come a long way from his adolescent days of devouring Harry Potter novels. He still reads voraciously, but rarely fiction these days. He has diverse interests, including business, technology, psychology, economics and science. This summer, he’s spending a couple of days a week on campus, reading whatever catches his fancy in the campus library. On this particular day, Spartz finished reading “Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Hi-Tech Products to Mainstream Consumers,” then started reading “Inside the Tornado: Strategies for Developing, Leveraging, and Surviving Hyper-Growth Markets.” “I find that with every book I read or every bit of information I pick up, I see the world in a much more vibrant way than I did before,” he said. Spartz keeps up with the news by reading the New York Times and numerous Web sites and blogs. “The best blogs can break down issues in a way you never realized,” he said. Spartz is a business management major who, after earning his degree next spring, plans to be a full-time entrepreneur and investor. He has a good head start. In 2005, Spartz flew to Scotland to interview famed author J.K. Rowling upon the release of the sixth book in the “Harry Potter” series. In 2006, a book by Spartz and several other MuggleNet contributors was published, “’s What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7.” Now Spartz and some MuggleNet colleagues are penning a second book. To be released this winter, the book contains debates about various hypothetical scenarios that might happen in the Harry Potter world. “It’s really nerdy and sarcastic. It’s a fun book for fans who need something to do while they’re waiting for J.K. Rowling’s next book to come out,” Spartz said. The British author has said she is working on a comprehensive encyclopedia of the Harry Potter world. As a full-time college student, Spartz doesn’t devote as much time to MuggleNet as he used to. He’s delegated much of the day-to-day maintenance of the site to the 120-person staff and six paid employees. He earns a six-figure salary from MuggleNet, which he invests in global energy projects, mainly involving solar power. Spartz and a couple of collaborators are designing a new Web site that has nothing to do with Harry Potter. The site will be an entertainment portal that incorporates some of the most popular user-created content features, such as those used on, wikipedia, facebook, myspace and other top sites, Spartz said. It doesn’t yet have a name or a launch date. In May, Spartz accompanied Weis and several other college coaches on a tour to visit U.S. troops in the Middle East. They met with troops in Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Spartz enjoyed the trip with Weis. “It was a lot of fun. He’s a great guy. He has this very fluid, natural chemistry with the troops. They just love him,” Spartz said. Weis drew by far the longest lines for autographs among the coaches on the tour, Spartz said. “He added a spark to the tour, and the troops loved him. They couldn’t stop talking about him,” he said. The coaches offered question-and-answer discussions, as well as autograph sessions. Spartz provided support on the tour, carrying boxes, talking with soldiers and signing autographs when asked. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. This summer, he dabbled in the movie business. He portrayed a mock version of himself in Richardson Productions’ feature-length Harry Potter spoof, “Harvey Putter and the Ridiculous Premise,” which has been filming at sites around Michiana. He portrayed a dorky character named “Everson Sputz.” “It was a lot of fun. I had never acted in a movie before,” he said. “I was shocked at how long it took. Even though the scene was only a minute or two, it took hours to film.” At Notre Dame, Spartz lives in a student residence hall and plays numerous interhall sports. He’s frequently recognized because of publicity related to MuggleNet. “My appreciation for the books has changed since I was a kid. I have a deeper level of appreciation for the subtleties of J.K. Rowling’s writing than I did when I was younger,” Spartz said. He still re-reads the books occasionally. He keeps in touch with the author through her personal assistant. Rowling is working on a Harry Potter encyclopedia, and also another novel that she hasn’t spoken about publicly. It would be exciting to see Rowling’s work if she turns to another genre, such as crime fiction, Spartz said. Although his interests have grown and changed as he’s reached adulthood, Spartz doesn’t mind being recognized and known as the “Harry Potter kid.” “I don’t feel like it interferes with my life in any way,” he said. After graduating, Spartz plans to continue with his various Web and investment projects. “I don’t anticipate anything will change, except I’ll have more time to see them through,” he said. Where Spartz lives and works after college will be determined by the opportunities that present themselves. Like Harry Potter, his life is a continuing adventure. “I don’t know,” Spartz said, “where my life is going to take me.”

Ulysses Press Builds on Mugglenet - August 2007

Ulysses Press Builds on Mugglenet - August 2007

By Bridget Kinsella | | August 24, 2007

With more than 335,000 copies of’s What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7 in print since its November 2006 publication, Berkeley, Calif.—based Ulysses Press plans to use the more than $2 million it will earn from its bestselling title to help continue what it calls “auteur publishing.”

Ulysses copublisher Ray Riegert said the press developed the auteur acquisition strategy about three years ago—Ulysses looks for areas in the marketplace where there’s a publishing opportunity, then comes up with a book idea and the right author to make the project happen. “The change in philosophy to originate projects, rather than get things shopped to them, has made all the difference,” said Sara Rosenberg, marketing director at Publishers Group West, Ulysses’s distributor. The new approach, which led to the creation of the Mugglenet book, helped Ulysses land on PW’s Fast Growing Small Press list for the first time this year and weather the PGW bankruptcy.

Riegert said Mugglenet is just one example of the press’s acquisition strategy. It begins with an acquisition meeting with Riegert, sales and marketing manager Bryce Willett, editor Nick Denton-Brown and publicist Karma Bennett to examine Nielsen BookScan numbers. When the group agrees there is a publishing opportunity that is being overlooked, they put together a team to develop a new title.

Riegert is aware that a book like Mugglenet will not contribute to its backlist, so the press also uses BookScan to guide acquisitions of titles like Complete Krav Maga: The Ultimate Guide to Over 200 Self-Defense and Combative Techniques, a book about self-defense techniques used by the Israeli army. Since it was released in May, Krav Maga sold out the 10,000 first printing and Ulysses has gone back to press.

Riegert founded Ulysses in 1983 with his wife and copublisher, Leslie Henriques, to publish his book Hidden Hawaii. The press expanded the Hidden series to include other locations and now has 35 titles in the line, which it is redesigning. In addition to travel guides, Ulysses publishes titles on fitness, martial arts and mind/body/spirit. Ulysses will use some of the Mugglenet money to begin publishing full-color high-end books like the forthcoming Mega Picture Puzzles. But Riegert is being careful not to overexpand, and intends to continue to produce 50 books a year with a 12-person staff.

However the Harry Potter saga ends, it won't end - July 2007

However the Harry Potter saga ends, it won't end - July 2007

The New York Times | July 20, 2007

No more anxious waiting for the release of another Harry Potter book!

Once readers finish “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the seventh and final book in the series, there will be no more wondering about the fates of Harry, Ron, Hermione, Voldemort, and Snape. Not officially, anyway. With countless Web sites devoted to the series, the characters will be leaving more than just traces of floo powder in their wake.

Assuming he lives to the end of the seventh book, Harry’s story will continue through the fan fiction now proliferating on the Web. In short stories, novellas and poems online, amateur authors expand upon a character’s storyline, filling in background detail or creating a life beyond the final pages of the book. boasts more than 40,000 stories, from the lighthearted (Draco Malfoy has just three days to stop his true love’s wedding) to the ominous (with Voldemort in power, Hogwarts students are taught dark magic) and seemingly everything in between. Other major Potter fan sites include, which contains not just fan fiction but also forums and editorials where users debate the true motives of Snape and Dumbledore. MuggleNet enjoys a unique relationship with Potter author J. K. Rowling: She has given the site an exclusive interview, and praises it on her own site.

Thanks to the Internet, a magical community in its own right, the possibilities for discussion are endless. Rowling may be Harry’s official custodian, but because of sites like these, this unique world – with its moral lessons and colorful characters – will endure.

But like any community, Harry Potter’s online world is populated with foes as well as fans. Both Web sites address one of the biggest problems for lovers of serials in the Internet age: spoilers. While these practitioners of the dark arts enjoy ruining other people’s fun, most readers recoil at the thought. asked authors wishing to build upon the final book to warn readers that their stories might reveal the ending. MuggleNet has a strict no-spoiler policy in place until Aug. 1. Such efforts don’t faze the most determined spoilers; days ago, photographed pages of the entire book surfaced online.

But while the Internet makes it hard to maintain the element of surprise, that’s a small price to pay for eternal life for Harry Potter. So don’t despair, Potter fans: Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley and the Burrow will thrive online. Whatever happens to Harry, fans can always curl up with a Butterbeer and bring him back to life in their own little corner of the Web.

Harry Potter Book Spoilers Spread on Internet - July 2007

Harry Potter Book Spoilers Spread on Internet - July 2007

Associated Press | July 18, 2007

In the final days before the world learns whether Harry Potter lives or dies, spoilers — or those pretending to spoil — are spreading on the Internet.

On Tuesday, digital images of what may be the entire text of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” including 36 chapters and a seven-page epilogue, were circulating among Web users. The book was apparently photographed as it lay on a carpet speckled with green and red, a hand at the bottom holding down the pages.

A separate link,, also displayed a seven-page epilogue and a 36-chapter table of contents from “Deathly Hallows,” coming out July 21 under ultra-tight security.

Similar information appeared Monday on

Meanwhile, a resident of Vancouver, British Columbia, has said that he downloaded hundreds of pages from the 784-page book and U.S. publisher Scholastic, Inc., has been busy ordering would-be spoilers to remove their information from the Internet.

“I’m guessing we’re in the double digits,” says Scholastic spokeswoman Kyle Good, who added that requiring material to be pulled down did not mean it was authentic.

“There’s so much out there that it’s confusing for fans. Our lawyers are trying to keep down the amount of spoiler traffic that’s out there and clear it from places where fans might be reading.”

Anxious about keeping a lock on publishing’s ultimate mystery, Scholastic has refused all along to say whether a spoiler has the real book or not. According to Good, there is more than one version of the full Potter text on the Internet. She said the different versions all “looked convincing” and all had different content from each other.

Leaked copies of other highly anticipated works have appeared online in recent years, from O.J. Simpson’s canceled tale of murder, “If I Did It,” to “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” which could be downloaded before the film’s release with the help of a file-sharing program, BitTorrent, an apparent source of the full Potter book.

Author J.K. Rowling, who has said two major characters will die, has begged the public not to give away the ending to her seventh and final Potter book. Fan sites such as and have vowed to keep spoilers away.

“A lot or our tips about spoilers are coming from fans,” Good says. “There’s a groundswell from fans who find these links and send them to us, saying, `I’m not going to look at this, but somebody told me about it.'”

“I just hope they find these people and punish them accordingly,” said Leaky Cauldron Web master Melissa Anelli. “This is exceedingly wrong and mean-spirited. Let people enjoy their book, for Pete’s sake.”

Last month, a hacker who identified himself as “Gabriel” claimed to have broken into the computer system of British publisher Bloomsbury PLC and posted key plot points on

Those plot points differ from what is revealed on, which contradicts itself on the fate of Potter’s buddy Ron.

“There is a lot of material on the Internet that claims to come from `Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,’ but anyone can post anything on the Internet and you can’t believe everything you see online,” Good says.

“We all have our theories on how the series will end, but the only way we’ll know for sure is to read the book ourselves at 12:01 a.m. on July 21.”

Harry Potter spawns parallel Internet world - July 2007

Harry Potter spawns parallel Internet world - July 2007

The Harry Potter books have spawned a parallel universe on the Internet, where sites attract millions of fans every day and play a major part in the success of the novels and their Hollywood adaptations.

By Mike Collett-White | Reuters | July 17, 2007, 10:47 a.m.

So popular are J.K. Rowling’s stories, and the Web pages built around them, that a handful of online fans have become stars in their own right.

Arguably the biggest is Emerson Spartz, who was just 12 when he set up Today the site is visited up to 40 million times a month, making it one of the biggest Potter sites in the world and a viable commercial venture.

“I spent the entire summer on the road signing thousands of autographs, which is simply unheard of for a geeky kid who created a Web site,” he told Reuters by telephone from the United States, where he is a university student.

“Harry Potter has got to a point where it is so popular that even fans have fans,” the 20-year-old added.

“Pottermania” has never been more intense ahead of the publication on Saturday of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, the seventh and final installment of a series that has already sold 325 million copies worldwide.

Melissa Anelli is “webmistress” of another top Potter site, She believes the online world has a role to play particularly during gaps between Potter books.

“There are sometimes years between films and books, and through this interaction the hype is never-ending. We keep the fun going in between.”

Both say a key to their success is the relationship with Warner Bros., the studio that makes the hit Harry Potter movie franchise. Initially “antagonistic” towards fan sites, according to Spartz, Warner eventually realized their influence and reach.

What happens to the Harry Potter’s virtual world once the seventh book is out is unclear, though Spartz and Anelli expect their sites to thrive until the 2010 release of the final film. After that, their popularity is bound to fade, Spartz added.


Rowling has long recognized the power of the Internet.

Her own Web site,, boasts up to seven million hits every day and Spartz and Anelli were invited in 2005 to hold a rare interview with her.

The author also publicly backed The Leaky Cauldron’s campaign to prevent spoilers appearing on the Internet ahead of the launch of “Deathly Hallows”, which will answer the question on ever Potter fan’s lips — which characters will die?

One hacker claims to have leaked key plot details on to the Internet after breaking into a computer at Rowling’s British publisher Bloomsbury.

Reuters has also seen online photographs purporting to be the last pages of book seven, which, if genuine, provide the answers to the biggest secrets of all.

As well as regular fan sites, there are others where fans let their imaginations run wild with Potter novels of their own.

Tens of thousands of alternative Potter stories have been written, some of them favorably compared to the originals.

“Harry Potter and the Secret Horcrux”, written by “Logical Raven” on the Web site, is already 27 chapters long, and the writing, according to the Sunday Telegraph, is “sharper than that of his mentor.

“In fact it is quite possibly because her own style is so bland that her readers feel able to play with her characters,” writes Telegraph critic and author Frances Wilson.

Towns hope to keep Harry Potter magic going - July 2007

Towns hope to keep Harry Potter magic going - July 2007

By Lisa Cornwell, Associated Press | USA Today | July 14, 2007, 2:06 p.m.

CINCINNATI — Towns around the United States that celebrate the release of each Harry Potter book aren’t ready to give up their wizarding wonderlands of Knockturn Alleys and Forbidden Forests even though the final book is about to debut.

About 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of Cincinnati, organizers plan to keep Quidditch tournaments, magic shows and strolls down Diagon Alley continuing in some form in Wilmington, a city of about 12,000.

“This is our largest downtown event currently, and it brings a lot of people and money into downtown,” said Steve Brown, executive director of Main Street Wilmington. “We thought the 2005 event would draw quite a few people, but we never expected the 4,000 or more that showed up.”

Enthusiasts in small towns such as Poulsbo, Washington, and larger communities such as Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois — where 10,000 people turned out in 2003 — are looking to the wildly popular Harry Potter movies, a theme park to open in Orlando, Florida, in 2009 and increasing fan conventions and conferences to keep the Potter energy flowing.

Baraboo, Wisconsin, got a head start, holding its first community Potter celebration July 7 in anticipation of the movie and book releases. Organizer Cindy Doescher says enthusiasm has already been so great that she expects a Potter party annually.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” — the seventh and final book in the J.K. Rowling series — will be released at midnight July 21, accompanied by bookstore parties, community festivals and other Harry hoopla concocted for fervent fans around the world. The books have sold more than 325 million copies worldwide with translations into at least 64 languages, and sparked the movie series.

The next movie, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” is to open in U.S. theaters July 11, leaving two books not yet on the screen.

Communities have reaped economic and other benefits from downtown extravaganzas. Hotels are filled with tourists. Residents turn out in large numbers — often costumed — to dine at a Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry or warily creep through a haunting Knockturn Alley amid skeletons and smoking potions. More people means more customers for local businesses.

Princeton, Illinois, a town of about 7,500 residents, drew 5,000 fans in 2005 and expects more than 7,500 this year. Sponsors say the celebrations also have deepened cooperation among businesses, civic groups and volunteers.

“Keeping some kind of celebration going here is a good possibility,” said Lisa Putness, president of the Princeton Independent Business Alliance. “It’s been such a fun way to expose people to our downtown.”

A Potter celebration last year — between book releases — drew 2,500 fans on a rain-soaked day, and organizers see that as a sign that events could continue even without more books.

Hudson, a city of about 23,000 in northeast Ohio, is preparing for more than 12,000 fans next month and talking about how to keep the celebrations going.

“We’re definitely trying to come up with a way to expand the event beyond this year, perhaps wrapping it around our town’s history while continuing the Harry Potter theme,” said Debra Sherman, a spokeswoman for this year’s event.

The Muggles (nonwizards) behind “Wizarding Wilmington” say Harry Potter reunions or an annual Halloween festival with a Harry Potter theme are possible ways of keeping the excitement over the schoolboy wizard alive in the rural city.

Fans believe communities won’t have any trouble attracting crowds to their festivals even after the series ends.

“There will always be new readers coming along and older fans who will still need their Harry Potter fix,” said Ciaran Loughlin, 18, who lives in Dublin, and is a senior staff member at, a leading Harry Potter fan website. “Interest will always be there because so much in these books is timeless and universal.”

That sentiment is echoed by American fans as they search for new Harry Potter activities.

“I think fans will be even more eager to get together for events since there won’t be book releases to look forward to,” said Brian Simms, 27, a member of the online fan club Simms has taken up Quidditch — a cross between dodge ball and Ultimate Frisbee in the non-wizard version that has become more and more popular with Potter fans.

Another member of the Ohio fan club, Monica Rodabaugh, 44, believes the Harry Potter fan base will be as strong as those for the “Star War” and “Star Trek” films.

“Harry Potter fans will continue discussing the books online,” Rodabaugh said. “But they will always be looking for events where they can put on their costumes and interact with other fans face to face.”

Will Harry die? - July 2007

Will Harry die? - July 2007

The experts weigh in on whether Harry Potter has a chance in the final book

By Brian Bethune | Macleans Magazine | July 9, 2007

J.K. Rowling: The final chapter is hidden away, although it has now changed very slightly. One character got a reprieve, but I have to say two die that I didn’t intend to die.

Aghast interviewer: Two much-loved ones?

Rowling: Well, you know. A price has to be paid. We are dealing with pure evil. They don’t target the extras do they? They go for the main characters, or I do.

— British TV interview, June 26, 2006

So she does, and never more than when she killed headmaster Albus Dumbledore in her last book. As H-Day approaches, the July 21 publication date for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final volume in the most popular literary series of all time, it’s the memory of author J.K. Rowling’s ruthlessness with Dumbledore, the beloved and kindly father figure of father figures, that most troubles the Potter Nation. Across the world millions of children, and just about as many adults, are obsessing over the ultimate question: what will happen to the Boy Who Lived(until now, anyway)? Will Harry die?

It’s not the only question to be answered or loose end to be tied, of course, in a series that’s been building to its conclusion for a decade. The boy wizard debuted at 11 in 1997’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. That book and the two volumes that followed, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets(1998)and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(1999), were classic children’s lit, slender(by Rowling’s recent standards, anyway), charming, exciting and just frightening enough. Readers were introduced to the difference between the Muggle(non-magical)and wizarding worlds, to enduring friends and enemies, eccentric professors at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and the exciting school sport of Quidditch.

From there the story grew ever more absorbing and ever darker: with 2000’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, featuring the death of a good character, the series began the move into the young adult genre that was cemented by books five and six, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The surface dazzle of the stories — the magic, action and humour — is immensely appealing, but underneath that Rowling plants real hooks for readers, elements from the entire spectrum of Western mythology and children’s literature. Arthurian legends and Dickensian plots jostle with the lessons of growing up, the pain of being different, school and school relationships. Toss in Harry’s personal tragedy(orphaned at 15 months when his arch-nemesis, the evil Lord Voldemort, murdered his parents and tried to kill him)and Rowling’s narrative skill, and it’s evident why Harry’s fans are more than enthralled with his adventures. They careabout him, and especially about the possibility of his death.

And that’s a lot of people. More than 325 million copies of the first six Potter novels have been sold in 63 languages. The film versions of the first four books all rank in the top 20 highest-grossing films of all time; a fifth movie — and sure megahit — will be in theatres on July 11. Their creator is a billionaire, the first person to reach that level of wealth by writing stories. Harry’s global reach fascinates academics like Daniel Nexon, a professor of government at Georgetown University in Washington. Nexon can cite Harry’s appearance in Turkish editorials discussing that country’s possible entrance into the EU, in Swedish parliamentary debates decrying Anglo-American socio-economic policies, and in a stream of American political adversaries comparing U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney to Voldemort. “It’s not so much whether you think such comparisons are correct,” Nexon adds. “It’s the fact that people can make them and that their listeners understand.”

Potter devotees also keep mass excitement ratcheted up through the Internet’s numerous Harry sites and their frequent conventions. Fans, most of them women and many dressed as their favourite characters, meet to swap plot theories and fan fiction — Harry-themed stories, straight or gay, written not by Rowling but by her readers. The conventions also feature an at-times surreal meeting of distinct cultures, as fans obsessed with whether Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood will become a couple also listen to papers like “Freud and the Fetishistic Phantasy” delivered by the growing army of academics interested in the Potter pop culture phenomenon.

What are Harry’s devotees expecting to find when they finally crack open the cover at midnight July 21? It doesn’t bode well for the optimists among them that British bookies, spooked by the amount of money that was backing the dead hero outcome, closed off betting on Harry’s survival in early June, and reopened it on a “who will pot Potter?” basis.(Voldemort, of course, is the favourite at 4 to 5; those looking for the long-shot pay-off can take Harry’s toxic Muggle relative, Uncle Vernon, at 100 to 1.)At the other end of the spectrum are the true believers, fans too emotionally involved to even contemplate Harry’s demise. “There’s no way, no way in Hell, Harry dies,” avers Melissa Anelli, webmaster for the Potter fan website, the Leaky Cauldron. And why is she so certain? “I wish I had a better answer,” she says, “but I feel it, I just feel it.”

Brave talk, but hardly reassurance enough for the legions of worriers out there. Emerson Spartz, founder of the site, estimates the fan base is divided into “two-thirds who think Harry will make it and a third who think he’ll die.” Paranoids range from novelist Stephen King, who pleaded with Rowling not to do a Sherlock Holmes with her character and shove him over the Reichenbach Falls as Arthur Conan Doyle did in 1891 with his over-mighty creation, to 10-year-old Kelly McKibbon of Ottawa. Evidently a close reader of the sacred text — known collectively, like the Holmes stories among their devotees, as “the canon” — Kelly wants her hero to survive but fears the worst. “It will be hard to get the Horcruxes and kill Voldemort. I think Harry might die.”

Horror master and fifth-grader have each zeroed in on one of the two commonly cited reasons — as opposed to pure, quasi-parental anxiety — to fear for Harry. Conan Doyle killed Holmes essentially to keep his wildly popular character under control, because the demand for stories about him kept the author from his historical novels, which Conan Doyle — virtually alone in the world — valued over Holmes. Rowling evidently has control issues, too. In the same interview where she cheerfully announced her revised reprieve / execution count — and fans should bear in mind she was only referring to small changes in the body count in what’s liable to be a bloodbath of a book — she also commented sympathetically on her predecessor’s impulse. “I can completely understand the mentality of an author who thinks ‘Well, I am going to kill them off because that means there can be no non-author written sequels, as they call them, so it will end with me.’ [Otherwise] after I am dead and gone, they would be able to bring back the character and write a load of …”

That, of course, is exactly what happened to Holmes after Conan Doyle’s death. Since he entered the public domain, the Sleuth of Baker Street has flourished in a surreal Victorian world where he interacts with contemporaries both real(Sigmund Freud, Jack the Ripper)and fictional(Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, Dracula). Rowling must know the same will happen to Harry regardless of what she does with him, should the boy wizard’s entrenchment in popular consciousness prove enduring. Fifty years after her death, authors are likely to have Harry taking on commissions from Muggle Prime Minister Tony Blair and saving the planet from the machinations of terrorist wizards.

Rowling, whose flair for marketing matches her sense of humour, must have enjoyed the screaming HARRY WILL DIE headlines that followed her remarks about character-cide, and the tide of betting they inspired. If the idea of killing the main character to control his afterlife is a red herring, though, the Horcruxes are not. Through six books, Harry has steadily learned, at an increasingly bitter cost, more about life and about how his own fate is intertwined with Voldemort’s. The final volume will open with him about to turn 17, the age of majority in the wizarding world. It will be a hollow formality for a boy forced to grow up brutally early by the loss of mother, father, godfather and mentor — all killed in the struggle against the Dark Lord. More on his own than ever before, Harry now knows why Voldemort didn’t die 16 years ago when the killing curse he directed at Harry rebounded off the child and struck him.

Voldemort, whose lust for power is matched by his fear of death — his name means “flight from death” — had previously used some of the darkest of dark magic to divide his soul into pieces. One fraction remained in his body; the remainder were hidden in other objects, known as Horcruxes. All those Horcruxes, not just Voldemort’s current incarnation, would have to be destroyed for him to truly die. Two have already been eliminated, one(a diary)by Harry, the other by Dumbledore(a ring). Dumbledore reckoned there were four more. Although Harry will clearly have to destroy them before tackling Voldemort himself, he doesn’t know where any of them are; worse, he only has guesses as to what some of them are. They’re shrewd guesses, as Dumbledore’s instincts usually were, but they’re not sure things, and millions of fans beg to differ.

They think Harry himself is a Horcrux, accidentally created that Halloween night when Voldemort’s killing curse backfired. That’s why Harry has his famous scar(other victims of such curses, let alone those who managed to block the spells, show no marks): it’s the sign and seal of the entry of a piece of the Dark Lord’s soul. And that’s why Harry and Voldemort can see, however darkly, into each other’s minds.

It’s a good argument, one with nasty implications. However divided fans might be about Harry’s prospects of exiting the series as the Man Who Lived Happily Ever After, they are as one in their fervent expectation that Voldemort gets his. Harry’s death, in short, would be a tragedy; Voldemort’s survival would be an outrage. And if all the Horcruxes must be destroyed for Voldemort to die, well, some think it’s time to start planning the boy wizard’s funeral.

Other fans, like Spartz, the former webmaster, manage to combine acceptance of the Harry-is-a-Horcrux theory with a firm trust in his survival. “I know some people think the only way the series ends neatly is for Harry to sacrifice himself, but I think that’s a terrible moral message. The books are all about making the right, hard choices, not the easy ones; what does it say if your character makes all the right, hard choices and he still doesn’t survive? Life sucks and then you die?” Unfortunately for Spartz, the answer is yes, quite conceivably — if bad things didn’t happen to good people in Rowling’s fiction, Harry’s parents would still be around.

There are, of course, those who think Harry should die. Some are tired of the fuss, some think it would raise the books another level, make them more mythic, profound and, well, literary. Others have a didactic purpose. Last summer, a journalist argued in the Guardian newspaper that Harry’s demise would be one more valuable lesson from the books: “Children have to learn to deal with death sooner or later, it’s the reason they have hamsters for pets.” A Times writer struck a similar mordant note — let Harry be killed, because that “would be less confusing than for him to grow up to be an accountant.” This presumably says something about the many-splendoured varieties of British class prejudice, although there can’t be that many parents who would rather see their offspring die than become accountants, but it was actually written within the context of a meditation on how modern society hides the fact of death. In other words, more grist for Nexon’s mill: whatever your topic, whoever you’re addressing, there’s always room for a Harry Potter reference.

In any event, Harry’s would-be killers, like Spartz on the other side of the debate, are arguing from a moral, if-this-were-a-just-universe angle. It might enlighten fans more(and comfort them more)to ponder the arguments of some experts with a cooler, more distant perspective. James Krasner, an English professor at the University of New Hampshire, is one academic who appreciates the series as literature. “I read a lot of 19th-century novels and the Potter books are very good at what 19th-century novels are good at: plotting. Plotting is Rowling’s genius. I can’t think of anyone else except Dickens who could create 50 characters and make them all satisfying and funny and believable, make all their twists and turns come out straight and neat — and make readers care about them all. They may not be the deepest characters, but that’s Dickens too. As E.M. Forster said about him, perhaps his characters are all 2-D, but he — and Rowling — move them around so fast you don’t notice.”

So Krasner expects The Deathly Hallows to be, like its predecessors, an essentially 19th-century novel. A large number of those are in the children’s literary canon, even if they only ended up there because subsequent generations shoved them downwards, so to speak(Treasure Island, the Jungle books and the Holmes stories are thought of as young people’s books, although that was not the case when they were written). The reason so many are in the canon is the value we place on Victorian popular literature’s twin virtues: exciting stories and happy endings. “No, Harry won’t die,” Krasner confidently asserts. “And he shouldn’t die. It wouldn’t be as good a story if he did. It would be like Bach going atonal in the last few bars of a cantata: you wouldn’t say ‘How interesting. That must be what makes it art.’ Harry’s death would be so out of step with the rest of the books — a violation, for one thing, of the basic school story. There’s never been one of those where the main character dies.”

Heather Mitchell also raises the school story aspect. A Ph.D. student in English literature at Duke University in North Carolina, Mitchell is in charge of public relations for the next Potter conference, Prophecy 2007: From Hero to Legend, which will be held in Toronto Aug. 2 to Aug 5. “I think Harry will live. I read these books as Bildungsromans, coming-of-age stories, which end with the central character becoming an adult, not dead,” says Mitchell the academic. “Besides,” laughs Mitchell the fan, “they’re kids’ stories!!”

Over at Toronto’s Space channel, producer Mark Askwith has a different take. Certainly the buzz is all about Harry: “Everybody in my field — the land of geeks and sci-fi — knows him. I ran into Joss Whedon [creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer] in San Diego in the midnight lineup to buy Book 6.” But Askwith purports to have “no idea whether Harry will live or die,” and little interest in what he thinks is “not the story’s most compelling aspect.” But, for the record, he thinks Harry will live. Probably. Maybe. “Then again, in Rowling’s scenario — this is it, there ain’t no more Potter stories — it does make a lot of sense to kill him off. Her books are about endings, but also about coping and moving on. And there’s the question of whether Harry is a Horcrux and what that means to their — his and Voldemort’s — common destiny. For Voldemort to go, does that mean Harry has to as well?”

As for the other members of the core trio, Askwith is sure Hermione, the cleverest witch of her generation, will pull through, and Ron too, though the less than brilliant Weasley boy “may well lose an eye or a limb, stumbling into something way over his head.” Meanwhile, some of the so-far good guys will be tempted by the Dark(Lord’s)Side: “There’s definitely a whiff ofStar Wars about all this.” Isn’t this a rather detailed scenario for a guy who thinks Harry’s fate is not overly important? “Obviously, I’ve given this way too much thought.”

There is a touch of Stars Wars, of course, about the Potter series. There’s also, for that matter, “a little touch of Harry in the night” — as Shakespeare wrote about his identically named hero in Henry V — around the boy wizard’s courage and leadership. The Lucas films-Potter books comparison, though, rings truest in terms of their equivalent pop culture reach. More evident within the novels is an embedded trove of Western mythology and folklore. And it’s not just a matter of trolls, three-headed dogs, goblins, forbidden forests and witches in pointy hats. Harry has more in common with King Arthur than he does with Luke Skywalker, though the Jedi knight too has his Arthurian overtones.

While minor characters can have Dickensian names like Argus Filch or Mundungus Fletcher, more important figures are given French-derived names — Rowling was once a French translator — that sound very Arthurian: Draco Malfoy(dragon, bad faith or faith in evil)and Gilderoy Lockhart(gilded — i.e. false — king, closed heart). Arthur and Harry were both secreted away as babies, raised without knowledge of their real identities, and watched over by a great wizard. Harry, like Arthur, proves he is a true heir to his lineage by extracting a sword no one else could, in his case not Excalibur from a stone but Godric Gryffindor’s blade from Gryffindor’s hat. The Arthurian parallels may not be welcomed by many fans: the greatest cycle of Arthurian stories is found in Sir Thomas Malory’s sadly named Le Morte D’Arthur. The great king’s adventures culminate in his death.(Then again, perhaps Malory’s famous couplet — here lies Arthur, the once and future king — offers grounds for hope.)

Harry may even have a Mordred in reverse to deal with. Arthur’s nephew / son was his open supporter and secret foe; whether professor Severus Snape, Harry’s apparent enemy, was ever — or, in fact, remains — a key ally against the Dark Lord is the other hot topic within the Potter Nation. Snape is clearly the most complicated character in the Potter universe. Harry and Voldemort are both half-bloods(of mixed and wizarding descent)who offered unambiguous responses — one good, the other evil — to the pain they endured growing up. Snape, too, is a half-blood who suffered through a bitter childhood, but his adult self is a far more nuanced creation.

“That’s part of Rowling’s impressive dark touch,” comments Krasner, the literature professor. “All that preoccupation with discrimination and bullying. Rowling takes this stuff to new levels: in a traditional school story, like Tom Brown’s Schooldays, the bully would be bad and the hero good without much further explanation. But Snape’s recollections in Book 6 of the torments inflicted on him by Harry’s father and godfather go some way to explaining his unpleasantness, not to mention his disposition toward Harry. Obviously Rowling sees bullying as a major issue with life-long implications.” If Snape is fighting for evil, and manages to do harm to people Harry cares about, there will be more than a touch of the Biblical sins of the fathers about it.

No one would go so far as to say Snape was a good person, but many observers are willing to predict he’s on the side of good. Krasner thinks so, though his 14-year-old son disagrees, to the tune of a $25 bet. There is plenty of evidence for both views. Snape did kill Dumbledore, after all, but when a grief-stricken Harry tried to kill him, Snape merely parried the spells while offering Harry crucial advice. If the former potions master should turn out to be on the side of the angels, it will mean Harry has been pretty much wrong about Snape from start to finish, and recognizing that will probably be the last step in the education of Harry Potter. “The entire series has been more Harry vs. Snape than Harry vs. Voldemort,” says Steven Vander Ark, a children’s librarian and Prophecy 2007 presenter. “The books are as much the story of Snape, who I think is a hero, as they are of Harry — the only reason we don’t see that clearly is that we see everything through Harry’s eyes.”

Even if he’s on Harry’s side, for many fans Snape’s murderous creepiness makes him their most acceptable potential loss. Perhaps he can prove his worthiness by somehow saving Harry from his Horcrux dilemma, even at the cost of his own life, providing the blood sacrifice that the mythic pull and increasingly dark tone of the series seem to demand. In this reading, Snape, although utterly inappropriate as an innocent sacrifice, could do a passable imitation of Sydney Carlton, the Dickens character in A Tale of Two Cities who went to the guillotine in place of a more deserving man: “It’s a far, far better thing I do, than I have ever done.” Convenient, some commentators think, but too cheap at the price, in terms of readers’ emotional response. “You want a Christ figure to lay down his life? Snape, whatever side he’s on, simply isn’t good enough for the role,” says Krasner. He and Askwith agree: try Neville.

Despite Rowling’s own declaration that the poor herbology prat is not the Chosen One who will take down Voldemort, Askwith and Krasner wonder about Neville Longbottom’s continuing prominence. He’s “hiding in plain sight,” according to Askwith, while Krasner recalls Chekhov’s rule: a gun shown in Act I has to be fired by Act III. “You know all prophecy stories follow the same path,” Krasner adds, referring to a prophecy that indicated that either Neville or Harry would be Voldemort’s mortal foe. “Every effort to divert them from their ordained course always goes into bringing them to pass. So I think Voldemort’s choice of Harry as his predicted mortal enemy, far from making him the Chosen One, will only reconfigure everything: Neville will be the one who ends up dying for the cause and thereby fulfilling the prophecy.” Since Harry is untouchable in Krasner’s opinion, Neville is the only possibility left. “If you’re going to have a good character die redemptively, a character who is close to the hero, but not so Ron / Hermione close that his death would devastate readers, who better than Neville, the tortured innocent?”

Given the professionals’ depth of immersion in Harry’s universe, it’s no surprise that regular fans’ emotional involvement is so intense. At her first Potter convention, recalls a laughing Heather Mitchell, “I put on my little academic suit to deliver my paper, I get up on the podium and there are nine people dressed as Snape in the front row alone. At the back I could see pointed witch hats bobbing up and down when they agreed with what I said or shaking side to side when they didn’t.” But fans’ costumed role-playing is no weirder than what the scholars get up to, according to Mitchell. “The insanely close reading, the search for queer overtones in the Remus-Sirius relationship or, for that matter, among Chaucer’s pilgrims — all that’s just standard academic discourse.”

The Toronto conference, Prophecy 2007, is liable to be the most electrifying Harry gathering yet, and perhaps the most exciting there ever will be. It’s not the presentations that will make it so — although fans can attend sessions on such intriguing topics as “Snape and the Eucharist” or “The Queering of Harry Potter: Slash Fan Fiction as Social and Political Commentary” — but the timing, less than two weeks after the Deathly Hallows release. As Vander Ark, a walking encyclopedia of all things Harry and a fixture at conventions, remarks, “it will be the first — and last time — that everybody knows the whole story, and has just learned it.”

Until then, though, Harry’s defenders have only their impressive supply of hopes, scenarios and fallbacks to see the Boy Who Lived safely through to adulthood. It’s not that sort of book, they argue; it would be immoral for him to die, the plot doesn’t require it; even if the plot does require it, there’s always Snape; if Snape isn’t good enough, take Neville. The weight of the arguments seems convincing, particularly the power of convention in children’s literature.

And yet … and yet … and yet. One reason to pause, is Vander Ark’s comment that “every book, I’m always surprised by something Rowling’s done.” Another comes from the author’s own words. The absence of overt religious symbolism in the books disguises a key fact about their creator. No one in the Potter universe has any religious faith whatsoever: there’s no churchgoing, no clergy, no comfort offered Harry that his dearly departed are in “a better place”(or even a worse one); more tellingly, no hint that there ever were such people, practices or beliefs. But Rowling, frequently denounced as a satanic proponent of the occult by fundamentalist critics, is a Christian herself, a member of the Church of Scotland, to be precise.

Seven years ago she told a Canadian journalist, “Every time I’ve been asked if I believe in God, I’ve said yes, because I do, but no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that, and I have to say that does suit me, because if I talk too freely about that, I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what’s coming in the books.” Any conceivable guess derived from those words will point down a tragic path. Rowling’s key theme is that self-sacrificing love is the ultimate power in the universe. In Christian terms — and the theme could hardly be more Christian — the willing victim, both powerful and good, is Christ himself. In Harry’s world, Snape is powerful and Neville is good, but just one teenage boy is both. If atonement, willing atonement that pays for all, is required in Deathly Hallows, only Harry can pay the price.

Potter sites wild about Harry - April 2007

Potter sites wild about Harry - April 2007

The Harry Potter story has been a story of its fans, and fan websites are in a special class, for their size, and for their influence.

By Hillel Italie, Associated Press | Toronto Star | April 11, 2007

NEW YORK – Emerson Spartz remembers the good old days. It was Fall 1999, Spartz was 12 and he decided to create a little website about a hot new series of fantasy books.

The Harry Potter craze was just beginning.

“The sites were very primitive, especially compared to modern Harry Potter sites. They were amateurishly done,” says Spartz, founder of, one of the leading Potter sites. “The biggest websites were updated a couple times a week at most, and other than message boards, there was no interactivity between fans.”

Like J.K. Rowling herself, Potter fan sites didn’t start out to make history. They popped up like so many variations of “Wayne’s World,” operated on the cheap by “teenage kids out of their basements,” Spartz recalls.

It’s been 10 years since readers met the boy wizard in Rowling’s first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. More than 300 million copies later, the Potter series ends July 21 when Scholastic Inc. releases the seventh adventure, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Spartz and his many fellow Webmasters are looking back at their own place on this record-breaking ride. The story of Potter has all along been a story of its fans, and, like everything else about Potter, the fan sites are in a special class, for their size, and for their influence.

“The Potter sites set the standard,” says Anthony Ziccardi, vice president and deputy publisher for rival Pocket Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster that releases “Star Trek” paperbacks.

“The thing about the Potter phenomenon is that it has a huge, active fan base, both young and old, with a lot of teenagers. The ‘Star Trek’ fan sites are a little bit older – most of the fans are 25 and older. The Potter sites really stand out – they’re like a marketing machine in and of themselves.”

The Potter sites have long advanced from the slow pace, simple texts and dull backgrounds of the early years, and now have all the latest accessories: blogs, podcasts, audio and video. They no longer just comment on the news, but participate. Rowling has praised the sites by name, granted them rare interviews, even used one site, the Harry Potter Lexicon, to check facts.

Warner Bros., which once tried to shut down many of the fan sites because of copyright concerns, has invited Spartz and others to the sets of Potter films and premieres, valuing their expertise and, of course, their access to so many fans.

“When we have brought representatives from some of the key fan sites and showed them the details for the film sets, even if some of them were disappointed that we had left out certain elements from the books, they respected what we were trying to do,” says Diane Nelson, Warner Bros.’ executive vice president for global brand management.

“We’re not naive enough to think we’re going to avoid criticism, but bringing the fan sites into the process is what we feel is really important.”

Melissa Anelli, the Webmaster for another popular fan site,, has been part of the online Potter world since 2001, not long after Leaky started, “as a means for a few friends to keep track of all the news about Harry Potter.” The first Potter film was coming out, as was the fourth Potter book, so they experimented with a relatively new Web tool: a blog.

“It was a one-page blog, with no other features but news. It had a blue background and Halloween orange text,” recalls the 27-year-old Anelli, a freelance journalist who lives in New York. She is writing a book, tentatively titled “Harry, A History,” about the Potter phenomenon.

“The movie studio didn’t know who we were, and didn’t care. It took a year of relentless e-mails and phone calls before someone took me and my questions seriously, and started giving us reportable information,” Anelli says. “It took even longer for that open atmosphere to spread to the publishers, but the staff of Leaky felt that it was worth pushing for.”

Webmasters themselves learned the value of bringing in fans to the game. Spartz, now a sophomore at Notre Dame University, was living in nearby La Porte, Ind., when he started MuggleNet, with the hope of building a database of Potter information. After receiving countless e-mails, Spartz reasoned that the best way to treat his new online friends was to put them to work.

“The site exploded in content and design offerings, and traffic went through the roof,” says Spartz, who now has a staff of 120, virtually all volunteers.

Anelli estimates there are some 3 million to 4 million Potter sites in dozens of languages, including French, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin and Hebrew. Like a small town exploding into a vast metropolis, the Potter boom drove some of the pioneers out, including Mike Gray, an early member of Harry Potter for Grownups, a Web site founded in the late 1990s.

“Somewhere along the line, I noticed that participating in a list with more than 10,000 members didn’t really ring my bell – and that being responsible for people whose bells were thusly rung probably wasn’t my calling. So I slipped off the stage,” Gray says.

Web sites helped start the international Potter obsession and kept it going when Rowling took three years – 2000-2003 – to write Potter V, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, driving fans to tear “their hair out in anticipation,” Anelli recalls. She also cites the first Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which came out in 2001.

“That’s when fans needed a stronger visual fix of Potter; they wanted to see more pictures of the celebrities, they wanted to read about them and see clips from the films,” she says. “So, they hit the websites – and discovered wellsprings of information for their love of the books, too. They found encyclopedias and games and guides and fan-fiction and fan-art – enough to keep even the most rabid fan sated between novels.”

Potter sites have been counting down to the big night in July and will likely stay around well after Rowling moves on. Two more movies are planned after this summer’s release of Order of the Phoenix, and a thriving genre of Potter fan fiction remains, with readers not waiting for Deathly Hallows to imagine how they would continue the story.

“We already do have stories like that, called `Post-Hogwarts,'” says Jennie Levine, a reference librarian in Baltimore and co-founder of the Potter fan fiction site,

“We’ve had people doing that since they released Goblet of Fire. We call them ‘alternate universe’ stories because we know a lot more now about what happened to the characters.”

“We’ll definitely be around until after the movies come out,” Anelli says. “Whether we follow all of J.K. Rowling’s career or not, we’re not sure. There does come a time when the people currently involved in the site will have to move on with their lives; running it takes a lot of time, effort and energy from everyone involved.

“But no matter what happens, these years will always be among the best in our lives.”

Children's Book - February 2007

Children's Book - February 2007

By Lee Siegel | New York Times | February 11, 2007

Would you like to establish a major new religion? Then learn how to attract adherents by keeping people on the edge of their seats — or rocks, or sand dunes — their legs dangling over eternity. Tell a suspenseful story that builds to bigger and more mysterious questions. The deeper the questions the sharper the suspense — and the more tenacious the faith in waiting for the answer. Will your soul rise to heaven or fall to hell after death? When will the Messiah come?

Of course, a lot of us settle for a TV series or a sport — or, in exceptional cases, a transcendent episodic saga that poses its own big questions. (Will good vanquish evil?) A good story, no matter how modest, is a form of prayer.

One ultra-exceptional case of a transcendent episodic saga is the ongoing tale of Harry Potter; and a new unauthorized tie-in, “What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7,” both tackles and heightens the suspense that has been building through the six Potter books so far. The book’s audience is the 300 million readers who have been left hanging by J. K. Rowling since 2005, when “Harry and the Half-Blood Prince” came out. They yearn for answers to the countless riddles and perplexities that have proliferated up to now, but they do not pine for closure. Definitely not for closure.

Will Dumbledore, shockingly killed by Severus Snape at the end of Book 6, come back to life? Was the murder hatched with the complicity of Dumbledore, who had something up his embroidered sleeve? And what about Wormtail? He betrayed Harry’s parents as their friend Peter Pettigrew long ago, which led to their murder by Lord Voldemort. (And to Peter’s transformation into a literal rat.) Yet will he end up saving Harry from almost certain death at Voldemort’s hands simply by wanting to save his own sniveling skin? Wait a minute! Who said Harry was fated to be killed by Voldemort, anyway? His mother’s love protected him from the Dark Lord when he was a baby. Surely love will rescue him again. Won’t it?

The authors of “What Will Happen” run, a delightfully thorough and fanciful Web site devoted to all aspects of the world of Harry Potter. Though they self-deprecatingly call themselves Muggles — a Muggle is a person without the powers of a wizard — the authors of this rapt little volume appear to have magically transported every bit of information in the Potter epic into their own lively, teeming brains. They are as adept at parsing plot details as they are at anatomizing the characters’ motives and predicting their next steps. The founder of — established when he was 12 — even has a name right out of Hogwarts: Emerson Spartz. Spartz and his colleagues apply themselves to every question and conundrum that Rowling (or J.K.R., as they affectionately refer to her) has created and thus far left unresolved.

You realize something as you follow these fans through questions of loyalty (just how binding is the “life debt” that one wizard owes to another who saves his life?); of love (is it a lack of sexual tension that makes Harry and Hermione friends?); of self-esteem (“Neville’s early lack of skill may be nothing more than the result of meager self-confidence”). If Rowling’s genius lies in the replete, self-contained world she has created for young people, then to the extent that her readers have entered into this world, they partake of her imaginative genius.

To put it another way, Spartz and company aren’t jumping up and down on YouTube or sending out minute-by-minute dispatches about their state of mind on MySpace. They are traveling out of their own selves into someone else’s imagined universe, where they seem happy, even grateful, to find pieces of their lives without encountering the slightest reference to themselves.

There is something vulnerable about this self-forgetfulness, just as there is something touching about the book’s earnestness and occasional naïveté. For the authors, his half-Muggle parentage “proves that Snape wouldn’t dislike Lily just for being Muggle-born.” Addressing the eventuality that Rowling will, as she has claimed, make Book 7 the last in the Harry Potter series, the authors write: “As long as we have our imaginations, Harry Potter — and the Harry Potter community — will never die.” People like this often end up getting hurt by windmills.

Perhaps Rowling has multiplied all the betrayals and incidences of torture and murders for a reason. Perhaps she has made Hogwarts less and less a place of refuge, and more and more a site of factional strife, because she means to impart a lesson to her adherents by making her self-contained universe fall apart naturally, before she abandons it peremptorily. This is how the world really is, she could be saying.

Or maybe she is not saying anything precise at all. Either way, this wonderfully enthralled, believing, open book makes me hope that Rowling ends Harry’s story, when she does, with Yeats’s tender lines in mind: “I have spread my dreams under your feet; / Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”

Lee Siegel, a senior editor at The New Republic, is the author of the recently published “Falling Upwards: Essays in Defense of the Imagination.

2006 People's Choice Podcast Awards - September 2006

2006 People's Choice Podcast Awards - September 2006 | September 29, 2006, 8:51 p.m.

ONTARIO, CA (Market Wire) —

Podcast Connect, Inc., manager of the People’s Choice Podcast Awards at, today held the second Annual People’s Choice Podcast Awards Ceremony and announced the People’s Choice and Best Produced Podcast along with handing out awards and prizes valued at over $7000.

Winner of the People’s Choice Award was “Mugglecast” (, a podcast that covers the book and movie trilogy series on “Harry Potter.” Recognized for Best Produced was “The Signal” (, a podcast for fans of “Firefly” and “Serenity” TV Series.

“We wish to congratulate the top two winners of the People’s Choice Podcast Awards,” said Todd Cochrane, founder of the Awards. “It is also our pleasure to recognize each of the 22 podcasts and their creative teams.” Mr. Cochrane added that the awards ceremony is the culmination of eight months of planning and coordination.

The People’s Choice Podcast Awards is a listener-driven event with listeners nominating podcasts. Then listeners and the staff of Podcast Connect staff review the nominees to finalize a slate of shows that are voted on by the listening community. More than 1.1 million votes were placed to determine the 2006 awardees from 22 separate categories. The Podcast Awards website received over 9.4 million unique impressions.

New this year is a uniquely crafted award that was given to each of the winners constructed by Francis & Lusky ( who is responsible for the design and manufacture of the awards handed out at the Country Music Awards each year.

This event would not be possible without our many sponsors., our platinum sponsor for the second year in a row, invites the podcasting community to recognize the hard work of the winning podcasters and to support their shows.


Podcast Connect, Inc. ( is the world’s leading innovator in podcast marketing. The Podcast Connect Team has developed itself into a power house marketing arm for the Podcasting Community. Its mission statement is simple: Podcasters do the work, podcasters get paid. Its model is based on trust and respect with good moral and family values.


The mission of is to create a marketplace of compelling business content that empowers investors and businesspeople. Visitors to will discover an enormous range of rich media content produced by both large media companies and independent podcasters that includes everything from the latest business news to stock talk and from CEO interviews to earnings calls. also highlights industry events and trade shows. In August 2006, the website attracted more than 700,000 unique visitors. is a wholly owned subsidiary of FinancialContent, Inc. (OTCBB: FCON), which is publicly traded on the over-the-counter market under the ticker symbol FCON.

On Religion: What sort of end will Harry Potter meet? - September 2006

On Religion: What sort of end will Harry Potter meet? - September 2006

By Terry Mattingly, Scripps Howard News Service | Naples News | September 16, 2006, 12:00 a.m.

Father Jonathan Tobias knows exactly what he will do when J. K. Rowling releases the final volume of the Harry Potter series.

The family tradition is that he reads the entire book out loud to his wife and two daughters. Then, when the final page has been turned, they start debating what will happen next.

Things will be different this time. Still, the Eastern Orthodox priest knows how he hopes the last act plays out. Unlike many other ministers, Tobias doesn’t want Potter to renounce magic or to lose his adolescent flaws. It would be awkward, he said, for the young wizard to “fall to his knees and make the sign of the cross.” His suggestion is simpler than that.

Rowling should let Potter die, he said, because that is what tragic heroes do.

“There is little decent tragedy around” in modern culture, said Tobias, at his “Second Terrace” Web blog. “There is a lot of irony, where a non-heroic central character is pitched into the abyss of ambiguity. There is a lot of farce, where burlesque mummers traipse around in varying degrees of moral undress.

“But tragedy? No. … We do not see the sense of the pollution of evil, and its uncleanness. We have no immediate feeling of the necessity to fix or to cleanse. And we haven’t seen much of a fable where the story demanded, clearly, the surmounting and cleansing of evil — even at the cost of real, hard sacrifice.”

Tobias is one voice in a global digital chorus debating this issue at myriad Web sites with names like and Potter fans have, after all, purchased more than 300 million copies of the six novels.

The faithful have been sweating ever since Jim Dale, the voice behind the U.S. audio-book editions, claimed that the author had told him Harry would die. Then Rowling stunned British television viewers by revealing that she had tweaked the finale (the last word is “scar”) so that “one character got a reprieve, but two die that I didn’t intend to die.” And Harry Potter?

She answered, “I can completely understand the mentality of an author who thinks, ‘I’m going to kill him off because after I’m dead and gone they won’t be able to bring back the character.’ ” Podcasting guru Emerson Spartz of spoke for millions when he said he couldn’t believe that Rowling would build her series around a “kid whose life sucks and then he dies.”

Nevertheless, Tobias is convinced that Potter combines many characteristics seen in heroes through the ages. He was born to greatness, but suffered the tragic loss of loved ones. He has special gifts, glaring weaknesses and carries the burden of a haunting prophecy that hints at tragedy, triumph or both. Supernatural trials? Potter has seen it all.

“A hero is not perfect. In fact, his flaws are part of what make him great,” said Tobias, pastor of St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church outside Pittsburgh. “By the end of a story like this one, the hero has simply become too big to remain in this world. This kind of hero is born for a purpose and he dies for a purpose.”

Thus, it’s significant that Rowling — in an early interview with a Canadian newspaper — noted that she is, in fact, a Christian. “Every time I’ve been asked if I believe in God, I’ve said, ‘yes,’ because I do. But no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that and, I have to say that does suit me. … If I talk too freely about that, I think the intelligent reader — whether 10 or 60 — will be able to guess what is coming in the books.”

Also, Rowling has acknowledged the influence of beloved Christian works like the seven-volume “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis and “The Lord of the Rings” cycle by J.R.R. Tolkien. Both of these fantasy classics, noted Tobias, feature endings that combine death and rebirth, along with the bittersweet passing of a magical age.

“Part of being a hero is to have a great love and to be willing to make a great sacrifice for that love,” he said. “It seems to me that Harry Potter has been walking down that same road. … It’s just hard to see him going home and settling down. He’s been through too much.”

Terry Mattingly ( directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.

The Other Boy Wizard - August 2006

The Other Boy Wizard - August 2006

By Sara Figiel — News-dispatch Via Associated Press | Washington Post | August 3, 2006

Emerson Spartz stood in the lobby of Radio City Music Hall on Tuesday night, surrounded by a crowd of teenagers eager for his autograph. The teens were part of an audience of some 6,000 Harry Potter fans, about half of them kids, who had just heard J.K. Rowling do a rare public reading in the United States.

You might have thought Spartz is an actor in the films about the boy wizard. He isn’t, though he certainly is a celebrity. Seven years ago, when Spartz was 12 years old and living with his family in northwest Indiana, he started a Web site called Today, it is the largest Potter-related fan Web site, he says, with 20 million page views every month.

“You don’t understand,” says Samantha Friedman, who was waiting for Spartz to sign her ticket. “He brings us fans together. Plus, he’s met J.K. Rowling, so when you touch him” — and here she reached out and touched Spartz’s shoulder — “you’re touching someone who has touched her.”

At the reading on Tuesday, fans in the crowd shrieked with delight when Rowling walked onstage and sat in a ornate and regal chair lined with red velvet. She read from her most recent book, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” and then took questions from fans, many of whom wanted hints about what will become of Harry in the seventh and final installment.

“I will miss Harry,” was about the most revealing comment she made on the subject. “I will go through a mourning period, then I will have to think of something else to write.”

Potter might not survive, but you get the sense that will be around forever. Spartz says the site started thriving a few years ago. Today, he writes less of what’s on the site, instead managing the ever-growing team of contributors who volunteer time and expertise.

“I think it worked because I began to act more like an administrator,” says Spartz, who is about to enter his sophomore year at the University of Notre Dame. “It just exploded after that.”

Scholastic, which publishes the Potter series in the United States, has sent Spartz around the country to appear in bookstores for readings and question-and-answer sessions. And when Rowling began to publicize “Half-Blood Prince” last year, she called the Spartz house one morning and asked to speak to Emerson.

“I got on the phone and she started to convince me that it was really her,” Spartz recalls. “But I recognized her voice right away.”

He and the founder of, another fan site, were invited to Scotland to interview Rowling. Since then, he has appeared on TV dozens of times, and he is invariably asked the same question: What is her house like?

“It’s a castle,” he said with a straight face Tuesday night.


“No,” he said. “Just kidding.”

— David Segal

Harry Potter fans are screaming with delight - November 2005

Harry Potter fans are screaming with delight - November 2005

By Anthony Breznican | USA TODAY | November 20, 2005

Wizarding fans are giving two wands up to the new Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie — and to scene-stealing Ralph Fiennes as vile Lord Voldemort.

It was the first time moviegoers got to see Voldemort in fully humanized, adult form, though he appeared as the boy Tom Riddle and as a face attached to Professor Quirrell in previous films.The fourth film in the phenomenally best-selling series from author J.K. Rowling finds 14-year-old Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) competing in the deadly Triwizard Tournament and coming face-to-snake-nosed-face with the reincarnation of the murderous Voldemort.

Voldemort’s pale, striking visage is a shocker, emphasized by two flat slits where a nose should be, says Andrew Sims, 16, of Medford, N.J., a writer for the fan site

“Nobody knew what to expect with him,” Sims says. “It was a scary scene and he’s a horrific character to look at. I think it turned out really well.”

Andrew Nugent, 12, of University Park, Md., says, “I wasn’t expecting (Voldemort) to have a face. I expected just a hooded figure.” He says the confrontation between Harry and Voldemort was “intense” but thought Voldemort should have been more powerful.

Like Andrew, Austin Johnson, 11, of Upper Marlboro, Md., pictured Voldemort as wearing a cape, like his Death Eater followers. Otherwise, “I expected him almost exactly like he looked. I expected him to look silver, like bones, and with slits and red eyes.” And Fiennes “did a really good job at making Voldemort evil.”

Lauren Verbanic, 16, of Los Angeles says Fiennes’ Voldemort was faithful to the books. “I think he was just right because Lord Voldemort is such an over-the-top character, so out-there and just evil.”

Although several subplots from the 734-page book were dropped, fans weren’t complaining.

Lauren’s father, Walt, 58, says, “The action, from start to finish, was enthralling. It has some great shock value.” Son, Chris, 6, adds, “I liked the dragons because they’re spikey.”

Justin Schreiner, 24, a real estate broker from Los Angeles, liked the subtlety of the story, which also explores the perils of young romance with Harry and magical pals Ron and Hermione (Rupert Grint and Emma Watson). “It wasn’t too mushy and it wasn’t too out-of-proportion,” he says. “They got the right points across regarding friendship and love.”

Riley Dowling, 45, a songwriter from Los Angeles, said the film has a good moral for young people, with Harry choosing to help others in danger even when he is at risk. “It’s incredibly important, especially for kids, to get that it’s not just about me, me, me, me, me,” she says. “To make this world work, you have to think about others.”

Me and Mad Eye Moody - November 2005

Me and Mad Eye Moody - November 2005

By Willie Dillon | Ireland Independent | November 12, 2005

The first agent Brendan Gleeson met told him he was too fat, too old and too ugly for the movie business. Now he’s the star of the new Harry Potter film.

When Brendan Gleeson was asked if he wanted to play Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody in the latest Harry Potter epic, he engaged a panel of experts to advise him on the nuances of the part.

Before meeting director Mike Newell in Dublin, his sons marked out the sections of Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire in which the paranoid deformed Moody features.

Gleeson has four sons, aged between 16 and 22, who knew considerably more about the character than he did. He took on board their views on how Moody should be played before talking to Newell and accepting the part.

Starring in a Harry Potter movie is what the 50-year-old Dubliner would describe as the popcorn – the fun stuff he likes to do between the more serious parts. It’s another milestone in the colourful acting career of a man who could have easily remained a schoolteacher all his life.

But the early portents weren’t always good. After a prominent role in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart in 1995, he decided to dip his toe into the shark-infested waters of Hollywood. He went to Los Angeles in search of an agent to propel his screen image onwards and upwards.

Instead he was brought down to earth with a massive ego-shattering bang.

The first agent he met told him he was “too fat, too old and not good-looking enough”. In short, he hadn’t a hope of making it in the movie business.

He explodes into a trademark hearty laugh at the sheer bluntness of the guy’s words.

“It was breathtakingly honest. I was a little bit taken aback that he was so direct. But I also thought well at least now I know where I stand. At least it was straightforward. In one way I was relieved. And in another way, it galvanised me. I kind of said ‘okay I’ll show this guy’.”

Gleeson’s subsequent career trajectory, of course, proved the agent wrong. “I wondered would I say anything to him if we ever met again. It seemed a little churlish, because he had called it as he saw it. I actually did see him again and we kind of agreed, tacitly, not to talk about it. It was interesting.”

With a big Harry Potter role under his belt, Gleeson can now afford to laugh. In the decade since Braveheart, his career has blossomed. The roles have come thick and fast. He has worked with some of the world’s biggest directors, including Spielberg, Scorsese, Minghella and Ridley Scott. His lived-in features have become familiar to movie-goers the world over.

And yet his life could have been so different. In his late teens, he started playing traditional music. His first instrument was the guitar. He later progressed to his late grandfather’s mandolin. He busked in Germany and gigged regularly in Dublin. In his late 20s, he took up the violin, which he plays in two movies, Michael Collins and Cold Mountain.

Ultimately the young Gleeson opted for the classroom. For ten years, he taught English and Irish at Belcamp College in Dublin’s northside. “Yeah, I enjoyed that. It’s a long time ago now. It’s receding into the mists of time.

“Occasionally I meet people I used to teach. I was quite prepared to do that for the rest of my life, to be honest. And I actually did like the kids, which meant a lot, even though,” he launches into another full-bodied laugh, “it mightn’t have seemed that way at the time.”

He adds: “That could have been my life really.”

But he was leading an increasingly fragmented existance. He was involved with the Passion Machine theatre group. “I was intensely busy. I was writing and directing and acting in plays. I was teaching and I had the music as well. It was becoming ridiculous. I felt I couldn’t keep all these plates in the air. They were spinning out of control.”

Being nominated for a Harvey’s theatre award was a turning point. He was heading for his mid-30s and feared he would always regret not taking the plunge. Becoming a full-time actor marked the beginning of his “second life”. But his first two movie appearances were low key.

“I think Dear Sarah was the first. I gave Donal O’Kelly a lift in a big truck. Then I did an afternoon in The Field. The whole notion of a camera was very intimidating, to begin with.”

Since starring in John Boorman’s The General in 1998, his life has been an international rollercoaster ride. He prefers to let his work speak for him. “I’ve been lucky to work with good people and that the standard of the work has stayed pretty satisfying.”

He was acclaimed for his portrayal of Michael Collins in the television dramaThe Treaty in 1991. He arguably made a better Collins than Liam Neeson did in the subsequent movie. Some people felt he should have been the obvious lead. “You don’t really expect me to comment on that one,” he laughs aloud again.

“No, I hadn’t got the kudos. You have to work to get to be in that position. And Liam worked to get in that position. There wasn’t the slightest resentment or anything like that … there’s no point moaning about this kind of stuff. You have to get yourself into a position where you can throw your hat into the ring for these things.”

Balancing work and family can be difficult in the movie business. There have been times when he has been away from his wife and children far longer than he would have liked. Filming Gangs Of New York in Rome took five months. “That was a long stretch, in that I could have done what I had to do in three or four weeks. I was let home a couple of times. But Scorsese is just a master and you don’t turn that kind of thing down.

‘I get very uneasy if it stretches on too long. I don’t feel happy within myself. I don’t enjoy it. Ultimately if I had a choice, family would be number one. It’s just always a balancing act.”

He was involved in the Harry Potter shoot for six months, on and off. Initially he feared the tightly-knit cast would view him as an outsider coming in. But it didn’t turn out that way at all. They all looked out for each other. He describes the younger actors as “properly brought up”. They were encouraged to be themselves without being precocious.

But what impressed him most on the set was the use of handmade props. He describes the entire experience as very British and “almost Victorian” in the use of skills and craftsmanship. “There was a deep integrity about the whole thing.”

Despite now being part of the Potter pantheon, Gleeson is adamant he is not a star, but an actor. Sometimes the two things mix successfully; sometimes they don’t.

Speaking of stars in general, he says: “Some of them are just charisma without any great acting talent. But it doesn’t really matter, because they inhabit who they’re supposed to be on screen. I would prefer to be an actor.”

There is nothing currently to suggest the work is in any remote danger of drying up. He stars in a movie version of Studs, directed by his old theatre buddy Paul Mercier, to be released in February. He is in Neil Jordan’s forthcoming Breakfast On Pluto. He has just finished work on a high-tech movie version of the old English poem Beowulf, directed by Robert Zemeckis. In January, he hopes to start work with his friend John Boorman on The Tiger’s Tale, a thriller set in Dublin.

So does the soft-spoken, 6ft2in tall actor now think he made the right move when he gave up the teaching? “I guess so,” he laughs again. “I guess so.”

Harry Potter and the goblet of facts

*Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the fourth and by common agreement the darkest of the Harry Potter films so far.

In the latest instalment of the movie franchise, the young wizard Harry is tested to the limit in a magic triwizard tournament. It is a competition featuring three dangerous tasks.

The film has been ruled unsuitable for under-12s to watch unaccompanied by an adult, the first of the Potter films to get such a rating.

*Irish censor John Kelleher said the movie contained “dark/scary scenes and images of fantasy”.

*Director Mike Newell, who also made Four Weddings and a Funeral said: “I remember being terrified of some teachers at school who were violent. The teachers would clout us. But I also remember things being absolutely hysterically funny, because there was such anarchy.”

*In Britain the film has already been labelled “Scary Potter” by the media. Child psychologists have warned that bringing kids to a film such as Harry Potter at an inappropriate age may even cause long-term psychological damage.

* Goblet is estimated to have cost $130 and $170m. It could be a good investment, however, considering that the first three films earned $2.5bn.

*The once-penniless author JK Rowling is laughing all the way to the bank. Having sold over 300m books as well as their film rights and merchandise, the author is reckoned to be richer than the queen with a fortune of ?750m.

*Daniel Radcliffe, the 16-year-old London actor who again plays the role of Harry, has grown up with the role. When he starred in the first film, he was 11.

*The latest instalment sees the teenage schoolboy sorcerer taking an interest in the opposit sex for the first time. He has his first screen kiss with another trainee wizard.

*According to some accounts, Radcliffe’s parents tried to persuade their son not to go into showbusiness.

*The idea for Harry first came to Joanna Rowling (the initials JK are used on her books so that she does not alienate boys) when she was travelling on a train in 1990.

*It was seven years before the first book was completed and published.

*On the popular website, MuggleNet, a writer known as Rainycat looks at “Irishisms in Harry Potter”.Ireland won the Quidditch World Cup in The Goblet of Fire. Quidditch teams include the Kenmare Kestrals and Ballycastle Bats.A character in Harry’s class is Seamus Finnegan.

*The Pope has reservations about the Harry Potter phenomenon. Earlier this year, before becoming Pontiff, he gave his endorsement to German author Gabriele Kuby who wrote a book criticising the JK Rowling tales.

Website casts spell on Potter author - July 2005

Website casts spell on Potter author - July 2005

Indiana teenager’s earns an audience with J.K. Rowling as book debuts

Chicago Tribune | July 11, 2005


The phone rang at 9 a.m. on May 3.

“Hello, Emerson? This is Jo.”

That’s how Emerson Spartz, 18, of a small Indiana town 90 minutes east of Chicago, found out he will be flying to Scotland for a face-to-face interview next weekend with author J.K. Rowling—Jo, to fans of her Harry Potter series.

After the call, Spartz went back to work on, his dense and authoritative Web site about all things Potter.

For Spartz knows something you don’t. The Internet has changed the relationship between artist and audience, and Rowling’s phone call proves it.

Rowling, whose imaginative depiction of good vs. evil in the wizarding world has made her an international celebrity, is one of the most potent forces in publishing. Her new release, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” goes on sale at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. It has been two years since book five in the series appeared, a volume that sold 5 million copies within 24 hours, earning it worldwide laurels as publishing’s fastest-selling title.

Book six is poised to smash those records. Scholastic Inc., the Potter books’ American publisher, reports shipping 10.8 million copies of “Half-Blood Prince,” the largest release in history. And booksellers and Barnes & Noble have accepted pre-orders in the millions for the hardcover book and its audio version, performed by actor Jim Dale.

On her Web site,, the author has honored a half-dozen fan sites with a little write-up and plaque in a mock trophy room. Among them: MuggleNet and The Leaky Cauldron, and on behalf of her Internet audience, Rowling invited Spartz and’s Melissa Anelli to Scotland for a chat Saturday amid book release festivities.

After the stroke of midnight, aspiring reporters ages 8 to 16, representing select English-speaking media organizations, will meet the author, get an autographed copy of the book, spend the day reading and grill Rowling during a news conference Sunday.

Spartz and Anelli alone will be whisked away to a private interview to ask her anything they and their Internet constituencies want to know. Their message boards are ablaze in preparation.

As far as the working press goes, that’s it: Though portions will be telecast, “Half-Blood Prince” weekend is for kids and fans.

But those kids and fans are operating in a realm that’s a far cry from teen idol scrapbooks packed with Tiger Beat magazine clippings. In the old days, a scrapbook’s most important treasure might have been an autographed photo from a star’s PR firm or a personal letter from the president of a local fan club. Now, the Internet means you can build your own electronic shrine to anything or anyone and the whole world can see it—and your work might get unprecedented attention.

Like many other fans, Spartz scours the Internet for anything about the world surrounding Potter and Rowling. Unlike most other fans, Spartz puts his findings on a well-organized, thoroughly researched Web site, one that caught the eye of Warner Bros., the studio behind the Potter film series, and Rowling’s U.K. and U.S. publishers, Bloomsbury and Scholastic, respectively—not to mention the author herself.

Because of their sites, Warner Bros. has hosted Spartz and Anelli on the movie set of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” Last year the studio gave him press passes and tickets to the New York and London premieres of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” so he could be the eyes and ears of MuggleNet.

But for Spartz, being honored on is his proudest achievement. Rowling wrote on her site, “I love the [MuggleNet] design … the pretty-much-exhaustive information on all books and films, the wonderful editorials (more insight there than in several companion volumes I shall not name), 101 Ways to Annoy Lord Voldemort (made me laugh aloud), the Wall of Shame (nearly as funny as some of the stuff I get) … pretty much everything.”

Spartz said he built MuggleNet six years ago from a boredom-inspired project into a site that caught even Rowling’s eye “because I wanted it to be the best and I worked hard at it. When I do something, I like to do it well.”

Spartz is tall, lean and comfortable with himself. Home-schooled since he was 12, he will enroll as a freshman business major at the University of Notre Dame this fall. He plans to make his wealth developing and investing in renewable fuel sources.

“I know how strange this sounds coming from an 18-year-old, and I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do it yet,” he said, “but if I’m as successful in other aspects of my life as I have been with MuggleNet, I’d like to leave my mark as one of the world’s most generous philanthropists like Jo Rowling. She is truly a woman to respect and admire.”

Spartz never sounds like he’s selling something when he talks about his future. He has an unhurried speaking style that changes only when the topic turns serious.

Spartz has no patience for those who condemn the wizardry in the Harry Potter series.

“In Harry Potter, there is a clearly defined good, a clearly defined evil, and good will ultimately triumph over evil,” he said. “Those who claim Harry Potter has an underlying satanistic message clearly haven’t read the book and aren’t interested in the truth.”

Spartz works on the MuggleNet site every day, reviewing posts by his volunteer staff of 40. He gets hundreds of e-mail messages daily containing Harry Potter tips, questions and the frequent, “Your site rules!”

“I’ve always known I was going do big things,” he said matter-of-factly, “so things like this, they’re awesome, but they don’t surprise me.”

And that is why, when he is talking about how the phone rang on May 3, Spartz almost grudgingly concedes, “It’s great to be recognized.”

Will era of superfan end with Star Wars? - May 2005

Will era of superfan end with Star Wars? - May 2005

Few franchises are left to geek out about

Associated Press | May 27, 2005

NEW YORK — Now that any die-hard “Star Wars” fan worth his lightsaber has seen “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” at least once, what’s a Jedi to do?

The end of the “Star Wars” movies leaves a gaping hole in the galaxy of geekdom. And it begs the larger question: Is the era of the superfan over?

No longer is there any variation of “Star Trek” on TV. The Grateful Dead essentially passed with Jerry Garcia, and even Phish is done now. The seminal pop-cult experience may be a thing of the past.

But not before this last “Star Wars” is wrung dry. Legions of stormtroopers, who now span at least two generations, have overrun theaters for the final installment, leading to the largest opening box office take ever: $50 million after one day, $158 million after four days.

It’s possible “Revenge of the Sith” will eventually gross more than $400 million domestically — maybe even overtaking “Phantom Menace” and the original “Star Wars” (without being adjusted for inflation) for second place behind “Titanic.”

“I definitely think there will be repeat business. The transformation sequence of Anakin into Darth Vader just begs for repeat viewing. It’s such a cinematic event,” says Paul Dergarabedian, the president of Exhibitor Relations, the box office tracking firm.

But in a matter of months, fans won’t be able to see Anakin’s makeover on the big screen again.

Hey family, good to know you

Where will they go? What will they do?

“I guess the rest of will just get to know our families a little bit better,” says James Coleman, 31, an enthusiast who had camped outside the Ziegfeld Theater in New York to see the first showing.

Though “Star Wars” will continue with two planned offshoot TV series, for the first time since 1977, there will be no movie to look forward to. Likewise, after 18 years of some variation of “Star Trek” TV shows, the May 13 finale of “Star Trek: Enterprise” was perhaps the last televised Klingon crusade.

Captain Kirk fans, many of whom expect a new show in the future, will now have to pass time working on their Trekkie portfolio.

“Obviously people will diversify,” says Steve Krutzler, the editor of “There’s a lot of genre material out there now, much of it being produced by former ‘Star Trek’ writers. It’s not like people are going to all of a sudden stop being interested in ‘Star Trek.”‘

Of course, fanatics have often shown little need for anything as relevant as the passing of time. After all, there are still multiple “Wizard of Oz” conventions held annually. The “Star Wars” expanded universe” (novels, comic book, fan movies), will also keep the Jedi juices flowing for years to come.

These fans clearly express a different level of commitment.

“The people who do this suspend the normal rules of society,” says Dr. Jerry M. Lewis, a sociology professor at Kent State University who has studied fan behavior. “Normally, you don’t walk around dressed as Chewbacca or Darth Vader.”

“Why do people do this? I have no idea, other than it gives them an identity,” Lewis adds. “And I would guess, if we could generalize from die-hard soccer fans and die-hard Cubs fans, it gives them an identity that’s greater than their personal identity.”

There’s still Harry Potter, though

If there’s hope for a new legion of obsessives, it could come from Harry Potter. Just as “Star Wars” fans attend midnight premieres (apparently the designated hour of the superfan), Potter fans lines blocks for each new book at the witching hour.

One fan site,, currently counts down the next installment, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” to the second.

But when “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” debuted decades ago, there was no expectation of collectibles, tie-ins, costumes or fan clubs. Like the Deadhead culture, each respective cult arose from the people, in a grassroots manner. Today, many sci-fi films open with a supporting system of merchandise that hopes to manufacture that larger cultural impact.

In music, although many jam bands and other types of musicians have extremely loyal fan bases, the industry capitalizes on such manic allegiance by charging for fan club memberships and aggressively pushing the merch, Grateful Dead style.

Could any new movie today really spawn the same dedication? Will hordes ever give up their jobs to follow a touring band from coast to coast — parking lot by parking lot?

“Oh, yeah. It goes back into the middle ages,” says sociologist Lewis of the age-old practice of fandom. “They had bear-baiting. They’d throw a live bear into a pit of dogs and they were fans of this. It’s the same sociological mechanism.”

“You and I can’t think of anything to become a fan of, but the people who want to become fans may find something,” he says. “It may even be, God forbid, Ms. Hilton.”

Fan Site award goes to Mugglenet - September 2004

Fan Site award goes to Mugglenet - September 2004 | September 6, 2004, 9:01 p.m.


J.K. Rowling has honoured another Harry Potter site with an F.S.A Mugglenet whilst being one of our affiliates, is one of the best Harry Potter sites around.


Fan Site award goes to Mugglenet

Mugglenet, one of our affiliates here at SS, has been given an F.S.A (Fan Site Award) by J.K. Rowling over at her site.

Quote: It’s high-time I paid homage to the mighty Mugglenet

She says that she favours the ‘dementor’ layout on their site (there are 5 skins to choose from) and she says she voted in the ‘Who is the Half-Blood Prince?’ poll.

JK also mentions that she loves the editorials and the vast amount of information about the films and books.

The ‘101 ways to annoy Voldemort’ amused her – it even made her laugh out loud.

She also names all of the webmasters/people who run the site, thanking them individually for all their hard work.

Rowling Website Rife with Potter Trivia - May 2004

Rowling Website Rife with Potter Trivia - May 2004 | May 27, 2004

So, you think you know everything about Harry Potter?

OK, then — what was Hermione Granger’s original last name?

And what does the “K.” in J.K. Rowling stand for?

If you can’t answer these, don’t worry — most people couldn’t until last week, when the notoriously private Rowling, author of the Potter series, surprised fans by re-launching her personal Web site,

The site had been a skimpy page of links, but it’s now a fun collection of Harry news and trivia, written by Rowling herself.

The new site has already gotten more than 17 million hits from fans eager for “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” which hits movie theaters next Friday.

And Rowling doesn’t disappoint. She packs her site with plenty of fun facts:

* In early drafts of the first book, Harry’s pal was called Hermione Puckle — “but it was quickly changed for something a bit less frivolous,” Rowling writes.

* Rowling doesn’t actually have a middle name — she was born Joanne Rowling. But before the first book came out, her publisher suggested she add another initial because “J. Rowling” didn’t sound quite right. So the author added “K” in honor of her beloved grandmother, Kathleen.

* Rowling was asked to play the ghost of Lily Potter, Harry’s murdered mother, in the first “Potter” movie. But she turned it down. “I am not cut out to be an actress, even one who just has to stand there and wave,” she writes. “I would have messed it up somehow.”

* The first book originally included a scene in which we see Harry’s parents die and meet Hermione’s family. “The Potters were living on a remote island, and Hermione’s family lived on the mainland,” Rowling writes. “One night, her father spotted . . . an explosion out at sea, and sailed out in a storm to find [the Potters’] bodies in the ruins of their house. I can’t remember now why I thought that was a good idea.”

* Uber-villain Lord Voldemort is decidedly not Harry’s actual father, despite rumors on various fan Web sites. “No, no, no, no, no,” Rowling says. “You lot have been watching definitely too much ‘Star Wars.'”

Unfortunately for inquisitive Harry fans, Rowling has little to say about such important questions as “When will you finish Book Six?”

“Book Six is well under way,” she writes, “though I am still at the stage where I have a large and complicated chart propped on the desk in front of me to remind me what happens where.”

Still, there may be some clues about future Potter books in cyberspace, if you search hard enough.

“A few weeks ago, I did something I’ve never done before — taken a stroll into a Harry Potter chat room on,” Rowling writes.

“But nobody was remotely interested in my theories about what’s going to happen in Book Seven.

“In the end, I gave up trying to impart any gems of wisdom and joined the discussion about ‘SpongeBob SquarePants.’ ”

Harry Potter: Ask the experts - June 2003

Harry Potter: Ask the experts - June 2003

Author Julia Eccleshare and Harry Potter fan Jamie Lawrence answered your questions in a LIVE forum. | June 21, 2003, 10:19 a.m.

The queues to buy Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix are forming already.

Fans have had to wait three years for this latest instalment about the exploits of the boy wizard Harry and his boarding school friends Ron and Hermione.

The novel has already broken internet sales records, with more than one million advance orders received by Amazon.

In the UK, the postal service is having to lay on extra vans to get the book, which weighs a kilogram, delivered to customers.

What is all the fuss about? Are the Harry Potter books true classics? Why does Harry Potter appeal to adults as well as children?

Julia Eccleshare, author of A Guide to the Harry Potter Novels and founder of the Smarties Prize for children’s literature, and Jamie Lawrence of the Harry Potter fans’ website answered your questions.


Torin Douglas:
Hello and welcome to this interactive forum, I’m Torin Douglas. In a little under 10 hours muggles will be settling down to read the latest Harry Potter book – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The pictures don’t move and the text doesn’t write itself but the novel’s already broken sales records around the world. You’ve been sending us your questions on the whole Harry Potter phenomenon and here to answer them are Julia Eccleshare, author of a Guide to the Harry Potter Novels and founder of the Smarties Prize for children’s literature and Jamie Lawrence from the fan website

Now I imagine both of you have been quite excited about all this, have you been preparing for it in some way?

Julia Eccleshare:
Well I’m certainly very excited about it, I don’t think if I’ve been preparing for it but I have set aside a lot of the weekend because I do want to read it and I’m going to read it quite quickly.

Torin Douglas:
But how long do you think it’ll take you?

Julia Eccleshare:
Well I’m not a very fast reader and I know it’s a very big book, so it’ll be slower than my children.

Torin Douglas:
Yes and Jamie?

Jamie Lawrence:
I’m planning on about four hours.

Torin Douglas:
And when are you going to start do you reckon?

Jamie Lawrence:
I think probably about two minutes past midnight.

Torin Douglas:
Right, as I say, we’ve had lots of e-mails and text messages. This one’s from Steve Haywood in the UK: “I want to buy my copy of the book and start reading it as soon as I can but I’m worried that major plot spoilers are going to start appearing all over the internet and on the news, am I being too paranoid or do you think this really could be a problem?” – that people are going to spoil the plot, Julia.

Julia Eccleshare:
Yes I think it is a problem. I mean I think what’s an absolute miracle is that we’ve got to this point, this near the wire, and it’s still pretty much a secret and I think that’s fantastically exciting and a major triumph from everybody who’s been involved. But of course it is going to be terrible if you’re going to know who’s died, as we know somebody’s is going to have died, before you get there. I think that will take away from the pleasure for some children.

Torin Douglas:
And what about, is it your job to spoil everybody’s surprise?

Jamie Lawrence:
Well we’ve kind of kept a spoiler free site, we sort of made all the areas of it – you have to highlight text to view any spoilers that we have put on there. But basically if you don’t want to see any spoilers you have to keep off the internet because they are bound to arise somewhere.

Torin Douglas:
And the media, do you think newspapers will do it, I mean broadcasters?

Julia Eccleshare:
Well I think the difficulty is if it’s anywhere on radio or TV it’s almost impossible to avoid it, it’s for us to find on the net, but I mean if somebody just mentions it on a radio programme or whatever it is going to spoil it. However, I mean let’s get real about this book it’s not just what happens next in the sense of the sort of major incidents that matters, the cleverness about JK Rowling is the way that she structures the books and the way that she writes them, so that there’ll be lots of detail that we’ll want to find out about and lots of finding out about how Harry’s developed and she says he’s getting crosser and angrier and more adolescent and I think we all want to know how that comes over in print. So they’ll be a lot of fun even if you did know the big news.

Torin Douglas:
Now we’ve got two questions linked to that. John Murphy from the UK says, as you’ve raised: “Who is expected to die in the new Harry Potter book?” And Philip Lickley from the United Kingdom questions: “Is it Hagrid that’s likely to be killed off because Robbie Coltrane once mentioned he’s only been put down for five films?” Now already we’re moving into the speculation, how do you answer people like that Julia?

Julia Eccleshare:
Well I have to say I’m not predictive reader anyway, so I never sit down with a book and think what’s going to happen next, I’m always totally in the hands of the author who leads me along. And I think in this case I’m not even prepared to hazard a guess about who’s going to die and lots of children I’ve spoken to think it’s going to be either Hermione or Ginny Weasley but I pointed out there are only two really strong female characters and I don’t think JK Rowling’s likely to kill off one of them, so I don’t think it’ll be one of them. And I don’t think it will be Hagrid, I think he’s too central to the drama.

Jamie Lawrence:
I think it’s going to be Hagrid. I think we’ve been told that it won’t be Ron or Hermione, at least not now, in this book, it’s supposed to be a very big death and she hated writing it.

Julia Eccleshare:
She cried.

Torin Douglas:
Julia this connects up with something you said, this is from Ratch in Keighley in the UK: “Do you think if the books continue they get darker and more dramatic as the story progresses?”

Julia Eccleshare:
Well interestingly I think number 3 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – is about as dark as you can get because in that Harry really confronts his parents’ death and what happened to them and his feelings about his parents and I’m not sure that, in terms of sort of internal grief, you can go much further than that. I don’t think Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was more dark than the Prisoner of Azkaban so I’m sort of open to this one, I’m not quite sure. I mean again JK has said that Harry gets angrier, there will be more strong emotions around, but I’m not sure it can get much darker.

Jamie Lawrence:
I think we are going to see a different side to Harry in book 5, I mean it was like in the Chamber of Secrets every single person who saw the Basilisk only got petrified, nobody died, so she was kind of setting us up for a more grisly side of Harry in the future books and obviously we saw that in the Prisoner of Azkaban, but I think we will see it more in the Order of the Phoenix.

Julia Eccleshare:
But we start from such a very high grisly point in the sense that there’s Harry, who’s only miraculously saved from the moment of his birth. So in a way it’s not really getting darker we just have forgotten how dark the origins of the stories are.

Torin Douglas:
Fiona from Aberdeen asks: “Why are the books so popular? It’s not exactly ground breaking storytelling.” Jamie what do you think?

Jamie Lawrence:
I think it’s just how it’s so different from everything else and how they sort of tie the wizarding world in with the muggle world. You’ve got all the different issues, you’ve got the magic on its own, you’ve got quidditch – the game on broomsticks – but then you’ve also got the sort of social issues of it like when Voldermort was in power how many people were being controlled by the Imperius curse, so it kind of links in magic with everyday issues and kind of brings it together in a fantastic story.

Torin Douglas:

Julia Eccleshare:
Well I think that’s right but I think the crucial difference about what she does in the books compared to what other people do is the closeness of the magic and the everyday, so that we can all – I mean one of my favourite bits is the way that when all the conversation about quidditch is exactly like conversation about football or anybody else’s passion, you get the best, the supermodel, it’s like cars or anything else and it’s so close and yet it’s got that twist in it. That’s a very clever thing to do and it means she’s not just going off in some sort of airy fairy invention of her own, she’s using something we all know and then just twisting it. And exactly the same is true with the school story settings, school stories traditionally have been very popular in children’s books but hers is like a very familiar school story but just turned into something amazingly extraordinary.

Torin Douglas:
And of course there was the World Cup wasn’t there, so you were then building on that whole phenomenon.

Julia Eccleshare:
Yes and anybody who’s sort of entered into – you didn’t even have to know much about the World Cup to feel so comfortable with everything she was creating and then surprise because she took it to a new dimension.

Torin Douglas:
We’ve got another live e-mail here from Kelly in the United Kingdom, Kelly Rider: “A lot of people are now attacking the Harry Potter series as overrated and just nonsense, do you agree with them?” Well I don’t think you do but do you think the series is a useful tool in encouraging to read? Which side?

Julia Eccleshare:
It’s more than a useful tool to encourage children to read, children who have not traditionally thought of themselves as readers now are reading Harry Potter and yes it is perfectly true that Harry Potter takes up a very large part of the children’s book market but it is encouraging children to read once you’ve read one book you’re more likely to read another book, it’s encouraging children to think that reading is cool and that it’s something they want to talk about – you hear conversations about Harry Potter between parents and children, between children and children, waiting at bus stops you hear people talking about what happened in the children’s books, tell me when that ever happened before?

Torin Douglas:
And Jamie it’s boys, I mean that was one of the phenomena that boys started to read from these books.

Jamie Lawrence:
Yes I think it happened with everybody, they are just the most amazing series of books. They’ve taken all the prizes, taken all the prizes for the book market and people have just started lapping up all of the merchandise as well and it’s just brought in a whole new world of Harry Potter.

Julia Eccleshare:
It doesn’t mean there aren’t other wonderful children’s books and I think the thing that we forget is that although we talk a lot about Harry Potter actually there is a lot of other reading going on as well. But it seems a shame that we should sort of criticise Harry Potter for being too successful.

Torin Douglas:
I mean you having invented the Smarties Prize .

Julia Eccleshare:
I didn’t invent it.

Torin Douglas:
. I mean this must have come as a huge sort of .

Julia Eccleshare:
Well what was very interesting, we take great pride in the Smarties Prize, what happens is that the adult judges choose three books and then put them to a group of children and JK Rowling was a complete unknown and we read this book and we thought it was a very good book and we put it to the children and they chose it as the gold medal winner, children chose that book because they loved it so much. But we recognised its quality as well. And I think it has done a very good thing for children’s reading.

Torin Douglas:
We’ve got another one here from somebody who calls themselves Mole in Newcastle: “The Harry Potter phenomenon is now so much bigger than JK Rowling ever intended, do you think it’s possible for anyone, including her, to live up to the huge expectations now put on it?” Jamie.

Jamie Lawrence:
Well we didn’t know about Harry Potter before it came out, we just can’t tell what’s going to come out next but I think she can definitely sort of keep going with Harry Potter. I mean every single book that she writes is going to be brilliant, I mean even if other people who are just normal casual readers of Harry Potter don’t really like it as much as the others I think every single hardcore fan is just going to [indistinct words].

Julia Eccleshare:
Yes I mean whether it can live up to it, is a difficult question because of course it can’t, in a sense, I mean just like is it worth it, I course in one sense no book series can be worth the amount of money it is, compared to all the other books, if you know what I mean. But on the other hand I think I’m agreeing slightly with Jamie, I think for her fans she has kept very, very steadfast and true and she has never – I think this is a great tribute to her – that she has never, despite the fact that the books moved from being, as it were, simple children’s books into being a phenomenon for all readers, she didn’t change how she writes, so in Goblet of Fire she’s not writing with an eye to adult readers, she’s still keeping true to her original audience, I think that’s great credit to her and that’s why the fans will go on reading them.

Torin Douglas:
A linked question from Judit Wild in Hungary: “I really like the adventures of this young wizard but I think the whole fuss around the new Harry Potter book makes it a simple marketing product.” And there has, as we know, been an absolute furore all over the world about it, what do you think – have the marketing people taken over?

Julia Eccleshare:
Yes of course they have but that doesn’t take away from the book at its core and this is what Rowling says herself, you know, she writes the books and that’s what matters to her, she can’t be responsible for the fact that the rest of the world has gone mad about it as something that you can market very successfully, for her what matters is the books and the readers and the interaction between them. And I think she’s alright, I mean I think she’s remained firm on that. And it’s like everything else, I mean it’s like with David Beckham – is he a good footballer or is he only a media star? You can’t criticise the person for what they do just because the media then picks up on it.

Torin Douglas:
And she also said – I mean the interview this week – that actually she didn’t really want any of the merchandising but in the days when the film started she didn’t have the power to stop it.

Julia Eccleshare:
Who was she, you know, she was the author. And I mean it is a well known fact for creators of things that they do get taken out of your control. If we don’t like the marketing of it in a sense that’s the big question about marketing and how things are promoted but the fact of the matter is that’s not her fault.

Torin Douglas:
Now as part of this whole marketing business booksellers are selling it at cut price and Andy James from Durham says: “Many big chain bookshops are selling this book at a loss. Independent bookshops and smaller authors can’t compete. Is Harry Potter ruining the children’s books market?” Julia.

Julia Eccleshare:
Well I don’t think it is ruining the children’s book market, I think it’s a very specific issue about this book, partly because Waterstones were selling it at half price from the very beginning. That is a problem but I do think in a way it’s rather looking a gift horse in the mouth, we have never – have we ever had a book printed, over two million copies printed in England? No we never have and surely we ought to be grateful, we’re all worrying about how many people read, here we’ve got a huge market, everybody suddenly reading, I think it’s a bit mingy to start then fussing about whether it’s cutting out the independent children’s bookshops. I think one has to think that Harry Potter, Jacqueline Wilson, Philip Pullman – all the big names in children’s books at the moment – have done a powerful good for children’s books, even if it may cause some new marketing dilemmas or some new selling dilemmas which haven’t been thought of before.

Torin Douglas:
And Jamie the internet is obviously part of this in that they’ve been selling it on the internet cheap as well haven’t they?

Jamie Lawrence:
I think that’s just bound to happen with these kind of books, it is the fans that bring about these changes. I mean online bookshops do have the ability to sell at a cut down price considering they aren’t paying all the overheads and trading from a high street store so they can – people can pre-order on sites like and they can pre-order and then it will arrive to them on the day, so they can save going to a party if they want to.

Torin Douglas:
Now what’s boosted the success of the books – the books were successful but then the films came along and just added so much more to the whole phenomenon? And we’ve got a question here from Jusef Barracudla in Manchester: “Why are the film versions so popular when they’re nowhere near as good as the books?”

Julia Eccleshare:
Well I think I’d take issue with that, not about them not being as good, I think they’re not nearly as good, but I think actually the success of the books was enormous – number 4 – wouldn’t you agree with that, that it was enormous long before the films came along. I think the books were where they were, I mean it is surprising to me that in fact that there were more sales of the books after the films because I thought everybody had already got their copies. But yes I mean the film perhaps added some incremental sales but the, as it were, profound success of the books, what caused the uprise of websites and the kind of work you’ve been doing on it, all was there from the books, nothing to do with the films.

Jamie Lawrence:
And I think the films – I mean every time something is translated into a film and is going to bring a tiny bit of extra magic to the book because you can see what’s happening it adds to your own interpretation of the book.

Torin Douglas:
I mean it is wonderful that with all the computer graphics and so on you can actually get some of the effects that you may not have been able to get .

Julia Eccleshare:
Yes but I mean what’s so odd that we’re saying this and being critical about it but actually if you take the Lord of the Rings, which admittedly had a much longer life around before it turned into a film, I was talking with a group of children yesterday and they were reading Lord of the Rings – why? – because they’d seen the film and nobody criticises that, nobody sort of thinks the film is in a way confusing the issue. We have to be grateful, even if it’s a different thing – the film’s success that it is then taking children to reading.

Torin Douglas:
And we’ve got Chris Kinnen from Northern Ireland who’s saying: “I began reading the books following the publicity surrounding the first movie. Do you think the movies have played any part in ensuring the success of the Potter books?”

Julia Eccleshare:
No because they were successful before. I mean I think they’re an add on, I think the books would have kept their place without the films.

Torin Douglas:
We’ve got one from Arizona here in the States, Hannah in Arizona: “Who will play Dumbledore now that the actor is dead?” Jamie that’s one for you.

Jamie Lawrence:
It’s going to be Michael Gambon and he should be at Waterstones tonight, we’ve had confirmed.

Torin Douglas:
Oh really because Richard Harris sadly died.

Jamie Lawrence:
Very tragic.

Julia Eccleshare:
But Michael Gambon is a wonderful actor and I think he’ll be a very, very – I’m looking forward to seeing him do Dumbledore.

Torin Douglas:
He’s not a well known star, I mean people recognise him in lots of good sort of dramas and so on but he’s not a big figure in the way that Richard Harris .

Julia Eccleshare:
He’s a TV and theatre star isn’t he, not a film star but he will.

Torin Douglas:
Well he will be indeed, no absolutely right. And Pieter Buijs from the UK: “Do you think that the current interest in the supernatural and the abandonment of Christian values is one of the reasons for the popularity of Harry Potter?” The supernatural and the abandonment of Christian values, there’s a heavy one.

Julia Eccleshare:
Well I think that’s sort of throwing a bit much at poor old Harry. I mean let’s face it this is a simple school story with a bit of wizardry thrown in, I don’t think it’s got – I mean I think it has got deep issues and I think part of its strength is the deep issues about family and where you come from and belonging and identity and all of those things but I don’t think it’s really got a lot to do with Christianity and the supernatural.

Jamie Lawrence:
And I wouldn’t say there’s abandonment at all, I’d say there’s encouraging and exploring – especially in the latest book, they’re going to really specially take into account Harry’s feelings which will be really .

Torin Douglas:
Dave in Bristol here is just saying: “Why are the books so popular in the light of the reduction in innocence of the average modern child?” Perhaps it’s because there are so many other things that aren’t innocent, what do you think?

Julia Eccleshare:
Yes I think that’s got a lot to do with it, I think this is a very – it’s very wholesome and I think part of people’s worries about children at the moment is that childhood is not quite as wholesome as it once was and I think the appeal – all I know is that, as I say, with the Smarties Prize the children themselves loved it, there was something about Harry as a kind of perfect – the perfect storybook character comes from adversity to triumph through his own inner strength and a little bit of magic as well, in a situation which is quite like their own in that he’s at school but it’s a particular kind of school with the magic and a boarding school and I think children just responded to that. And I think he does play into the idea of childhood innocence and maybe that’s why adults like it so much because it gives a vision. You see I think the books have had quite a powerful effect in changing people’s attitudes to children and childhood because whereas traditionally up to that point in recent years children have been seen as rather brattish and disagreeable and badly behaved and yobbish and Kevin off the tele and all of that and suddenly we were presented with a delightful child with friends who were equally delightful and okay this is a story and okay perhaps it’s a bit too golden but it did give a very good redress to the image of children and childhood.

Torin Douglas:
Alanna from New Zealand almost linked says: “Why hasn’t the story .” and she doesn’t say this but so far, “. have any love scenes?” Why no love scenes?

Jamie Lawrence:
Well I think it was originally written for children and although it is a book to be enjoyed by all ages I think they have to remember that the main market is for children and they can’t have anything too strong in that.

Julia Eccleshare:
We have had a few love scenes..

Torin Douglas:
I was going to say in the last book .

Julia Eccleshare:
The Goblet of Fire there was Hagrid .

Torin Douglas:
. that’s right they were starting to have something.

Julia Eccleshare:
.. yeah I mean Hagrid fancying Madame Maxime rather rashly and certainly some of the sort of stuff with the student from – yeah exactly. I think love has sort of been in the air.

Torin Douglas:
Perhaps they haven’t quite got to New Zealand yet. And I’m afraid this our final e-mail from Karen Bryan in Grimsby in the UK: “Are you disappointed that JK Rowling says that there are only going to be seven books? Would you like to know what happens to Harry, Hermione and Ron when they leave school?” Jamie.

Jamie Lawrence:
I think she’s going to tell us what’s going to happen but I’m not so sure we’re going to like it.

Torin Douglas:
Really and in the seventh book or .?

Jamie Lawrence:
In the seventh book I think everything’s going to come to a climactic finish and we’re going to find out what’s happening to all of them.

Torin Douglas:
Really oh well.

Jamie Lawrence:
Or she might write something afterwards, I’m not sure.

Julia Eccleshare:
I don’t think she’ll write on afterwards, she’s been absolutely clear that she sort of thought of it as a seven book series. It’s a very ambitious thing for any writer to do – to age a child – that’s practically unheard of in children’s books, I mean they nearly always stay where they were and that keeps the core reader. So I think she had a ridiculously ambitious trajectory when she started and I think it’s fantastic that she’s fulfilled it. And I think she will finish it off in such a way that we are satisfied.

Torin Douglas:
But of course they’re getting longer aren’t they, I think when the last one was as long as it was we thought that was because she didn’t have time to cut it but obviously not, this time she’s had all the time she wanted and she’s made it even longer.

Julia Eccleshare:
She’s got a lot to say.

Torin Douglas:
Indeed. Well I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got time for. Thanks to my guests: Julia Eccleshare and Jamie Lawrence. And thanks to all of you for sending in your e-mails and texts. Don’t forget you can watch this forum or any of our previous ones by going to But for now from me Torin Douglas and the rest of the team goodbye.

A New Sign on Harry's Forehead: For Sale - June 2003

A New Sign on Harry's Forehead: For Sale - June 2003

By David D. Kirkpatrick | The New York Times | June 16, 2003

When the fourth book in the wildly popular Harry Potter series went on sale three years ago, children, parents and bookstore clerks contrived homemade robes, glasses and wizard hats to dress for the occasion.

This time, merchandisers are leaving nothing to the imagination. When the next installment, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” goes on sale midnight Friday, fans can buy officially licensed paraphernalia like a Harry Potter robe with built-in “fiber optic lights,” ($55.99), a battery-powered magic wand with flashing lights and sound effects ($12.99) and forehead-scar makeup ($7.49).

J. K. Rowling, the author of the series, has often said she wanted to protect her stories from becoming encrusted with marketing pitches and merchandising plugs, but she may have finally lost the battle. Her fifth novel is the first to arrive since Warner Brothers began making Harry Potter movies and selling the licensing rights. Out of deference to Ms. Rowling, the licensing agreements try to block toy or candy companies from tying their products directly to the books. But retailers are capitalizing on the anticipation of the new novel to push everything from Harry Potter video games to bubble bath.

Officially under wraps until the day of release, the new book is setting off an unprecedented marketing melee. Wal-Mart and Toys “R” Us will stack copies of the book alongside piles of DVD’s, Legos, action figures, candy and stuffed toys.

Bookstores large and small are defending their turf with elaborate spectacles, including a miniature golf course, a human chess game, a functioning railroad train and carnivorous plants, owls, rats and lizards. Other publishers are hoping to ride Harry Potter’s coattails, with one even pushing a Marxist critique of the marketing of Harry Potter.

Scholastic, which publishes the Harry Potter books in the United States, says it expects early sales of the new book to double the record-breaking sales of the last one, even though it is nearly 900 pages long and has a $29.99 cover price. Judy Corman, a company spokeswoman, said it planned two initial printings totaling 8.5 million hardcover copies of “Order of the Phoenix,” compared with an initial printing of 3.8 million for the previous volume, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” (There are 11.5 million hardcover copies of “Goblet of Fire” in print, at about 760 pages with a $25.95 cover price.)

The movies now account for much of the growth in the already extraordinary popularity of the books. Barbara Marcus, president of children’s books at Scholastic, said that more than half of the 80 million Harry Potter books in print in the United States were sold in the last three years, when film versions of the first two books were released. The biggest jump, she said, came with the release of the first film, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

“In our world, not everyone is a reader first,” she said. “There are people who go to movies and then realize there is a book.”

Although Ms. Rowling knowingly sold the film and merchandising rights to Warner Brothers, a unit of AOL Time Warner, she has often worried aloud that movies and merchandising might overshadow or cheapen her stories. “I would do anything to prevent Harry from turning up in fast-food boxes everywhere,” she said in an interview three years ago. “I would do my utmost. That would be my worst nightmare.” (He is not in fast-food boxes yet, but he is in Coca-Cola ads.)

Even some young fans now roll their eyes at the flood of Harry Potter products, from lunch boxes to souvenir stones. “None of the kids are crazy about it,” said Emma Bradford, 9, of Brattleboro, Vt. “Some people say how stupid it is that they are coming out with Harry Potter toothbrushes and things like that. I think they should just stop with the books and movies, otherwise it just goes sort of overboard into a more Disney thing.”

Diane Nelson, the senior vice president of Warner Brothers in charge of marketing for Harry Potter, said the studio would deliberately lay low during the book’s publication “primarily out of respect for Jo Rowling’s wishes to keep the movies and the books separate so that the books can be appreciated for their own integrity.”

For example, the toy makers Mattel, Hasbro and Lego encourage stores to promote their products along with DVD’s of the Harry Potter films by including coupons for the toys or by displaying them together, but agreements with Warner Brothers preclude any coupons or toy promotions tied directly to the books.

Still, that does not stop retailers from doing anything they can to sell Harry Potter knickknacks and candy along with each book. Discounters, toy stores and retailers that do not specialize in books now account for the majority of sales of many blockbusters like Harry Potter.

Chains like Wal-Mart, as well as the major bookstore chains and online stores, all plan to sell the new book at discounts of as much as 40 percent off the cover price — nearly the same as the wholesale cost — in part because they hope to sell shoppers other goods. And almost all will be displaying the new books surrounded by Potter paraphernalia.

Roughly 1,300 Wal-Mart stores, for example, will hold special midnight events for the release, including food from the stores’ bakeries decorated with a Harry Potter theme and coordinated displays of Harry Potter toys, clothing and DVD’s, said Karen Burke, a spokeswoman for the chain.

The flagship Toys “R” Us store in Times Square has already arranged two designated Harry Potter zones near its entrance piled high with Legos, action figures, candy, DVD’s and copies of the previous books. It, too, will reopen at midnight with an event for the new book’s release.

Jim Dale, who narrates the audio editions of the Harry Potter books, will read there and Scholastic has provided exclusive signed editions of a Harry Potter poster by Mary GrandPré, who illustrates the books.

At the Jelly Belly Candy Company, which makes a version of Harry Potter’s magical Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans — flavors include ear wax, vomit, “boogers” and grass — salesmen have reminded retailers that the publication of the new book is “a tremendous opportunity to have our product on their shelves,” said Pete Healy, vice president of marketing. He said Jelly Belly has expanded its business by selling Bertie Botts beans to hundreds of bookstores for sale in tandem with the books.

Jenie Carlen, a spokeswoman for the bookstore and music chain Borders, said its stores have sought “creative ways” to sell the products while respecting Ms. Rowling’s wishes. For example, she said, in some stores it uses three-sided displays, with Harry Potter books on one side, CD’s of the soundtracks and audio books on another, and DVD’s on a third. Its stores sell the Bertie Botts beans in its cafes. But at Scholastic’s behest, she said, Borders does not mention any other products in its advertisements featuring the book., which offers over 480 Harry Potter products, has reaped a windfall of publicity by beginning to take orders in January, posting a Harry Potter countdown and an hourly total of the orders. Barnes & Noble, the largest bookstore company, and its Web site,, are raffling off a five-night trip to England, and its stores will hold their own midnight events.

Other authors and publishers are also hoping to take advantage of the publicity, even some who might be suspicious about the Harry Potter marketing juggernaut. Verso, which recently published “The Irresistible Rise of Harry Potter,” a Marxist analysis of the phenomenon by the British scholar Andrew Blake, is writing to stores and setting up interviews for Mr. Blake to coincide with the release of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”

Richard Abanes, whose “Harry Potter and the Bible: The Menace Behind the Magick,” argued that the books can lead children toward the occult, says he is seeking interviews and is meeting with Christian booksellers to promote his follow-up, “Fantasy and Your Family.”

Facing competition from the large chains selling copies of the books at discounts they often cannot afford, independent bookstores are resorting to increasingly theatrical events to get attention.

The Northern Lights Books and Gifts store in Duluth, Minn., is holding a party in a defunct train station, where a working train will pull in at midnight loaded with books. The Book House in St. Louis is creating a haunted house in its Victorian building.

In Manhattan, the Books of Wonder children’s bookstore, on 18th Street, has arranged for a magician and two live owls. At Community Bookstore in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the owner is making her own chocolate frogs and bringing in her four-foot-long pet iguana.

Perhaps the most elaborate event is in Oak Park, Ill., near Chicago, where the Magic Tree bookstore has enlisted two dozen local businesses and organizations and more than 30 volunteers to turn its neighborhood into a giant homage to the books. Some attractions include tours of a local bank’s vault by clerks dressed as goblins, giant chess games where humans move as pieces on command, and a campy miniature golf course billed as an exhibit for the study of “muggles” — nonmagical people in the parlance of the books.

Thanks to promotion it received on, a Web site for Harry Potter fans, the Magic Tree expects more than 5,000 people to turn up, said Debbie Mitchell, the employee organizing the event.

“It is getting harder and harder for us,” Ms. Mitchell said, noting that a Borders store had recently opened up a few miles away. “That is part of the reason we are doing this, to help us stand out.” - October 2001 - October 2001

October 28, 2001

Non-Hogwarts students will find the movie’s official site,, a little confusing, so begin your education with a good, comprehensive fan-created site. The webmasters of (at the ripe old age of 13 and 14) have pulled together everything you could ever want to know about the books and movies, and if you already know everything about both, you’ll have fun there, too. Rumors about upcoming installments of the series, news about trailer releases, excerpts of funny dialogue and mistakes in the book, a character index — and if you’ve read through all of these, you might want to check the “You’re Too Big a Fan When…” list.

Article Scans & Screencaps

Article Scans & Screencaps

  • People Magazine | June 2007 | People Magazine quoted Emerson Spartz on the subject of whether or not Harry will survive to the end of Book 7. [IMAGE 1] [IMAGE 2]
  • USA Today | June 2006 | Potter doomsday approaches, but for whom? [IMAGE]
  • The Indianapolis Star | November 17, 2005 | The newspaper’s front page featured a story on MuggleNet and its founder, Emerson, describing how the site helps pay for him to attend the University of Notre Dame. [IMAGE]
  • Nickelodeon Magazine | November 15, 2005 | The November issue of the magazine talked about the vast amount of Harry Potter fansites online and did a spoof on MuggleNet. [IMAGE]
  • Sore Thumbs | July 15, 2005 | MuggleNet and Harry Potter in general received a mention in the webcomic. [IMAGE]
  • Urban Wire | June 16, 2004 | The website ranked MuggleNet #3 in a list of the Internet’s top 10 Harry Potter sites. [IMAGE]
  • BBC | November 1, 2002 | The article has MuggleNet as a top Harry Potter site and gives it a five-snitch rating. It talks about the eye-catching design and the extensive info that’s more varied than a bag of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. [IMAGE]
  • The Guardian | November 8, 2001 | This article rates MuggleNet as a top Pottermania site and the best site for Potter fans. [IMAGE]
  • USA Today | January 11, 2001 | The article features MuggleNet as one of the hottest sites on the net with its consistent updates on Harry Potter happenings. [IMAGE]

Articles Missing or No Longer Available

Articles Missing or No Longer Available

  • Wall Street Journal | May 11, 2007 | As the Harry Potter series draws to a close, the Wall Street Journal mentions MuggleNet’s book in an article titled “Last Hurrah for ‘Harry’ Offshoots?” The article discusses how the market for similar books may spike then fade after the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
  • The Australian | April 2, 2007 | An article on April Fools’ Day online pranks gives MuggleNet’s joke a mention.
  • Ventura County Star | March 22, 2007 | The newspaper discusses MuggleNet’s book, What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7?, and also talks to Ben Schoen about the reason why MuggleNet wrote a book in the first place.
  • Disney Adventures | April 24, 2006 | In a brief write-up about Book 7, the May edition of the magazine said: “There’s not much news yet about the final book of the series, though Rowling did tell that in Book 7, ‘you will know more about Dumbledore.'”
  • Drogheda Independent | February 26, 2006 | In an interview with the Irish newspaper, upcoming Luna Lovegood actress Evanna Lynch stated that she heard of the open auditions for the quirky Ravenclaw on MuggleNet.
  • Channel 4 (Florida) | CNN | AmNY | Fox News | Cincinnati Enquirer | Herald Leader (Kentucky) | November 18, 2005 | With scores of global news stations reporting on the release of the latest Harry Potter flick, some even referred viewers to our site. They cited us as a place to learn “HP Lingo.”
  • | September 27, 2005 | MuggleNet won’s prestigious “Best Movie Fansite” award, as voted by the fans.
  • The London Times | CBS2Chicago (video) | The Times of London | ABC News | Chicago Sun-Times | Philadelphia Inquirer | LA Daily News | Jerusalem Post | Seattle Post-Intelligence | China Daily | Indianapolis Star | Miami Herald | Charlotte Observer | New Orleans Times-Picayune | Newsday | San Jose Mercury News | MSNBC | Yahoo News | June 9, 2005 | Emerson Spartz was personally invited to interview author J.K. Rowling in her home in Scotland on the day of the sixth book’s release. The story received phenomenal media attention, hitting the AP wire and several TV and radio stations.
  • Netscape | April 29, 2005 | MuggleNet was named Netscape’s site of the day.
  • LA Times | July 7, 2003 | The LA Times conducted a brief interview with MuggleNet’s Emerson Spartz on the night of Book 5’s release.
  • Detroit Radio Talk Show | July 20, 2003 | A radio talk show in Detroit spoke to MuggleNet shortly before the release of the fifth Harry Potter book.
  • New York Daily News | June 15, 2003 | This article takes a look at the events taking place around the world in the run-up to the release of the fifth Harry Potter book, Order of the Phoenix, and mentions MuggleNet as one site that is constantly updated with tidbits of information related to the books.
  • NBC 5 Chicago | November 19, 2002 | The article talks about Emerson’s love for the site and how it’s ranked the #1 Harry Potter site in the world.
  • Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | November 21, 2001 | The article talks about MuggleNet’s extensive content from mistakes, book covers, and movie information, to games, puzzles, and downloads.
  • BBC | Date Not Available | This article rates MuggleNet as the #1 Harry Potter site in the world.
  • Washington Post | Date Not Available | This article shows MuggleNet as one of the best Harry Potter sites in the world.
  • Chicago Sun-Times | Date Not Available | Article Not Available
  • WebUser Magazine | Date Not Available | Rated #1 in 2001 and in 2002.
  • National Public Radio Chicago | Date Not Available | Article Not Available
  • National Public Radio South Bend | Date Not Available | Article Not Available
  • US*99 Radio| Date Not Available | Article Not Available
  • KGMB CBS Honolulu | Date Not Available | Article Not Available
  • Fox 32 Chicago | Date Not Available | Article Not Available
  • WSBT 22 South Bend | Date Not Available | Article Not Available
  • WXIN Fox 59 Indianapolis | Date Not Available | Article Not Available
  • | Date Not Available | Article Not Available
  • Lafayette Journal and Courier| Date Not Available | Article Not Available
  • Michigan City News-Dispatch| Date Not Available | Article Not Available
  • LaPorte Herald-Argus| Date Not Available | Article Not Available
  • NW Indiana Post-Tribune | Date Not Available | Article Not Available
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