Hogwarts Tournament of Houses Nominated for Producer’s Guild Award: But was it in the right category?

The nominees for the Producer’s Guild Award for Best Children’s Programming were announced last Tuesday, and included a Hogpro favorite, the Harry Potter Hogwarts Tournament of Houses. Other nominees included Animaniacs, The Muppets Haunted Mansion, See Us Coming Together: a Sesame Street Special, and Waffles & Mochi.

It is interesting to me that the show was included in the Children’s Programming category. Yes, it was a child-friendly series*, shown on the Cartoon Network along with HBO, but all save one of the contestants were adults. Arguably, the highest level of star power was generated by the distinguished host, Dame Helen Mirren, and Hogpro’s own David Martin, both of whom are septuagenarians. While we know the program was a major hit in the ratings, I am willing to bet the average audience member was well in their 30’s. I am even more certain that was true of the studio audience. This brings up the oft-debated question: are the Harry Potter books best considered children’s books, or something else entirely?

Of course, the quiz show was more about the movies anyway. But regardless, this nomination is evidence of the continuing all-ages appeal of the Wizarding World. We’ll find out March 15th who won. Personally, I think the inclusion message of the Sesame Street special gives them an edge, but you never know.

* As a studio audience member, I don’t mind telling you that there was a bit of snickering and banter when a male contestant requested to play the “Engorgio” game that was judiciously edited out, presumably for the sake of the Cartoon Network audience

Secrets of Dumbledore Summary Posted

Thanks to Kelly for sharing this. Three quick notes:

(1) I thought the entire plot had been revealed months ago and only those not seriously wrapped up in the series were still in the dark about the not-yet-released third Fantastic Beasts movie. Apparently not? Kelly assures me that this teaser’s information about the Grindelwald family is big news in Newt Scamander Fandom.

(2) My surprise served as a reminder that, focused as I have been on Christmas Pig and the site continues to be on the Cormoran Strike mysteries, Hogwarts Professor has neglected the third Beasts film (though we have had important moments…). Contrast our near silence about Secrets of Dumbledore with this post about an ensemble cast photograph before the release of Crimes of Grindelwald. I welcome, consequently, any and all guest posts with speculation about the next movie or links to sites devoted to such things. Let me know what folks who follow the Warner Brothers droppings and teasers are saying so I can share it with our readers here.

(3) I will not be doing a deep dive into Secrets of Dumbledore both because my time is better spent with Strike and Pig, not to mention my thesis, but, and this is reflected in “better spent” I guess, I do not believe the films can be considered a “work by J. K. Rowling” any more than, say, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. My experience in tracking down the deleted scenes from the filming script in Fantastic Beasts and in Crimes of Grindelwald demonstrate that the David Duo film Rowling’s script and then butcher it into a Blockbuster Formula Package (see here and here if you doubt me on this). I’m going to wait, consequently, until the series is done and deo volente Rowling publishes her Fantastic Beast scripts before attempting any more analysis of the series.

But I do hope that those who are movie fans — I am not — and who are knowledgeable about the artistry of this medium will share their thoughts about the movie about to be released, if only because Hogwarts Professor tries to satisfy and delight the interests of all its readers. Have at it!


The PotterMore Collection: Bootleg JKR

From our friends at The Rowling Library, the book you wish you had received in your stocking: a published compilation of the PotterMore articles in alphabetical order.

The Pottermore Collection is an unofficial bootleg book, made by fans to collect all J.K. Rowling’s writings that have been published on [her] Pottermore website. It is the closest we have to a Harry Potter Encyclopedia.

The book is not an official book and it is not for sale.

Is it perfect? Of course it isn’t; it’s a bootleg book created from online material. And all the chapters that begin with ‘The’ are listed as a ‘T’ entry there rather than, say, as ‘Hogwarts Express.’ Just the glitch needed to make it authentically amateur.

I don’t know about you, but I hope this publicly clandestine effort becomes a gift that The Rowling Library sends those patrons who pay $X per month. Sign me up!

The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power

The Behind-The-Scenes video of how they made this clip can be seen here.

Maybe you’re like me and you didn’t know (or forgot?) that Amazon is filming a prequel to J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings novels. Today the title for this series was announced from Valhalla with quite a few Wagnerian effects: ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.’

“This is a title that we imagine could live on the spine of a book next to J.R.R. Tolkien’s other classics,” showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne & Patrick McKay said in a statement. “The Rings of Power unites all the major stories of Middle-earth’s Second Age: the forging of the rings, the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the epic tale of Númenor, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.”

They added: “Until now, audiences have only seen on-screen the story of the One Ring – but before there was one, there were many… and we’re excited to share the epic story of them all.”

In the title video, various shots of Middle-earth are seen as molten metal is poured into a forge and cooled to create the series’ title in silver, its lettering in Elven script. Over this, a female voiceover – a young Galadriel perhaps? – recites Tolkien’s epigraph to Lord of the Rings

Still feeling a bit lost? I sure was. Here’s back-story from Wikipedia:

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is an upcoming American television series based on stories by J. R. R. Tolkien. Developed by J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay for the streaming service Prime Video, the series is set in the Second Age of Middle-earth before the events of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings novels. It is produced by Amazon Studios in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins, and New Line Cinema, with Payne and McKay serving as showrunners.

Amazon bought the television rights for The Lord of the Rings for US$250 million in November 2017, making a five-season production commitment worth at least US$1 billion. This would make it the most expensive television series ever made. Payne and McKay were hired to develop the series in July 2018, with the rest of the creative team confirmed a year later. The large ensemble cast includes actors from around the world. Filming for the first season took place in New Zealand, where the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film trilogies were made, from February 2020 to August 2021, with a production break of several months during that time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first eight-episode season is scheduled to premiere on Prime Video on September 2, 2022. A second season was formally ordered in November 2019. Amazon announced in August 2021 that filming for future seasons would take place in the United Kingdom.

I think the take-away here is the date ‘November 2017.’ Christopher Tolkien, third son of J. R. R. Tolkien and appointed literary executor, had been head of the Tolkien Estate and Trust until August 2017. The Tolkien Estate and Trust, insomuch as it was the sock-puppet of Christopher Tolkien, despised the movie adaptations of Lord of the Rings and sued the film makers repeatedly and successfully for breach of contract. I discussed this in a 2013 post, ‘The Tolkien Estate and the Movies: Why We Should Care.’ If you doubt Christopher Tolkien “despised” the movies, here is a direct quote from the man:

Invited to meet Peter Jackson, the Tolkien family preferred not to. Why? “They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25,” Christopher says regretfully. “And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film.”

This divorce has been systematically driven by the logic of Hollywood. “Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time,” Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. “The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.”

The current project — and it’s $250 million advance with a likely $1 billion payday — was only possible when Christopher Tolkien not only turned his “head away” from the desecration of his father’s work, but also removed himself as the obstacle to this great profit taking. I write about this here for three reasons: [Read more…]

LeakyCon July ’22 Call for Programming

LeakyCon, the Harry Potter Fan Convention Division of Mischief Management, has two gatherings scheduled for 2022: a 29-31 July meeting in Orlando, Florida, and a 14-16 October conclave in Denver, Colorado. Since the retirement of Harry Potter Educational Fan-On (HPEF), LeakyCon, founded by Leaky Cauldron owner Melissa Anelli, has been the premiere organizer of Wizarding World fandom events. There are notable efforts by communities to assemble city-wide Harry Potter celebrations — ‘Queen City Mischief and Magic’ in Staunton, Virginia, (see pictures) and Roanoke, Virginia’s Harry Potter Fest come immediately to mind — but they have had to battle with Rowling, Inc.’s Barracuda Barristers for permissions and allowances. LeakyCon for whatever reason has not suffered this persecution despite not being officially associated with the J K Empire.

Mischief has it seems, though, struggled with registrations the last two years. The LeakyCons scheduled for 2020 and for 2021 were both “postponed,” which is to say “cancelled.” Their public statements about two years of No Go shows have attributed these failures to the Covid-19 hysteria, which no doubt has played its part — as it has in reshaping every aspect of public and private life in these United States, even in relatively madness-free Florida. Today’s call-for-programming with respect to both of the scheduled 2022 LeakyCons suggests, now that vaccine mandates and lockdowns have lost their luster, that the Mischief Management sponsors believe that their show will once again go on.

The LeakyCon 2022 Call for Programming page is here and the deadline for applications for the July gathering is 25 March. Get to work! I’m especially hopeful that David Martin will be speaking there (and that he has a peacock’s feather quill and a large bottle of ink for all the autographs he’ll be signing!).

[Read more…]