‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts

The small screen celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the big screen adaptation of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone under its Scholastic edition title, Sorcerer’s Stone, was a great hit, I’m told, on New Year’s Day in both the UK and US. HogwartsProfessor certainly saw a big upswing in visitors that we usually see only on the day of a book publication or movie release. Fans expected us to comment on it or at least provide a forum or thread on which to discuss it amongst themselves.

We failed, alas, to provide any of that, for which I suppose an explanation is in order. Join me after the jump for my thoughts — not those of other writers here — and a comment thread for anyone wanting to discuss the special. Cheers!

As far as I know, none of the writers here watched the 20th Anniversary Special. I didn’t watch because it was a fan servicing event for film lovers (no, I’m not a fan of the Warner Brothers film adaptations or of movies in general). I am half-obliged to add I do not own a television and haven’t since 1979; I couldn’t have watched it if I had wanted to. Two of the other HogwartsProfessor faculty told me their cable package does not carry HBO. Three of us, at least, then, didn’t write about it because we hadn’t watched it and did not care enough about the production to make an effort to see it.

I confess, however, to knowing much more about the show and Rowling’s participation, such as it was, than I want to admit.

I watched the trailer, of course, and three minutes of the footage above about the production. I also read an article in The Los Angeles Times, With Harry Potter reunion, HBO finds itself between J.K. Rowling and a hard place,‘ several online pieces from The Independenthere, here, here, and here as well as an Entertainment Weekly piece, ‘Why J.K. Rowling didn’t join the Harry Potter reunion for the Return to Hogwarts special.’ Of all these articles about the absence of Rowling at the event itself — she appears only in “archived footage” — the last is the only one that mentions what Team Rowling is saying about that.

An invitation was extended to Rowling to participate, but her team determined the archived comments from the writer were adequate, EW has learned.

Sources close to the situation say Rowling’s statements about trans people and the controversy swirling around them did not play a part in the team’s decision.

The friend who sent me the link to the piece said its chief value was having “the official party line” in hand. Which is, “Rowling wasn’t snubbed, she decided not to play ball.” It is a little thick for Rowling to decry Orwellian NewsSpeak and GroupThink in Scotland on Twitter and then say what is obviously false the same week in denying the trans-elephant in the green room, but I think she should be given a pass. Why would she want to participate in an event crowded with former friends who think of her as ‘She Who Must Not Be Named’? Best to sign off on the use of B-roll filmed for the Leavesden Theme Park devoted to the movie adaptations and not to attend.

I also received a note today from Mischief Management’s Melissa Anelli, a piece titled ‘The Future of LeakyCon.’ In it she double-downed on her assurances to Potter fans considering registration at this summer’s LeakyCon that it will be a safe space for all transgender and gender fluid attendees. She felt the need to do this because “the creator of Harry Potter has demonstrated such a lack of respect for so many people who are foundational to our community.”


Watching the footage above, it was hard to miss that the talent were mask-free but all the help working the cameras and make-up tools had to maintain their mouth-and-nose coverings.  You don’t have to be a wizard to figure out what’s in play with that.

Please do share your thoughts about the show if you watched it on the comment thread below, which I offer in the spirit of ‘better late than never.’ 

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