News Column

Philadelphia Daily News Howard Gensler column

September 13, 2013


Sept. 13--WARNER BROS. and J.K. Rowling are going back to the fantasy well with a movie based on "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," her textbook to the magical universe she created in the Harry Potter stories.

Rowling will write the screenplay.

Gee, if this works, maybe they can start making movies based on textbooks for history and algebra.

The story will focus on the book's fictitious author, Newt Scamander, and is anticipated to be the first in a series.

Rowling said in a statement that the movie "is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world."

She said that the story would begin in New York 70 years before the start of Potter.

Since finishing the tales of Harry, Rowling has been busy. Not James Patterson busy, but busy nonetheless. She has published a novel for adults, "The Casual Vacancy" (due for a BBC miniseries next year), and written the detective thriller "The Cuckoo's Calling" under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

She said that the idea for a "Fantastic Beasts" film came from Warner Bros., and she soon realized that she could not entrust another writer with her creation.

"Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it," she said. "I already knew a lot about Newt.

"As I considered Warner's proposal, an idea took shape that I couldn't dislodge. That is how I ended up pitching my own idea for a film to Warner Bros."

As well as movies, Warner Bros. said that "Fantastic Beasts" would be "developed across the studio's video-game, consumer-products and digital-initiatives businesses."

This is why, as Will Bunch reported in the People Paper yesterday: The rich keep getting richer.

Kennedy Center names names

Musicians Carlos Santana, Billy Joel and Herbie Hancock, actress Shirley MacLaine and opera singer Martina Arroyo have been named the 2013 recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the five honorees were chosen under a revised selection process created last year to respond to criticism about transparency of the process, which had yielded only two Latino winners previously.

"I was overwhelmed with emotion and, frankly, speechless when I was told that I was selected," Hancock said via Facebook yesterday. "This is a most coveted award. To realize that my name will be among those whose outstanding work in the performing arts I most admire is very humbling. I only hope that my being selected will be an encouragement to young people in not only the genre of jazz but in all the arts who strive for excellence in order to better serve the uplifting of the human spirit."

For a little perspective, the five honorees at the first KCH in 1978, were: Marian Anderson, Fred Astaire, George Balanchine, Richard Rodgers and Arthur Rubinstein.


--The Beatles will release a new collection of their BBC sessions, including commercially unreleased recordings and studio chatter.

The CD and vinyl release planned for November will be a follow-up to 1994's wildly successful "Live at the BBC" album.

The new compilation comes from BBC radio broadcasts in 1963 and 1964, when the fabs were making dozens of appearances in BBC studios.

Most of the recordings have a live feel and capture the Beatles in a relaxed, informal setting. In addition to early Lennon-McCartney compositions, they play a number of Chuck Berry songs and other works by rock pioneers.

--Christina Aguilera says that although she went to Rwanda to help others, she ended up helping herself.

Xtina visited Rwanda in June for a hunger-relief effort. She said the experience helped her ground herself.

"It came at a time in my life when I really needed to be far removed from anything to do with work or being on camera," she said. "It came at a time in my life when I needed to sort of experience what's going on with the world beyond entertainment."

Aguilera has been a spokesperson for Yum! Brands' World Hunger Relief effort since 2009, and has also traveled to Haiti and Guatemala. She said that being a mother -- she has a 5-year-old son, Max -- made her feel more empathetic for those suffering from hunger around the world.

"It's so sad to think there's nothing that sets any of us apart," she said. "And when you go into the field, you really see that and feel that we're all one in the same, it's just we're born under different circumstances, and it's sad and I don't understand why, but I feel what I feel and I did what I can."

Yum! Brands is the parent company to KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell (so a little hunger may not be such a bad thing). The company said that its World Hunger Relief effort has raised nearly $150 million for the United Nations World Food Programme and other organizations since its launch in 2007.

That may be a lot of chalupas, but for a little perspective, Yum!'s market cap is over $32 billion.

--NBC says "Voice" host Carson Daly is joining the "Today" show.

Daly will be host of the Orange Room, a digital studio that will be part of the show's revamped Manhattan home, Studio 1A. He starts Monday with the introduction of the new set.

As host of the Orange Room, Daly will bridge the "Today" show's television and digital platforms. The network describes it as "the nexus point" between "Today" and its audience.

Tattle describes it as "the nexus point" between morning television, an aging, largely female audience and desperation.

--Daily News wire services contributed to this report.


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On Twitter: @DNTattle


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