'The Wizarding World of Harry Potter': Here's what to expect from the new theme park section (+video)
Fans anxiously awaiting the expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter section of Universal Studios in Florida recently got more details on what exactly park-goers will be able to experience when the new area opens this summer.
The current section of the park, which opened in 2010, represents Hogsmeade (the village located near magic school Hogwarts, for neophytes) and consists of various shops, restaurants, and three rides, which are a roller-coaster for small children, a slightly more intense roller-coaster involving dragons, and the ride titled “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,” which takes place inside Hogwarts Castle.
The new expansion will add Diagon Alley, the shopping area located in London, to the Wizarding World. The new ride will be a roller-coaster located inside Gringotts Bank, the goblin-run institution where wizarding folk keep their money. The ride, reportedly titled “Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts,” is said to be based on an incident in the seventh book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” in which Harry and friends must flee Gringotts on the back of a dragon. A dragon will reportedly be on top of the Gringotts building and will release a ball of fire every so often.
David Mandt, vice president of communications for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, told CNN the new section has big shoes to fill.
“Park operators from around the world were impressed by the immersive experience Universal created and the meticulous attention to detail they used to bring the Harry Potter stories to life," he said. "There is great anticipation within the industry to see how Diagon Alley will build on that success.”
So what else will visitors see if they make a trip to “Harry Potter” land this summer? The outside of the attraction will be modeled after London, with facades for such buildings as the Leicester Square subway station, the Wyndham Theater, and Grimmauld Place (where Harry’s godfather Sirius Black lives) making up parts of the display. Visitors will then go to Diagon Alley through a Leicester Square archway.
If fans are feeling hungry, they can visit both Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour or the Leaky Cauldron restaurant, which like the Three Broomsticks restaurant in Hogsmeade will serve British food as well as the famous wizarding drink butterbeer.
Stores that will be located inside Diagon Alley include Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, the joke shop run by Ron Weasleys’ twin older brothers; the clothing store Madame Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions; the sports store Quality Quidditch Supplies; and another location of the wand store Ollivanders. An Ollivanders shop is currently open in Hogsmeade, but as fans know, the original shop is found in Diagon Alley. A store found in the less savory Knockturn Alley in the books, Borgin and Burkes, will also be on the premises and will be selling creepy items.
If you want to see both the Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley areas, a version of the Hogwarts Express, the train which students ride to reach the school, will be able to bring you back and forth.
Neville Longbottom himself is said to approve: According to IGN, actor Matthew Lewis, who portrayed Neville in the film series, called the Gringotts ride “brilliant.”
Yes, a bullet did indeed end the rivalry of these two men who helped the United States come to life. (And yes, peanut butter is better with milk.) But these two enemies – or frenemies, if you want to be all modern about it – had been partners before. They'd worked together to represent an accused murderer of a young woman in one of the most sensational criminal cases of the colonial era.
A sensational crime, that is, that's been utterly forgotten until now. Paul Collins, a Portland State University professor of English and one of America's premier historical true-crime writers, reopens the case in his new book Duel with the Devil: The True Story of How Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr Teamed Up to Take on America's First Sensational Murder Mystery".
Collins previously wrote several books, including 2011's "The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid." In a Monitor review, I called it a page-turner enlivened by "a novelist's touch and an eye for the absurd."
There's more where that came from in "Duel with the Devil," a captivating blend of real-life police procedural and courthouse thriller with tons of vivid historical detail.
I reached Collins in Portland, Ore., and asked him to paint a picture of the political tensions of 1799, describe the tense relationship between these two men, and explain why a young woman's murder inflamed New York City.
Q: What drew you to this case?
The sheer unlikelihood of it. I came across this case in a collection of celebrated criminal trials that came out in 1900. I had never heard of the case and when they talked about Hamilton and Burr being the defense team, it sounded like a buddy movie. I couldn't believe it.
It was such an unlikely combination that I had to look it up.
Q: Tell us about the political world that Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr inhabited, not too long after the Revolutionary War. What sides existed, and which were they on?
A: They came from opposing political parties.
Hamilton was very much part of the Federalist Party, a political movement aligned with merchant class and bankers and pushing toward working more closely with Great Britain. That's where they saw the country's prosperity coming from.
Burr, who wound up being Jefferson's vice president, was more closely aligned with the rural, farming, agrarian economy, had more of a progressive view on things like women's rights and slavery, even though he had a slave.
Burr and other Republicans would claim that people like Hamilton wanted to turn the US into a British colony. Hamilton would fire back that Burr and the Republicans wanted to turn to the godless French.
Q: Hamilton's face is on the $10 bill. How was he connected to money?
He was really essential in setting up a stable financial system for the country. He did a great deal toward stabilizing the country fiscally.
Q: Hamilton and Burr clearly didn't like each other, but they'd still have meals together. Were they what we'd call frenemies today?
They were not what you called close friends exactly, but they necessarily crossed each other's paths all the time. That's partly because of politics but also because they were both working lawyers. Even if they hadn't been involved in politics at all, they would have been running into each other.
Q: What did Hamilton think of Burr?
A: He described Burr as this unprincipled monster. Hamilton felt that Burr was very clever, very adept, clearly skilled at manipulating people and essentially had no morals, would do whatever he needed to do to get power.
He wasn't entirely wrong. Burr had a lot of admirable quantities, and he espoused a lot of positions that look good from a modern perspective. But he could be a pretty ruthless politician as well.
Q: What did Burr think of Hamilton?
A: We think of Burr now as the one who gunned down Hamilton. But in the way they actually carried themselves, it was Hamilton who tended to be a bit more intemperate in his speech and would get carried away with things.
Hamilton was easier for people to read. He was pretty plain about where his allegiances were. Burr was disturbingly quiet.
Q: Hamilton sounds like a bit of a heel, and he owed people money to boot. How did that happen?
A: While he was pretty brilliant about his fiscal policy, he was a disaster with his own. When he died, he died pretty deeply in debt: He'd carried on a bunch of romantic affairs that cost quite a bit of money.
What's interesting about both of them is that they're immensely talented and deeply flawed people, as many of the founding fathers seem to have been. They carried flaws that didn't overwhelm their abilities but did undermine them and made their lives more difficult than they needed to be.
Q: Other women were murdered in this era in New York City. What made this case so sensational?
A: The simplest way to put it is that it was a mystery.
With most cases of the other murders, it was fairly clear who did it. A number of times it was spouses. That was appalling to people, but that wasn't dramatic and it wasn't a surprise.
And then there was the way the body was discovered. It wasn't the ordinary madness of a domestic crime. It was found in the city well out in a meadow where she'd been hidden for weeks. It immediately had a mystery around it and it was shocking, too.
And she was young and beautiful, and the newspaper accounts all empathized that fact, adding this additional element of drama. It had all the hot buttons that tend to set people off.
Q: What's the legacy of this trial?
It was the first fully reported murder trial, where they had a full transcript where people could read for themselves actually what happened. It was a pretty important precedent for people to have access to those records.
It's also an impressive case because it presented a lot of modern techniques like laying out a timeline of how everyone would have been. Hamilton and Burr come out looking like the most modern people in the courtroom, really looking at evidence and trying to not get caught up in the crowd.
Randy Dotinga is a Monitor contributor.
Kate DiCamillo's 'Flora & Ulysses' captures Newbery, Brian Floca's 'Locomotive' wins Caldecott Medal
The most prestigious award in children’s literature was awarded this year to a book about a plucky girl and her sidekick, a superhero flying squirrel who can type poetry.
Kate DiCamillo’s “Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures,” illustrated by K.G. Campbell, won the Newbery Medal as the best children’s book of 2013. The decision was announced by the American Library Association in Philadelphia on Monday morning.
Brian Floca, writer and illustrator of “Locomotive,” won the Caldecott Medal for best illustrated book. “Locomotive” presents a visual journey with sketches of an 1869 railroad trip taken by a family traveling from Omaha to Sacramento.
As a result of the Newbery Medal, “Flora & Ulysses” is enjoying renewed attention after gaining praise upon its publication last year. The story opens with a neighbor sucking up a squirrel in her high-powered Ulysses Super-Suction Multi-Terrain 2000X vacuum. When he emerges from the vacuum with the help of 10-year-old Flora, it is with superhero powers: Ulysses the squirrel can now lift the vacuum above his head, type poetry, and go on a series of hilarious adventures with Flora.
It’s the second Newbery for DiCamillo, who’s on a winning streak – she won the award in 2003 for her young adult novel, “The Tale of Despereaux.” She was also recently named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress to promote reading among youth across the country.
As for “Locomotive,” Monitor reviewer Augusta Scattergood describes it as a history of the Transcontinental Railroad in maps and pictures, a timetable, and an illustrated explanation of steam power.”
The book’s fantastic prose matches its beautiful illustrations, says Scattergood, with phrases like: “Here is how this road was built, with a grunt and a heave and a swing” and the “smoke and cinders, ash and sweat” of the coal engine. The award is given “to the artist who had created the most distinguished picture book of the year.”
The Newbery and Caldecott Medals, first awarded in 1922 and 1938, are among the oldest and most distinguished prizes in children’s literature.
Runners-up, presented as Honor Books, were also announced. They are as follows:
Newbery Honor Books: “Doll Bones,” by Holly Black; “The Year of Billy Miller,” by Kevin Henkes; “One Came Home,” by Amy Timberlake; “Paperboy,” by Vince Vawter
John le Carré novel 'A Most Wanted Man' film adaptation stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams (+video)
Will the next film adaptation of a John le Carré novel be as well-received as its predecessor?
The adaptation of the le Carré novel “A Most Wanted Man” will hit theaters later this year following the success of the 2011 film “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," which earned actor Gary Oldman an Oscar nomination and also received a nod for Best Adapted Screenplay. “A Most Wanted Man” stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, and “Rush” actor Daniel Brühl, among others. The movie is being directed by “The American” helmer Anton Corbjin.
“A Most Wanted Man” was released in 2008 and follows a man known as Issa who arrives illegally in Germany claiming to be in possession of a fortune. A young German lawyer named Annabel decides to try to help him remain in the country and, through the battle, encounters bank owner Tommy Brue, who also becomes involved in the mystery.
Actor Grigoriy Dobrygin is starring as Issa, while McAdams is portraying Annabel and Dafoe is playing Tommy Brue.
The film recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and a release date has not been announced beyond an estimation of sometime this year.
Sheryl Sandberg’s bestselling book “Lean In” could become a film.
Sandberg’s work, which focuses on women in the workplace, was first released this past March. According to Deadline, the film adaptation of the book would be a “narrative film from the themes contained within the book” rather than a biopic of Sandberg herself.
The film rights were acquired by Sony Pictures and Sony has hired Nell Scovell to pen the script for the film. “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” creator and showrunner and “Warehouse 13” writer Scovell is a natural fit for the job – according to Deadline, she assisted Sandberg with the writing of the original book.
Sandberg is also releasing a version of “Lean In” aimed at college graduates this April. The author will reportedly donate her share of the proceeds from the planned film to her charity.
"Lean In" is currently number 10 on the New York Times combined print and e-book nonfiction bestseller list for Feb. 2.
It’s got the makings of a perfect spy thriller: international secrets, clandestine intelligence leaked to global news agencies, enraged spy agencies, and a fugitive on the run.
And yet it’s real life – the life of Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee and National Security Agency contractor who, in one of the largest intelligence breaches ever, leaked top secret NSA documents, inciting a global firestorm.
And thanks to that truth-is-stranger-than-fiction story, a flood of Snowden books is about to hit the market.
First up is “The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man” by Guardian foreign correspondent Luke Harding. Vintage will release the book in the US on Feb. 11 as a paperback original.
According to the Guardian, “This is the inside story of Edward Snowden’s deeds and the journalists who faced down pressure from the US and UK governments to break a remarkable scoop.”
The book is “about my time with Snowden in Hong Kong and reporting the story, but mostly about the surveillance state based on the documents I have (that The Guardian doesn't) and my reasons why the surveillance state is menacing," Greenwald told Reuters.
Metropolitan Books, a unit of Henry Holt, will publish Greenwald’s book in March.
Finally, Barton Gellman, a blogger and former Washington Post reporter who covered the Snowden leak, will incorporate Snowden’s story to his broader book about government surveillance, which predated the Snowden news.
"I had already started work on a book about the surveillance industrial society when Edward Snowden came my way. He has certainly enriched my reporting, but I am not racing anyone to do a quick hit on current events. My narrative will cover a broader landscape and a wider cast of characters," Gellman told Reuters.
And if that’s not enough, there are rumors that 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and HBO have all considered on-screen projects of the affair.
Snowden made headlines June 2013 when he leaked to the media some of the thousands of classified NSA and British government documents that he downloaded while working as an NSA contractor. Upon leaking state secrets, Snowden was sought by the US government and was charged with espionage. He has since sought temporary asylum in Russia. His actions have generated a global debate about electronic surveillance and the personal data collected by governments.
Snowden’s is a story ripe for chronicling not only for its spy thriller-like intrigue and unprecedented scale of intelligence leaks, but also because the public is still unsure whether Snowden is a hero or a villain.
It’s possible that the books set to be released this spring may help decide the matter.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.
Actor B.J. Novak will release a children’s book focusing on the magic of words following the upcoming publication of his short story collection “One More Thing.”
“One More Thing” is being released on Feb. 4 and Novak says his kids’ book, titled “A Book With No Pictures,” will come out this fall.
“A Book with No Pictures” will be published by Penguin Young Readers.
Novcak says he chose to pen a book without pictures for children because he wants to convince them that words aren’t the boring part of reading.
“I wanted to write a book that would introduce the youngest of kids to the idea that words can be their allies – that the right words can be as fun, exciting and ridiculous as any pictures," he said in a statement. "Also, I can't draw.”
Novak has a deal with Penguin Young Readers for another, to-be-announced children’s book and he is also slated to release a second fiction title for adults.
The actor starred on the NBC sitcom “The Office” and recently appeared in the film “Saving Mr. Banks.”
The novel, which was first released in 2012, follows several women who come to live at Masada, a mountain fortress where 900 Jewish people, in the first century, resisted an attack by Roman forces, with only a few surviving the ordeal.
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” co-writer Ann Peacock will adapt “Dovekeepers” for the small screen. The miniseries is expected to air sometime in 2015 and will be four hours long, according to Deadline.
Hoffman is also the author of such novels as “Practical Magic” and “The Probable Future.”
“Dovekeepers” producer Roma Downey, who also produced the wildly successful History Channel miniseries “The Bible,” told Deadline she was completely won over by the four women around which the novel centers.
“When I was finished I missed the characters, longed for the characters,” she said. “They got under my skin.”
In her review of “The Dovekeepers,” Monitor fiction critic Yvonne Zipp called the book Hoffman’s “best novel in years.”
'Under the Wide and Starry Sky' author Nancy Horan discusses Robert Louis Stevenson and his marriage
Millions know the stories by Robert Louis Stevenson such as “Treasure Island” and “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
But fewer are acquainted with the story of his marriage to American Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, which is the subject of author Nancy Horan’s new novel “Under the Wide and Starry Sky.” Here at the Monitor we selected “'Under the Wide and Starry Sky” as one of the best books released this January.
In an interview with Shelf Awareness, Horan, who is also the author of the novel about one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s romantic relationships titled “Loving Frank,” said she was inspired to take on the story of the Stevensons after she visited California and heard that Stevenson had lived there. She then discovered he was in the area because he had followed Osbourne there to try to persuade her to marry him.
“Their married life was definitely what books are made of, filled with great happiness, difficulty, illness, almost constant travel, interesting and famous people, and the quest for financial stability,” Horan said. “What interested me was the complexity of their relationship: it was beautiful, complicated, and at times aggravating to both of them.”
In the review of the novel by Shelf Awareness, Cannon Beach Book Company’s Valerie Ryan said Horan is successful in her imagining of how the two would have spoken based on their fictional works and letters, with “results that flow so logically and naturally the reader never questions the novel's authenticity.”
“Under the Wide and Starry Sky” was released on Jan. 21.
The novel “Child of God” was released in 1993 and centers on former prisoner Lester Ballard, who was falsely imprisoned for rape and now, after being released from prison, wanders an isolated area of Tennessee. In the movie version, actor Scott Haze of “As I Lay Dying” (also directed by Franco) portrays Lester, while “Klondike” actor Tim Blake Nelson plays the local sheriff. Franco is also appearing in the film.
Multiple McCarthy novels have been adapted for the screen, including Best Picture winner “No Country for Old Men,” “The Road,” and others.
“Child of God” is still seeking an American distributor.
Check out the trailer for “Child of God” below.