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J.K. Rowling is no longer a billionaire

The billionaires club has hit J.K. Rowling with a banishing spell. According to the newly updated Forbes Rich List, the Harry Potter author has gone from billionaire to millionaire (several hundred times over, of course). She apparently broke a few rules of how to stay rich by giving away a lot of her fortune — reportedly $160 million of it — to charity and by paying her top-rung British taxes.

There’s no way that the socially minded Rowling, who once lived on welfare, gives two Quaffles about her standing on the list, and no one should shed a tear over a stratospherically rich woman becoming slightly less so. But I always liked knowing that an author of imaginative, timeless, honest-to-goodness books became a billionaire.

Perhaps Rowling’s upcoming book for adults and the April opening of Pottermore will help bring her back above the line. Honestly, I don’t really care as long as she stays richer than Stephenie Meyer.

Follow Stephan on Twitter: @EWStephanLee

Read more:
‘Harry Potter’ site Pottermore to launch in early April, six months after scheduled opening
What could J.K. Rowling’s new adult book be about? Let’s wildly speculate!

'Harry Potter' site Pottermore to launch in early April, six months after scheduled opening

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Pottermore, the much-anticipated Harry Potter website that’s part social media, part interactive reading experience, will finally be open for all users in early April.

The site was announced last year, with beta testing beginning in the fall and a scheduled launch in October. However, as more users were invited into the open test, it became apparent that the site was far from ready to open as planned.

A statement on the site’s official blog said that after gathering feedback from users, “it became clear that our original platform wouldn’t be suitable when millions more users came on to the site. So we made a big decision: to move Pottermore to an entirely different platform set up.” READ FULL STORY

What could J.K. Rowling's new adult book be about? Let's wildly speculate!

If you clicked on this article looking for new facts about J.K. Rowling’s newest book, you will find none here. In fact, you won’t find them anywhere. (Don’t even bother going to Rowling’s agent’s website, which has a picture of the book’s “cover” that’s not so much helpful as it is intellectually insulting.) Rather, brace yourself for some blatant speculation from an excited Rowling fan regarding the announcement of her upcoming publication — an adult book with no title, no publication date, and presumably nothing else remotely substantial on which we can hypothesize.

Essentially, we know absolutely nothing, but we’ll always have the greatest weapon at our disposal: IMAGINATION. Check your cool caps at the door, guys — it’s time to do some imagining. We’ve given it some thought and have a few conjectures as to where this mysterious new book may be heading. READ FULL STORY

'Charlotte's Web' tops list of '100 great books for kids'

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Scholastic Parent & Child magazine released a new list of 100 great books for kids and gave the top spot to Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White’s classic children’s novel about a girl and a talking spider who join forces to save a pig from slaughter. Charlotte’s Web edged out the ubiquitous picture book Goodnight Moon. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone represented J.K. Rowling’s entire series in the No. 6 spot, and The Hunger Games, one of the newer titles on the list, claimed No. 33. I do applaud the exclusion of the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer — not all wildly popular franchises deserve to make the cut.

The list is meant to “generate controversy and conversation,” said Parent & Child editor-in-chief Nick Friedman, so if they’re inviting gripes, I have to complain about the placement of Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth (referred to as “Phantom T” on last night’s episode of New Girl) outside of the top 10 and the relative scarcity of Dr. Seuss. But mostly I appreciate being reminded of some great children’s books I haven’t thought about in a while, like Frog and Toad Are Friends and Hatchet.

Let’s “generate controversy and conversation!” What do you think of Scholastic’s list? Any surprise inclusions or exclusions?

'Harry Potter' director Chris Columbus to write forthcoming fantasy-adventure series -- EXCLUSIVE

EW has learned exclusively that HarperCollins has acquired the rights to a three-book middle-grade series, House of Secrets, written by filmmaker Chris Columbus and co-authored by young adult author Ned Vizzini. Both the publisher and Columbus, who directed the first two Harry Potter films, are keeping mum about the details about the plot until the first book comes out in spring of 2013, but here’s the general summary:

The Pagett kids had it all: loving parents, a big house in San Francisco, all the latest video games . . . But everything changed when their father lost his job as a result of an inexplicable transgression. Now the family is moving into Kristoff House, a mysterious place built nearly a century earlier by a troubled fantasy writer with a penchant for the occult. Suddenly the siblings find themselves launched on an epic journey into a mash-up world born of Kristoff’s dangerous imagination, to retrieve a dark book of untold power, uncover the Pagett family’s secret history and save their parents . . . and maybe even the world.

Columbus took a moment to talk to EW about House of Secrets.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did the idea for House of Secrets come to you? READ FULL STORY

Pottermore: First impressions of the new interactive Harry Potter site

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We all enjoyed the story of Harry Potter and his progressive battles against fosterage, puberty, and a noseless supervillain, but what readers—especially, but not limited to, younger ones—really loved about the series was the ability to immerse themselves in a world of everyday magic, of charm spells, enchanted clocks, and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. How many kids at one point or another pulled a Veruca Salt, demanding of their parents, “But mummy and daddy, I want an invitation to Hogwarts, now!” Forget Santa Claus, for a whole generation of children the real heartbreaking revelation was that we’re all Muggles and that’s all we’ll ever be.

While it won’t let you apparate or play Quidditch (there are leagues for that already), J.K. Rowling’s new interactive website Pottermore will at least let you experience some of the fun of living in the world of Harry Potter. It’s still in beta and doesn’t open to the general public until October, but Pottermore is rolling out early access to the one million fans who qualified for it, and we were lucky enough to get an account. READ FULL STORY

Some excerpts from the biography of a Hollywood producer and Israeli secret agent

Arnon Milchan has two high-level lives: One as the producer of big-name movies like Love and Other Drugs and Knight and Day, and the other as an intelligence agent for the Israeli government. Confidential: The Life of Secret Agent Turned Hollywood Tycoon, a new biography by Meir Doron and Joseph Gelman, is chock-full of hush-hush anecdotes — more from the Tinseltown gig than the foreign government one, but both can be equally top secret. Check out the following excerpts from the upcoming book, including Milchan’s selling-your-Google-stock-in-2004-esque missed opportunity when he passed on the Harry Potter franchise: READ FULL STORY

On the Books July 11: Harry Potter meets Bruce Lee, Jaycee Dugard book tops Amazon

++A fan-made video re-imagines a Harry Potter wand fight as a kung-fu battle. Someone’s been paying attention in Defense Against Dark Martial Arts class.

++Following her Diane Sawyer interview, the memoir by Jaycee Dugard—the woman who was kidnapped when she was 11 years old and imprisoned in the backyard of sex offender Phillip Garrido for 18 years—has jumped to No. 1 on Amazon.

++The Guardian reveals the list of submissions for their first book prize.

++J.G. Ballard’s house is for sale. Don’t worry, it’s not in a high rise.

'Pottermore' interface revealed: Just how much will this site be able to do?

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J.K. Rowling announced details about her much buzzed-about website, Pottermore, this morning, and fangirls and fanboys-who-lived are already raving with excitement. Now, thanks to Harry Potter fansites The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet, excitement levels are rising even more.

Those sites have released the first few images of Pottermore’s interface, and they give a good idea of what the interactive user experience might be like. The above picture comes from MuggleNet and is entitled “Christmas at Hogwarts.” Obviously, it’s an illustration of the wizarding school during the holidays, which is fun in its own right, but it’s all the buttons that surround the image which really interest me.

There is a “Read About” tab, which will presumably provide some of Rowling’s unreleased notes about Christmastime at the school, a Hufflepuff badge and “house points” counter, and a “Friends” link, which will allow users to interact with their fellow witches and wizards. Along the top bar, there are buttons for “Diagon Alley,” “Great Hall,” “Gringotts,” “Common Room,” “Spells,” “Potions,” “Trunk,” “Friends” and “Favorites.”

Where will all these buttons lead? No idea. But they do show that Pottermore is seeking to be more than just a simple platform for releasing e-books or hosting an MMORPG. It looks like it is seeking to be a comprehensive web community for Potterheads that will allow users to insert themselves within the Hogwarts experience. Plus, it’s a pretty innovative way of releasing Rowling’s new insights on characters and plot points without publishing a whole new book, which haters would inevitably deem a sellout move.

You can check out more images from MuggleNet HERE or at The Leaky Cauldron HERE.

J.K. Rowling unveils new 'Pottermore' website

After a full week of wild speculation over the purpose of J.K. Rowling’s new site Pottermore, the Harry Potter author announced it to us Muggles this morning. Theories had ranged from a real-world treasure hunt to a MMORPG based on the books to the revelation that magic was actually real and that I had just been accepted to Hogwarts despite being far too old for it (wait, was that just me?), but according to the video uploaded to YouTube by Rowling (watch it below), Pottermore will actually be a comprehensive website with a number of features, including e-books and, Rowling says, “additional information I’ve been hoarding for years.” READ FULL STORY

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