Alan Ball goes to the well once again, Judd Apatow makes a return to TV and Professor Dumbledore bets the ponies. Just another day on the cable powerhouse that is HBO.

Ball, the Oscar-winning show runner of Six Feet Under and True Blood just shot a pilot called All Signs of Death, based on Charlie Huston‘s book The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, which follows a trauma cleaning unit, much like Sunshine Cleaning, but less cute. Apatow, who made his name with TV shows Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, is executive producing a pilot called Girls, which was created by Lena Dunham, currently riding the wave off her indie film Tiny Furniture. It’s a more realistic take on the Sex and the City formula. Both shows are only in the pilot stage and neither has been picked up for series yet. It they do, Ball and Apatow will executive produce. (UPDATE: HBO passed on All Signs of Death.)

Finally, Michael Gambon has been cast as a recurring regular on the Michael Mann-produced series Luck, starring Dustin Hoffman, which is about the seedy underworld of horse racing. Read more about all three HBO nuggets of news after the jump. Read More »

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Tom Hooper‘s film The King’s Speech won the People’s Choice Award (aka top prize) at the Toronto Film Festival, and wowed audiences just a week prior at Telluride. Now there’s a trailer for the picture, which suggests that the film is every bit the crowd-pleaser it is said to be. Read More »

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort kicked off its grand opening celebration on Thursday night. In attendance were Harry Potter film stars Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, Bonnie Wright, Oliver Phelps, Daniel Radcliffe, Matthew Lewis, Warwick Davis, Rupert Grint and James Phelps. Hundreds of people gathered in front of Hogwarts castle for “a spectacular display of fireworks choreographed to a special performance of music from the Harry Potter films conducted live by renowned composer John Williams.” Check out some photos after the jump.

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sewell-bettany

The Tourist, the romantic thriller starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie that remakes the French film Anthony Zimmer, has been shooting for a while after taking a very long and winding road to set. Now director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others) has two new actors to work with: Paul Bettany and Rufus Sewell. We don’t know their roles at this point, but this is slowly looking less like an over-cooked studio disaster. [Variety]

After the break, Amanda Seyfried and others join the already impressive cast of Albert Nobbs, while Emma Stone could join Steve Carell on screen. Read More »

harry potter character posters

Warner Bros has released six new character posters for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on MSN. The posters include one shots of Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy and Alan Rickman as Severus Snape.

Warner Bros has released a new behind the scenes shot for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Director David Yates and crew watch Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore film a scene. Yesterday, Warner President and Chief Operating Officer Alan Horn offered a statement to the many upset fans explaining why the film had been moved back to Summer 2009:

Many of you have written to me to express your disappointment in our moving “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” to Summer 2009.

Please be assured that we share your love for Harry Potter and would certainly never do anything to hurt any of the films. Over the past 10 years, we have nurtured and protected each film, and the integrity of the books upon which they are based, to the best of our ability.

The decision to move “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” was not taken lightly, and was never intended to upset our Harry Potter fans. We know you have built this series into what it is, and we thank you for your ongoing enthusiasm and support.

If I may offer a silver lining: there would have been a two-year gap between “Half-Blood Prince” and the much-anticipated first part of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” which opens in November 2010.

So although we have to wait a little longer for “Half-Blood Prince,” the wait from that film until “Deathly Hallows” will be less than 18 months. I am sorry to have disappointed you now, but if you hold on a little longer, I believe it will be worth the wait.

Alan Horn
President, Chief Operating Officer
Warner Bros.

Harry Potter Photos Shows Young Tom Riddle

USA Today has released two new photos from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The photo above gives us our first look at a young Tom Riddle, played by Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, who grows up to become Lord Voldermort. The cool thing about Hero’s casting is that Hero is actually the real-life nephew of Ralph Fiennes, who plays Voldermort in the film series. The photo below shows Dumbledore, played by Michael Gambon, who creates a firestorm to fend off a group of reanimated and haunted dead people called Inferi. Director David Yates compares the scene to Charlton Heston’s parting fo the Red Sea in the Ten Commandments. “It’s an almost a biblical image,” Yates says. Indeed. The first teaser trailer for the next Potter film is expected to hit the web sometime in the next 24 hours.

Dumbledore

I’ve read all of the Harry Potter novels (although, I’ve yet to finish the last one) and have seen all the Harry Potter films, yet the sexual preference of one of the main characters is a shocking twist that I nor Hardcore Harry Potter fanatics ever expected.

JK Rowling revealed at a book reading in front of over 2,000 fans at Carnegie Hall in New York that the headmaster of the wizarding school Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Albus Dumbledore, is actually gay. Who woulda thought? Rowling said that the character originally fell in love with the wizard Gellert Grindelwald, who, according to Rita Skeeter’s book The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore (read: not very reliable), is the second Most Dangerous Dark Wizard of All Time, under of course, Lord Voldemort.

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows it was revealed that Grindelwald was an adolescent friend of Albus Dumbledore and that the two of them planned to establish a new world order, where wizards would rule over Muggles “for the greater good”. An argument culminated in a three-way battle between Albus, Aberforth Dumbledore, and Grindelwald in which Albus’ disabled sister Ariana was inadvertently killed by one of them. Grindelwald fled, fearing retribution, which ended their friendship. In 1945, Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald in what is described as the most intense wizarding battle ever to occur.

“Falling in love can blind us to an extent,” Rowling said of Dumbledore’s feelings. “He was horribly, terribly let down.” She referred to this love as Dumbledore’s “great tragedy.”

Rowling went on to reveal that she had recently read through Steve Kloves’ script for the upcoming movie adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and came across a scene in which Dumbledore was reminiscing about past loves. Rowling says she crossed out the passage and noted “Dumbledore is gay” in the margin.

The audience fell silent, and then after a moment, Carnegie Hall exploded into applause. Rowling said that if she had known that her admission would get that type of response, she would’ve revealed her thoughts on Dumbledore earlier.

Dumbledore is portrayed in the film adaptations by Richard Harris and Michael Gambon.

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