Life and Style wRap: Harry Potter, the Oscars, and more
MANILA, Philippines – Here are some Life and Style stories you might have missed this week.
J.K. Rowling to produce Harry Potter stage show
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is to co-produce a British stage show about the boy wizard's early years living with his cruel non-magical aunt and uncle, she announced on Friday, December 20.
Rowling said she would work with the writer on the new play, charting Harry's lonely childhood when he was forced to sleep in a cupboard under the stairs, but would not script it herself.
She will start the project early next year, working with producers Sonia Friedman – who has brought a string of hit shows to New York's Broadway and London's West End theatres – and Colin Callender.
"Over the years I have received countless approaches about turning Harry Potter into a theatrical production," said Rowling on her website.
"But Sonia and Colin's vision was the only one that really made sense to me, and which had the sensitivity, intensity and intimacy I thought appropriate for bringing Harry's story to the stage."
Rowling has sold more than 450 million copies of the Harry Potter books, which were also made into a blockbuster film series.
The first Potter novel, published in 1997, sees the orphaned Harry find out he has magical powers.
He sets off to the wizarding school Hogwarts, freeing him from his miserable life with his aunt and uncle, Vernon and Petunia Dursley, and their bullying son Dudley.
Rowling said she had not yet chosen a writer or director for the play.
The author finished Harry's wizarding adventures in 2007, but has since kept busy by writing two novels for adults and starting work on a new Potter spin-off film series.
Her first novel for adults, "The Casual Vacancy," won mixed reviews when it was published last year.
But in July she was unmasked as the real author of a critically acclaimed detective novel, "The Cuckoo's Calling," which she had published under the pen name Robert Galbraith.
The new spin-off film series will feature magical zoologist Newt Scamander, the author of Harry's textbook "Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them."
Announced in July, it will see Rowling make her screen-writing debut, putting her in line for another huge payday.
With an estimated fortune of £560 million ($916 million, 670 million euros) the former single mother is the 156th wealthiest person in Britain, according to The Sunday Times newspaper's Rich List 2013.
Surprises, snubs in Oscars foreign film shortlist
Nine movies including Palestinian, Danish and Hong Kong movies have been shortlisted for the best foreign language film Oscar, organizers announced Friday, offering surprises and some unexpected snubs.
Films left out included Saudi Arabia's first-ever candidate and Pakistan's first entry in 5 decades, while an Oscar-winning Iranian director also failed to make the cut.
Films by Belgian, Bosnian, Cambodian, German, Hungarian and Italian directors are on the shortlist, which did not include any women filmmakers.
"The Hunt" by Dane Thomas Vinterberg, "The Grandmaster" from Hong Kong's Wong Kar-wai, and "The Great Beauty" by Italian Paolo Sorrentino could be among the frontrunners.
But Iranian entry "The Past" -– by director Asghar Farhadi, who won the best foreign film Oscar in 2012 for "A Separation" – was not on Friday's list, despite forecasts that it would be among the leading nominees.
The films were whittled down from a long list of 76 movies announced in October by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organizes Hollywood's biggest annual awards fest.
They will be reduced to 5 nominees next month, before nods in all Oscar categories are announced on January 16. The 86th Academy Awards will be held on March 2.
The 9 shortlisted foreign language films are:
- "The Broken Circle Breakdown," Belgium, director Felix van Groeningen
- "An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker," Bosnia and Herzegovina, director Danis Tanovic
- "The Missing Picture," Cambodia, director Rithy Panh
- "The Hunt," Denmark, director Thomas Vinterberg
- "Two Lives," Germany, director Georg Maas.
- "The Grandmaster," Hong Kong, director Wong Kar-wai
- "The Notebook," Hungary, director Janos Szasz
- "The Great Beauty," Italy, director Paolo Sorrentino
- "Omar," Palestine, director Hany Abu-Assad
Industry journal Variety said the most surprising snubs were for Chilean Sebastian Lelio's "Gloria," Poland's "Walesa: Man of Hope" by Andrzej Wajda, as well as the Iranian and Saudi entries.
The Saudi long-list candidate, "Wadjda" by Haifaa al-Mansour, is an avowedly feminist movie about a young girl's quest to own a bicycle in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom where women are deprived of many rights, among them driving.
Directed by Saudi Arabia's first female filmmaker and shot entirely in the Gulf state, the film won best Arabic feature award at the Dubai Film Festival last year and picked up an award in Cannes in March.
For Pakistan, "Zinda Bhaag" ("Flee Alive") was the first Oscar entry for over 50 years. It is a comedy-thriller about three young men trying to escape the drudgery of their everyday lives through unconventional means.
Other high-profile titles not on the shortlist include Chinese director Feng Xiaogang's "Back to 1942," "Winter of Discontent," by Egypt's Ibrahim El Batout and Israel's "Bethlehem" by director Yuval Adler, Variety said.
The Cannes Palme d'Or winner "Blue is the Warmest Color" from France did not make the list, because its release date did not meet Oscar nomination criteria, but it could still feature in other categories, including for best picture and actress, the industry journal noted.
Omidyar-Greenwald news venture gets name, US$50M
The news project to be launched by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar with investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald got a name on Thursday along with its first tranche of funding, US$50 million.
The venture will be called First Look Media and "will publish robust coverage of politics, government, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, arts and culture, business, technology, and investigative news," according to a statement from Omidyar.
The entrepreneur and philanthropist, who has pledged $250 million for the venture, said he had allocated the first $50 million "to fuel operations being established on both coasts."
"This initial capital is the first step of many to bring the vision of this news organization to life," said Omidyar.
Christie's doubles estimates at first India auction
International auction house Christie's doubled estimates and raised $16.3 million at its first sale in India on Thursday, December 19, with its top lot raising $3.8 million.
The London-based house, tapping the country's growing band of super-rich, sold 83 lots spanning a century of Indian art in the packed Crystal Room at Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace hotel.
The top seller was a 1979 golden-hued oil on canvas by Vasudeo A. Gaitonde, described by the auctioneer as the "Mark Rothko of India," which sold to cheers for 237 million rupees ($3.79 million) – a record for a modern Indian work in dollar terms.
"This really is a dream come true and the result was beyond our wildest dreams," said Hugo Weihe, Christie's international director of Asian art, who conducted much of the auction.
The total sale, much of which was sourced from the collection of late gallery owners Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy, had been estimated to raise $6 to $8 million.
A canvas by Tyeb Mehta of the Hindu goddess Durga battling a buffalo demon was the second-highest seller, going for 197.8 million rupees ($3.17 million).
The auction was part of Christie's strategy to tap into the growing clout of Asian buyers, following its first sale in China in September which raised $25 million. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com