Vladimir Putin 'Cancel Culture' Should Be Canceled ... Compares Russia To J.K. Rowling

SIDING WITH ROWLING
UPDATE

8:16 AM PT -- J.K. Rowling just responded to Putin and referenced Alexei Navalny, the Putin critic who was in jail.

UPDATE

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin thinks he has a lot in common with J.K. Rowling ... saying cancel culture has gone from shutting out people to canceling his entire country.

During a call with officials and cultural workers Friday, the President of Russia talked about his country being shunned from the rest of the world, comparing it to Rowling's experience with backlash for her comments against the trans community.

He says, “They canceled Joanne Rowling recently -- the children’s author, her books are published all over the world -- just because she didn’t satisfy the demands of gender rights."

He thinks the west is trying to do the same to his country, calling it "progressive discrimination" toward Russia.

As we've reported, Rowling has been in the hot seat for a while, due to comments she's made throughout the past year that many perceive as transphobic ... remarks she's since tried to clarify.

Putin then compared cancel culture to Nazis burning books in the 1930s ... saying it's impossible to picture something like that happening in his country.

He claims Russia is no place for intolerance, saying, "representatives from dozens of ethnic groups" have lived together for centuries.

Originally Published -- 7:40 AM PT

J.K. Rowling Cameos in 'Harry Potter' Reunion ... Trans Controversy Avoided

Harry Potter and co. got together again for a trip down memory lane -- and even though J.K. Rowling doesn't sit for an interview herself ... she still magically appears (kinda).

The author and creator of the wizarding franchise was notably absent for HBO Max's 20th Anniversary 'Return to Hogwarts' reunion special, which hit the airwaves Saturday ... just in time for the new year.

While JKR did not appear in person to mingle with the rest of the cast and crew -- including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint -- she was there in spirit ... but more specifically, there in old archival footage from a couple years ago, this according to reports.

Word is, clips of J.K. from 2019 are sprinkled into the nearly 2-hour show ... where she talks about casting and the early process of turning her books into a blockbuster film. Apparently, some of the cast also talks about her, but they do it sparingly ... and mostly gloss over her.

If you're wondering what gives ... it's no secret J.K. has become persona non grata in Hollywood of late, due to comments she's made over the past year that many perceive as transphobic, remarks she' since tried clarifying time and again. Still, Radcliffe disavowed her sentiments ... drawing a firm line in the sand on where he stands on the trans community.

Now, with that in mind ... it's perhaps no surprise Rowling isn't in the HBO special, but weirdly enough -- there are slightly differing takes on why she wasn't involved ... including a report claiming she herself turned the opportunity down.

EW cites sources saying J.K. was extended an invite by HBO brass, but that she and her team felt the old footage of her would be adequate. Even more puzzling, these same sources say her transgender controversy played no part in the decision to pass on joining.

HBO Max, meanwhile, confirms they reached out to Rowling, but wound up agreeing that her old clips would suffice. It's unclear, on their end, if she turned 'em down for a new interview, or if they actually shot something with her and then ultimately scrapped it.

Anyway, if you're wondering what J.K. was up to for the new year, it looks like she's still dabbling in enchanting settings, with four-legged company to boot. Expecto Patronum!

Daniel Radcliffe Wand, Glasses From 'Deathly Hallows' ... Could Fetch Up to $100k at Auction!!!

Harry Potter fans can own some serious wizardry memorabilia ... but it won't be sold by Ollivander and it'll cost way more than seven Galleons.

The folks over at Prop Store will hold one of the world's largest live auctions of film and TV memorabilia in L.A. ... and leading the way are the glasses and wand used by Daniel Radcliffe in the 2010 and 2011 films 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.'

Radcliffe used the wand in Part 1 and the glasses in Part 2. And, whoever wants to cop these will need more than wizard currency. We're told each of the items is expected to fetch between $30k and $50k. That's cold hard cash, homie.

Prop Store, one of the world's leading film and TV memorabilia companies, will stream the auction online between June 29 and July 1. Not a Harry Potter fan? Don't fret.

There will be more than 1,200 rare and iconic lots up for grabs during the 3-day event. Such as ... the fedora Harrison Ford used in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." The fedora should pull in anywhere between $150k to $250k.

'Star Wars' fans can snag the R2-SHP remote control droid from "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker." That beaut could fetch as much as $120k. 'Batman' fans with $10k in disposable income can have Michael Keaton's utility belt.

Need something for the kids? Statler and Waldorf puppet heads from "The Muppets" can be yours for anywhere between $30k and $50k.

All in all ... Prop Store expects to haul in in excess of $6.1 million. Good luck!!!

Johnny Depp Warner Bros. Sends Him Packing ... After Wife-Beating Case

Johnny Depp's suffering a huge blow to his career on the heels of losing his wife-beating case ... he's no longer starring in 'Fantastic Beasts.'

The actor says Warner Bros. asked him to step down from his recurring role as Grindelwald in the Harry Potter spinoff franchise, and he's agreeing to walk away.

Warner Bros. confirmed the drastic change in a statement to TMZ, telling us ... Johnny is leaving the 'Fantastic Beasts' family, and with the third-installment already in production, Grindelwald's character will be recast.

As we reported ... Johnny lost his libel lawsuit in the U.K. against The Sun ... which had called him a "wife-beater" in reference to his ex-wife, Amber Heard.

Filing the case was a huge miscalculation on Depp's part -- since the judge agreed he was a "wife-beater" -- and the move by Warner Bros. to cut ties is evidence of that.

Johnny says he's planning to appeal the court's "surreal judgment" and says he won't let the case define his life and career.

Harry Potter 'Hogwarts Express' Rare View Ruined ... By Passing Commuter Train

KEEP IT MOVIN'
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Harry Potter fans in Scotland waited at a train station for hours just to catch a glimpse of the rare "Hogwarts Express" ... and when it came by, another train blocked the view!!!

The hilarious moment was captured on video ... and you see the "Hogwarts Express" for a split second before a passing ScotRail train completely steals the show.

The famous train from the Harry Potter books and movies was traveling south through Scotland en route to its winter base, with tons of families camping out at train stations across the country for the rare sighting.

This unlucky lot, though, waited in vain at Drumry station. Talk about the wrong side of the tracks!

Too bad no one knew any magic spells to make the commuter train disappear. Oh well, there's always next year, kids!

Gigi Gorgeous J.K. Rowling Disses My Community ... So, She's Dead to Me!!!

DEAD TO ME
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Gigi Gorgeous says 'Harry Potter' used to mean something to her, but on the heels of a new anti-trans controversy involving J.K. Rowling ... that's all changed.

The popular trans influencer was leaving Delilah in WeHo when we asked her about Rowling promoting an online store that sells transphobic merch. Gigi told us enough is enough with the author's continual acts of disrespect and dishonor to her community.

As you'll recall ... even 'Harry Potter' himself, Daniel Radcliffe, ripped Rowling a few months back over her incendiary tweets about gender identity.

Rowling has also offered opinions about, and against, transitioning and bathroom rights for trans people in the past.

The latest backlash she's getting stems from tweeting a link to a shop that sells a witch-themed t-shirt she likes ... in order to support women-owned businesses.

Problem is ... that same shop sells merchandise featuring anti-trans statements as well, including "Transwomen are men," "Woman is Not a Costume," and "F*** your pronouns."

Daniel Radcliffe to J.K. Rowling Don't Erase Trans People, Jo!!! Rips Her Gender ID Tweets

Harry Potter himself is shutting down his own creator's views on gender identity and trans people, and his message about equality is pretty magical.

Daniel Radcliffe responded to J.K. Rowling's controversial thoughts about the subject through an essay on The Trevor Project -- an org that advocates for suicide prevention in the LGBTQ community -- and begged J.K. (he calls her Jo) to have a change of heart.

He wrote, "Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I."

He went on to cite alarming stats about discrimination against trans youth and non-binary people, writing, "It’s clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm."

ICYMI ... J.K. caught a ton of flak this weekend for nitpicking the phrase "people who menstruate" which she came across in a NYT headline. Her feeling is ... only women menstruate, so when talking about that -- we supposedly oughta just refer to them.

The Internet fired back at her, pointing out trans men and others who don't identify with traditional gender identities ... can also menstruate. J.K. doubled and tripled down, refusing to cede ground and pissing off many Potter fans in the process.

Daniel even apologizes in his open letter to those same fans, writing ... "To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you. I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you."

Kobe Bryant I'm The New J.K. Rowling Dropping Young Adult Books

Kobe Bryant's quest to take over the non-basketball world continues ... this time the Oscar-winner (still feels weird) is dipping into J.K. Rowling's pond ... releasing a new series of young adult novels.

Mamba's multimedia company, Granity Studios, is putting out 2 works in the next 12 months, the first centered around a young female tennis prodigy who has to save a magical kingdom.

Both stories were created by Kobe himself, with the first, "Legacy and the Queen," to be written by ex-squash player Annie Matthew, and set to be released in September.

The second book "Epoca: The Tree of Ecof" comes out two months after that -- and it's about two kids from opposite sides of the tracks that form an unbreakable bond.

Here's the thing ... we know how deep Kobe is into the movies, and we also know how successful young adult books converted into movies are ('Hunger Games,' "Maze Runner" etc.) so who knows how big this could be for Mamba?!

How big we talking here? The aforementioned J.K. Rowling is worth ONE BILLION DOLLARS ... another thing for you to shoot for Kobe.

J.K. Rowling Before Hogwarts, I Wanted in at Leith Buy My App for $250k!!!

J.K. Rowling was putting pen to paper for teaching gigs before 'Harry Potter' ever took off, and now one of her employment bids can be yours ... for the price of a modest home.

An application Rowling filled out in 1996 to teach in Scotland is currently for sale for $250,000. We didn't screw up the number of zeroes, you read correctly ... $2-5-0-0-0-0. The original app is being sold through Moments in Time.

The document -- part of a 12-page bundle -- is definitely a huge part of Rowling's story of success. She'd finished her first 'Potter' manuscript in 1995, but was still shopping it around to publishers before one of 'em finally bit in '97 ... and the rest, of course, is history.

Before that though, she had a brief stint teaching secondary languages to high schoolers at Leith Academy -- a result of her filing this application. It lists her employment and education history, as well as experience which she considered relevant.

It's interesting ... ya gotta wonder if her time at Leith (and the application process to get in) dictated anything she went on to write about Hogwarts in the books.

The wizard's in the details for this one, we suppose.

Macaulay Culkin Yo, J.K. Rowling ... Write Me into 'Fantastic Beasts'!

Macaulay Culkin wants to make another big splash in Hollywood -- and he's shamelessly, and publicly, lobbying J.K. Rowling to help him do it.

The 38-year-old 'Home Alone' star tweeted the 'Harry Potter' author asking her to write him a role in the next movie in the 'Fantastic Beasts' series -- which is a prequel to the 'Potter' stories.

Macaulay's Hollywood game is still strong ... he starts with a suck-up of sorts, letting J.K. know he supports her casting an Asian woman to play Nagini ... Voldemort's snakey sidekick -- a move that's drawn criticism from some. Then he goes for the kill ... "Also, can you write me into the next movie? I'm Macaulay Culkin (From Home Alone: The Movie) and I was also a Pagemaster (experience in magic) ..."

J.K. has yet to respond, but Macaulay is not sitting around waiting. He's proactively also reached out to Dan Fogler, who plays Jacob Kowalski in the 'FB' series.

Of course, if J.K. gives him a role, we're guessing Twitter gets 10% of Macaulay's salary? Agents beware!

J.K. Rowling Blasts 'Racist' Serena Newspaper Cartoon

This is not good.

A newspaper in Australia is catching A LOT of heat over a cartoon that was trying to spoof Serena Williams' incident at the U.S. Open -- because it's racist as hell.

The cartoon -- drawn by Mark Knight (editorial cartoonist for the Herald Sun newspaper) -- shows the tennis superstar stomping on her racket.

But, let's get serious, it looks like a Jim Crow-era, Sambo-style caricature of a black person -- not Serena Williams.

The cartoon has been blasted by athletes and celebs including J.K. Rowling who said, "Well done on reducing one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist tropes and turning a second great sportswoman into a faceless prop."

ESPN's Jemele Hill noted the racism is "About as subtle as Fran Drescher’s voice."

So far, it doesn't seem like the Herald Sun is backing down -- they retweeted the image and haven't pulled it.

At least, not yet.

As we reported ... Serena was penalized several times during Saturday's U.S. Open finals match against Naomi Osaka. Serena went off on the judge claiming he was a "thief" who stole a point from her.

The judge then penalized Serena a game for the "verbal abuse." Williams continued to go off on the guy to other tournament officials claiming the judge would never treat a man that way.

Harry Potter Hogwarts Acceptance Letter Up For Auction

Harry Potter's acceptance letter to Hogwarts is going up for auction in the Muggle world, and it's expected to fetch several Galleons.

The 7-inch envelope addressed to Harry at "The Cupboard Under the Stairs, 4, Privet Drive," is being sold through Prop Store, a movie collectible auction house. Several were used in the first 'Potter' film, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," and suffered the same fate ... getting ripped up or thrown in the fireplace by Harry's uncle.

This is the actual one Hagrid hand-delivered in the film and the Prop Store thinks it'll go for $4,000 to $6,500 at auction.

Other props from the film franchise up for auction include Ron Weasley's Howler, and autographed items by Daniel Radcliffe.

The auction goes down September 26 in London, but you can bid from home through the Wizardry of the Internet.

'Harry Potter' Star Robert Hardy Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge Dead at 91

The Minister for Magic in the 'Harry Potter' movies has died.

British actor Robert Hardy -- who played Cornelius Fudge in the 'Potter' films -- passed away Thursday, according to his family. Hardy was perhaps most famous for his role as Fudge, but also had a long career spanning more than 70 years in theatre, TV and film.

He's well known for a role in the series "All Creatures Great and Small," and had played Winston Churchill a number of times.

Hardy starred as the no-nonsense Fudge in 4 of the 'Potter' movies.

He was 91.

Brad Pitt Treats Chris Cornell's Kids To Bit of Magic, Butterbeer

Brad Pitt put a little magic into Chris Cornell's kids' lives, thanks to butterbeer and wizard wands from Universal Studios' Harry Potter World.

Pitt hit up the L.A. theme park Wednesday with Cornell's 2 tweens ... 12-year-old daughter Toni, and 11-year-old Christopher. Cornell also has a 16-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, who was not present.

Doesn't look like they left a part of the park uncovered between the swag they picked up at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and riding the Jurassic Park ride.

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Pitt and Cornell were close friends for years. He paid his respects at Cornell's funeral last Friday, after the rocker committed suicide in his Detroit hotel room two weeks ago following a gig.

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Harry Potter Galloping Gargoyles! $40k Prequel Stolen!!!

J.K. Rowling is warning 'Harry Potter' fans not to shell out any Galleons for a handwritten prequel that fell off the back of a broom ... as in, it was stolen.

The burglary happened last month in Birmingham, England at the home of someone who purchased the prequel at a 2008 charity auction for about $40k. It's a pretty cool piece of Potter history -- 800 words written on a postcard that lay out the story of Harry's pop, James Potter, and godfather, Sirius Black, as teenagers.

Cops still haven't made any arrests, but J.K. made a plea Friday to her 10 million followers. Just a matter of time till someone whips out the Probity Probe and finds it, we're guessing.

Harry Potter Yuengling Moves to Own Harry Potter's Butterbeer ...For Ice Cream!!!

Yuengling is using Harry Potter's famed butterbeer for its ice cream ... but it took a legal shortcut that could backfire in a huge way.

Yuengling's rolled out its new "butterbeer" flavor this week ... even though it never secured the legal right to market ice cream.

Yuengling's prez, David Yuengling, tells TMZ his company filed docs to trademark butterbeer ice cream 8 months ago, and he's hopeful he'll win approval.

Here's the problem ... J.K. Rowling created the fictional drink in her Harry Potter books, and Warner Bros. secured all the rights and produced the movies. So it's pretty clear ... Warner Bros. will be extremely territorial over one of it's most valuable franchises.

So far Yuengling's application for the right to use the name hasn't been decided ... but if it's rejected the company has a big problem on its hands, and Warner Bros. could go after it for all the loot its made selling the frozen delight.

We've reached out to Warner Bros. for comment ... so far, no word back.

I AIN'T WORRIED
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