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

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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

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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!!!

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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!!!

EXCLUSIVE

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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'Harry Potter' Actor Tearful Reunion With Pooch After Near-Fatal Car Crash

REUNITED

'Harry Potter' actor Jim Tavaré is slowly recovering from the car accident that sent him to ICU for 2 weeks, and this week he got a dose of love from his pooch.

For the first time since the accident, Jim was taken outside of the hospital in a wheelchair to be reunited with his dog, Mr Kippy, who was more than ecstatic to see his master.

Mr Kippy had been in the car during Jim's head-on collision. Both miraculously survived ... the dog more unscathed than Jim, who is still mending from a broken neck and several other broken bones, as well as collapsed lungs.

He already looks better than he did weeks ago.

Rupert Grint Arachnophobia's No Illusion, But Magic Is!!!

EXCLUSIVE
I'M JUST A MUGGLE
TMZ.com

Rupert Grint's not about that wizardry life ... don't let his acting fool you.

The 'Harry Potter' star -- who was arriving at LAX Sunday -- couldn't dodge our photog's question -- do you believe in magic?

Rupert caves and tells us, but he also admits he's got something VERY much in common with the character he plays in J.K. Rowling's hit series -- NO SPIDERS!!

'Harry Potter' Actor Barely Survives Broken Neck In Head-On Car Crash

Jim Tavaré -- best known for playing Tom the Innkeeper in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" -- is in ICU after suffering a broken neck and punctured lung in a nasty car accident.

The 54-year-old actor and comedian also broke 15 ribs and has fractures in his right leg and breastbone ... according to his wife, Laura ... who posted hospital pics. It's unclear where the head-on crash took place.

Laura wrote on Tuesday ... "Jim has asked me to let you all know that he was involved in a serious car accident yesterday, a head-on collision ... He’s had two blood transfusions so far and is about to go in for his first surgery.”

Jim was able to give a thumbs up. Laura hasn't posted an update on his condition.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal Hollywood Ride Induces Vomiting

EXCLUSIVE

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter -- a new Universal Studios Hollywood park -- is 2 months from launch, and there's a problem ... it makes people barf.

The ride is supposed to be a carbon copy of the one that's already up and running at Universal in Orlando. It takes thrill seekers on a 3D broom ride through Hogwarts Castle and other iconic locations from the book.

Problem is ... something about the Hollywood ride is different and makes people hurl. The guinea pigs, aka Universal employees, who have jumped on the broom haven't been able to handle the adventure, and the engineers are trying to figure out what's different from the Orlando ride.

We reached out to Universal for comment ... so far, no word back.

Check out the video below from the Orlando version of the ride -- as you can see, it's definitely on the trippy side.

Alan Rickman 'Harry Potter' Star Dead at 69

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Alan Rickman -- perhaps best known for playing Professor Snape in the 'Harry Potter' films -- passed away, his family announced Thursday. He was 69.

Rickman had been suffering from cancer and was surrounded by family, they said.

The British actor's first major role was playing Hans Gruber opposite Bruce Willis in "Die Hard."

Rickman took home a Golden Globe and an Emmy for his lead role in the 1996 HBO movie "Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny."

'Harry Potter' Actor Dies Hiking in Death Valley

EXCLUSIVE

2:10 P.M. PDT -- Inyo County officials tell us ... an autopsy was performed and the cause of death is heat stroke.

One of the villains from the "Harry Potter" movies -- British actor Dave Legeno -- died while hiking in Death Valley ... TMZ has learned.

Legeno's body was found by a pair of hikers on Sunday in an area so remote ... a CHP helicopter had to be called in to remove it.

50-year-old Legeno played the werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the 'Potter' movies. He was also in "Snatch."

The Inyo County Sheriff's Department (in CA) tells TMZ it appears Legeno died of heat related issues ... and may have been dead for 3-4 days before his body was discovered. Summer temps in Death Valley are known to go over 120 degrees.

We're told the coroner still has Legeno's body while his family makes plans.

He has a daughter in her 20s.

Emma Watson Cap? Check. Gown? Check. Armed Guard? CHECK!!!

Emma Watson was the safest student to receive her degree from Brown University on Sunday ... because she had her own armed security guard with her in the audience!

Watson was among 2,000 students to graduate this weekend, but we're guessing she was the only one who employed private security ... cleverly disguised in her own cap and gown.

Expecto Patronum only gets you so far.