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ALISON BOSHOFF: Harry Potter gets a $2 billion TV bonanza with Warner Bros set to film TEN new series


That’s wizard, Harry! Britain is to get a $2 billion Harry Potter bonanza, as Warner Bros will film TEN series — at its studios in Leavesden, Herts — of a new TV show about ‘the boy who lived’.

Production plans for the project, which will be based on the seven beloved books by J. K. Rowling, are yet to be officially announced. However, this week sources indicate they fully expect the Potter shows to be filmed in the UK, with British creative and technical talent front and centre.

The budget is said to be around $200 million per series, which brings it into line with House Of The Dragon, also filmed on the Warner Bros lot.

The company confirmed plans for the series in April last year and indicated it would like to be underway with filming later this year or early next, as long as it can settle on scripts and casting fairly rapidly.

The plan is to produce ten consecutive years of Harry Potter TV shows.

Britain is to get a $2 billion Harry Potter bonanza, as Warner Bros will film TEN series of a new TV show at its studios in Leavesden

Britain is to get a $2 billion Harry Potter bonanza, as Warner Bros will film TEN series of a new TV show at its studios in Leavesden

It is indicated that the Leavesden studio will begin seeing filming later this year or early next, as long as scripts and casting can be settled fairly rapidly

It is indicated that the Leavesden studio will begin seeing filming later this year or early next, as long as scripts and casting can be settled fairly rapidly

At the moment, there are a number of writers in contention for the plum job. They have reportedly been asked to present their visions of the reimagined story of the boy wizard to executives, including Rowling herself.

The front-runner is British Succession and Killing Eve writer and producer Francesca Gardiner, who was also an executive producer on the BBC adaptation of His Dark Materials.

Executive Casey Bloys promises that the new series will be a ‘faithful adaptation’ which will ‘dive deep into each of the iconic books that fans have continued to enjoy for all of these years’.

Warner Bros CEO David Zaslav — stung by a string of big budget disappointments such as The Flash, Blue Beetle and Black Adam — said last year: ‘We haven’t done anything with Harry Potter for more than a decade,’ adding that the Potter, Lord Of The Rings and DC Comics franchises could spark some magic at the box office. Zaslav said: ‘When you put those franchises in, it’s the best-performing studio in the world. We need to deploy our best capital with the best creative people in the world.’

The films of the Potter books were, of course, phenomenally successful, grossing nearly $8 billion worldwide and making stars of their young leads — Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint — as well as boosting the coffers of a host of established talent including Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Gary Oldman, Dame Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon and Richard Harris. The books have sold 600 million copies globally.

Production plans for the project, which will be based on the seven beloved books by J. K. Rowling, are yet to be officially announced

Production plans for the project, which will be based on the seven beloved books by J. K. Rowling, are yet to be officially announced

It was announced in September that the studios in Leavesden are to expand, adding 400,000 sq ft. There will be ten new sound stages, increasing capacity by 50 per cent

It was announced in September that the studios in Leavesden are to expand, adding 400,000 sq ft. There will be ten new sound stages, increasing capacity by 50 per cent

Rowling and agent Neil Blair will be executive producers of the TV series via their Bronte Film and TV company.

Casting will follow the appointment of a lead writer, with Warner Bros TV saying the trickiest part will be finding the children to play the characters, aged 11 and 12, in the initial years.

It was announced in September that the studios in Leavesden are to expand, adding 400,000 sq ft. There will be ten new sound stages, increasing capacity by 50 per cent. Work is expected to be complete in 2027 and the studios will be home not just to Potter, but also to further iterations of the DC Universe and the much-anticipated sequel to The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson, which goes into production soon.

Beckham under the covers 

The Beckhams — or at least their lawyers — will have plenty of reading to do this year. Feared biographer Tom Bower has spent the past year toiling on what is apparently a fascinating untold story behind the success of Brand Beckham. It will come out this summer.

Feared biographer Tom Bower has spent the past year toiling on what is apparently a fascinating untold story behind the success of Brand Beckham

Feared biographer Tom Bower has spent the past year toiling on what is apparently a fascinating untold story behind the success of Brand Beckham

There is also a book by Alan Edwards, who had been David's publicist, which will cover his time with the Beckhams, David Bowie, and The Who

There is also a book by Alan Edwards, who had been David’s publicist, which will cover his time with the Beckhams, David Bowie, and The Who

There will also be a book by Alan Edwards, who looked after all the Spice Girls at the height of their success and was David’s publicist, too. Edwards’s book, titled I Was There, is being published by Simon & Schuster in June. In addition to the Beckhams, it will cover his time working with David Bowie and The Who.

Edwards tells me that the title was given to him by legendary adman John Hegarty during a lunch at the Groucho Club. ‘John told me that if ever I was to write a book then I should call it I Was There. I wrote it down on a napkin and put it in my pocket and he was right — it is the best title.’

Cara’s ‘part-time’ Cabaret debut

Life is a part-time Cabaret for Cara Delevingne. The supermodel, who is making her West End debut as Sally Bowles in the hit musical at the Playhouse Theatre, will miss 22 performances in her 12-week run between March 11 and June 1.

Theatre sources indicate it is standard for the main performers (playing Bowles and the Emcee) to get one performance a week off. (There is also no performance on a Sunday.) The other ten absences are ‘pre-contractual’, meaning that Delevingne agreed them before signing on the dotted line.

My man in the stalls says: ‘It’s not unheard of for big stars to be pretty selective about where and when they perform in a long-running show because of prior commitments; and sometimes they will also take a break if they need to protect their voice.

Cara Delevingne, who is making her West End debut as Sally Bowles in hit musical Cabaret at the Playhouse Theatre, will miss 22 performances over its 12-week run

Cara Delevingne, who is making her West End debut as Sally Bowles in hit musical Cabaret at the Playhouse Theatre, will miss 22 performances over its 12-week run

Cara Delevingne's performance in Luc Besson's Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets got a raspberry from the critics

Cara Delevingne’s performance in Luc Besson’s Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets got a raspberry from the critics

‘However that is a lot of dates, so they must have wanted her pretty badly.’

Sources close to the production say: ‘We always give our Sally Bowles one performance off a week. It is a demanding role. The other absences have been agreed in advance.’ 

Delevingne has made a number of films, in which her acting has not always been well-received. Luc Besson’s Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets got a raspberry; as did 2016’s Suicide Squad in which she played Enchantress.

Afterwards she complained: ‘The critics have been absolutely horrific; they’re really, really horrible. You know, I just don’t think they like superhero movies.’

She is, however, an accomplished vocalist and kept up with Alanis Morissette in a duet of You Oughta Know on James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke.

Will Snoop the dog be at the Oscars? 

Anatomy of a Fall is a rank outsider in the Oscars race (only Scorsese’s lethally lengthy Killers Of The Flower Moon is less fancied by the bookies to scoop Best Picture). However, the drama does have a secret weapon, Snoop the dog — a canine actor called Messi — who is being deployed at all the biggest events.

This week border collie Messi was a huge hit at the Nominees Lunch, meeting Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling and even playing dead (his trick in the film) for Emma Stone. He wore a blue bow tie and was flown in by the Neon studio from his home in France.

Film Anatomy of a Fall has a secret weapon, Snoop the dog — a canine actor called Messi — who is being deployed at all the biggest events

Film Anatomy of a Fall has a secret weapon, Snoop the dog — a canine actor called Messi — who is being deployed at all the biggest events

Back in 2011, Uggie, the Parson Russell Terrier, had a triumphant Oscars campaign with The Artist, which carried off the top award at the Oscars

Back in 2011, Uggie, the Parson Russell Terrier, had a triumphant Oscars campaign with The Artist, which carried off the top award at the Oscars

In Justine Triet’s French courtroom drama, author Sandra Voyter faces trial for her husband’s death. Her partially-sighted son Daniel and his dog prove key to uncovering whether she did it or not. Messi is owned by veteran dog coach Laura Martin Contini, who says: ‘Messi is the best dog in the world, so intelligent and learns so quickly, and I feel very lucky.’

Back in 2011, Uggie, the Parson Russell Terrier, had a triumphant Oscars campaign with The Artist, which carried off the top award. But sadly a re-run looks unlikely.

Florence takes off the Tiffany in favour of edgy London bling 

Fearless Florence Pugh cares little for convention. The actress, who is one of the well-paid celebrity ‘ambassadors’ for Tiffany, surprised some by wearing masses of jewellery, by designer Shaun Leane, at the world premiere of Dune: Part Two in Mexico last week. And she did the same at a photocall for the film in London on Wednesday. 

Pugh, 28, wore a distinctive Shaun Leane Quill choker and matching bracelet in London, plus an assortment of Hook and Sabre earrings and Arc rings by the British designer. In Mexico, she wore Leane’s Sabre Fine earrings, a Triple Armis ring and Sabre Deco Twist bangle. 

Pugh, 28, wore a distinctive Shaun Leane Quill choker and matching bracelet in London on Wednesday, despite being an ambassador for Tiffany

Pugh, 28, wore a distinctive Shaun Leane Quill choker and matching bracelet in London on Wednesday, despite being an ambassador for Tiffany

Ambassadors are expected to wear loaned jewellery on red carpets, particularly on highprofile occasions — and Pugh has certainly done plenty of plugging for Tiffany in recent months on social media, including posting about a trip she took to Toyko to open its new store there, and wearing Tiffany to the Golden Globes last month. 

Jeweller Leane was a great favourite of the late Alexander McQueen and famously created a chainmail yashmak and coiled metal corset for his shows years ago. 

Spokespersons for Tiffany, Leane and Pugh all declined to comment.

Travolta makes a tweet of himself 

Pity poor John Travolta, who was mocked by the world after being forced to join in the Birdy Song dance at the Sanremo music festival in Italy last weekend.

The following day, Oscar-winner Russell Crowe attended the festival and mocked Travolta’s moves before mouthing the words ‘What the f***?’ and giggling.

John Travolta was mocked after being forced to join in the Birdy Song dance at the Sanremo music festival in Italy last weekend

John Travolta was mocked after being forced to join in the Birdy Song dance at the Sanremo music festival in Italy last weekend

The broadcaster Rai has removed all traces of Travolta’s dance from its official channels but you can still find it on social media, if you’re interested.

Conde Nasties (as sharp-tongued fashionistas were dubbed) are still agog about that Vogue cover which saw outgoing British Vogue editor Edward Enninful assemble 40 female icons — including Kate Moss, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell. Apparently Ms Campbell’s hair and make-up bill alone was ‘over £15,000’. 

Conde Nasties are still agog about that Vogue cover which saw outgoing British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, pictured, assemble 40 female icons

Conde Nasties are still agog about that Vogue cover which saw outgoing British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, pictured, assemble 40 female icons

My source with a powder puff says that something in that ballpark would be ‘standard’ for the iconic supermodel, who works only with the very best, and adds that no money will have gone to her. ‘These people are on a big day rate, and then you have to add in travel expenses,’ I’m told. 

Love’s young dream is over for Sir Ian McKellen, 84, and Oscar Conlon-Morrey, 30. They met when Oscar played his son Jack in the Mother Goose panto in 2023. 

Sir Ian McKellen, 84, and Oscar Conlon-Morrey, 30, have parted ways. The younger actor is back out there looking for a new partner

Sir Ian McKellen, 84, and Oscar Conlon-Morrey, 30, have parted ways. The younger actor is back out there looking for a new partner

Sadly, they have parted ways, with Conlon-Morrey now regaling his social media followers with tales of disastrous dates with prospective new partners. Friends of McKellen always doubted he would settle down. 

David Tennant was rather taken aback when he looked in the mirror while filming the Disney+ adaptation of Jilly Cooper’s racy novel Rivals.

The Dr Who star said: ‘Rivals has a VERY 80s feel to it, so I have shoulder pads and this big mane of luxurious black hair, which I thought was going to make me look like the French actor Louis Jourdan. Imagine my surprise when I actually looked just like Terry Wogan!’

David Tennant was rather taken aback when he looked in the mirror while filming the Disney+ adaptation of Jilly Cooper's racy novel Rivals

David Tennant was rather taken aback when he looked in the mirror while filming the Disney+ adaptation of Jilly Cooper’s racy novel Rivals

Tennant, who plays Lord Tony Baddington in the eight-part series, due out later this year, adds: ‘It’s a great show to be a part of, a real treat — a smorgasbord of 1980s delights.’

The Scottish star is the host of the EE BAFTAs which will be shown on BBC One this Sunday from 7pm. It’s a tough gig, but there is optimism that he will be calmer than Richard E. Grant last year, and funnier than Rebel Wilson in 2022.

Yoko Ono was sadly absent at the preview of her new show at Tate Modern, Music Of The Mind. Friends say that artist Yoko, John Lennon’s widow, is no longer travelling internationally due to poor health. 

Yoko Ono was not present at the preview of her new show at Tate Modern, Music Of The Mind, with the 90-year-old remaining in New York state

Yoko Ono was not present at the preview of her new show at Tate Modern, Music Of The Mind, with the 90-year-old remaining in New York state

She turns 91 on Sunday and will spend the day at her farmhouse in upstate New York, celebrating with family and friends. Last year this column revealed that she had quit the Dakota building in the city (outside which John was murdered) and moved permanently to the countryside. 



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