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Can we all agree that 2017 was the year JK Rowling was cancelled?

Harry Potter has been one of my favourite books for as long as I can remember. It introduced me to the world of magic and wonder, where good triumphed over bad, where a girl uses book-smarts to save the world. More than that, it transformed an entire generation. That the seven-book series has changed lives is indisputable.

More than that, the series author J.K. Rowling served as an inspiration to many as well. Her rags-to-riches story and the struggles she faced while writing the books made her work even more meaningful. And as Donald Trump rose, Rowling seemed to grow in importance. Using Twitter as her platform, she often went after Trump for his terrible tweets and even worse policies.

But then came 2017, when the #MeToo movement gained traction and powerful men were finally being held to account for sexual abuse. One person who spoke out about the abuse she experienced at the hands of a man was Amber Heard. In May, Heard filed for divorce from Johnny Depp, who she claims physically abused her during their relationship. Later evidence emerged that people surrounding the couple, including Depp’s management team knew all about Depp’s abusive behaviour.

Depp has been cast in the Fantastic Beasts movie series as the wizard Gellert Grindelwald. Fantastic Beasts is a spinoff of the Harry Potter franchise, and Rowling is a writer of the screenplay.

Rowling’s silence on the casting of a known abuser was deafening. A number of people tweeted at Rowling and the movie’s production company, Warner Brothers to ask why Depp was not being removed from the movie when many other accused men in Hollywood were being stripped of the jobs and roles they were acting in. Instead of responding to the tweets, Rowling blocked many of her critics. For all Rowling’s dedication to social justice and fighting the good fight, she was quiet when it counted.

But finally, when she spoke up about why she and Warner Brothers, had decided to not fire Depp, her response was worse than her silence.

Rowling chose to focus on certain aspects of a joint statement that Depp and Heard had released instead of looking at all the facts of the story. She said she would respect the privacy of the two parties and that she and the company would not only be sticking with Depp in the role but were also genuinely happy that he was going to be in the movie.

Seriously? She ended off her statement saying that she believes we must all do what we think is right. It was literally confirmed by both Depp and Heard that he was an abusive man. She’s basically taking the abuser’s side in all this. Doesn’t sound right to me at all.

Heard later responded to the statement saying Rowling had misread the joint statement. She tweeted the entire joint statement, saying that it was wrong for pick and choose certain things from the statement. She even ended her tweet saying “Women, stay strong.” Clearly a dig at Rowling backing a man instead of the victim of his abuse.

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In response to Heard’s tweet, Rowling has been silent. Where’s her activism now?

We should also talk about the cultural appropriation Rowling employs in her four-part History of Magic in North America. Rowling included a section on Native American magic where she basically took an entire complex and rich history of the many different tribe nations across the continent and came up with vague stereotypes about Native magic. Yes, we know magic is made up but have some respect for actual traditions and beliefs, please.

Many Native American readers, writers and scholars were not happy with her work, with one writer even saying: “This is colonialism. Simply put, it’s cultural theft and these are not her stories to tell.”

Many have criticised Rowling for the overwhelming whiteness of the Harry Potter books, and yet, Rowling’s attempt to diversify the Harry Potter world was well and truly a fail. If you want to write about a culture that is unknown to you, why not do your research properly?

And then most recently, Rowling tweeted this after Roy Moore was defeated in the Alabama senate race. She said Roy Moore was right about God being in control, and that God was a black woman.

People dragged her – rightfully so. They said she should be the last person to talk about a black woman God especially because she is a proud liberal, has so few black characters in her books, and once more the Depp thing came up as well. Additionally, instead of tweeting things to appeal to “woke” liberals, why didn’t Rowling ask her fellow white women in the USA why they messed up?

It’s all well and good to be a social justice warrior on Twitter but if you can’t back it up IRL, you should just sit down. And it’s disingenuous to say that Rowling’s books and what they stand for should be separated from who she is and her politics. Rowling’s books are about standing up for justice and all that’s good in this world, but if she doesn’t do that and actually encourages victim-blaming and cultural appropriation, then how can it mean anything? I love the Harry Potter books and probably always will but unfortunately J.K. Rowling has lost my respect.

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Scholastic Q2 Sales, Earnings Fall

Sales and earnings fell in Scholastic’s second quarter ended November 30, 2017, compared to the second quarter last year, but company chairman and CEO Dick Robinson said the company remains on track to hit its financial targets for fiscal 2018. Revenue declined 4% from a year ago, to $598.3 million, and operating profit dropped 4%, to $107.2 million.

The company expected results in the quarter and year to be below comparable periods a year ago, when Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay posted strong sales. While sales in the children’s publishing and distribution group fell 5%, Robinson said the decline was less than expected due to strong sales of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The Illustrated Edition, Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man series, and tie-in titles to the popular Five Nights at Freddy’s video game series. Still, trade sales fell 18% in the quarter due to the lack of a new Potter titles.

The group also benefited from a 2% increase in the book fair business. Book club revenue was down 7% in the quarter compared to fiscal 2017, but Robinson said profits at the clubs were higher than last year due to “lower cost digital marketing and improved efficiencies in customer service and fulfillment.”

The improved profitability in the book club division was one result of the company’s Scholastic 2020 program, which aims to lower costs throughout the company by greater investment in technology.

In Scholastic’s education unit, revenue in the quarter slipped to $70.9 million in the second quarter compared to $71.1 million in the prior year period, with slightly better results in classroom books and classroom magazines, the publisher said.

The lack of a new Potter title also affected the international group, where sales fell 3% to $115.6 million in the quarter. The lower revenue in the current quarter, Scholastic said, was mainly due to the higher level of Potter-related sales in Canada and in the export channel in the prior year period.

Sales in the first half of fiscal 2018 fell 13% from the same period in fiscal 2017, and operating income was $5.4 million, down from $49.6 million in the first six months of fiscal 2017.

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The Fantastic Beasts Creatures That Are Returning For The Crimes Of Grindelwald

We’ll have to wait a little longer to find out what this Chinese addition to Newt Scamander‘s animal collection is, but the Niffler and Picket are well familiar to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them fans. Resembling a mole, the unnamed Niffler (seen above) is quite the kleptomaniac, stealing anything shiny it can get its little hands on. Turning to Pickett, he is a Bowtruckle, a small, insect-eating, tree-dwelling critter. Newt keeps several Bowtruckle in his suitcase zoo, but he’s taken a particular shine to Pickett, often carrying him around in his pocket to keep him warn and because that particular Bowtruckle has attachment issues. Bowtruckles are good at picking locks, so perhaps Pickett will help Newt out if he’s been chained up by a nefarious individual. As for the Niffler, if it’s gotten loose again, the nearby jewelry shops and banks will be in trouble.

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How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ with casting Johnny Depp in sequel to Fantastic Beasts?

Last week, JK Rowling wrote on her website why she not just supports but is ‘genuinely happy’ with the casting of Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in The Crimes of Grindelwald. The film is the sequel to last year’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and a part of the mega successful Harry Potter franchise. Depp plays the much-feared dark wizard, who appeared briefly in the Harry Potter franchise, and was a friend-turned-foe of Albus Dumbledore.

Depp’s casting is controversial because of the domestic violence claims made by his ex-wife Amber Heard.

The actress accused the Pirates of the Caribbean actor of emotional and physical abuse during their divorce proceedings in May 2016. Fans have been questioning why the domestic violence allegation didn’t cost Depp’s job since he was first seen a cameo as Grindelwald in Nov 2016. In the second film, that’s due for a Nov 2018 release, he has the title role, and will presumably continue to be a part of the three future Fantastic Beasts films.

Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 2: Image via Facebook

Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 2: Image via Facebook

The Depp controversy picked up steam once more when Warner Bros., the studio behind the franchise, released the first cast photo and the name of the next installment in last month. Rowling, who is normally very vocal on social media about supporting women’s empowerment and calling out bullying and sexual harassment, was quiet even as fans tweeted to her about Depp’s casting.

In the statement published on Dec 7, the 52-year-old author wrote that she is not able to speak frankly about the issue because of ‘the agreements that have been put in place to protect the privacy of two people”. She did, though, give the casting her approval. “Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.”

Rowling ended her statement with, “We all have to do what we believe to be the right thing”. Only in this case, the ‘right thing’ would have been to not publically support a man who is a known abuser.

Barely 15 months after they got married, Heard filed for a restraining order against 52-year-old Depp. The actress alleged, “Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me” and claimed that there were times when she feared for her life. As evidence she submitted photographs of injuries (including bruises on her face), texts detailing physical abuse and photographs implying that Depp allegedly cut off a part of his finger to spite her. There is also a leaked video, obtained by TMZ in August last year, that shows Depp slamming kitchen cabinets, screaming, and calling Heard crazy. He appears to throw and shatter a glass and wine bottle before grabbing her phone.

Soon after, the exes settled the divorce case and Heard retracted her petition for a retraining order. In a joint statement, the former couple said, “Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love. Neither party has lied nor made false accusations for financial gain. There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm. Amber wishes the best for Johnny in the future. Amber will be donating financial proceeds from the divorce to a charity. There will be no further public statements about this matter.”

At the time, Heard first came forward with the accusations; she was immediately called a liar by Depp’s very vocal supporters and by the media. In the pre-Weinstein era, even when victims of abuse showed physical evidence of the said abuse, the society was quick to fallback on the gold-digging, fame-seeking prototype. Forget acknowledging a victim’s pain, even believing the abuse was a huge problem a year ago.

One hoped that the #MeToo movement and the renewed cultural conversation about violence against women would have encouraged one of the world’s most famous women and a self-made billionaire to not protect a powerful abuser. As the writer and producer of the Fantastic Beasts films, Rowling would have a say in the casting.

Ridley Scott reshot a whole film after replacing Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in two weeks; it would have been possible to recast Depp but the powers-that-be decided not to.

Abuse has been a recurring theme in Rowling’s works. The Dursleys’ confined Harry to a cupboard under the stairs, he was starved and berated daily. Sirius Black, Severus Snape and Tom Riddle have all suffered different degrees of verbal and physical abuse in their childhood. In Fantastic Beasts, his adopted mother frequently beats young wizard Credence Barebone.

In The Casual Vacancy, her first book after Harry Potter, Rowling wrote a supporting character called Andrew, a teen who lives with his abusive father. In an interview to The New Yorker, the notoriously private novelist admitted that she identified with the character. While she insisted that “no one in The Causal Vacancy is a portrait of any living person, Rowling also said, “I did not have an easy relationship with my father”.

JK Rowling found herself in the midst of a cultural appropriation controversy when she borrowed from Native American folklore for her 'Magic in North America' series. AP/File photo

JK Rowling. AP/File photo

It has been rumoured for years that Rowling’s first marriage to Jorge Arantes, a Portuguese journalism student, three years her junior, was abusive. While she has never publically spoken about the extent of the violence she endured, Arantes in an interview admitted to slapping her “very hard” and throwing her out of their home in the morning of Nov 17, 1993.

Rowling is someone who understands, and has probably experienced, domestic violence of some kind. But her statement about Depp’s casting is yet another example of a woman’s complaint being swept aside in favour of a popular and powerful man.

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Rowling wrote, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it”. Her words, last week, took a little sheen off her magic.


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Eddie Redmayne confirms Nifflers return in ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’

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Not to be outdone by the Porgmania sweeping the nation, Fantastic Beasts star Eddie Redmayne revealed to Entertainment Weekly that Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald will introduce us to new magical creatures – and bring back the wily, adorable Niffler.

“There’s a Chinese creature that’s formidable,” Redmayne told EW. “There are some of the old favorites: The Niffler is back and causing havoc. As is Pickett.”

Pickett was in the first film as Newt Scamander’s faithful Bowtruckle – a small, stick-like creature that dwells in trees. Pickett is pretty loyal to Newt, and not a bad creature to have around in a tight spot.

“There are as many beasts in the film as in the first,” executive producer David Heyman said. “But the main driver in the first film was finding the beasts. That’s not the driver in this film, it’s not a central part of the plot. But beasts feature in the film and feature strongly.”

That’s right, kids, the beasts have officially been sidelined from their own titular franchise, in favor of – you know it’s coming – Johnny Depp as the dark wizard Grindelwald. Fantastic Beasts 2 is named for Depp’s character, which means he’s central to the plot. Connecting him to the beasts seems like a stretch, unless he’s looking for a creature to help with his dark takeover. The connection is more likely through Scamander and his association with Dumbledore, Grindelwald’s former beau and current foe.

The intense focus on Grindelwald as played by Depp has drawn criticism from Harry Potter fans to the point that director David Yates, writer J.K. Rowling, and even Depp’s ex-wife Amber Heard (who filed a restraining order against him for domestic abuse) made public statements since the film’s initial title announcement. The best case scenario is for Grindelwald to be swiftly eaten by a swarm of Nifflers. Wear something shiny, dude.

Fantastic Beasts 2 releases in Nov. 2018.

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JK Rowling’s defense of Johnny Depp bitterly divides ‘Harry Potter’ fans

It looks like this controversy won’t die down.

Johnny Depp in 'Fantastic Beats: The Crimes of Grindelwald.' (Warner Bros.)
Johnny Depp in “Fantastic Beats: The Crimes of Grindelwald” (Warner Bros.) 

Last week, J.K. Rowling broke her silence on the casting of Johnny Depp in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” the latest installment in her mega-successful family-friendly “Harry Potter” franchise. She said she is “genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.”

While some fans applauded the idea that the iconoclastic actor would bring to life the menacing dark wizard Grindelwald, others were left feeling angry, dismayed and betrayed because Depp was famously accused of being physically and emotionally violent to his ex-wife Amber Heard. Here is one such Twitter exchange among fans, and it’s relatively tame compared to others:

Heard made her allegations against Depp in May of 2016, shortly before she filed for divorce. Since then, fans have debated whether this domestic violence allegation should cost Depp his job with the “Potter” franchise. He first appeared in a cameo as Grindelwald in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

The domestic allegations haven’t gone away, even though Depp denied them; he and Heard divorced and the couple settled their case, with Heard getting a $7-million payout that she donated to charity. Now, Depp has a title role in its sequel, “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” which is due for a November 2018 release, and that role is expected to be part of future “Fantastic Beasts” films.

Depp defenders say he was never charged or convicted of a crime and accuse Heard of making up the allegations to get a hefty settlement from him. But other fans feel betrayed by Depp’s casting because Rowling has become known through her fiction and her social media as a strong advocate for women’s empowerment and for survivors of abuse. She has also denounced bullying and sexual harassment, according to the site Showsha.com.

Over the past year, Rowling largely stayed silent about the Depp controversy, even as fans tweeted her about it, adding to their frustration and sense of betrayal.

But last week, she could stay silent no more. The Harvey Weinstein scandal of the past two months has focused society’s attention on the need to hold powerful men in media, business and politics accountable for their alleged abuses. The Weinstein fallout has also led to scrutiny of individuals and institutions that fail to hold those abusive men accountable. The Depp casting controversy gained additional momentum after Warner Bros., the studio behind the franchise, released Depp’s first cast photo.

When Rowling finally broke her silence, with a statement issued on her website, she explained that she was limited in what she could say about the casting issue due to “agreements that have been put in place” to protect the privacy of Depp and Heard.

Rowling admitted that she was at first thrilled to hear that the Academy Award-nominated Depp, most famous for playing Capt. Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” had been cast as Grindelwald.

That was until she began to see stories in the press about him “that deeply concerned me and everyone most closely involved in the franchise.” Rowling then said that the situation has become difficult, frustrating and “at times painful.” But in the end, she felt it was right to defend his casting.

She claimed that she and filmmakers had certain insight into what went down between Depp and Heard. From Rowling’s statement, it sounds like this insight led her and the filmmakers to believe that the violence in the marriage was mutual or somehow exaggerated.

“Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies,” she said.

“Fantastic Beasts” director David Yates put his defense of Depp in more blunt and provocative terms, describing the violence between him and Heard as a situation where “one person took a pop at him and claimed something,” according to the Daily Beast. Yates then argued that Depp couldn’t have abused Heard because he’s only known the actor to be a nice guy.

“I can only tell you about the man I see every day: He’s full of decency and kindness, and that’s all I see,” Yates said. “Whatever accusation was out there doesn’t tally with the kind of human being I’ve been working with.”

Actually, Yates’ view of Depp doesn’t square with a report in the Hollywood Reporter that the actor had been a general terror on the set of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” That story described Depp as drinking excessively, getting into physical fights with Heard and being constantly tardy, holding up production and leaving producers to have emergency conferences to figure out what to do about their reportedly difficult, self-indulgent, self-involved star. “Everyone was an innocent bystander watching this train wreck,” a source told the Hollywood Reporter.

As the Grindelwald casting controversy raged on over the weeks, Heard finally weighed in, as much as she apparently can given whatever settlement agreement she reached with Depp. In an Instagram post, she suggested that Rowling, Yates and Warner Bros. had misrepresented the joint statement she and Depp released when they finally split.

“To pick and choose certain lines and quote them out of context is just not right,” the “Aquaman” star said. “Women, continue to stand up and stay strong. Love, Amber.”

In that statement, the couple said that their relationship had been “intensely passionate and at times volatile,” words that presumably led Rowling, Yates and Warner Bros. to assume they could say that both parties were at fault for the violence. Another sentence seemed to exonerate Depp: “There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.”

But Heard suggested that Depp defenders are choosing to ignore the sentence which states that “neither party has made false accusations for financial gain.” That means that Depp himself acknowledged that Heard didn’t make up her story about his being violent with her in order to get more money from him.

Rowling probably hopes that the controversy will quiet down now that she has spoken. Yates, again, was more blunt in saying he thinks the debate should just stop, declaring it’s “a dead issue.”

But the controversy about Depp has grown more heated and culturally of-the-moment just in the past week. After all, other powerful men have been called to account for their alleged mistreatment of women — from U.S. Senator Al Franken to U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore to New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza to Donald Trump, the president of the United States.

This week, Ridley Scott also earned a Golden Globe nomination for best director for his film “All the Money in the World.” At the 11th hour, Scott made what many regard as a heroic decision to rescue his film from being shelved by removing his disgraced star Kevin Spacey and replacing him with Christopher Plummer. Like Weinstein and other men, Spacey is accused by multiple people of sexual harassment or assault. Scott’s move required him and the cast and crew to quickly reshoot scenes with Plummer in order to have the film ready for release and for awards-season consideration by the end of this month.

The thinking, given Scott’s move, is that Warner Bros. could easily replace Depp in the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise at such an early date. But it doesn’t look like Warner Bros. wants to go that route — hence, the Rowling statement.

The chatter on Depp’s casting might die down for a time, but it won’t go away entirely and will likely resurface at various points over the next year. After all, “Harry Potter” fans in general tend to be a pretty passionate and determined bunch, including when it comes to speaking up about things they don’t like, such as Depp being in one of their beloved movies.

The Daily Beast’s Amy Zimmerman agrees they have a right to demand that Depp be replaced in the film, and said Rowling’s attempt to show serious reflection on the matter doesn’t lessen the moral cowardice of her position.

“At the end of the day, it’s difficult to denounce a friend or rethink an actor’s casting mid-production — it’s emotionally taxing and potentially costly,” Zimmerman said. “But it’s the right thing to do, and any attempts to defend an accused abuser will come across to many as cowardly, no matter how self-reflective or articulate the statement.”

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JK Rowling’s defense of accused celebrity bitterly divides ‘Harry Potter’ fans

It looks like this controversy won’t die down.

Johnny Depp in 'Fantastic Beats: The Crimes of Grindelwald.' (Warner Bros.)
Johnny Depp in “Fantastic Beats: The Crimes of Grindelwald” (Warner Bros.) 

Last week, J.K. Rowling broke her silence on the casting of Johnny Depp in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” the latest installment in her mega-successful family-friendly “Harry Potter” franchise. She said she is “genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.”

While some fans applauded the idea that the iconoclastic actor would bring to life the menacing dark wizard Grindelwald, others were left feeling angry, dismayed and betrayed because Depp was famously accused of being physically and emotionally violent to his ex-wife Amber Heard. Here is one such Twitter exchange among fans, and it’s relatively tame compared to others:

Heard made her allegations against Depp in May of 2016, shortly before she filed for divorce. Since then, fans have debated whether this domestic violence allegation should cost Depp his job with the “Potter” franchise. He first appeared in a cameo as Grindelwald in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

The domestic allegations haven’t gone away, even though Depp denied them; he and Heard divorced and the couple settled their case, with Heard getting a $7-million payout that she donated to charity. Now, Depp has a title role in its sequel, “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” which is due for a November 2018 release, and that role is expected to be part of future “Fantastic Beasts” films.

Depp defenders say he was never charged or convicted of a crime and accuse Heard of making up the allegations to get a hefty settlement from him. But other fans feel betrayed by Depp’s casting because Rowling has become known through her fiction and her social media as a strong advocate for women’s empowerment and for survivors of abuse. She has also denounced bullying and sexual harassment, according to the site Showsha.com.

Over the past year, Rowling largely stayed silent about the Depp controversy, even as fans tweeted her about it, adding to their frustration and sense of betrayal.

But last week, she could stay silent no more. The Harvey Weinstein scandal of the past two months has focused society’s attention on the need to hold powerful men in media, business and politics accountable for their alleged abuses. The Weinstein fallout has also led to scrutiny of individuals and institutions that fail to hold those abusive men accountable. The Depp casting controversy gained additional momentum after Warner Bros., the studio behind the franchise, released Depp’s first cast photo.

When Rowling finally broke her silence, with a statement issued on her website, she explained that she was limited in what she could say about the casting issue due to “agreements that have been put in place” to protect the privacy of Depp and Heard.

Rowling admitted that she was at first thrilled to hear that the Academy Award-nominated Depp, most famous for playing Capt. Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” had been cast as Grindelwald.

That was until she began to see stories in the press about him “that deeply concerned me and everyone most closely involved in the franchise.” Rowling then said that the situation has become difficult, frustrating and “at times painful.” But in the end, she felt it was right to defend his casting.

She claimed that she and filmmakers had certain insight into what went down between Depp and Heard. From Rowling’s statement, it sounds like this insight led her and the filmmakers to believe that the violence in the marriage was mutual or somehow exaggerated.

“Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies,” she said.

“Fantastic Beasts” director David Yates put his defense of Depp in more blunt and provocative terms, describing the violence between him and Heard as a situation where “one person took a pop at him and claimed something,” according to the Daily Beast. Yates then argued that Depp couldn’t have abused Heard because he’s only known the actor to be a nice guy.

“I can only tell you about the man I see every day: He’s full of decency and kindness, and that’s all I see,” Yates said. “Whatever accusation was out there doesn’t tally with the kind of human being I’ve been working with.”

Actually, Yates’ view of Depp doesn’t square with a report in the Hollywood Reporter that the actor had been a general terror on the set of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” That story described Depp as drinking excessively, getting into physical fights with Heard and being constantly tardy, holding up production and leaving producers to have emergency conferences to figure out what to do about their reportedly difficult, self-indulgent, self-involved star. “Everyone was an innocent bystander watching this train wreck,” a source told the Hollywood Reporter.

As the Grindelwald casting controversy raged on over the weeks, Heard finally weighed in, as much as she apparently can given whatever settlement agreement she reached with Depp. In an Instagram post, she suggested that Rowling, Yates and Warner Bros. had misrepresented the joint statement she and Depp released when they finally split.

“To pick and choose certain lines and quote them out of context is just not right,” the “Aquaman” star said. “Women, continue to stand up and stay strong. Love, Amber.”

In that statement, the couple said that their relationship had been “intensely passionate and at times volatile,” words that presumably led Rowling, Yates and Warner Bros. to assume they could say that both parties were at fault for the violence. Another sentence seemed to exonerate Depp: “There was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.”

But Heard suggested that Depp defenders are choosing to ignore the sentence which states that “neither party has made false accusations for financial gain.” That means that Depp himself acknowledged that Heard didn’t make up her story about his being violent with her in order to get more money from him.

Rowling probably hopes that the controversy will quiet down now that she has spoken. Yates, again, was more blunt in saying he thinks the debate should just stop, declaring it’s “a dead issue.”

But the controversy about Depp has grown more heated and culturally of-the-moment just in the past week. After all, other powerful men have been called to account for their alleged mistreatment of women — from U.S. Senator Al Franken to U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore to New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza to Donald Trump, the president of the United States.

This week, Ridley Scott also earned a Golden Globe nomination for best director for his film “All the Money in the World.” At the 11th hour, Scott made what many regard as a heroic decision to rescue his film from being shelved by removing his disgraced star Kevin Spacey and replacing him with Christopher Plummer. Like Weinstein and other men, Spacey is accused by multiple people of sexual harassment or assault. Scott’s move required him and the cast and crew to quickly reshoot scenes with Plummer in order to have the film ready for release and for awards-season consideration by the end of this month.

The thinking, given Scott’s move, is that Warner Bros. could easily replace Depp in the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise at such an early date. But it doesn’t look like Warner Bros. wants to go that route — hence, the Rowling statement.

The chatter on Depp’s casting might die down for a time, but it won’t go away entirely and will likely resurface at various points over the next year. After all, “Harry Potter” fans in general tend to be a pretty passionate and determined bunch, including when it comes to speaking up about things they don’t like, such as Depp being in one of their beloved movies.

The Daily Beast’s Amy Zimmerman agrees they have a right to demand that Depp be replaced in the film, and said Rowling’s attempt to show serious reflection on the matter doesn’t lessen the moral cowardice of her position.

“At the end of the day, it’s difficult to denounce a friend or rethink an actor’s casting mid-production — it’s emotionally taxing and potentially costly,” Zimmerman said. “But it’s the right thing to do, and any attempts to defend an accused abuser will come across to many as cowardly, no matter how self-reflective or articulate the statement.”

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Keeping Johnny Depp In JK Rowling’s ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Will Be An Endless PR Nightmare

Warner Bros.

Both Warner Bros./Time Warner Inc. and director David Yates have released official statements relating to the casting of Johnny Depp as archvillain Grindelwald in the five-film Fantastic Beasts franchise. This came in response to J.K. Rowling herself coming out and defending the casting. The controversy over the actor appearing in the films, initially in a cameo and then as the main heavy for the series, just months after being accused of domestic abuse became a lightning rod for white male Hollywood privilege.

It is an artistic choice that looked even worse as a deluge of badly behaving men have been exposed and (somewhat) exiled over the last few months. While Depp has not been accused of sexual assault or sexual harassment, the notion of the actor playing the baddie in a kid-targeted fantasy film after having been accused of hitting his then-wife is not the kind of thing that has sat well with fans of the J.K. Rowling empire. The statements from Warner Bros. and director David Yates and producer David Heyman came in response to a lengthy statement from Ms. Rowling herself, as posted on her website. Those statements are copied at the end of this post.

This is the kind of situation where there is no response, beyond a straight-up recasting, that is going to be wholly satisfactory to offended parties. And I don’t blame them. As I wrote last year when this all first came out, using Johnny Depp, an actor of minimal box office value outside of the Pirates of the Caribbean films (although arguably a true added-value element in something like Murder on the Orient Express) was arguably not worth the sheer amount of negative feelings and defensive PR that these films will now endure for the next seven years.

Yes, there is the moral factor of putting an outed (alleged) spousal abuser in a key role in a kid-friendly series. But there is also needless publicity headaches for an actor who isn’t nearly as popular as he once was and will lead plenty of older fans to, if not outright boycott the movies, not necessarily rush out and see them on opening weekend.

Of course, there is the counterargument that the vast majority of general moviegoers, especially overseas, may not know or care about these allegations. Moreover, there is a skewed irony in the fact that actors and filmmakers associated with kid-targeted entertainments may well have an advantage over adult-skewing stars when they get outed as would-be abusers or sex criminals. To wit, it’s a lot easier for an adult to make a choice not to watch the next Kevin Spacey movie or the next Jeremy Piven drama then it is for parents to tell their kids that they can’t see The Crimes of Grindelwald or Pixar’s The Incredibles 2.

This is an icky and unfortunate situation that will hang over the franchise’s head until the series comes to an end. Of course, since the character has the ability to make himself look like someone else (he spends the first film being played by Colin Farrell), we might not be too surprised if Grindelwald looks a little different somewhere down the line. It is good that all parties are aware of the issues at hand, even if this all could have been avoided by CGI-ing Skeet Ulrich into the final moments of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

To wit…

When Johnny Depp was cast as Grindelwald, I thought he’d be wonderful in the role. However, around the time of filming his cameo in the first movie, stories had appeared in the press that deeply concerned me and everyone most closely involved in the franchise.

Harry Potter fans had legitimate questions and concerns about our choice to continue with Johnny Depp in the role. As David Yates, long-time Potter director, has already said, we naturally considered the possibility of recasting. I understand why some have been confused and angry about why that didn’t happen.

The huge, mutually supportive community that has grown up around Harry Potter is one of the greatest joys of my life. For me personally, the inability to speak openly to fans about this issue has been difficult, frustrating and at times painful. However, the agreements that have been put in place to protect the privacy of two people, both of whom have expressed a desire to get on with their lives, must be respected.  Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.

I’ve loved writing the first two screenplays and I can’t wait for fans to see ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’. I accept that there will be those who are not satisfied with our choice of actor in the title role. However, conscience isn’t governable by committee. Within the fictional world and outside it, we all have to do what we believe to be the right thing.

Statement from Warner Bros:

We are of course aware of reports that surfaced around the end of Johnny Depp’s marriage, and take seriously the complexity of the issues involved.

This matter has been jointly addressed by both parties, in a statement in which they said “there was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.”

Based on the circumstances and the information available to us, we, along with the filmmakers, continue to support the decision to proceed with Johnny Depp in the role of Grindelwald in this and future films.

Statement from David Yates, Director, and David Heyman, Producer

None of us involved in Fantastic Beasts would ever let our appreciation of talent obscure other, far more important considerations.

We recognized the magnitude of the issues raised and understood the strength of feeling expressed.

We hoped and strived at all times to be sensitive to both parties.

We stand by our decision to have Johnny in the films.

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JK Rowling defends Johnny Depp casting in ‘Fantastic Beasts’

Johnny Depp has been cast as the villain in the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ sequel.
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling on Thursday defended the decision to cast Johnny Depp in the next Fantastic Beasts movie, after a backlash from fans who were unhappy about the circumstances of the actor’s recent divorce.

In a statement on her personal website, Rowling said film-makers had considered recasting the role of villain Gellert Grindelwald for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the sequel to last year’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

But she said the circumstances of Depp’s divorce from actress Amber Heard were private and should be respected.

The Warner Bros movie, due to be released in November next year, is the second of a planned five movie spin-off franchise from the blockbuster Harry Potter films.

“Harry Potter fans had legitimate questions and concerns about our choice to continue with Johnny Depp in the role,” Rowling wrote.

“The agreements that have been put in place to protect the privacy of two people, both of whom have expressed a desire to get on with their lives, must be respected.

“The film-makers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies,” Rowling said.

Depp’s marriage to Heard ended in divorce amid bitter allegations of domestic abuse and blackmail.

After reaching a private settlement in August last year, the couple issued a joint statement saying their relationship was “intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love,” and that there was “never any intent of physical or emotional harm.”

Warner Bros said in a statement on Thursday that it supported the decision to keep Depp. Director David Yates and producer David Heyman also said in a joint statement that, while recognising “the magnitude of the issues raised”, they stood by the decision to cast Depp.

Depp’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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Amber Heard reposts joint Johnny Depp statement following JK Rowling’s defence of Fantastic Beasts 2 star

Amber Heard appears to have responded to the statement released by J.K. Rowling defending the casting of Johnny Depp in the Fantastic Beasts franchise.

The actor, who accused her ex-husband of domestic violence in May 2016 before settling the case, reposted the joint statement released after the couple’s divorce was finalised in August of that year to her social media pages.

In response to the backlash of Depp’s appearance in the first cast photo of Fantastic Beasts sequel Crimes of Grindelwald, Rowling issued a statement on Harry Potter fansite Pottermore revealing that – after initially considering the possibility of recasting – they decided to keep Depp in the film.

“The agreements that have been put in place to protect the privacy of two people, both of whom have expressed a desire to get on with their lives, must be respected,” she wrote, adding: “Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.”

Heard seemingly criticised Rowling’s words captioning the photo of her divorce settlement statement: “For the record, this was our FULL joint statement. To pick and choose certain lines and quote them out of context, is just not right. Women, continue to stand up and stay strong. Love, Amber.”

The film’s director, David Yates, recently came under fire after branding the furore surrounding Depp’s casting “a dead issue.”

Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald will arrive in UK cinemas on 16 November.

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