‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ photos show grown-up Hogwarts gang

As preparation for the stage production of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” ramps up in London, we were treated this week to new photos of the adult versions of the Boy Who Lived and his former Hogwarts classmates. The stage production is based on an original story by Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling and picks up 19 years after “The Deathly Hallows.”

First: Harry Potter, Albus Potter and Ginny Potter 

COURTESY OF POTTERMORE From left, Jamie Parker will play Harry Potter, Sam Clemmett will play Albus Potter and Poppy Miller will play Ginny Potter.

Next, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley and Rose Granger-Weasley 

COURTESY OF POTTERMORE From left, Paul Thornley will play Ron Weasley, Noma Dumezweni will play Hermione Granger and Cherrelle Skeete will play Rose Granger-Weasley.

COURTESY OF POTTERMORE
From left, Paul Thornley will play Ron Weasley, Noma Dumezweni will play Hermione Granger and Cherrelle Skeete will play Rose Granger-Weasley.

Finally, Draco and Scorpius Malfoy

COURTESY OF POTTERMORE Alex Price as Draco Malfoy and Anthony Boyle as Scorpius Malfoy.

COURTESY OF POTTERMORE
Alex Price as Draco Malfoy and Anthony Boyle as Scorpius Malfoy.

 

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” opens July 30 with previews beginning June 7 at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End.

Rowling collaborates with playwright Jack Thorne (“Let the Right One In”) and Tony Award-winning director John Tiffany for the two-part play, which continues the story of the boy wizard Potter, now a husband and father, and his son, Albus, as the two struggle with the weight of the past.

Lionsgate links with Comic-Con for streaming service

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For anyone unable to get badges to San Diego Comic-Con this year, Lionsgate and Comic-Con are giving subscribers unprecedented access to the pop culture mecca with the launch of Comic-Con HQ.

The ad-free subscription service, which launches Free Beta Access on May 7 (Free Comic Book Day) will feature live and exclusive coverage from San Diego Comic-Con July 20-24. It will also include original and unscripted series, daily and weekly entertainment commentary.

“For nearly half a century, Comic-Con has served as the definitive common ground where the fans of genre entertainment come together to express their passion for comics and pop culture,” said Seth Laderman, EVP and General Manager for Comic-Con HQ. “Comic-Con HQ aspires to extend that exchange 365 days a year, bringing everything we love about Comic-Con to the world in ways never before seen and experienced. The new platform will provide a year-round destination to enjoy all facets of the community and access the vast diversity of content the world has come to expect from the largest and longest-running pop cultural celebration of the year.”

Since SDCC attendees often wait hours (or days) for a coveted seat in Hall H or Ballroom 20, panels won’t be live-streamed. But, CCHQ will offer other exclusive programming and live-streams, including airings of select Comic-Con panels, and immersive access to the convention floor and sanctioned events never before available to the public such as the Masquerade and the Eisner Awards. Members will enjoy interviews and previews available only on CCHQ in a growing library of new and archival panels, bonus features, behind-the-scenes previews and more. 

Programming will include: A 1:1 interview series from G4 alum Adam Sessler (“X-Play”); fellow G4 star Kevin Pereira (“Attack of the Show”) and his company Attack Media will executive produce an entertainment pop culture news show and a late night talk show format; and the scripted comedy show “Kings of Con,” is inspired by real-life fan convention experiences and features “Supernatural” stars Richard Speight and Rob Benedict.

“CCHQ is welcoming both attendees and fans new to the Comic-Con phenomenon to join our community and enjoy all aspects of the experience in ways never before imagined,” said David Glanzer, Chief Communications and Strategy Officer for Comic-Con International. “Lionsgate is a terrific partner in this venture and uniquely qualified to provide quality programming that speaks directly to our fans. We’re excited to see what we can accomplish with a dedicated Comic-Con channel 365 days a year.”

More news about upcoming programming and partnerships will be announced in the coming weeks. Anyone can now pre-register for free beta access on www.Comic-ConHQ.com to enjoy a full platform of programming starting May 7 via their browsers and iOS/Android devices. The paid subscription service will roll out across more connected devises in the months to come such as Roku, AppleTV and Xbox One, with additional devices and distribution platforms becoming available throughout the year.

‘Once Upon A Time’ Winter Finale — Season 5, Ep. 11

At the end of the last episode, we saw Hook summon all the Dark Ones who ever lived to Storybrooke. Each of the Dark Ones mark all the residents for a trip to the Underworld so that they may stay in their place. Emma is faced with the challenge of saving her family, the town and eliminating the darkness for good for reclaiming Excalibur. And hopefully saving the man she loves before it’s too late.

The mid-season finale begins with a flashback that Killian (Hook) and Regina vowed never to speak of — where we learn that Killian’s father abandoned he and his brother, Liam, and sold them into servitude.

As an adult, still waiting for his revenge on the Crocodile, Hook agrees to kill Regina’s mother, Cora. To prove he’s up to the task, Regina tells him he must first kill a man in a tavern. He is shocked when he sees the man is his father. He expresses his remorse and tells Killian he was under a sleeping curse and was only awakened when his nurse gave him true love’s kiss.

Instead of killing him, Hook agrees to provide transport papers so his father (and his young son) can leave the town. When Hook goes to deliver the papers, he hears his father talking to the boy, Liam (the name of Hook’s dead brother), and ends up killing his father in a fit of rage. As his father dies, he tells Hook, “It’s never too late to change.”

Back in Storybrooke, everyone has been summoned to the lake for the trip to the Underworld. As Nimue begins to choke Emma, Hook decides the man he really wants to be — a hero. He stops Nimue and uses Excalibur to evaporate all the Dark Ones, channeling the darkness inside himself. He begs Emma to kill him so the darkness will finally be gone. She reluctantly does so, and is transformed back to her normal self and Hook dies.

The following day, Emma realizes she can still hear the call of the Dark One’s dagger and confronts Rumplestiltskin. He confesses he never gave them the real dagger to forge with Excalibur and is now, once again, the only Dark One. Realizing that Hook’s sacrifice was in vain and with leverage that she can tell Belle of his trickery at any moment, she makes Rumple promise to take her to the Underworld to save Hook.

They return to the lake to make the journey, only to be joined by Snow, Charming, Regina, Robin Hood and Henry who refuse to let her go alone. And off to the Underworld they go.

“Once Upon A Time” will return in March. 

‘Birth/The Bear King’ — OUAT 2-part episode

The following blog contains spoilers from Episode 8 and 9 of “Once Upon A Time” 

This two-part episode gives us insight into Emma’s plan and the secrets she’s been keeping. Making Excalibur whole again wasn’t just to harness dark magic, it was to save her one true love.

Back in Camelot, King Arthur cut Hook with Excalibur when Emma came to save him and her family. The small cut isn’t what it appears to be though. As Emma soon learns — A wound from Excalibur can never be healed. To keep Hook from dying and despite warnings from Merlin, Emma tethers him to Excalibur, creating a second Dark One. Hook, however, wanted nothing more than for Emma to return to her old self and begs her to let him go. He knows he can’t handle the Darkness like she can.

This was the whole reason that Emma kept the darkness and wiped everyone’s memories. She has been trying to find a way to rid herself and Hook of the darkness. Emma decides she needs a vessel to put the darkness into and chooses Zelena, since she’s already proven she’s wicked. But, there’s one problem — Zelena is pregnant. So, what’s a Dark One to do? Why, speed up the pregnancy, of course! Everyone fears Emma is after the baby, but once she delivers, she zaps Zelena back to her house.

Once there, Zelena discovers the dreamcatcher into which Emma stored everyone’s memories from Camelot and returns them. Hook them realizes that, while saving his life, Emma has made him the Dark One against his will. And he’s no exactly filled with gratitude.

In the second hour, “The Bear King,” we see the return of Merida and Mulan (!) who has lost her way after losing Aurora. The episode centers around Merida’s family and her father’s magic helm. Zelena and Arthur are also seeking the helm, which is believed to have the power to have men fight your battles for you, something that destroys Merida’s perception of her father.

Along the way, Mulan frees Ruby and Merida fights Arthur. They find the helm, and discover it was never enchanted.

‘Nimue’ — OUAT Episode 7 recap

This blog contains spoilers from “Nimue” — Season 5: Episode 7 of “Once Upon A Time”

We learned the identity and backstory of the very first Dark One — Nimue. Meanwhile, the rest of the heroes continued to try to reclaim Excalibur.

The episode begins with a flashback “1000 years before the age of Arthur” as Merlin and another man are stranded in a desert and find the Holy Grail. Merlin is able to drink from the grail and attains immortality. After gaining these powers, Merlin uses them for good for hundreds of years, healing people, until he meets a woman (Nimue) whose village is burned to the ground by a masked man.

As Once Upon A Time has taught us, all magic comes with a price, which Merlin has learned in the most painful way — seeing everyone he loves die one after the other while he continues to stay young. He decides he doesn’t want to live forever without Nimue, so the two go on a quest to turn the Grail into a sword so they can live their lives together.

But, just as the sword is forged, the masked man reappears and stabs Nimue. Although, unknown to Merlin, she had drank from the Grail, she pops back up, grabs his heart and exacts her vengeance for her village. The decision to kill blackens Nimue’s heart and turns her into the first Dark One.

Back in the Camelot, Merlin asks Regina and the others to recover the piece of Excalibur from Arthur while he and Emma go in search of an ember of the fire of Prometheus to forge it back together.

Merlin brings Emma to the site of Nimue’s fateful encounter to summon her since she is now the keeper of the ember. After resisting the darkness and the urge from Nimue to kill Merlin, Emma takes the ember and heads back to Camelot with Merlin until he mysteriously vanishes.

Zelena had helped Regina, Robin, Hook and Charming sneak into Arthur’s castle to steal Excalibur. When they make it to the Round Table, Zelena emerges with a kidnapped Snow, frees Arthur and helps him tether Merlin to Excalibur, allowing it to become like the Dark One dagger.

As the episode closes, we return to present-day Storybrooke, where Dark Emma retrieves the ember she took from Nimue and uses it to re-forge the sword in her basement while the spirits of all past Dark Ones look on. Ignoring Merlin’s warning years earlier to leave Excalibur alone, she reaches forward and is ready to wield its power.

It’s 3-D, Charlie Brown

20th Century Fox & Peanuts Worldwide Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang (Franklin, Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty and Sally) revel in a snow day in "The Peanuts Movie, which opened Nov. 6.

20th Century Fox & Peanuts Worldwide
Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang (Franklin, Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty and Sally) revel in a snow day in “The Peanuts Movie, which opened Nov. 6.

When I first heard that “Peanuts” was being brought back to the screen in CGI and 3-D, I was worried. I thought, good grief, they’re going to ruin these characters. As a lifelong fan of both the strip and animated films, I didn’t want to see Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang reimagined, I wanted the timeless classics.

After seeing “The Peanuts Movie” this weekend, I learned I didn’t need to worry. When I heard the first notes of Vince Guardaldi’s “Linus and Lucy,” I knew we were in for a nostalgic treat. If I could describe the movie in one word, it’d be “charming.”

I found myself smiling throughout the film as we saw familiar scenes recreated on the big screen — Snoopy as the World War I flying ace fighting the red baron and attending a school dance as Joe Cool, Lucy giving advice for those cold, hard nickels at her psychiatrist stand, the kite-eating tree, Linus snuggling his trusty blue blanket and pondering life’s big questions with Charlie Brown at that brick wall we’ve seen on countless occasions.

With the help of Charles Schulz’s son, Craig, and grandson, Bryan, director Steve Martino (“Horton Hears a Who”) succeeds in a faithful adaption of the beloved comic strip and the film is a love letter to the “Peanuts” gang.

The driving plot of the film centers on our favorite “blockhead” Charlie Brown once again pining away for the Little Red-Haired Girl, who this time moves across the street from the Browns. Charlie Brown sees this as a chance to have a clean slate with her. Finally, someone who doesn’t know of his past failings — buying a pitiful Christmas tree, failing to kick a football time and time again, never being able to keep his kite in the air. But, of course, he wouldn’t be Charlie Brown if things went well, so we see his good intentions throughout the movie derailed by his constant bad luck.

While CGI wasn’t how I’m used to seeing the gang, the animators stayed true to Schulz’s style, going back at the more than 18,000 strips for reference. Martin0 said the complexity of the animation was getting it to look so simple. The crew had to develop a technique that allowed them to keep the “soft wiggle” of Schulz’s work while translating characters in a 3-D world.

There are some small changes — all the kids, except for Sally, are in the same class. Even Peppermint Patty, Marcie and Franklin, who went to a different school in the “Peanuts” universe. It makes sense tough, in a 90-minute movie, there wouldn’t be time for everything. But, it works well and keeps the core gang all together.

There are some Easter eggs for long-time fans including mid-credits scenes involving Lucy, a Blockhead and a football, a group of Christmas carolers, the odd dance moves that we were accustomed to, Snoopy’s voice from specials long ago and traditional animation for Charlie Brown’s inner thoughts. In other words, something for every member of the family.

A Hero is Born — “Once Upon a Time episode 6 recap”

This blog contains spoilers from “Once Upon A Time” Season 5, Episode 6 — “The Bear and the Bow”

Sunday, we learned the danger in Storybrooke (and to Emma Swan) is greater than we thought. We are again taken back to six weeks ago in Camelot where we see the group working with Merlin to free Emma from the darkness.

Charming and Hook fight through the guards in the dungeon to reach Lancelot. They discover Merida has also been imprisoned. Merlin says the bars have been enchanted and his magic won’t work. Belle finds a spell in her book, which Merlin then uses to dissolve the bars.

While walking through the woods, Merida asks Belle to hang back and when the rest of the group is out of sight, she knocks her out and takes her to the Shores of DunBroche. When Belle comes to, Merida explains that the other clans refuse to recognize her as queen unless she marries one of them and they had kidnapped her three brothers. They break into a witch’s cabin and use the cauldron to check on Merida’s brothers; they see them tied to posts and the clans, tired of waiting on Merida to re-emerge, say the trio will be executed. Knowing Belle’s skill with magic, Merida persuades her to concoct a potion that will turn her into a bear.

After seeing Merida’s archery precision, Belle asks why she needs the potion — that she could take on the clans with her bravery and her bow. Merida says she missed shooting an arrow at her father’s attacker that resulted in his death.

Merida and Belle head out to save her brothers and upon their approach, Merida asks Belle for the potion. She warns the clans that they’ll regret challenging her and drinks the potion. When nothing happens, Belle tells her that it’s just water and that Merida doesn’t need the potion to save her brothers. Clan members launch arrows at the brothers, Merida draws back her bow and splits all three arrows in one shot. Shortly after, the clans lay down their weapons and kneel before Merida.

Meanwhile, at Granny’s in the woods of Camelot, Emma finds Merlin holding a candy bar and soon learns he was the usher who spoke to her in a movie theater when she was a little girl. Emma had stolen the same kind of candy right before Merlin spoke to her. He asks her if she remembers what he told her then:

“Leave Excalibur alone. The fate of everyone you love rests upon it.”

In present day Storybrooke, the Dark Swan sends Merida to hunt down Belle and kill her after Rumple escapes. Belle finds Rumple in the library and the two make their way to Gold’s shop. He grabs a pouch from a safe before an arrow crashes through the window. Merida bursts into the store, finding the pair in the back. Prodding Rumple to become the hero Emma wants him to be, she draws back to fire when Belle yanks the rug from under her and the couple escape in Gold’s car. As they’re nearing the town line, Rumple tells Belle the pouch contains transformation powder that will allow them to cross the line safely.

Realizing  Rumple has returned to his cowardly ways, Belle jumps from the car and leaves Rumple behind. He seemingly drives off to safety. Belle is confronted by Merida who tells her she has reason to be afraid and downs a potion that Dark Swan gave her. She transforms into a giant bear and chases Belle through the woods. As she stands above Belle, Rumple reappears and the bear turns its sights on him. Gathering his courage, he grabs the pouch and throws it into the bear’s mouth. Merida returns to her human form. Belle asks how he knew the powder would work, Rumple says he didn’t, he just took a chance.

The trio return to Emma and Rumple makes a deal before agreeing to try to pull Excalibur from the stone. He wants Merida’s heart back and to know how her brothers are. Dark Swan reluctantly obliges and Rumple steps toward the stone and pulls it out with ease. As he’s leaving, he tells Emma that she will regret making him a hero because he knows how the Dark One thinks.

Regina, Hook and the Charmings meanwhile discover that King Arthur double crossed them in present day Storybrooke and burned the magic mushroom needed to contact Merlin instead of using it in the cauldron. Regina remembers that one other person in Storybrooke was chosen by Merlin — the Author (now Regina’s son Henry). Henry casts the mushroom into the pot and a message from Merlin appears in the smoke. He tells the group that if they’re seeing the message, then things are worse than they feared and the only hope to save Emma from the darkness now is finding a person named Nimoway. The Dark One finds Merlin before he finishes the message, leaving us wondering who Nimoway is until next week.

“Once Upon A Time” airs at 8 p.m. EST Sundays on ABC. 

Camelot comes crashing down — Episode 3 Recap

This blog contains spoilers from “Once Upon A Time,” episode 3 of Season 5, Siege Perilous:

So much happens this week in Storybrooke and Camelot. A quick recap of some major events:

While the Dark Swan searches for a way to free Excalibur from its stone, Emma Swan’s loved ones continue their quest to save the Savior from herself. They struggle to recover their memories from Camelot and find Merlin.

Since dark magic has so far been able to release the legendary sword, The Dark One steals Happy’s axe since Dwarf axes can usually cut through anything. But since Dark Emma isn’t worthy to free the sword, the axe proves useless.

Meanwhile, in a flashback to Camelot, the group discovers that a magical toadstool will allow them to speak to Merlin, who in that realm is encased in a tree. King Arthur volunteers to accompany Charming on the journey to retrieve the mushroom. Only one person is able to cross the bridge leading to the toadstool, so Charming hurriedly makes his way over the water and retrieves the toadstool. On the way back, however, he is attacked by phantom knights and drug beneath the surface. Arthur pulls him up, but the toadstool is (seemingly) lost.

Emma leaves Hook a note to meet her on the Jolly Roger. After years of hunting a Dark One, he knows Dark Emma wants something. When she tries to reassure him, he tells her that he “loved” her. He loved Emma Swan, not the Dark One. He keeps pressing her as to what’s behind the locked door in her house (Excalibur), but she disappears in a cloud.

After their harrowing journey, Arthur rewards Charming with the Siege Perilous, a chair reserved for the knight with the purest heart. It was formerly occupied by Lancelot. When Snow leaves the hall, she is surprised to see Lancelot, who tells her Camelot is “not what is seems” and that the Dark One isn’t the only villain. We soon see what he means when Arthur unwraps the toadstool Charming thought was lost in the water and we learn that he set up the robbery of the chest of magical items in the present day. When Arthur’s squire is arrested for the robbery, Arthur convinces him to commit suicide as a “service to Camelot.”

Toward the end of the episode, Belle visits Granny’s Diner, toting the Enchanted Rose, whose petals suddenly reattach, signifying Rumpelstiltskin has awakened. The real reason Dark Swan met Hook on the Jolly Roger was to get her hands on his sword, an object that came in contact with Rumpel before he became the Dark One. Dark Emma uses the sword in a spell to wake Rumpel up since she knows he’s now a “blank slate” and might be the one to pull the sword from the stone.

So much has already happened in season 5 and it’s been interesting to see different sides of the characters we’ve come to know. Jennifer Morrison is doing a fantastic job as the Dark Swan and I’m loving Regina as  she works to save Emma. Next week, we’ll see her, Hook and Robin Hood on a quest together. “Once Upon A Time” airs at 8 p.m. Sunday on ABC.

The Dark Swan has risen

Emma Swan goes dark on "Once Upon A Time"

Emma Swan goes dark on “Once Upon A Time”

Following post contains SPOILERS from the Season 5 premiere of “Once Upon A Time”:

Ever since Emma Swan was swept away during the season 4 finale of ABC’s “Once Upon A Time,” we’ve been awaiting the arise of the new Dark One. The Season 5 premiere didn’t disappoint as we see Emma’s loved ones in Storybrooke willing to do anything to find her.

The episode opens with an introduction to the Knights of King Arthur’s Court, including Sir Lancelot, who were searching for Excalibur. They notice something amiss — someone got there before them. When the sword is pulled from the stone, we see a familiar pattern — the end of the legendary sword is the blade of the Dark One’s dagger. The dagger that now bears Emma Swan’s name.

Captain Hook, desperate to find Emma, wants to summon her with the dagger, only to be told by Regina that it won’t work. Emma is not in their world anymore. Hook’s hopes that Henry (the new Once Upon A Time author) could rewrite the story and restore Emma’s goodness were quickly dashed when he learned Henry broke the magic quill last season. Hook even resorts to freeing Zelena (The Wicked Witch of the West).

Regina, knowing Zelena’s true nature, tricks her when she opens a portal to return to Oz and transports Snow White, Prince Charming, Henry, Hook and a few others to find and save Emma. Granny’s Diner goes airborne much like Dorothy’s house and enters the swirling vortex.

We see Emma in The Enchanted Forest, fighting an internal struggle between good and evil as Rumpelstiltskin takes form as the worst conscience ever trying to get Emma to embrace the evil and turn herself over to the darkness. Emma sets out to find a magical wisp that can take her wherever she wants to go — such as finding the only person that can destroy the darkness inside her — Merlin. She comes across Princess Merida (from Disney’s “Brave”), who is also seeking a wisp to find her three kidnapped brothers. Merida offers to take Emma along and promises her the wisp when she’s finished.

Prodded by Rumpel to keep the wisp for herself, Emma is coaxed into snatching Merida’s heart and is in the process of crushing it when the Storybrooke gang arrives. Seeing her loved ones, she overtakes the darkness and they set out to find Merlin. On their way, the are met by the Knights and told a prophecy had foretold their arrival. They are escorted to the shiny turrets of Camelot.

Six weeks later, we see the group sans Emma drop back into Storybrooke dressed in Renaissance duds. They have no memory of the last 6 weeks and when the door swings open, we get our first glimpse of Emma, who has now fully embraced the darkness.

You went to Camelot to get the darkness out of me and you failed. — Emma Swan

With all the action in this premiere, I can’t wait to see how the rest of the season unfolds.