HBO boss dismisses question about JK Rowling’s transphobia
Casey Bloys has defended the author’s controversial anti-trans views by saying that the new “Harry Potter” show will focus on “love and self-acceptance”.
During the big unveiling of rebooted Max streamer Warner Bros. Discovery, the last major announcement the company made was an official order for a “Harry Potter” TV show. And like any new project in the franchise, the announcement immediately drew attention to franchise creator JK Rowling’s extensive history with transphobia.
During a Q&A session at the Warner Bros. Burbank studios immediately following the conference, Max and HBO chief content officer Casey Bloys declined to answer a reporter’s question about Rowling’s controversial reputation and how it might affect the show.
“No, I don’t think it’s the forum,” Bloys said during the Q&A. “It’s a very online conversation, very nuanced and complicated, and we’re not going to get into that.”
Rowling, who has written all seven books in the “Harry Potter” franchise and will executive produce the upcoming TV show, began making her views on the Trans community known in 2020 with a series of transphobic tweets and public statements. Specifically, her transphobia and her donations to Transgender organizations have led several actors in the “Harry Potter” film franchise, including lead actor Daniel Radcliffe, to criticize and distance themselves from her.
In his response during the Q&A, Bloys further defended WBD’s decision to continue working with Rowling, saying that the on-screen story is more important than the off-screen controversy.
“What’s on the screen is our priority,” Bloys said. “Obviously, the ‘Harry Potter’ story is incredibly empowering and positive and about love and self-acceptance. That’s our priority – what’s on the screen.”
Regarding Rowling’s involvement in the show, Bloys said: “She’s an executive producer on the show. Your insights will be helpful in this.”
News of a “Harry Potter” TV show expected to adapt all seven books in the franchise first leaked earlier this month, ahead of the official announcement. In a press release announcing the show, Rowling said: “Max’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of my books is important to me, and I look forward to being a part of this new adaptation, which will allow for a depth and detail that only a long-form television series can provide.”
The “Harry Potter” franchise or the “Wizarding World” brand is one of WBD’s most valuable properties; the eight film adaptations released between 2001 and 2011 grossed a total of $7.7 billion. On the big screen, however, the franchise has struggled to expand with adaptations of Rowling’s original book series, with prequel series Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them next to last year’s underperforming Dumbledore’s Secrets.
Rowling’s continued involvement in and profit from “Harry Potter” has created a pushback against new releases in the franchise, especially online; however, the outrage has yet to affect the brand’s financial performance. The video game “Hogwarts Legacy” was released in February this year, selling 12 million copies despite calls for a boycott against Rowling.
The “Harry Potter” TV series for Max will be produced by Brontë Film and TV and Warner Bros. Television. Rowling will executive produce with Neil Blair and Ruth Kenley-Letts; David Heyman is also in talks to executive produce.
Tony Maglio contributed to this report.
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