Richard Griffiths, the British stage and character actor best known for portraying Uncle Vernon Dursley in the “Harry Potter” movies, has died. He was 65.
He died Thursday at University Hospital in Coventry, central England, from complications following heart surgery, according to the Associated Press.
Griffiths won a Tony Award for “The History Boys” and appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows. He had a big stage presence and particularly excelled at playing larger-than-life characters from the buffoonish knight Falstaff with the Royal Shakespeare Company to King George in the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”
On television, he played a crime-solving chef in 1990s’ British TV series “Pie in the Sky,” and he had parts in movies ranging from historical dramas “Chariots of Fire” and “Gandhi” to slapstick farce “The Naked Gun 2 ½.”
But he will be most widely remembered as a pair of contrasting uncles — Harry Potter’s magic-fearing Uncle Vernon Dursley and Uncle Monty in cult film “Withnail and I.”
According to the AP, Griffith once said he took the role of Uncle Vernon “because that gives me a license to be horrible to kids.”
But Radcliffe recalled Griffiths’ kindness.
“Richard was by my side during two of the most important moments of my career,” said Radcliffe, who in 2007 starred with Griffiths in a London and Broadway production of “Equus.”
“In August 2000, before official production had even begun on ‘Potter,’ we filmed a shot outside the Dursleys’, which was my first ever shot as Harry. I was nervous, and he made me feel at ease.
“Seven years later, we embarked on ‘Equus’ together. It was my first time doing a play, but, terrified as I was, his encouragement, tutelage and humor made it a joy.”
Griffiths was born in northeast England’s Thornaby-on-Tees in 1947 to parents who were deaf and mute — an experience he and his directors felt contributed to his exceptional ability to listen and to communicate physically.
“The first language he learned was sign. And therefore his ability to listen to people with his eyes as well as his ears is incredible,” Thea Sharrock, who directed “Equus,” told The Associated Press in 2008.
Griffiths’ last major stage role was in a West End production of Neil Simon’s comedy “The Sunshine Boys” last year opposite Danny DeVito. The pair had been due to reprise their roles in Los Angeles later this year.
Griffiths is survived by his wife, Heather Gibson.
Our thoughts are with his family, friends and fans.
Science Museum Oklahoma will host its Bright Night of Harry Potter Oct. 26-27 with fun and educational activities inspired by The Boy Who Lived.
The overnight event will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26 and end at 8:15 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27.
“With Halloween right around the corner what better way to spend your night than delving into the science and wizardly potions of Harry Potter,” said Jacquelyn Musgrove, Communications Director for Science Museum Oklahoma, in a news release. “This entire night is devoted to all things wizards and muggles. We hope to see everyone dressed up in their very favorite Harry Potter costume as they come to enjoy this Hogwarts-themed night with us!”
Beginning at 6 p.m., Bright Night attendees, children and adults alike, will all have the opportunity to enjoy Quidditch matches, wizard’s dueling and giant chess. They can also brush up on their herbology skills and attend a potions class during this fun-filled, magical science experience.
Although the event will last all night, guests who prefer their own bed are welcome to stay late and head home at their leisure. Select museum areas are available as sleeping quarters for families who want to experience a full night at the museum.
“I have been looking forward to this Bright Night all year,” said Emily Rothrock, Director of Interpretive Programming and Events for the museum, in the release. “We have many exciting and engaging Potter themed activities planned for the night, one of which is Quidditch matches. I know I have my wizardly costume ready and I look forward to seeing all the other muggles dressed up, too.”
For more information on this and other events at Science Museum Oklahoma, go to www.sciencemuseumok.org.
The record-setting No. 1 movie of 2012, Marvel’s “The Avengers,” debuted on DVD and Blu-ray today.
As previously reported, “The Avengers” smashed the domestic revenue record like Hulk smashing through a Manhattan skyscraper with its $200.3 million debut back in May.
The superheroic teaming of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) made a much bigger bang with their bow than even The Boy Who Lived’s film finale: “The Avengers” posted the biggest opening ever, blasting past the previous record of $169.2 million for the debut of last year’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.”
To date, the movie has hauled in more than $622 million, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.
Speaking of The Boy Who Lived, J.D. Rowling will release her first non-Harry Potter book, and first book for adults, “The Casual Vacancy,” on Thursday. To read more about Rowling’s new novel, click here.
Also, rocker Neil Young released his memoir “Waging Heavy Peace” today.
For music fans, this week marks the drop of new albums from Mumford & Sons, Green Day, No Doubt and more.
Here is a release of the new CDs, DVDs and books, from Amazon.com and VideoETA.com:
Mumford & Sons, “Babel.”
Green Day, “Uno.”
No Doubt, “Push and Shove.”
John Hiatt, “Mystic Pinball.”
Emerson, Lake and Palmer, “Emerson, Lake and Palmer (Deluxe Edition).”
Deadmau5, “> Album Title Goes Here <.”
Lupe Fiasco, “Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap.”
Joe Bonamassa, “Beacon Theatre: Live From New York.”
Gary Moore, “Blues for Jimi: Live in London.”
Lee Ritenour, “Rhythm Sessions.”
American Horror Story: The Complete First Season
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1
Bond 50: Celebrating Five Decades of Bond
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – The Twelfth Season
CSI: Miami – The Final Season
CSI: New York – The Eighth Season
Damsels in Distress
Desperate Housewives: The Complete Eighth & Final Season
Family Guy: Volume Ten
Gossip Girl: The Complete Fifth Season
Law & Order Special Victims Unit: Year 13
Portlandia: Season 2
The Tall Man
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (Thursday)
Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young
Founders: A Novel of the Coming Collapse by James Wesley Rawles
Listening In: The Secret White House Recordings of John F. Kennedy by Ted Widmer, Caroline Kennedy
Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War by Dakota Meyer, Bing West
One Last Strike: Fifty Years in Baseball, Ten and a Half Games Back, and One Final Championship Season by Tony La Russa
J.K. Rowling’s publisher, Little, Brown & Co., released today (Tuesday) the cover of her next book, “The Casual Vacancy,” due out Sept. 27 in the U.K. and U.S.
The novel will be Rowling’s first book for adults and her first book set outside the magical world of her now-iconic Harry Potter series.
Here is the synopsis for the book:
When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.
“The Hunger Games,” the dystopian film based on the first book in Suzanne Collins’ best-selling trilogy, won a leading four golden popcorn trophies at Sunday night’s MTV Movie Awards.
Hosted by Russell Brand, the 21st annual fan-voted awards show spread the love around to three favorite teen-driven franchises: “The Hunger Games,” Harry Potter and “Twilight.”
“The Hunger Games” won best fight for the film’s final three-way battle pitting heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and ruthless career tribute Cato (Alexander Ludwig), according to the Associated Press. Lawrence and Hutcherson also received the best female and male performances, while Elizabeth Banks earned best on-screen transformation for her over-the-top makeover into Capitol representative Effie Trinket.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2,” last year’s final film in the billion-dollar franchise, won prizes for best cast and best hero for the title character, played by Daniel Radcliffe.
“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1″ won for movie of the year, while “Twilight” stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson earned the best kiss trophy for the fourth straight year.
“Bridesmaids” also received two awards: best gut-wrenching performance for the scene in which the ladies battled food poisoning and Melissa McCarthy for best comedic performance award.
Also, Shailene Woodley won best breakthrough performance for “The Descendants,” Jennifer Aniston got best on-screen dirtbag for “Horrible Bosses” and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” from “21 Jump Street” earned best music.
The inaugural Trailblazer Award was given presented to “The Amazing Spider-Man” star Emma Stone, since the “Zombie-slaying, ‘Superbad’-ass comedienne … isn’t just blazing a trail, she’s leaving a footprint.”
In lieu of a wordy acceptance speech for his MTV Generation Award, the show’s version of a lifetime achievement trophy, Johnny Depp performed with The Black Keys. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry presented the award to the 48-year-old “Pirates of the Caribbean” star, who accompanied The Black Keys on guitar for “Gold on the Ceiling” and “Lonely Boy.”
For more on the winners, click here.
And check out the videos of Depp’s acceptance speech and performance with The Black Keys:
Box office report for June 4, 2012: “Snow White & the Huntsman” is the fairest at the box office with No. 1 debut
The fairy-tale actioner “Snow White & the Huntsman” was the fairest of the them at the weekend box office, with a higher-than-projected $56.3 million domestic debut, reports the Associated Press.
The latest big-screen fairy-tale adaptation opened with a total about $20 million higher than industry expectations. Without the built-in business that generally goes with a sequel, “Snow White” was a question mark as a draw for young males who typically make up most of the action crowd, according to the AP. The movie wound up drawing a fairly even audience, with female fans accounting for 53 percent of viewers.
It also proved the fairest of them all in this year’s battle of the Snow White movies. In one weekend, “Snow White & the Huntsman” pulled in nearly as much as the $62.4 million that this year’s previous Snow White adventure, “Mirror Mirror,” took in domestically over its entire run, according to the AP.
“Mirror Mirror” was a fairy-tale comedy that appealed mainly to female crowds. Drawing well among male and female fans, “Snow White & the Huntsman” is an all-out action flick, with “Twilight” star Stewart as the princess, aided by a rugged man of arms (“Thor” star Hemsworth) to lead a battle against the evil queen (Oscar winner Theron).
“Snow White” bumped Sony’s “Men in Black 3″ from the No. 1 spot and into second-place with $29.3 million. The three-quel, starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin, raised its domestic total to $112.3 million after two weekends and added $78.6 million overseas for an international take of $274.6 million and a worldwide gross of $386.9 million.
According to the AP, Marvel’s superhero super-blockbuster “The Avengers” remained strong at No. 3 with $20.3 million, boosting its domestic total to $552.7 million. “The Avengers” climbed past “The Dark Knight” at $533.3 million to become No. 3 all-time on the domestic revenue chart, behind “Avatar” at $760.5 million and “Titanic” at $658.5 million.
Adding $12.4 million overseas, “The Avengers” pushed its international haul to $802.5 million and its worldwide earnings to $1.36 billion. That raised it past last year’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2″ at $1.33 billion to put “The Avengers” at No. 3 in all-time revenue worldwide, also behind only “Avatar” ($2.8 billion) and “Titanic” ($2.2 billion).
Big as “The Avengers” has been, it was this summer’s only hit until last weekend, with other May releases such as “Dark Shadows” and “Battleship” falling flat domestically. Despite strong revenues for the top three movies, domestic business was down for the third-straight weekend compared to last summer, according to the AP. Receipts totaled $142 million, off 11 percent compared to the same weekend a year ago, when “X-Men: First Class” led with $55.1 million.
Overall revenues are running neck-and-neck with the summer season of 2011, when Hollywood took in record cash between the first weekend of May and Labor Day. Box-office analysts had expected this summer to hurtle beyond that record, but so far, only a handful of films have paid off.
The next big box-office thing: Three-time Oscar nominee Ridley Scott’s “Alien” forerunner “Prometheus” opens in U.S. theaters Friday. The 20th Century Fox release got off to a solid start overseas with $35 million in 15 markets ahead of its domestic debut, according to the AP.
Though not a direct prequel, “Prometheus” stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Theron in a sci-fi adventure that takes place decades before the action of “Alien” and is set in a similar world as that 1979 horror tale from filmmaker Scott.
1. “Snow White & the Huntsman,” $56.3 million ($39.3 million international).
2. “Men in Black 3,” $29.3 million ($78.6 million international).
3. “The Avengers,” $20.3 million ($12.4 million).
4. “Battleship,” $4.8 million ($1.5 million international).
5. “The Dictator,” $4.7 million ($6.5 million international).
6. “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” $4.6 million ($557,000 international).
7. “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” $4.4 million ($3.7 million international).
8. “Dark Shadows,” $3.9 million ($7.2 million international).
9. “Chernobyl Diaries,” $3 million.
10. “For Greater Glory,” $1.8 million.
The MTV Movie Awards air at 8 tonight on the cable channel formerly known as Music Television.
Johnny Depp will receive the MTV Generation Award, while Emma Stone will be lauded with the MTV Trailblazer Award.
The movie of the year nominees are “Bridesmaids,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” “The Help,” “The Hunger Games” and “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1.”
To see the rest of the nominees and take advantage of your last chance to vote, click here.
“Harry Potter” scribe J.K. Rowling will release her first novel for adults, “The Casual Vacancy,” this fall.
The British author’s publisher, Little, Brown & Co., released today the book’s title, along with a brief plot synopsis and publication date: The book will be available worldwide on Sept. 27, according to the Associated Press.
The novel is described as a “blackly comic” tale of rivalry and duplicity in a small, seemingly idyllic English town.
The book will be Rowling’s first post-Potter effort. Her seven-volume saga about the adventures of a boy wizard became one of the most successful fictional series in history. It also led to a franchise of blockbuster films, plus a book of fairy tales inspired by the seventh and final novel in the saga.
Rowling’s seven Harry Potter novels have sold 450 million copies and have been translated into 74 languages, reports the AP.
Her new book, aimed at a grown-up audience, will open with the sudden death of a popular man, according to the AP. The battle for his seat on the local council sets off “the biggest war the town has yet seen,” with rich people fighting poor, parents battling their teenagers, and wives in conflict with their husbands.
The publisher said the 480-page novel will be sold as an e-book and audio download as well as in traditional hardback form. Her “Harry Potter” novels were only released in e-book form about two weeks ago.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2,” the final adventure in the Harry Potter film series, debuted on DVD and Blu-ray today.
Featuring an all-star British cast, the much-anticipated motion picture event is the second of two full-length parts. In the epic finale, the battle between the good and evil forces of the wizarding world escalates into an all-out war. The stakes have never been higher and no one is safe. But it is Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) who may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice as he draws closer to the climactic showdown with Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).
The three-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo includes:
Instant Streaming with UltraViolet Digital Copy
Disc 1: Theatrical Movie on Blu-ray
Disc 2: Special Features on Blu-ray:
Maximum Movie Mode hosted by Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and other cast members
A Conversation with JK Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe
The Goblins of Gringott’s
The Women of Harry Potter
Warner Bros. Studio Tour (London)
Disc 3: Theatrical Movie on DVD
New releases for Nov. 8, 2011: Rascal Flatts’ first live album out today, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2″ out Friday
Country music trio Rascal Flatts, which includes Picher-bred guitarist Joe Don Rooney, release today “The Best of Rascal Flatts LIVE,” the group’s first live album. Actually, the album is coming out on Lyric Street Records/Hollywood Records, the band’s former record label.
The album will include “Bob That Head,” “Bless the Broken Road,” “Still Feels Good,” “Here’s to You,” “Stand,” “These Days,” “What Hurts the Most,” “Life Is a Highway” and a medley of “I’m Movin’ On,” “Skin (Sarabeth)” and “Feels Like Today.” For an encore, the album offers the band’s cover version of Boston’s “Foreplay/Long Time” and the Edgar Winter Group’s “Free Ride.”
Rascal Flatts recorded for Disney’s Lyric Street imprint until the label shuttered in 2010; Hollywood Records is another Disney imprint. The trio is now signed to Big Machine Records, which released the Flatts’ latest record, “Nothing Like This.”
The hit-making band will compete for the title of Country Music Association vocal group of the year during the 45th Annual CMA Awards, airing live from 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday on ABC. The band also will perform duets with pop star Natasha Bedingfield and R&B legend Lionel Ritchie. Make plans to follow my live blog of the show Wednesday night.
In the movie category, the final cinematic chapter in the adventures of The Boy Who Lived, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on Friday.
On the bookshelf, young author Christopher Paolini is releasing the conclusion to his best-selling “The Inheritance Cycle,” while famed horror writer Stephen King is dropping his latest novel, “11/22/63.”
Here is a list of the new CDs, DVDs and books out this week, from Amazon.com and VideoETA.com:
Rascal Flatts, “The Best of Rascal Flatts LIVE.”
Il Divo, “Wicked Game.”
Various artists, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.”
Rush, “Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland.”
Pink Floyd, “Wish You Were Here – Immersion Box Set.”
The Beatles, “The Beatles With Tony Sheridan: First Recordings 50th Anniversary Edition.”
Willie Nelson, “Building Heartaches.”
David Lynch, “Crazy Clown Time.”
Pink Martini & Saoyi Yuki, “1969.”
Atlas Shrugged: Part One
Barbie: A Perfect Christmas
Doctor Who: Series Six, Part Two
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – Friday
Life in a Day
Supernatural: The Anime Series
Inheritance (The Inheritance Cycle) by Christopher Paolini
11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Collector’s Edition: Prima Official Game Guide by David Hodgson – Friday
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie
SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden by Chuck Pfarrer