Warner Bros admits it was ‘completely wrong’ to block Sky News questions in JK Rowling’s censorship line | Ents & Arts News

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Warner Bros. defended JK Rowling, contradicting a decision to ban Sky News from asking questions about the author of Harry Potter during an event at the Warner Studios Tour last week.

In the perspective of Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone 25th anniversary celebrations this weekend, Sky News was asked to interview Tom Felton for the launch of a new Mandrakes and Magical Creatures attraction, but when we asked about Rowling the PR intervened, insisting that we move on to the next question.

In an email attempting to explain why Rowling’s name could not be mentioned, the PR (called in to organize the event) said Rowling was “irrelevant” or “connected to Warner”.

(For transparency, Rowling produced the films as executive producer).

Read more:
The PR attempt to separate JK Rowling from Harry Potter

A spokesperson for the famous American film company Warner Bros. Studio Tour has now issued a statement to Sky News challenging the controversial question censorship incident with Felton, and admits it was “completely untrue” and that they are “proud” to be working with “one of the storytellers the world’s most accomplished” over the past 20 years on the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchises, and that “Warner Bros. Studio Tour London regrets that this happened in the context of a media event that day”.

It is a significant development in the story of how Rowling was treated, some say quashed, in apparent backlash, by much of the media and corporate world, including the author being stripped of an award by the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights group.

It’s widely assumed that Rowling was forced to take a step back at Harry Potter launches and anniversaries because of her stance on women’s rights.

Her June 2020 tweet about “people who menstruate” led to high-profile accusations of transphobia, which she denies, and an impassioned essay on gay spaces and gender, and specifically proposed gender reform. 56-year-old author’s transgender rights act. followed a few months later.

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The mastermind behind Harry Potter, Rowling has seemingly been forced into a back seat in recent years. Photo: AP
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In the lengthy essay, she revealed for the first time her own experience of serious sexual assault and domestic violence which, Rowling said, she felt compelled to write about after reading about the Scottish Government’s latest progress towards changing gender recognition laws.

Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson responded (separately) to denounce Rowling’s comments as hurtful to the trans community, and over the past two years the debate has only intensified, becoming increasingly polarized.

Press censorship

When Sky News asked Tom Felton – not about trans rights (it wouldn’t be relevant or appropriate for him to comment) – but about Rowling’s absence from the events of Harry Potter as he and the other cast members remain the faces of the franchise, the 34-year-old actor Draco Malfoy didn’t get a chance to respond as the PR cut him off to close the topic.

Following this, the PR hired to organize the Harry Potter event suggested that Rowling was not “relevant” for it.

Press censorship and the power of PR to dictate the narrative is an issue that journalists are increasingly concerned about.

Deadline reported last month that they could not publish their interview with Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Frémaux because the press team not only demanded approval for the copy, but removed “content including potentially uncomfortable responses from Frémaux regarding diversity and controversial filmmakers”.

Emma Watson and Rupert Grint who play Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter films are reunited for 'Back to Hogwarts'.  - a special 20th anniversary program
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JK Rowling was absent from the recent Harry Potter cast reunion

Read more:
JK Rowling slammed for ‘condescending’ and ‘transphobic’ tweets
Authors quit JK Rowling’s literary agency over her comments about trans people
Emma Watson “overwhelmed” by her reunion with the stars of Harry Potter

Sky News has also seen increased intervention over the past year by PRs keen to control the narrative.

Freedom of the press is at the heart of the whistleblowing of people like Harvey Weinstein and R Kelly.

Interviewees can refrain from commenting on what they choose and it is common for them to be briefed on how to handle certain issues, rather than silence reporters.

Full statement from Warner Bros.

The full statement emailed to Sky News from Warner reads: “Warner Bros. has enjoyed a creative, productive and fulfilling partnership with JK Rowling over the past 20 years.

“She is one of the most accomplished storytellers in the world, and we are proud to be the studio bringing her vision, characters and stories to life now – and for decades to come.

“On Monday, a statement was released by a third-party news agency that appeared to contradict this view.

“The statement was totally untrue, and Warner Bros. Studio Tour London regrets that it happened in the context of a media event that day.”

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