Welcome to Barely Related, a conversational Friday column that presents the non-gaming news stories that we, the Joystiq staff, have been talking about over the past week. And no, we're not stopping our focus on industry and gaming news. Think of this as your casual weekly recap of interesting (and mostly geeky) news, presented just in time to fill your brain with things to discuss at all of those weekend shindigs.
Grab a fresh drink, lean back in your armchair, and get ready to talk nerdy with us.
JK Rowling gives the world fanfiction fodder for days
Harry Potter author JK Rowling wrote an article in the voice of wizarding world gossip columnist Rita Skeeter, wherein we get a glimpse of Harry's life after Hogwarts, Voldemort and war. Yes, this already kind of happened in the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but that was such a forced, Disney-inspired afterthought that we tend to forget it ever happened.
In a post on Pottermore, Rowling describes Harry as he arrives at the 2014 Quidditch World Cup final – he turns 34 on July 31, and "there are a couple of threads of silver in the famous Auror's black hair." He still wears those round glasses and there's a "nasty cut" on his right cheekbone.
We don't know how familiar you are with the ways of fanfiction, but that final tidbit is something that can drive new stories for years. If you're still confused about what Pottermore is, check out this handy walkthrough video (hosted by yours truly):
Diagon Alley opens at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Seth Rogen and James Franco incite war with North Korea
No, it's not because of the Kanye incident. The North Korean government views Seth Rogen and James Franco's fall movie, The Interview, as an act of war, UN Ambassador Ja Song Nam said in a letter to UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon. The Interview is a Pineapple Express-flavored movie wherein Franco and Rogen are enlisted to assassinate North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un.
"To allow the production and distribution of such a film on the assassination of an incumbent head of a sovereign state should be regarded as the most undisguised sponsoring of terrorism as well as an act of war," the letter reads. "The United States authorities should take immediate and appropriate actions to ban the production and distribution of the aforementioned film; otherwise, it will be fully responsible for encouraging and sponsoring terrorism."
Gaze upon the two fresh faces cast in Star Wars: Episode 7
Two up-and-coming actors have been cast in JJ Abrams' Star Wars: Episode 7, following a round of open auditions that brought in 37,000 applicants. British actor Pip Anderson and US-born actress Crystal Clarke are the chosen two, though their exact roles in the film are unknown. The casting call was for lead roles.
Filming on Star Wars: Episode 7 will take a two-week hiatus in August so Harrison Ford can recover from injuries he sustained on-set, when the door of the Millennium Falcon fell on his leg. The movie is still scheduled to launch in December 2015.
They're out there, in the inky, nebulous space we call the internet – the scripts for the first five episodes of Doctor Who series eight. You've been warned.
BBC says it's investigating the leak, which appears to come from BBC Worldwide's Latin America headquarters in Miami, where the scripts were sent for translation. "We would like to make a plea to anyone who might have any of this material and spoilers associated with it not to share it with a wider audience so that everyone can enjoy the show as it should be seen when it launches," BBC says in a statement. "We know only too well that Doctor Who fans are the best in the world and we thank them for their help with this and their continued loyalty."
Batgirl comic reboot involves a new, non-spandex costume
Writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher are working with new artist Babs Tarr to reboot Batgirl for DC Comics, and they appear to be going for a fresh-faced, less-grimdark vibe. Fletcher describes the new Barbara Gordon story as a mix of Veronica Mars, the HBO series Girls and BBC's Sherlock.
"Just prior to the start of our story she's pushed to the breaking point and decides that she's had it with misery and darkness and wants a change," Stewart says. "She wants the opportunity to have some fun and live the life of a young, single girl in the city, so she packs up and moves to Burnside, the cool, trendy borough of Gotham, to focus on grad school."
Tarr's art notes a few changes to Batgirl's costume, including a new leather jacket, a cape that unsnaps from her shoulders and heavy-duty boots.
He also played Superman in 2006's Superman Returns, which is kind of cool. We guess.
Brandon Routh will appear in Arrow season three as The Atom, known by the civilian name Ray Palmer. In the comics, Palmer is a physicist and professor who develops a tool that allows him to shrink to crazy-tiny sizes. Deadline reports that Palmer will be the new owner of Queen Consolidated and a love interest for Felicity Smoak. Arrow season three airs on October 8.
Report: Gus Van Sant to direct the live-action Death Note film
First, there's a live-action, North American Death Note film in production. Nice. Second, Milk and Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant is slated to direct it, Tracking Board reports.
Death Note follows the story of a boy with a book that kills people – any name he writes in the book, that person dies. It features an intense FBI investigation, struggles with power and responsibility, and a death demon who likes apples.
Van Sant is replacing Shane Black as director of Death Note, with producers Dan Lin, Doug Davison, Roy Lee, and Brian Witten, with help from Vertigo Entertainment, Witten Pictures and Lin Pictures.
Homestar Runner is coming home
Homestar Runner should be back online by the fall, co-creator Matt Chapman said on the Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show podcast. Pause for exclamations of joy. Right – Homestar Runner was resurrected on a small scale on April Fools' Day this year, and Chapman said that was a test to see if demand still existed for Strong Bad and his crew of merry characters.
"When we did that April Fools' update this year, way more people looked at it than we ever even imagined would have at this point," Chapman said. The team is currently brainstorming ideas for a Strong Bad email and more: "It depends on how whole-hog we go, if we give Strong Bad a Twitter or Strong Sad a Tumblr."
We interrupt this Barely Related for a Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 trailer
If you missed the Brazil-Germany World Cup game, here you go
This is basically how it went down. [Update: Looks like FIFA wasn't as amused as we were by this video. Just trust us - it was funny.]