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HBO’s CEO dismisses criticism of JK Rowling’s transphobia as “very online”

J.K. Rowling, The Ickabog, transphobia
J.K. Rowling Photo: Shutterstock

Casey Bloys, the chairman and chief executive of HBO and HBO Max —­ recently rebranded together as Max — is looking forward to the streamer’s new seven-season adaptation of Harry Potter.

And overlooking JK Rowling’s embrace of transphobia.

At the official announcement of the new billion-dollar Max mega-series on Wednesday, Bloys affected indifference when asked about the controversy surrounding the book series’ author, who will serve as an executive producer on the show.

“We’re comfortable being in the Potter business,” Bloys said. “That’s a very online conversation.”

According to Bloys, that conversation is “very nuanced and complicated and not something we’re going to get into.”

Asked how Rowling’s well-established history of trolling trans people and their allies has alienated past cast members from the author, including Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, and how Rowling’s actions could affect casting the new show, Bloys demurred. “I don’t think this is the forum.”

According to a press release, Rowling will provide “helpful insights” in her role as executive producer, guiding a new cast to “lead a new generation of fandom” with a “faithful adaptation” of the seven-book series.

“Max’s commitment to preserving the integrity of my books is important to me,” Rowling said in the release, “and I’m looking forward to being part of this new adaptation which will allow for a degree of depth and detail only afforded by a long-form television series.”

News of the show has been met with hostility and mocking from the trans community and their supporters.

Rowling’s embrace of transphobia came to light with a series of likes on Twitter that began in 2017.

Since then, she’s made her transphobia clear with regular anti-trans pronouncements online, on podcasts, in interviews, and with the establishment last year of a trans-exclusionary rape and sexual assault crisis center in Scotland.

Her latest public provocation came in December when she wished a pro-trans detractor a “Merry TERFmas.”

The seven Harry Potter books were adapted into eight films, with the first released in 2001 and the last, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, released in 2011. The eight movies earned $7.7 billion at the box office globally.  

The latest Harry Potter video game, Hogwarts Legacy, was released in February and has generated over a billion dollars in sales for Warner Bros. Discovery, Max’s parent company.

In his Potter series defense, Max boss Bloys added: “Our priority is what’s on the screen. Obviously, the Harry Potter story is incredibly affirmative and positive, and about love and self-acceptance. That’s our priority, what’s on screen.”

Casting for the new series is underway. Said Bloys: “We’ve been thinking about people, but we have not wanted to go out into the world saying, ‘Who do you have?’ But now that the news is out, we will start.”

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