News Roundup, Dec. 27: Ian McKellen To Play Dumbledore in “Harry Potter”

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Give that wizard a wand! Ian McKellen, currently starring as the great wizard Gandalf the White in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, will reportedly don the robes, wear the long, white beard and revisit his wise, ole wizardry ways–this time as Professor Dumbledore in the next Harry Potter installment, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. According to, Britain’s ITV reports that McKellen will replace the late Richard Harris, who died in October of Hodgkin’s disease, as the beloved headmaster of Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft. Neither Warner Bros. nor McKellen‘s representatives have confirmed the casting, but ITV says the studio will make an official announcement sometime after Jan. 1. Prisoner of Azkaban begins filming in March.


In the annual Harris poll, Tom Hanks was picked as America’s favorite celebrity, replacing last year’s topper Julia Roberts. Mel Gibson followed in the No. 2 spot, and Roberts came in third. The remaining top 10, in order, are Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, John Wayne, Denzel Washington, Clint Eastwood, Tom Cruise and Sandra Bullock.

Rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight denies charges that he violated his parole by associating with gang members. Police claim they found evidence, including photos, of Knight‘s involvement with reputed gang members when they raided his Malibu home and Beverly Hills office in November. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Knight claims authorities are grasping at straws to try and solve a string of gang-related murders. “I ain’t no gangster,” he said. “I’m too damn old. I’m a grown man trying to run a business.” Knight has been in jail since Monday without bail.

According to Reuters, a local Los Angeles television station reports that actor Robert Blake‘s mental and physical state is deteriorating. In a broadcast interview Thursday, Blake, who has been jailed since last June on charges of killing his wife, pondered to reporter Paul Dandridge whether this would be his last Christmas. “This is the fourth time I have interviewed Robert Blake, the second time in jail, and definitely there is a change,” Dandridge reported. He also said the actor, now 69, is “not sure as to how much more he can last.” Blake‘s preliminary hearing in the criminal case is set for Feb. 26.


Environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau, the son of late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, is determined to shoot a documentary, detailing the devastation left by the recent massive oil spill in northwestern Spain. A tanker broke in two Nov. 19 after it ruptured in a storm, dumping 77,000 tons of fuel oil into the ocean. With his film team Ocean Futures Society, Cousteau hopes to educate the public and force governments to stop obsolete oil tankers from sailing.


Get ready to rock. ’80s metal-band Twisted Sister, best known for their anthems “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock,” will be reuniting for at least two shows next summer. The Associated Press reports the band is confirmed for the Sweden Rock festival June 8 and the Bang Your Head festival in Germany on June 28. The concerts will be the first time Twisted Sister has performed live since 1987.

According to figures released by Nielsen SoundScan Thursday, rapper Eminem‘s album The Eminem Show is the top-selling album of the year. Variety reports the album sold 7.4 million copies in the U.S., beating its closest competition, Nelly‘s Nellyville by more than 2.6 million copies.