x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

J K Rowling publishes another Harry Potter story

Plus: Don Pardo, the distinctive voice of Saturday Night Live and Jeopardy!, dies; Taylor Swift pops up to announce new album; and Willie Nelson and Neil Young to perform at oil-pipeline protest gig.

JK Rowling has written a new Harry Potter book. Lefteris Pitarakis / AP Photo
JK Rowling has written a new Harry Potter book. Lefteris Pitarakis / AP Photo

J K Rowling has posted new details about a minor character from her Harry Potter books on the fan website Pottermore.com. The author has written a short biography of Celestina Warbeck, a glamorous singing sorceress resembling Shirley Bassey, and a favourite of Mrs Weasley’s. The new backstory for the character, who was only mentioned briefly in the books, was posted online on Monday along with one of her songs, recorded by a singer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida. Rowling calls her one of her favourite “off-stage” characters in the whole series. She writes that Warbeck’s special abilities include tap-dancing and an extraordinary voice that can “drown out a chorus of banshees”. – AP

Don Pardo, the distinctive voice of Jeopardy and SNL dies

The announcer Don Pardo, whose booming baritone was known to fans of Saturday Night Live, The Price Is Right and other programmes, has died. He was 96. For decades, Pardo’s majestic voice, with its swoops in pitch and pregnant pauses, graced game shows and TV programmes. During shows such as the original version of Jeopardy!, his answers to the question: “Tell ‘em what they’ve won, Don Pardo,” became a memorable part of the programme. Though rarely seen, he was an integral part of Saturday Night Live for more than three decades, introducing the cast to kick off each show. – AP

Taylor Swift pops up to announce new album

Taylor Swift is saying goodbye to country music, for now. The singer says she’s releasing her first full-length pop album on October 27. The 24-year-old revealed during a livestream via Yahoo! on Monday that 1989, named for her birth year, is her “first documented official pop album”. The first single is the upbeat jam Shake It Off, which she debuted during the livestream and was released on Monday. She danced happily in a cropped white top and skirt with the audience as the song played. Swift called her forthcoming fifth album a “rebirth”. “We made the most sonically cohesive album I’ve ever made,” she said of 1989, which was available for pre-order on Monday. “I woke up every day not wanting, but needing to make a new style of music than I made before,” she told the audience. The singer also premiered the music video for Shake It Off. – AP

Veteran singers to perform at oil-pipeline protest gig

Willie Nelson and Neil Young will headline a concert next month in a Nebraska cornfield organised by opponents of a proposed pipeline that would carry oil from south Canada to the Gulf Coast. Bold Nebraska said the concert would be held on September 27 on a farm near Neligh in north-east Nebraska. Tickets go on sale today. Earlier this year, protesters carved an anti-pipeline message into the cornfield, which is in the path of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Campaigners hope the project will be rejected because they fear it could contaminate groundwater and contribute to pollution. – AP