Two ‘Saturday Night Live’ Writers Muse On The Show’s Polarizing Political Comedy

Having just concluded a season that produced banner ratings, “Saturday Night Live” remains a political firebrand unlike any other institution. Forty-two years into its existence, the sketch-comedy staple has benefitted from the divisive election of Donald Trump, even after the show’s controversial choice to have him host an episode mid-campaign. 

Of course, current-events fodder has always been a key part of the “SNL” brand. What’s changed is the speed at which news travels and the country’s temperament toward establishments of power.

Two writers ―Tim Herlihy (1993-2000) and Bryan Tucker (2005-present) ― are scheduled to discuss the staff’s creative process during a panel at this week’s Greenwich International Film Festival. Ahead of the event, HuffPost hopped on the phone with each to reflect on their tenures at the show and what it was like to write during different presidential elections. Below are the highlights, edited for length and clarity.

On approaching a comparatively mild election, like Bob Dole competing against an incumbent Bill Clinton, versus a polarizing one, like Trump versus Hillary Clinton:

Tim Herlihy, an “SNL” writer during the 1996 and 2000 presidential elections: There is no overarching planning. There were never any meetings like, “How are we going to tackle this?” Basically it was pretty simple. We had Phil Hartman playing Bill Clinton as an insincere philanderer. We didn’t get into the weeds on welfare reform or anything like that. It was a classic, great, Ted Baxter–level character. And then when Darrell Hammond took over the role, he did it a different way. He’s such a great mimic and works so hard and really wants to make it uncanny, but he does have that same go-for-the-gusto that Phil had. And then with Bob Dole, it was very much organic in terms of what Norm Macdonald came up with, and he basically did “cranky old man.” We found infinite entertaining varieties of the insincere philanderer versus the cranky old man, and people loved it.

Bryan Tucker, an “SNL” writer during the 2008, 2012 and 2016 presidential elections: There’s very little pre-planned strategy about the whole thing. There’s not necessarily a meeting where we say we need to tackle these kinds of subjects. I guess we all understand that each election year is going to be important for “SNL” because that’s one time where the whole country is watching the same thing, and if we can parody that thing, then we can gain an audience and gain a lot of traction from that. This election was just exceptional because so many people were paying attention to it, and because passions were so deep and there were just a lot of characters, specifically Donald Trump being the biggest character of them all. I think we got a taste of Trump last season in the primaries when we had Darrell Hammond and Taran Killam playing him. But over the summer, it was understood that this was going to be more watched and more people would care about it than in previous elections. I think that was Lorne Michaels’ motivation in asking Alec Baldwin to consider it. We wanted to open the season with a big splash, but there was an instinct, specifically by Lorne, that Alec had the right temperament and knew how to play that kind of character in a funny way.

On inviting presidential candidate Trump to host the show in 2015:

TH: We’ve had presidential candidates on many times. Donald Trump hosted a year before the election. He was technically a candidate, but he was a joke candidate. I wasn’t there and I didn’t see the whole show, but I assume it was sort of like the times he hosted before. He’s a public figure, and nobody thought there was a prayer of him being elected at that point. If we had had somebody host the show after they’d already received the nomination, I would think that would be extraordinarily strange, more for the candidate than for us, because we’re going to try to get them to do crazy stuff, and normally a candidate doesn’t want to do anything that could potentially get them in trouble. I worked with politicians there, and the difference between the ones who were up for election and the ones who were either retired or in safe seats, in terms of their whole outlook, was tremendous.

BT: Oh, man. It’s so loaded. One thing that struck me was, when other candidates come to the show, like Hillary Clinton or John McCain or Al Gore or Mike Huckabee, they bring at least one — and sometimes two or three — other people to talk to us and vet the material that we give them. Trump came alone. He had a BlackBerry and he had his security guy outside the door, and that’s about all. When we would present him an idea, he would just go from his gut and say, “I like that” or “I don’t like that.” Sometimes we could persuade him. Sometimes he would lean out of the door and ask his security guy, “Do you think this is funny? Do you think this is a good idea?” But that was, to me, an insight into him that I hadn’t gotten before: He really makes decisions by himself, and although he had people he was talking to throughout the week, there was very little back-and-forth with other people.

On the sketch Trump didn’t want to do:

BT: We did do a dress-rehearsal sketch where he was the Giving Tree, and the Giving Tree was giving fruit to a boy. And eventually the Giving Tree got completely chopped down and was a stump, and Trump was a neighboring tree saying, “You’re a sucker, you’re getting played, you should not be giving things to these people.” And Trump had to stand in a tree with his face looking out of the hole of this tree, and he did not like that. I don’t think he enjoyed looking like a tree. He was not into it and it showed, and it did not get a lot of laughs.

On writing comedy for a politically divided audience:

TH: I feel bad for the guys today because it felt like when we were doing it, the Dole-Clinton election seemed to be not terribly contentious. In retrospect, Bush-Gore ― before the ending, obviously ― was certainly not as crazy polarizing and contentious as this. But we never felt that we handled it a certain way. Lorne definitely wanted to do a political sketch every week during the season, or definitely felt like we should make a comment, but it didn’t have to dominate the show. And it wasn’t demanded — maybe a little during the Monica Lewinsky thing, but it didn’t feel like, “You better show us your stuff!” It felt like that started with Sarah Palin. Now, if they did a Trump-less show, people would go bananas. That’s a lot of pressure to have [political material]. I don’t know how this relates to “SNL,” but Jimmy Fallon seemed to get in trouble because he wasn’t mean enough to Trump. And the fact that you now have to worry about that, too — you have to make fun of with a certain viewpoint — it just seems like the fact that they pulled off a great, historically rated season is incredible.

BT: When someone’s a candidate, we try our best to parody both sides because we understand that both sides have a shot to win, especially this year. We spent a lot of time and effort trying to develop Hillary Clinton, and Kate McKinnon was a huge part of that. Looking at the polls, we assumed she was going to win, so we had planned for that character to be around for a while. But once the candidate is elected, in this case Trump, there’s very little attention paid to the opposition. You know, we don’t see Chuck Schumer in the news nearly as much. Once that person is in charge, and once that person is the voice of authority for our country, one of our jobs is to poke fun at authority. When he’s inaugurated, it opens up how much we might want to take shots at that person. Before, we’re trying to be a big tent. Our show is always trying to be a big tent, but before, we’re making a very concerned effort to parody both sides because America is paying attention so much to both sides. But afterwards, when one side has so much power and one side has so little, we go after the people who have that power. We punch up.

TH: I’ve always thought — and I learned this early on, not just with “SNL,” but with my film work — you gotta do your thing. You can’t chase an audience. You look at Colbert and Jimmy Fallon, and you see, well, Jimmy’s winning with the good demographics but Colbert has the overall rating and seems like he’s better approved of on Twitter. It’s just so complicated at this point, and there’s so many types of winning that even if you wanted to be someone who rode the trends and did all the right things and pushed all the right buttons, it’s too complicated. It forces you to be true to yourself.

On responding to the country’s heightened awareness of racial politics:

BT: I think “SNL” is a little more attuned to racial and cultural issues, but that’s more of a reflection of the whole country. I just think America, and entertainment in general, is becoming more like that. I’m not sure we could have done it when I first started, but I wrote for Dave Chapelle and Chris Rock, and those are the kinds of things I gravitate to. In my first year, I would write Kenan-as-Al-Sharpton sketches. Those would get on here and there, and that was gratifying because I’m not sure a lot of white America knew Al Sharpton. But I do think, in general, the country ― and our show, as well ― has been a little bit cognizant of presenting those diverse viewpoints.

On producing an episode the week after the 2016 election, and having Dave Chapelle host after years away from the spotlight:

BT: It was super gratifying because I think the show came out really well. It was an incredibly hard week because that was the week of the election. Our normal writing night is Tuesday night — that’s when everything gets written for the show, and we pick things on Wednesday. So Tuesday night, everyone was looking at the election, and not only were we distracted — I think a lot of us were stunned with the result, and then Wednesday a lot of people weren’t feeling very funny. As a result, a lot of the things that were read were not very good, frankly. That was disappointing because Chapelle had made this huge risk and huge commitment. He hadn’t been on mainstream television in 10 years. On Wednesday, after all our sketches were read, we felt pretty bad. But we spent the next two or three days rewriting. That election-night sketch was rewritten several times to reflect people’s moods. And eventually we pulled out what I think is one of our better shows of the season. The dress rehearsal was not great. One of the great things about “SNL” is you can write and rewrite and rewrite up until the last minute, and luckily things all came together, which was really nice. Chapelle had come a few weeks prior, and I was one of the few friendly faces he knew because I had written for “Chapelle’s Show.” I told him personally, “We’ll do everything we can to make this show great, and I will work very hard to make sure we write things that are in your voice.” I was very gratified when he went out and did that killer monologue, which he wrote all himself. We had other pieces in the show that also felt like him, and also did really well, and reflected the mood of the country that week.  

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Jennifer Garner Denounces People Magazine Cover Story About Divorce

Jennifer Garner can let those pesky pregnancy rumors go, but when it comes to misleading news stories about her divorce, she’s not here for it. 

The typically private actress took to her Facebook page Wednesday afternoon to “set the record straight” on a cover story People magazine ran in its new issue. The article, titled “Life After Heartbreak,” seemingly presents itself as an interview with Garner, but instead references insiders and sources who claim her split with Ben Affleck has “been the most difficult decision for her.”

Another insists Garner will “eventually” start dating again. “She’s certainly not jumping up and down and screaming, ‘I’m single!’ and planning dates,” the source says. “She still says Ben was the love of her life.”

Garner was quick to respond to the story, writing in a statement, “I did not pose for this cover. I did not participate in or authorize this article.” 

The 45-year-old adds that although this “isn’t a tragedy by any measure” it does affect herself and her young children with Affleck ― Violet, Seraphina and Samuel. 

“While we are here, for what it’s worth: I have three wonderful kids and my family is complete,” she joked of those frequent pregnancy reports. 

Garner and Affleck initially separated in June 2015 after 10 years of marriage. Although there were rumors of reconciliation over the last year, the pair officially filed for divorce in April

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Instagram’s Latest Colorful Move For LGBTQ People Is A Must-See

Instagram is kicking Pride month off with a colorful new initiative that aims to encourage support for queer people around the world.

On Wednesday, the app transformed the all-pink, oft-photographed facade of Paul Smith’s Los Angeles store into the first of its five “rainbow walls.” The wall was unveiled by Mayor Eric Garcetti at an evening ceremony that was attended by Instagram influencers Justin BlakeRaymond Braun and Jacob Tobia, along with other members of the city’s LGBTQ community. 

The walls, which will also debut in London, Madrid, Nashville and Cleveland later in June, will each be emblazoned with the #KindComments hashtag so that visitors can use the photo-sharing app to find a “community of support” nearby, according to Instagram’s Chief Operating Officer Marne Levine.  

The company’s mission, Levine said, is “to strengthen relationships through shared experiences,” and the “rainbow wall” initiative is one of many similar efforts that aim to do just that. “Every day we see members of our community coming to Instagram to share their passions and experiences,” she told HuffPost. “We are extremely proud of our whole community, but we’re especially excited about the way people are using Instagram to spread kindness and compassion for one another.”

#kindcomments thank you Instagram and the city of LA for having me this was so cool #Pride #LGBT

A post shared by Justin Blake (@justinblake) on

Levine said she was personally moved by Blake, Tobia and other Instagram users who’ve found unique ways to share coming out stories and other personal experiences on the app. 

“We’ve seen how images create empathy, bring people closer and promote understanding,” she said. “For Pride, we hope the rainbow walls become physical structures that inspire kind comments and support for Pride, but equally create an opportunity for people to come together on Instagram to support the LGBTQ community.”  

Find more ways to honor your Pride by subscribing to the Queer Voices newsletter.    

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‘Wonder Woman’ Trolls Its Male Killjoys With Poise And Wit

Men on the internet will leave no female-fronted blockbuster unturned. Until a few days ago, the fervor surrounding “Wonder Woman,” which opens this weekend after two decades of false starts and personnel changes, felt tame on the grown-males-whining front. As long as Wonder Woman isn’t busting ghosts, she’ll be fine. Unless, of course, a theater announces no-boys-allowed screenings. Then it’s war. 

It seems the folks responsible for “Wonder Woman” anticipated a macho tussle somewhere along the movie’s Amazonian journey to the big screen. After all, the internet provides well-trod platforms for fanboys ― and I do mean boys ― who are hyper-reactive to any feminine updates to their childhood staples. Wonder Woman, as an entity, should have been bulletproof, considering the strong-willed heroine dates back to her 1941 DC Comics debut, which spawned multiple animated adaptations and the popular 1970s television series starring Lynda Carter. Oh, we of little faith. Patty Jenkins, the first woman to direct a major superhero movie, and screenwriter Allan Heinberg surely foresaw the same juvenile gender divide that haunts the Hollywood franchise machine. Never devolving into a didactic sermon about feminism, “Wonder Woman” chides its male mudslingers with humor and grace.

Once the titular Amazon princess (Gal Gadot), known colloquially as Diana Prince, leaves her remote island to join Army captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) on World War I’s virile London battleground, her self-empowering seclusion clashes with the modern metropolis’ heteronormative standards. (Mind you, this comes after Diana and her fleet massacre the German soldiers who’ve washed ashore with Steve.) Having grown up surrounded only by warrior women, Diana carries no baggage about how she should behave in relation to male acquaintances. As she and Steve set sail, he says it’s only appropriate that he sleep in separate quarters of the boat. Diana can’t understand why it should matter ― temptation is of no concern to her, even as their chemistry simmers. Steve assumes this means she is unschooled in carnal matters, but oh no: Diana knows all about “reproductive biology” and “pleasures of the flesh,” having read “all 12 volumes of Cleo’s treatises on body and pleasure.” This yields her fiercest conclusion about the weaker sex: Men are essential for procreation but expendable in matters of bliss, erotic or otherwise.

Without devaluing its penis-toting characters, “Wonder Woman” continues this soft battle of the sexes across its 2.5-hour runtime. Diana becomes our surrogate for a world where women don’t even entertain the expectations of men. When she’s introduced to Steve’s “secretary,” the plucky Etta Candy (Lucy Davis), whose duties entail whatever Steve asks of her, Diana likens the role to slavery. During her plot to stop the god Ares from wreaking more wartime havoc, Diana scolds a pompous general for not fighting alongside his troops, like the women of her native Themyscira would. At every turn, dudes inform her that circumstances are too “dangerous.” Nevertheless, she persists, aided by her signature Lasso of Truth, god-killing sword and bullet-shielding bracelets. When Diana is prepared to execute the man she thinks is Ares, Steve tells her, “I can’t let you do that.” “What I do is not up to you,” she counters. She doesn’t need textbook feminism because she’d never conceptualized a pretense where men were superior in the first place. In Diana’s universe, an all-women movie screening would be another ordinary night out.

By the time Diana disrobes to reveal her tightly cropped Wonder Woman suit in all its glory, it is an act of power. She runs circles around the boys who tell her they “can’t save everyone in this war.” It comes as no surprise that the woman in “Wonder Woman” remains the victor, but Jenkins and Heinberg effectively pepper the movie with a winking sense of humor about the number of gents who doubt Diana’s facilities. Gadot and Pine are in on the joke too, tempering their performances so gamely that “Wonder Woman” almost becomes a buddy comedy. The final 20 minutes disintegrate into the same noisy CGI spectacle that concludes all comic-book movies, but this particular superhero outing is judicious and charming enough to rise above its genre hurdles. 

Whether the angry internet men-children will skip “Wonder Woman” because of the Alamo Drafthouse screening or any other gender-related nonsense ― well, who cares, really. Advance tracking for the movie’s opening weekend indicates heftier interest among male moviegoers than female moviegoers, according to The Hollywood Reporter, so the sound and fury will likely amount to little. Jenkins, who is best known for the Charlize Theron vehicle “Monster,” isn’t trying to prove anything other than her (already proven) ability to make a quality movie. On that front, she has succeeded. For added kicks, she also trolled the men who would doubt her along the way. Wonderful, woman.

“Wonder Woman” opens June 2.

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Diving Deep Into The Erotic World Of ‘Harry Potter’ Fan Fiction

Hermione Granger, a 19-year-old seventh year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, has retired to the lavish prefect’s bathroom for a relaxing bath. But ― uh oh ― just as she’s drying off, she hears someone else enter the marbled, gilded washroom. Someone smoldering. Someone romantic. Someone who’s about to rock her world sexually. Severus… Snape?

Allie LeFevere and Lyndsay Rush are aghast at the thought. “I hope this goes… it was Professor Snape, and he was just grabbing something and leaving,” Rush gasps, giggling. “God,” LeFevere adds, “I feel like this is going to get real aggressive.”

Snape is not just grabbing something and leaving, of course. This is “The Potterotica Podcast,” and the two cohosts have just begun the first season, in which they read a nine-episode erotic fanfic story aloud. The story: “In the Prefect’s Bathroom” by fanfic writer Mrs. Figg, which takes place after the seventh book. The pairing: Hermione and Snape, sometimes known as “Snermione.”

For those familiar with erotic fan fiction, the preceding three paragraphs probably won’t sound bizarre or disturbing; for more straight-laced Potterheads, they might be viscerally shocking. LeFevere, Rush and the third cohost Danny Chapman, who joined the podcast (now on its second season) more recently, fall into the second camp. Casual “Harry Potter” fans, they stumbled into the world of erotic fan fiction not long ago. But rather than being horrified by the vast world of Potter-based erotica, they embraced it ― and found the humor in it.

“It’s so fun and so silly, and sometimes it’s sexy, but mostly we’re just laughing,” Rush told HuffPost in a recent phone conversation. They framed “The Potterotica Podcast” as a comedy show ― and indeed, they spend much of each episode howling with laughter at the romantic speeches or descriptions of a male lead’s “slender, pale legs” that are “sparsely covered with black hair.” (Apparently some people don’t find that look to be arousing.)

Much of the comedy comes from juxtaposing these beloved children’s book characters ― none written by J.K. Rowling to be sex symbols, and some written as buffoonish, grotesque or evil ― with adult sexual situations and frankly expressed desire. “If it was out of a comedic context, I think it would be very difficult to talk about these characters in a sexual way,” LeFevere said, “but there’s something about layering on satire that makes it more digestible.”

“The Potterotica Podcast” isn’t the first erotica podcast played for laughs ― even some erotica and erotic fanfic is itself infused with absurd humor. (Remember A Gronking to Remember?) Before landing on Potterotica, LeFevere and Rush contemplated a romance novel podcast. Where does our urge to laugh at overtly sexual writing come from? Why might pornographic stories about Harry and Draco, or Hermione and Snape, seem hilarious rather than simply titillating or, alternately, disturbing?

“I almost wonder if it’s because there’s still so much taboo around sex,” LeFevere floated. “The defenses go down when you can laugh and also maybe talk about a topic that maybe feels uncomfortable.”

Rush agreed, adding that the humorous side to sex isn’t restricted to blowsy erotica. “Recording the podcast and discussing these things in this way feels like it would if I had a glass of wine with my friends and we were talking about sex,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily that laughter is you masking your vulnerability or if it’s just a shade of vulnerability. You’re looking at this intimate thing in a lighthearted way.”

The hosts ask authors for permission before sharing their work on the podcast, but they have received some pushback for making light of Potterotica. When they were promoting the podcast on fan communities, LeFevere ventured into a subreddit devoted to Potterotica enthusiasts, and found that the members were less than thrilled by their angle. For some fans, Chapman said, “this isn’t to be laughed at; this is serious business.” For these redditors, LeFevere said, “Us laughing at it and giggling and making jokes was very offensive,” she said. “They were just like, no, this isn’t our jam.”

The line between serious erotica consumer and comedy fan isn’t a bright one, however. Not only do the Potterotica podcasters receive story submissions from fanfic authors who want their works to be included in a comedy show, the three hosts have realized that sexual awakening can be found in unexpected places ― like a fanfic about Hermione receiving a “Magic Mike”-esque lap dance from Draco, the plot of a Facebook Live installment the podcast did. “I think that was the hottest one,” Rush admitted.

As for LeFevere, she’s a fan of another Dramione fic, the one they’re reading in the current season. “I love it because they’re both notorious in their class and were nemeses,” she told HuffPost. “They bring out a different side of each other in these stories: Hermione’s more risqué and edgy, and we’re starting to see the softer side of Draco.”

A certain gingerness surrounding the ages of the subjects also creeps in. In many fics, the characters are depicted in their adult lives, but others take place during the series timeframe. Some show relationships between professors and students ― before or after their graduation. “The one that I am shocked by is Snape and Harry,” said LeFevere. “That’s a really popular one, and I think more than anything the shock is because of the role he played in Harry’s life at the end of the books and movies… He almost to some degree becomes a mentor, a fatherly figure.” 

The cohosts pointed out that, though they try to be very mindful of the ages of the characters, we’re naturally curious about what happened next to fictional people we watched grow up. That includes romance. If anything, they wish there were more explorations of canon relationships, in a Potterotica world packed with Dramione, Snarry and Drarry fics. “In my limited experience, no one’s writing about Hermione and Ron like I hoped they would,” Rush said. “It sounds very lame and old-school, but I would have loved to see more of them.”

The accessibility of adult entertainment offered by fanfic (or a fanfic podcast) makes it a welcoming avenue toward sexual exploration, the hosts pointed out. “Something that makes this erotic world approachable is that these are characters you feel you know so well and trust,” explained Rush. “So you feel like, Oh, I could sort of get into this.” As many erotic fanfiction readers have discovered in the past, interweaving explicit content into a familiar, nonsexual story allowed them to gradually explore more sexually charged narratives, whereas porn may have seemed too intimidating and romance novels too weighed down by character backstory. Even as they laugh at the Potterotica they read, they find excitement in it.

“This has been a big sexual awakening,” said LeFevere, who has rarely read romance novels in the past. “It’s been a fun way to explore our own sexuality, our experiences.”

Though they emphasize that they know many Potter fans have enjoyed erotic fan fiction for years, the podcasters have found much of their listener base is newer to the art form ― a perhaps still-more accessible way for novices to get comfortable with adult entertainment. “The podcast format is also so great for it, because as soon as you watch a video, it’s like, uh, that’s porn,” Chapman joked. Opening up an erotic romance novel in public might seem nearly as embarrassing. On a podcast, though, “You can bring it to life and close your eyes and sort of imagine it without, like, watching porn on a plane.”

Surely anything that encourages more people to get comfortable with their sexuality, without watching porn in public, is a good thing.

From June 1 to 30, HuffPost is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the very first “Harry Potter” book by reminiscing about all things Hogwarts. Accio childhood memories.

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The Agent Who Discovered J.K. Rowling Explains Why Her Stories Are Magical

More so than a collection of stories, the “Harry Potter” series can be characterized by its most devoted fans as a hobby, or a lifestyle. The increasingly voluminous installments were hefty enough to get lost in, and they managed to create not only a convincing world, but lovable characters, too.

It’s hard to imagine a world in which the books (and films, and video games, and personality quizzes) might not have been published. But, according to J.K. Rowling’s first agent Christopher Little, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was not an easy sell. 

Little told HuffPost over email that Rowling selected him as her agent in part due to his name, which she liked. He was, in turn, enamored of her story, believing after reading it that it was ready to be sent out to publishers, requiring few big changes. (The rules of Quidditch, however, were altered.)

Below, Little describes the experience of trying to sell a book he believed in ― in spite of publishers’ protestations that it was too long or too “exclusive.”

When Rowling first found an agent, he compared her world-building talent to Tolkien’s.

“When I received the submission from Joanne (as she was known at the time) Rowling, it just came in as an unsolicited submission (of the first three chapters) and was picked up by our then office manager who was looking through the slush pile,” he said. “She liked it and bought it to my attention. Once I read it, I had no reservations whatsoever and in fact felt very excited about it. 

“It was clearly presented as a fully realized world […] I don’t think I recall reading anything so immersive since The Lord of the Rings many years earlier. We quickly wrote back to Jo asking to see the rest of the manuscript as soon as I had finished those initial chapters.”

Rowling chose to write under the name “J.K.” in order to appeal to young boy readers.

“The suggestion to use initials instead of J.K. Rowling’s given name, Joanne, came from discussion with Bloomsbury. It’s notoriously harder to get boys to read in comparison with girls, as many parents will know, and an author being obviously female was more likely to be off-putting to boys. Joanne selected the ‘K’ after her paternal grandmother.”

Rowling only made a few changes before sending it out to publishers.

“There were very minor differences in the full manuscript that was received and that which was sent to the publishers — I do recall that the Quidditch rules were tweaked a bit!”

The book was rejected over and over again before it found a home.

 “Over a period of nigh on a year, the book was turned down by more or less every major publishing house in the U.K. Various reasons were given including the story being too long, the fact that a story set in a children’s boarding school might feel too ‘exclusive’ to many readers, etc.

“When I first spoke to Barry Cunningham, who had at that time recently been hired to run the new children’s department at Bloomsbury Publishing, the book was accepted and an offer was made. He saw the same potential as I did ― perhaps as we both came from a background other than publishing originally, so arguably thought slightly less conventionally and considered this well-characterized, unique story as one that clearly should be published despite such considerations.”

From June 1 to 30, HuffPost is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the very first “Harry Potter” book by reminiscing about all things Hogwarts. Accio childhood memories.

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You Can Now Study ‘Game Of Thrones’ At Harvard University

Winter is coming early to Harvard University.

This fall, students at the Ivy League institution will be able to study how the fantasy world of Westeros relates to what life was really like in medieval times via a new “Game of Thrones”-themed class.

They’ll learn how author George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire book series and the HBO epic TV show it inspires “echoes and adapts, as well as distorts” the culture and history of the age, reports TIME.

As Littlefinger says:

“When I read medieval verse epics with my students, they’d say, ‘Oh, that’s like in ‘Game of Thrones,’” said Racha Kirakosian, an assistant professor of German and religion who is teaching the class.

“No, if anything at all, it’s the other way around,” she added. “Isn’t it partly our job (as professors) to use that interest and go deeper?”

Kirakosian will teach the “The Real Game of Thrones: From Modern Myths to Medieval Models” course alongside Professor Sean Gilsdorf, who lectures on medieval studies.

It follows similar classes offered by UC Berkeley and the University of Virginia.

Kirakosian hopes the “Game of Thrones” angle will prove an effective “recruitment tool” that encourages more students to sign up to medieval studies courses.

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