Return to Potter world with 'Beedle the Bard'

Recession-hit booksellers are hoping for a magical boost from a new book by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a collection of five fables mentioned in Rowling's saga about the boy wizard, is being published around the world today with only a fraction of the carnival-like fanfare that greeted the Potter novels. But expectations are high for the new book, which has a global print run of 8 million copies.


Yesterday, Beedle the Bard was ranked No. 1 on Amazon's U.S. and British Web sites. "We expect it will crash straight in at No. 1 in our book charts," Jon Howells of Britain's Waterstone's book store chain said yesterday. "It would take a battle of magical proportions to dislodge it before Christmas."

Rowling was launching the book today with a tea party for local schoolchildren at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, where she lives.


Rowling, whose Harry Potter books have sold more than 400 million copies and been translated into 67 languages, wrote the Beedle tales after finishing the final Potter book, Deathly Hallows, last year. One of the stories, "The Tale Of The Three Brothers," is recounted in Deathly Hallows, in which the storybook helps Harry and his friends defeat the evil Lord Voldemort.

Making new friends

Scrubs will have a new medical plan when it returns next month. After seven seasons on NBC, the hospital comedy will air on ABC starting Jan. 6, with Courteney Cox Arquette in a guest role as Sacred Heart's new chief of medicine. The former Friends star will be on duty for a three-episode arc.

Motive in Hudson killings

Prosecutors allege that Jennifer Hudson's estranged brother-in-law killed three family members because he was angry the singer's sister was dating another man.

A Cook County, Ill., prosecutor said at a hearing yesterday that William Balfour came to the family's home the morning of the Oct. 24 killings and confronted Julia Hudson - his estranged wife and Jennifer Hudson's older sister.

The prosecutor says Balfour and Julia Hudson left together but Balfour returned to the home, and the bodies of Hudson's mother and brother were found there later that day.

Prosecutors say Balfour that day admitted to the shootings. The body of Julia Hudson's 7-year-old son was found three days later.


A judge denied bail yesterday.

So long, farewell

Salzburg, Austria, has blocked plans to open a hotel in a former home of the von Trapp family immortalized in The Sound of Music after protests by neighbors.

The "Villa Trap" had been expected to open this year in a quiet, upscale Salzburg neighborhood. Area residents had feared tourists would tie up traffic and make a nuisance of themselves.

Hotel organizers say they will appeal yesterday's decision by the urban planning committee.



Game show host Wink Martindale, 74.

Actor Jeff Bridges, 59.

Actress Patricia Wettig, 57.

Actress Marisa Tomei, 44.

Rapper Jay-Z, 39.

Actress-model Tyra Banks, 35.