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Watch: A J.K. Rowling book will come to life on HBO

Five years after the last book in the “Harry Potter” series was released, J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults was on the shelves. “The Casual Vacancy” was an instant bestseller, simply because of the name on its red-and-yellow cover. Now the novel has been transformed into a three-part miniseries by the BBC and HBO. It will debut in the United States on April 29.

Last week, HBO released this trailer:

The book – which received only mediocre reviews on its much-anticipated release – is about intertwining lives in a fictional town in England. The town is shaken when, in the midst of a debate about its future, a prominent parish councilor dies unexpectedly. With the help of a few children who know too much, the community begins to unravel as secrets and lies mangle relationships and influence the future of the town.

The miniseries version of “The Casual Vacancy” stars Michael Gambon, whom Rowling fans will recognize as Albus Dumbledore in all but the first two Harry Potter movies.

But just as die-hard readers complained that the Potter films strayed from the books (Hermione’s Yule Ball dress was blue, not pink!), the HBO version of “The Casual Vacancy” took a number of creative liberties, including changing the book’s “grim” ending.

“I was very straight with Jo [Rowling] and told her that I needed to write a different ending,” screenwriter Sarah Phelps told Britain’s Radio Times. “It’s still heartbreaking, but I had to find some kind of redemptive moment at the end of it all, that sense that after the tragedy, someone gets to stand with a slightly straighter back.”

Phelps has previously written screenplays for BBC’s adaptations of the Charles Dickens classics “Great Expectations” and “Oliver Twist.”

“It’s one thing adapting a writer who’s been dead for a century or so, but when you have a writer who is not only very much living and breathing but who is as phenomenally successful as JK Rowling, the dynamic is rather different,” Phelps continued.

But when the miniseries aired in Britain in February, Rowling made her position about the change clear:

The first two episodes of “The Casual Vacancy”  will air at 8 and 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29, followed by the final episode at 8 the next night.

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