October 3, 2000 -

Madam Hooch is Zo┐ Wannamaker.

Those zany Brits over at Empire Online just can't be stopped!┐ Today they've come through with a new bit of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone casting news and a few new spy photos take from the production.┐┐

In casting news, Actress Zo┐ Wanamaker will play Madam Hooch in the film.┐ Several UK papers had reported last week that actress Julie Walters (Dancer) would play Hooch, the Hogwarts head of Quidditch and broomstick flying instructor.┐ The folks at Empire debunked this talk with a call to Ms. Wanamaker's agent this morning.┐ Zo┐'s agent confirmed that she has indeed joined the Potter cast and was present for a round of filming that took place at Alnwick Castle last week.

The 52 year-old Wanamaker was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress BAFTA (British Academy Award) in 1998 for her performance in the 1997 film Wilde, the story of legendary poet-playwright Oscar Wilde.┐

Meanwhile, a sneaky parishioner managed to sneak away from mass on Sunday and at Durham Cathedral and sent Empire Online a few pics of preparations for filming there. The cast will be arriving as soon as the crew has finished making final preparations to all the sets.┐ Settings at Durham Cathedral include a Hogwarts School corridor, complete with fabricated pillars bearing the Hogwarts 'H" and two owls.┐ The major set being setup at Durham is a classroom setting, as shown below. You can click the photo to view a larger version.

Left: The artificial pillar alongside a corridor wall in Durham Cathedral.
Right: The classroom set being assembled in a large chamber at Durham.

We couldn't find any visual clues that might indicate which classroom this might actually be.┐ If any of you Potter readers spot something, feel free to drop me a line!┐

Brian Linder wishes he was in the UK so he could go snooping around all these sets.