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February 22, 2002 - March 07, 2002

Thursday, March 07, 2002
FOTR: #1 In Czech Republic - Xoanon @ 10:31 PST
Belcarnen writes: The LOTR premiere was on 10.1.2002 and 687.375 people have seen it up to 3.3.2002 (information from Warner Bros.)

It's still most visited movie for 7 weeks (followed by Harry Potter). LOTR has also registered the biggest opening weekend ever in Czech rep., about 118 thousand visitors. Usual numbers for blockbusters are about 30 - 35 thousand.

New edition of Fellowship Of The Ring (Spolecenstvo Prstenu) with Alan Lee ilustrations were sold out in a few weeks. And web magazines like mine doubled numbers of their visitors. It's nearly impossible to go by tram (metro or train -Xo) and not hear something like "Smoke rises from the mountain of Doom..." or "I amar prestar aen…" ... simply great. From now "the influence of The Lord Of The Rings could not be undone".

Wednesday, March 06, 2002
Ian McKellen In San Jose - Xoanon @ 09:34 PST
hobbit_in_a_hole sends along this report and an article from Ian Mckellen's (Gandalf) visit to San Jose.

Sir Ian McKellen visited San Jose, CA on Saturday to receive a Maverick award from the Cinequest film festival. More info is here and here.

After the brief award presentation, the main event was a conversation between Sir Ian and the host, former Mayor and "movie guy," the Hon. Tom McEnery of San Jose.

And what a delight the event was!

The conversation, attended by over 500 people at $20 a head, touched on Sir Ian's whole career, on stage and in film, as well as his stance on gay rights activism. Naturally, though, the huge surge in public appreciation of Sir Ian probably rests largely on recent film work, including Lord of the Rings. (A cry from the back of the room, "Gandalf!")

Sir Ian's visit was arranged by Bryan Singer, who directed Sir Ian in X-Men and Apt Pupil, with X2 starting filming soon.

The event lasted one and a half hours and including a performance by Sir Ian (with microphone removed; this was the real deal, highlighting stage skills) from "Sir Thomas More," co-written by Shakespeare but lost until the early 1960's.

The audience Saturday enjoyed a real treat. This was not an extended talk show interview with the latest movie idol. This was a thoughtful, albeit abbreviated, review of Sir Ian's career on stage and screen. Sir Ian was obviously taken with the spirit of the Maverick award itself and had prepared well, weaving references to being a maverick throughout his comments. And, of course, he had a performance piece ready with which to close the event, touching on the same "Maverick" theme and issues of humanity. He impressed the audience with his stories and his charm, intelligence, skill, humility, courage, and appreciation of his art and the other people in it.

A nice interview with Sir Ian, published just after the late-breaking announcement that he was to visit San Jose, is here. This includes some interesting comments on career choices, his conception of Gandalf, and more.

The stories Sir Ian told? In Part 2 of this report.

But some final thoughts in Part 1.

The session started with one of the festival officials announcing, "Good News, Bad News." Uh oh. Something like, "Bad News -- Sir Ian couldn't make it. But we got Billy Bob Thornton as a replacement!" Now, BBT is mighty talented and on a big roll right now and should have had an Oscar nomination this year, but we came to hear Sir Ian. The room was charged with stunned silence. Soon though, whew, Sir Ian joined the Mayor on a dais with two armchairs for an informal atmosphere. It took a while for the huge standing ovation to die down. A few of us did submit questions in advance, but there was no time for these. And if others somehow managed to catch Sir Ian later for conversation of for autographs, I did not hear about it.

At the end, the lines Sir Ian performed for us quoted Sir Thomas More, another maverick, standing tall for his principles and exhorting the troubled masses (and us, too) to treat others with the same humanity we wish for ourselves.

As we walked out, my wife, a stage actress, overheard something like, "You've got to be _____ing brilliant to do that," meaning the acting we saw from Sir Ian on stage. By adding a short stage performance to what most of the audience had probably seen only on film, Sir Ian received an even-more-deserved standing ovation at the end of the 90 minutes. My guess is that most of the crowd arrived for Gandalf and Magneto. Some knew of his other film work or had even seen him on stage in San Francisco, doing his one-man show on Shakespeare or his Richard III; but all of us walked out with a much deeper appreciation of a life in the art and craft of acting.

Comparing notes with my family later... Although my 12-year-old son was interested throughout, his initial curiosity was simply, "What does Gandalf's actor really look like?" He was prepared for Sir Ian not looking like Gandalf in real life, but he was quite surprised that the voice was different, too! Special moments for my wife were in comparing the opportunities for a stage career in the UK vs. in the US. And I was just a sponge, absorbing the details that give context to the little bits I have known or seen so far. My wife and I have read LotR aloud at least 3 times, so we have both had a deep attachment to LotR and related Tolkien works. Knowing Sir Ian's ability already, we were so jazzed when we heard he was cast as Gandalf. And now the first LotR movie with Sir Ian has come to pass, and wonderfully, too.

Saturday's event was a smash hit, in our book.

Mercury News Article

A magical guest

By Glenn Lovell

After ducking more than one low-slung Hobbit ceiling, Gandalf (a.k.a. the big guy) is in the house.

In one of the nicest surprises of its 12-year run, San Jose's Cinequest Film Festival has recruited Ian McKellen for a Saturday chat/tribute. McKellen's visit -- arranged by director Bryan Singer, who directed McKellen in ``Apt Pupil'' and ``X-Men'' -- couldn't be better timed: The veteran British actor has just been nominated for an Oscar for his performance as the good wizard Gandalf in ``The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.''

And now, at 62, McKellen -- who has trod the boards as Hamlet, Richard III and the embittered Salieri in ``Amadeus'' (for which he won a 1981 Tony) -- finds himself the idol of J.R.R. Tolkien enthusiasts of all ages.

``I knew it was going to be a huge hit right away,'' says the actor, recalling his first New York screening. ``Within 15 minutes I forgot I was in the film, and the people around me who hadn't read the books were crying.''

McKellen found midlife movie stardom after a distinguished career with England's National and Royal Shakespeare companies. He was nominated for a best-actor Oscar in 1998 for playing the anguished James Whale in ``Gods and Monsters.'' We caught up with the actor, who was knighted in 1991 and maintains his own Web site (www.mckellen.com), at a friend's home in Los Angeles. He's stateside for pre-Oscar interviews and talks with Singer about ``X-Men 2,'' which begins shooting in Vancouver in May.

Sir Ian, you may be the first knight with his own Web site.

You may be right. The site was suggested to me four years ago to publicize a show I was doing. I thought, ``This will be a good chance to put down everything I've got in the cellar, my comments on the last 40 years.'' It saves me the chore of having to write an autobiography.

Cinequest honors mavericks. Do you consider yourself one?

I rather like the word ``maverick.'' It suggests someone who has done what they wanted to do, stuck to their guns. The principles I've stuck to: Only do scripts I would like to see, and only do them if I feel the people involved, the director and everyone else, are going to help me do my best work. I've never gone for a job for money, and I think I've only done two jobs that I've regretted.

You didn't make your screen debut until age 29, and stardom came 30 years later.

The one big element that no actor can deny in their career is luck, chance. Whilst my contemporaries, -- Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay and Alan Bates -- were regularly appearing in movies and having great success, that just didn't happen for me. Not having been to drama school, I felt I had an awful lot to learn as a stage actor. And then great theater parts started coming my way, with long-term contracts. It wasn't until quite recently, when I did the movie of ``Richard III'' (1995), that things began to change.

You appeared as Death in Arnold Schwarzenegger's ``Last Action Hero.''

I took any part I could get. I did walk-ons, tiny parts. Friends thought I was crazy. But over that period I began to treat the camera as a friend rather than as an intruder. The film of ``Richard III'' was my calling card in the grown-up film industry, and I began to get offered really good parts. So now, rather late in the day, I'm in the happy situation that those peers of mine were in 30 years ago.

Gandalf must have been a nice change. You've specialized in villains -- from Iago to Rasputin.

Yes, that's true. It's not often that you get to play a good man, because writers are more interested in human frailty. Goodness can be rather boring -- ``the devil has the best tunes,'' I suppose best sums it up. You don't find any Shakespeare hero who is totally good. Usually they're guys who have gone off the rails. But Gandalf -- though he has self-doubt and realizes he would be corrupted by the ring -- is firmly on the rails.

Was there one Tolkien passage in particular that provided the key to your characterization?

I saw Gandalf as a scholar, a man of the countryside . . . and yet a loner on a mission. You'll see that increasingly strongly in the next two films, ``The Two Towers'' and ``Return of the King.'' The fun of the first film is in Gandalf measuring up the situations: persuading Bilbo to give up the ring or handing over responsibility to Frodo, or riding off to face Saruman, his old friend who's gone wrong.

Do you find it ironic that after so much stage work you've found acclaim in digital-effects fantasies?

Oh, I don't look at them that way at all. I think the success of ``Lord of the Rings'' is that it isn't fantasy. The storytelling that director Peter Jackson has adopted is to make you think you are actually there and that this was at one time a real world.

What do you think your chances are for an Oscar?

No idea. It's certainly not a rejection of your work if your name is not called out. I arrive at the awards as a foreigner, an outsider, who, briefly, is allowed to be an insider. I'll participate in the fun of the Oscars.

What's next, Sir Ian?

I'm hosting ``Saturday Night Live'' on March 16.

Thursday, February 28, 2002
Jim Rygiel In NYC Report! - Xoanon @ 23:00 PST
Beau from fingolfin.com here. Just got back from seeing Jim Rygiel speak in NYC, and while I didn't really find out anything new, I did walk away with two interesting facts.

The first is the extent of the use of digital doubles in FOTR. I knew about them and saw Barrie Osborne speak of them at Lincoln Center last September, but I didn't know how much they were actually used. For instance, the shots of the Fellowship running across the Bridge of Khazad-dum and walking up the tree in Lothlorien are comprised entirely of digital characters!

Secondly, a very young audience member had the guts to directly ask him how the Ents would be realized. He said it was kind of a secret, but at one point, before the movies were shot, Treebeard was one of his biggest worries. After recently seeing some test shots of Treebeard, however, he said that it looked so great that he doesn't even think about it anymore! That sounded pretty positive.


Sean Astin appearing in person for GOONIES fans! - Xoanon @ 12:36 PST
Greetings -- Quickbeam here.

Remember when little Samwise Gamgee was just a sad, asthma-suffering kid with big dreams of pirate treasure and a wonderful sparkle in his eyes??

Before "The Fellowship of the Ring" came out, everybody had a favorite Sean Astin film..... that's right, "The Goonies!" And for all you fine folks in Southern California there will be a special Midnight Screening of the film this weekend, with Sean Astin LIVE introducing the movie. Here are the important details:

Time: 'round midnight

Date: Saturday, 2 March 2002

Event: The Goonies in a glorious new print

VIP: Sean Astin will be presenting before the start of the feature

Place: The Rialto Theatre

Address: 1023 Fair Oaks Ave.
South Pasadena, CA 91030

Contact: +1 626-799-9567

We will bring more details as they are confirmed. But this is enough to get your butts in those seats!! Here's your chance to see one of the best adventure films of a previous generation, with the best of possible hosts.

So all you "Sam" fans, er..... ahem, I mean..... "Mikey" fans, get out there this weekend!

Much too hasty,

Wednesday, February 27, 2002
There and back again – a journey to middle earth Part IV - Xoanon @ 19:28 PST
There and back again – a journey to middle earth

I thought I would share with theonering.net my experience on the Red Carpet Movie Tour’s LOTR ultimate fantasy 12-day tour (http://www.redcarpet-tours.com). I’m on a small VIP tour of travel agents. I’ll send in updates as time and connectivity permit. This is the fourth installment.

Feb 21st

The day started out perfectly when I woke up in The Hobbit Lodge, in Ohakune. I can’t possibly rave enough about this rustic little motel. The owner is the picture of hobbit hospitality, generous, kind and helpful. I started the day in good hobbit fashion, with eggs, toast, tomatoes and nice crispy bacon, hold the Ring Wraiths, they came later. We took off towards Wellington. On the way, we stopped by the Rangitikei River, part of which was used for some scenes on the River Anduin.

Then we were off to the horse ranch that Chris and his wife Donna own. Their ranch was horse central for the film. Many of their horses were used in the film, and most of the main horses were housed at the ranch during filming. They also helped trained the horses and actors in the movies, which is no small feat. The actors need to be trained in riding, and the horses not only need to be able to do the right thing on camera, but they also need to be introduced to all the frightening things (to a horse anyway) that take place during a shoot. They have a lot of beautiful horses on the ranch, including some that were used in the movie. Chris and one of his head ranch hands, Jay, were both stunt riders as Ring Wraiths. As a matter of fact, Chris was the lead rider. Their friend Jane did the stunt riding for Arwen in the dramatic chase to the river, and she owns the horse that was used as well. We got to meet all of them – what a day!

After leaving the ranch, we drove to Wellington. Since I am on a special tour, I had the privilege of tagging along when one of my fellow travelers went to meet the honorable Pete Hodgson, the minister that is involved with LOTR promotion and development (for example it is his office that is involved with the negotiations on a LOTR museum, and it is his office that puts out ads that say “welcome to New Zealand, the home of middle earth.” Of course he does all kinds of other non-LOTR things, including some cool stuff with NZ industry, and NZ exports). I was introduced as the first official LOTR tourist, and he shook my hand warmly. He is a charming man, and very knowledgeable. He had several WETA workshop statues in his office. He said that he had been giving them out as special ministry gifts to certain individuals. Unfortunately, we didn’t qualify. Never the less it was an honor and a pleasure to meet him.

Tomorrow – Rivendell, Helms Deep, and Minas Tirith.

Sean Astin: The Sweetheart - Xoanon @ 12:56 PST
Victoria writes:

I know it's a bit after the fact, but I just wanted to drop a line and let it be said in a truly public forum that Sean Astin is an absolute sweetheart. I am an admittedly rabid Sam fan, and I've had a nasty eye infection lately, so in a gesture of great kindness, some of my fan-friends conspired to take a piece of my fan artwork to Bretano's to get it signed for me as a get-well gift, and one lass, Rebecca, finally proved to be the last link in the chain that got it done. This is taken from her report of the event:


By the time I got in the store it was standing room only. I saw Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens sitting in front, but Sean Astin was off to the side talking to someone.

The staff had said no autographs before the talk and I would have followed the rules for myself, but I really wanted to get an autograph for VB and we had been told that we could only get one item signed and that it had to be signed by all four guests.

Sean was signing a DVD of Rudy for a fan and sounding overwhelmed and honored.

Me: "Sean-"

Sean turned and smiled at me. He has the nicest smile. I don't care what people say about his weight. He looked really good.

I held out a copy of my friend's drawing, "My friend was in the hospital-"

Sean got this utterly compassionate look on his face. "I'm sorry."

"She drew this and it would mean a lot to her if you would sign it," I told him.

He stared at it for a minute. "She wants me to sign this? This is gorgeous. (signs it) Tell her that I love it and I hope that she gets better soon."

I wish that I had a picture of his expression. He is a good actor, but I now know that he is also sincerely a good man.

I handed him the BitofEarth banner. "I don't know if you go on-line, but this is also a site she helped start." Sean looked touched and kept repeating, "Bit of Earth. Bit of Earth." At which point a staff member said that he needed to go up to the front.


I really can't express how much this touched me. I've been a fan of his for a while, and greatly admire the work he did bringing Sam's balance of simplicity and depth to the screen, but I also admire him now for being such a gentleman in person. Ego seems to run rampant in Hollywood these days, and the LOTR cast is an oasis of genuine humanity in the midst of this.

He didn't have to sign the autograph at all. He could have told Rebecca to get back in line, that it wasn't sign-things time yet. He could have told her that it was one to a person. He could have signed it quickly and gotten back to the tables. He could have signed anywhere on the pic. He could have done all those things well within his rights, and without being a Bad Person for it.

But he didn't. He took the time, he listened kindly to Rebecca, really looked at the pic, and now that I have gotten the pic in the mail and see the signature....he really seems to have taken care. I actually had to LOOK for it on my own art! It's large enough to be clearly legible - and it really looks like his name, not just a pen-wiggle, which I appriciate after seeing so many celebrity 'signatures' that look like the pen randomly threw up on the paper - but not so big as to be obtrusive, and he angled it with the composition of the picture and put it in such a place that it neither sticks out in a big patch of white nor obscures any of the design.

I really wish I could scan it here, but it's already framed.

So if you see this, Sean, thank you. You probably understand this well from playing a hobbit, but it's still true: little things can mean a great deal to people.

Victoria Bitter
Head Gardener, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer

Howard Shore Poem - Xoanon @ 12:07 PST
MithrandirCQ writes:

Hi, Xoanon. I am a member of Decipher's official LOTR Fan club. My handle on that Message Board is MithrandirCQ. About 10 of us attended the Q & A at Barnes & Noble on 17th Street and Union Square on 22 February 2002 (You may have notice a number of them having there hands still up when the moderator asked how many times we saw LOTR - including the one who saw it 31 times). Since much has been said and transcribed about this evening I will not go into the details of that event, however, I would like to clarify that the poem presented to Mr. Shore was presented to him by members of this club and not the "Howard Shore fan club". We love the entire ensemble cast and what they did to convey Tolkien's masterful world onto the big screen. I have attached a copy of the poem that was presented to Mr. Shore that night. If nothing else, please post this on TORN for I feel the person who wrote this poem did an exceptional job in writing it. Thanks again for your time and consideration regarding this matter. [More]

Monday, February 25, 2002
FOTR Book discussion on Radio National (Australia) - Xoanon @ 12:16 PST
jediguy writes: I was listening to a lengthy but interesting book discussion on Fellowship of the Ring on ABC's Radio National. There was a panel of experts ranging from literature professors to a guy who knew Tolkien. They then took callers to discuss why LOTR was such a phenomenon, and what it meant to them. I was disappointed to find that there wasn't a written transcript of it, however, there is a Realaudio version of it. You can find it by going to abc.new.au, then clicking on the respective link.

Sunday, February 24, 2002
211 more Fan Art! - Calisuri @ 15:28 PST

Click for Larger VersionClick for Larger Version

After a few months hiatus, we have finally updated our Fan Art section. Thanks to the hundreds of dedicated Tolkien artists for sending in their masterpieces to be included in our gallery. If you would like to add your art and get your own personal gallery, email your work (in .jpg, .gif, .bmp, .tif, or .psd) format to calisuri@theonering.net. We update every few months, so get your fan art in today!

In the meantime, check out some great new fan art in the current gallery. We have recently added 211 pieces! [More]

Friday, February 22, 2002
A Glam-Gandalf! - Xoanon @ 12:50 PST
Nicholas writes: I'm a long, long time reader of TheOneRing.net, and while I do not have any spy material to report, I do have a little picture I whipped up that you might enjoy.

Every year I throw an Oscar Party, where I always try to outdo myself. This year I had an idea for my invitation, but I was afraid that my meager graphic design abilities would come nowhere near the image in my mind.

Click here for a look at 'Glam-Gandalf!

However, my expectations were exceeded, and for my party theme of "Lord of the Rouge," I was able to make a wonderful picture, with many apologies to Nicole Kidman in the process. I have no expectations as to what you will do with this. Mainly because I'm sure I broke some sort of copywrite law along the way, but I thought you TheOneRing.net folks would enjoy it.

Of course, a blatant plug for my website, http://www.awardsavenue.com/, would be greatly appreciated.

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