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April 18, 1999 - May 3, 1999

News for May 03, 1999

Christopher Tolkien to Make Cameo?

5/3/99, 12:00 am EST - Xoanon

This was sent to me this morning. Coming from the Oxford Literary Press I would put more weight into this rumour. "The Lord Of the Rings", the nation"s most popular novel, according to recent polls, is currently being made into a blockbuster movie by Hollywood director Peter Jackson. Jackson is preparing to film the three-part epic in his native New Zealand with a budget of millions of pounds and a cast of thousands. One member of the cast may come as a surprise to Tolkien aficionados; Christopher Tolkien, the author"s son and editor of many recent Middle-Earth releases, is strongly rumoured to be making a cameo appearance in the movie. Although both the Tolkien family and the Tolkien society have been keen to distance themselves from the production, word has reached us that Christopher has been approached to play a small part. Our insider, a member of the Tolkien Society tells us, "During talks with [Christopher] Tolkien, Peter Jackson broached the subject of a cameo appearance. Christopher has indicated that he would be pleased to take part as he has been impressed with the production and screenplay. The current thinking is that he will appear on-screen during the Council of Ellrond." This will come as a surprise to many in view of the Tolkien family"s reticence to be involved with previous adaptations. We tried to contact the family but their representatives declined to comment. I really hope this rumour is true. Christopher Tolkien has done so much for Tolkien's Literary works! It would be absolutely fabulous to see him make it into the film. Huge thanks goes out to 'Broken Nose' for the 411.

News for May 02, 1999

Aragorn Casting

5/2/99, 12:00 am EST - Xoanon

It seems like two Babylon 5 actors are vying for the role of Aragorn. Robin Atkins-Down and Jason Carter, and the later seems to be closer than the former. Atkins-Down, who played Morann. Carter playes Marcus Cole.

News for May 01, 1999

Is There a Doctor in the House?

5/1/99, 12:00 am EST - Xoanon

Tom Baker, the actor who became the most recognised of the eight incarnations of "Doctor Who", might be making a comeback. The Doctor Who Newspage reports that Baker was apparently screen tested for the part of Gandalf in the upcoming "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, sometime in March. While Baker is best known in the sci-fi field, he has worked in the 'sorcery fantasy' genre before - most notably a major part in the TV adaption of "The Silver Chair", the sixth book in CS Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia" series. No doubt there'll be some in-joke about a TARDIS worked into the story. Thanks to 'Calli' & 'GMW'.

Jackson film draws hundreds

5/1/99, 12:00 am EST - Xoanon

What's a few hours waiting in the cold open foyer of the School of Dance and Drama when you have a chance of becoming an extra in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings? No problem at all for Liz Dengate-Thrush, her daughter Phoebe and fellow hopeful Mary Knight, each warmly wrapped up against yesterday's cold weather.

They were among several hundred hopefuls, some prepared to wait outside in the rain, on the off-chance of being snapped up as hobbits, trolls, orcs & "anything", Mrs Dengate-Thrush and Phoebe said. The Dengate-Thrushes wiled away the hours swotting up on the hobbit tale. Other hopefuls relied on thermoses and conversation with friends. Ms. Knight said friends had told her to audition as 'she fit the criteria' Lord of the Rings publicist Sian Clement said about 500 people had passed through the audition process on Saturday and more were expected to have done so by the end of yesterday (Sunday) "we're very happy, we've had a good cross-section, including very tall women and very short women," Ms. Clement said.

They would obviously fall short of the 15,000 requirement, but 'we can use some on more than one occasion".

She also hinted that clever make-up made facial 'character' unnecessary. None of the extras would have a speaking part.

The main role-players have yet to be announced, and the potential extras will have to be patient - all are being told they will be called "if we want to hire you".

This is from the height of fame

5/1/99, 12:00 am EST - Xoanon

Liz Berry and Kylee Southon saw the long and the short of it yeasterday. The Nelson pair were two of the more then 500 hopefuls who turned up to Wellington's National Dance and Drama Centre in a bid to become extras in film director Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.

And they reckoned they were just what the production company was looking for. "I'm 4ft and that's with shoes on," laughed 21-year-old, Southon. "I could be just what they're looking for if they're after an elf or a hobbit." Berry, an avid horse rider who stands 60cm taller then her friend, is keen to play a giant if she is successful.

Berry, who modeled at the 1996 Smokefree Fashion Award, confessed to not having read The Hobbit but was confident of proving herself on horseback with a sword. "I decided to give it a go for the fun of it, really, but I also like the idea of being in a film."

The friends caught the 4.30 ferry from Picton to join the Queue for casting. They filled out forms asking for everything from head size to bra size.

They then drew an outline of their feet and were photographed Publicist Sian Clement said the production company was looking for 15,000 extras for the $264m adaptation of the JRR Tolkien book. Filming is due to start in New Zealand later this year.

"We'll be looking over the applications over the next few weeks and deciding who's suitable.

News for Apr. 30, 1999

40-metres of aspiring hobbits

4/30/99, 12:00 am EST - Xoanon

Casting of extras for the Lord of the Rings got underway in Wellington this weekend.The J.R.R. Tolkien classic is being filmed in New Zealand by Wellington director Peter Jackson, with backing from Hollywood. The film publicist, Sian Clement, says 15 thousand extras will be needed for the movie, and this weekend's casting session is the first of many.

Aspiring extras lined up in a 40-metre queue and waited for two hours this afternoon to have their photographs and details taken. Hopefuls spoken to said they would take any role they were offered, but many expressed an interest in playing orcs, hobbits or trolls.

The main roles in The Lord of the Rings have not yet been announced.

News for Apr. 22, 1999

North and South Magazine - Lauren Quintance

4/22/99, 12:00 am EST - Xoanon

This is not what you"d expect. Miramar. Solidly working class, rows of compact, pre-World War II bungalows and a smattering of state houses on broad, flat streets that give way to knots of disused factories. Soccer not rugby is the game of choice and on winter Saturdays a thick fringe of supporters jostle at the edges of Miramar Park home of the Miramar Rangers as planes, climbing from the airport, roar overhead. There is none of the raw sectarian divisions described in Denis Edwards" just-published 1950"s memoir Miramar Dog, just a kind of suburban monotony. Perhaps it is the anonymity of Miramar that suits Peter Jackson. Secrecy surrounding The Lord Of The Rings has reached paranoid levels. Few interviews are granted with Jackson and those that are almost exclusively conducted over the telephone. Those privileged enough to gain entry to Jackson"s Miramar-based special effects company Weta where the lion"s share of the work on models for The Lord Of The Rings is being done are required to sign a two-page, legally binding non-disclosure agreement. (Which makes our job here a challenge E.) When North & South sought access to those parts of Weta"s inner sanctum not involved in The Lord Of The Rings including Jackson"s lavish 200-seat private cinema built in the style of early screen palaces permission was refused. Jackson, who has earned a reputation for being difficult (not according to artist John Howe, who described him as quiet, un-pushy, unobstructive, willing to listen, but certain of his decisions.-E.) said that there were some things the public did not need to know about. Instead, to interview Weta"s directors we were ushered to a bare, dimly lit boardroom devoid of any interest. Jackson himself would only be interviewed over the phone, ostensibly to "save time", and when we protested the one-time photo engraver told us we were lucky to be granted an interview at all. Welcome to Hollywood, Miramar-style. Sequestered behind the tightly shut doors of Miramar"s shabby warehouses is Jackson"s multimillion-dollar film empire. In Para Street, hard up against the hills that divide Miramar from Seatoun, an old homestead that is the headquarters of Jackson"s small production company Wingnut Films can be glimpsed from the street. No sign marks its existence, just a blunt warning: Private Property, No Trespassing. Over the hill are the well-heeled seaside suburbs of Karaka Bay, and Seatoun, favoured residence of much of the film and television industry including Jackson. (So where did we get the idea he lived in Christchurch? Whoops. My money is on Seatoun.- E.) In Weka Street in the suburb"s north, Weta the crux of the industry spawned by his success and the Jackson-owned Camperdown Studios are housed in a 65,000 square foot former pharmaceuticals factory. In Stone Street, near the narrow cutting in the hill which shields the suburb from Wellington"s airport, the 1.7 hectare of the former Taubman's paint factory awaits transformation. The sprawling jumble of empty buildings is the latest addition to Jackson"s portfolio of property in Miramar. "It's a huge punt," admits Jamie Selkirk, Jackson"s genial partner and director of Weta and Camperdown Studios. A freelance producer and editor who has worked with Jackson since the 1987 spoof Bad Taste, Selkirk is also a shrewd businessman. He says the $3 to $4 million he estimates has been invested in buildings in Miramar (including the work required to convert them into concrete-lined, sound-proof studios) is unprecedented in Wellington. "Auckland has got no real big studios, it's got a whole lot of warehouses that Hercules and Xena use but we're trying to create a purpose-built facility." The Jackson camp are relying on other Wellington television producers and filmmakers to pick up the slack after filming on the last of The Lord Of The Rings is completed at the end of 2000. "We"re crossing our fingers really," says Selkirk, "We"re hoping that by doing The Lord Of The Rings it will say to the world that we can make movies down here." "Wellington, in my opinion, doesn"t have a magic formula about it which makes it the place that you have to make films, I just think it"s a great place to live," Jackson chirrups down the phone from across town. "This perception that if you"re really serious about making it in the movies you've got to go and chase work, you've got to go to LA, cos that's where it all happens if I"ve done anything it"s simply to say, "Surely you don"t have to do that, surely if I"ve got a good idea for a film and I want to make it then they"re going to be happy enough to come here and make it" and that"s proved to be the case. "You know there are advantages to being in the US," he continues. "You certainly get access to money and actors of star status and crews that have worked on 50 or 60 movies, you have alot of access to gimmicks and toys that you don"t get here, but the Kiwi attitude to filmmaking is something I prefer. The film industry here is all about working with people you"ve worked with before and it"s really like a group of friends getting together for a few months and making a movie." According to another local producer Ray Thompson, the depth of talent and "can do" attitude of actors, technicians and filmmakers here is reminiscent of Hollywood in the 1920s. While Jackson has been the lynchpin of Weta, the tenacity of his friends should not be underestimated. Weta was formed in 1993 with Selkirk, prosthetics specialist Richard Taylor, animator and computer technician George Port and the late Jim Booth, to buy a $100,000 computer used to create special effects for Heavenly Creatures. Weta creates puppet-like creatures and computer-generated special effects for films, as well as shows such as Xena and Hercules. In the lead-up to Lord Of The Rings, due to start filming in October, the company is employing 160 people. Weta"s success is rooted in its ability to overcome the tyranny of distance: technology has blurred the gulf between Miramar and Los Angeles.

News for Apr. 20, 1999

Time for Film Wannabes to Toss Hats in the ring

4/19/99, 12:00 am EST - Xoanon

The official hunt for extras in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings will begin this weekend."Official [casting calls] will be held shortly.Ads will probably be placed this week," a WingNut Films spokeswoman said.

The extra's call will be held at Te Whaea:National Dance and Drama Centre in Newtown, the former Wellington Show buildings, on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4pm. But she warned that a casting call being run today by AKA Screen Actors in Manners Mall wasn't official.Unofficial casting calls have been held around the country since Jackson announced the $266 million project last August.

The calls attracted film wannabes in their thousands, prompting the production company to issue numerous warnings that the people recruited had no guarantees they would be considered for the project.The offical hunt for film extras will be run this weekend by Three Foot Six Production company.The spokeswoman said Jackson was still in the process of casting leads. AKA Screen Actors couldn't be contacted.

News for Apr. 19, 1999

Barad-Dur Model?

4/18/99, 12:00 am EST - Xoanon

Now, we aren't talking Cindy Crawford here. Tehanu slipped me this juicy tidbit about an artist named John Howe, now he's done some LOTR art before, if you don't know him you probably know his work. Apparantly Howe was at a Sci-Fi convention in NZ and let slip that he and the art team have built a 7-metre-high model of Barad-Dur out of plasticine for LOTR. This was later confirmed to Tehanu from sources that wish to remain nameless but are working with said art team. Now we here at LOTR News have not gotten any pics yet, but

Can you possibly imagine a 7 foot tall statue of this! For those that have no idea where Barad-Dur fit's into LOTR this is what I could find Barad-dur: The greatest fortress-tower on Middle-earth during the Second and Third age of the Sun was Barad-dur in the evil land of Mordor. Called the Dark Tower by Men and Lugburz by Orcs, it was built after the first millenium of the Second Age by Sauron, with the power of the One Ring.

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