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January 26, 2003 - February 03, 2003

2-03-03 Latest News

Lao_of_Gondor @ 4:31 pm EST

Hey gang! The title says it all. Who's feeling goosebumps!?!

Have you ever wanted to stay-up all night gaming, but all of your friends are already sleeping? Have you ever wanted to test out your newest deck design - against someone in Russia...or China...or in Ohio? Have you every wanted to game so badly and for so long but couldn't find a crew to match your stamina? Well then...THIS GAME IS DEFINITELY FOR YOU!!!!!

The Lord of the Rings Trading Card game is about to go ONLINE! The realm of Middle Earth will soon be set upon an all new "Fourth Age"; a digital world where players from all over the globe can compete in the style and dynamic of the "offline" version of the LOTR TCG that we have all come to enjoy without measure!

The Lord of the Rings ONLINE Website is up and completely accessible and has links to actual game screens, news-articles, notes from the designers and a link to sign-up to become a BETA tester for the game. Check out all of these fantastic goodies HERE!

And, as for some additional reading material:

The following article was the first official press release of the ONLINE LOTR TCG from August, 2002. For those of you who are new to this information...enjoy! And for those who have already read this previously... now is the time to refresh your memory and get in gear for what could become the single most exciting online TCG ever played!

And, most importantly, from now on, you will be able to return to Gaming Havens periodically and follow along with the progress of this fantastic upcoming game as we continue to bring you new information, interviews and updates as the game progressess and comes even closer to completion. But for now, here's what's happening:

253 granby street • norfolk, virginia 23510 - 1813
phone • 757.623.3600 • fax 757.623.3630
norfolk • denver • los angeles


(NORFOLK, Va., August 28, 2002) — One of the most popular trading card games available today — The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game (TCG) — is about to go digital! The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game Online will open its virtual doors to ‘round-the-clock Internet play early in 2003, Decipher announced today. Decipher is partnering with Worlds Apart Productions, widely recognized for its critically acclaimed online roleplaying game, “The Eternal City,” to produce the online version of the game.

“The Lord of the Rings TCG is simply the most incredible game Decipher has ever created, and we are extremely excited about being able to offer its game mechanics and strategies to even more players through the online version,” said Chairman and CEO Warren Holland. “The popularity of this game and the popularity of The Lord of the Rings story has the potential in my mind to create the most dynamic worldwide online gaming community the Internet has ever seen.”

The Online Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game will allow players to purchase randomly assorted card packs, build their decks, make trades, and play against a multitude of opponents just like they already do with the popular paper version. However, the nature of the Internet will allow players wherever they may be to find an opponent to play no matter the time of day.

Decipher’s partner in bringing The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game online, Worlds Apart Productions, has been developing and managing online games for six years. An announcement was made earlier this week that Worlds Apart will take over Decipher’s online game development, effective immediately. The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game Online will join the already popular Star Trek Customizable Card Game Online, which launched in May 2001.

For Immediate Release. For further information, contact:

Tracey Halliday, Decipher, 757.664.1102
Monica Jones, Decipher, 757.664.1146
Scott Martins, Worlds Apart Productions, 303.863.8199

More to come...

Lao of Gondor

Andy Serkis' SciFi Chat Transcript
Xoanon @ 1:18 pm EST

Charlemagne sends us the transcript from SCIFI's chat with Andy Serkis.

(SciFi.com) I'm Ben Trumble for SCIFI. Tonight we're happy to be chatting British actor Andy Serkis, until recently perhaps best known to US audiences for his performance in the Oscar nominated film Topsy-Turvy. All that changed in December with the release of the second installment of Peter Jackson's adaptation of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, for New Line Cinema. In LOTR Andy plays Gollum, or Smeagol if you prefer, a fictional character that's inspired generations of readers to ask the question "What's it got in its pocketses?". The Gollum of LOTR -- The Two Towers is an unprecedented combination of actor and CGI, too magical to be real, and too real to be animation. Andy also appears opposite Michael Caine in the upcoming film Shiner. Other credits include major roles in Among Giants, Stella Does Tricks and Julien Temple's Pandaemonium. He's played a huge range of parts in theaters in London and across the U.K., including recent acclaimed roles in King Lear and Hush for the Royal Court Theatre.

(SciFi.com) (LegolasBow) to (SciFi.com): My question for Andy: Acting for movies is very different from acting for theater, and playing Gollum, a digital character, must be even more different than being involved in the scenes. Do you think playing a digital character has changed the way you will go about acting in the future?

(AndyS) When you boil it down, the way I approached Gollum is no different than I would any other character. Again, finding a way in is the key. Even if ultimately the character is CGI. The roots of playing Gollum is acting with other actors -- which we did What Peter was after was the energy he got between my character and the other. The techincal aspects were the challange I hadn't come across before. But working in theater before gave me stamina. It was a great marriage of skills.

(SciFi.com) (AndyCircus) to (SciFi.com): Simple question: What was your favourite / most memorable scene as gollum? Or least one of them that comes to mind...if it's from ROTK, tell us, we won't tell anyone, muahahaha...

(AndyS) The most complex scene is the internal debate between Gollum and Smeagol, That difines the duality of person for the audience. Frodo pulled out his humanity but its such a struggle to remain outside Gollum

(SciFi.com) (Emilie) to (SciFi.com): I've seen extra features to The Lord of the Rings and most of the actors say they are feel privileged to have played in it. Do you feel privileged to have played a part in the the Lord of the Rings Trilogy?

(AndyS) Absolutely, Working with Peter and the cast and especially for me working with all the technical crew. It's been one of the most iimportant expereinces of my life. So much passion, I'm blessed to have been part of the vision

(SciFi.com) (daphna) to (SciFi.com): most of the actors say, that rotk will be heartbreaking. is that also your opinion?

(AndyS) Oh sure, The outcome is emotional for all of the characters. And its the end of a true epic For me I still have a great deal of post preduction work and motion capture I can't wait to put the finishing touches to Gollum. I've been working on Gollum for almost four years one way or the other, with a slight break during the post production of FOTR

(SciFi.com) (trilluser) to (SciFi.com): How hard was it to speak in Gollum's voice almost every day?

(AndyS) It was very diificult at first, But the vocal cords are like any muscles Once they get warmed up it helps. In actual fact, it doesn't hurt anymore, I used to drink what we called Gollum juice. Honey, lemon, and ginger

(SciFi.com) (Arwen) to (SciFi.com): now that you are a celebrity, how does it feel to have so many fans all over the world??

(AndyS) This year for me it was quite a shock really, Obviously people don't recognise me on the street Still, the response has been great

(SciFi.com) What can you tell us about your movie Snake?

(AndyS) Snake is a story about the national health system in the UK. It's about 3 characters with desperate needs; A med student, A middle aged man trying to buy a kidney, And a woman who is a hooker who needs ahip replacement. They join in a hotel room and meet their needs in a messy way. I'd always wanted a chance to direct. Snake gave me a chance to return to being a visual artist. More and more I'd like to direct, I'm trying to develop several features right now. And so Snake was a pleasure

(SciFi.com) (jay4632) to (SciFi.com): Did it give you a bigger thrill to film Gollum, or to see the finished product on screen?

(AndyS) I think the process was thrilling and I enjoyed every minute of it I have a great time on set, on the motion capture stage, and with the animators So every stage had its high points. The great thrill was seeing it in front of an audience . Seeing people genuinely moved by the character was a triumph

(SciFi.com) (TankGirl) to (SciFi.com): Just how much input did you get into the final gollum product? obviously the contents, but what about the packaging?

(AndyS) All the acting choices, the psychological choices, the way that he moves and speaks was mine. Who he is. The way he moves on all fours. The notion of addiction. The facial expressions. The core of the being was what I brought to the film The look of the character The dimension, the skin, the visual -- that was the animators

(SciFi.com) (Eowyn) to (SciFi.com): Did you ever get completely fed up of the whole CGI process and wish you hadn't agreed to be in this movie? Or was it just always a lot of fun? Glad you stuck with it though, the results have been amazing!

(AndyS) Never, The difficulty for me was in photography in NZ when I knew that my real work would come in the motion studio That I wouldn't see the final product for a long long time

(SciFi.com) (Charlemagne) to (SciFi.com): When where you first exposed to LOTR? Did you read the book before you took the job?

(AndyS) I read The Hobbit as a kid, I didn't read LOTR until I auditioned for the part, I drew from them enormously, Tolkien gave me everything I needed to see how, Gollum moved and his inner core

(SciFi.com) (Elessar-king) to (SciFi.com): Do you remember your thoughts on Gollum from your early reading of The Hobbit?

(AndyS) I remembered an image of him from the illustration of Gollum leaning over the pool from the Hobbit. But that was about it. The conception of Gollum as he was seen in the film influenced me too. Particularl;y as he moved onb all fours

(SciFi.com) (OMGGollumIsSOSexy) to (SciFi.com): What are you opinions on each: Gollum and Smeagol? Which do you prefer?

(AndyS) I like them both, They are both a part of me Both their qualities are direct representations of who I am I have a soft spot for Smeagol because on screen he looks just like my 2 1/2 year old son

(SciFi.com) (syoung08) to (SciFi.com): I have read that you had to perform each scene 4 times. How hard, and how much time was spend perfectly replicating each scene?

(AndyS) Well, it's actually three times, On set, Motion capture, then vocal studio. I suppose four if you count my work with animators Sometime what we came up with on set Peter wanted replicated exactly in motion capture Other times we switched over to what we discovered in post production But the core of the scenes were always what we'd done on set.

(SciFi.com) (MyPreciousssss) to (SciFi.com): After being the basis for Gollum as well as the voice, did his personality and grammar stick with you?

(AndyS) I probably have more conversations with myself than I did before

(SciFi.com) (Mellis) to (SciFi.com): Mr. Serkis, I was wondering if you thought of Gollum as more of a victim than an evil character.

(AndyS) I see him mostly as a flawed human being, He's connection for the audience, The one character who represents the light and dark sides of each of us. I didn't want the audience to prejudge him as evil. So I guess I made choices with Peter to make him more sympathetic. But I do see him as a victim of the Ring Like child who commits murder almost by accident. The Ring and its power did that

(SciFi.com) What's Peter JAckson like?

(AndyS) His ability to filed thousands of questions is amazing He has such a strong narrative sense. He's awesome The great thing about Peter is he never cracks under the strain and he always keeps it fun for everybody. He's the Edmund Hillary of filmmaking. Like a mountain climber

(SciFi.com) (frodosbaggin) to (SciFi.com): how well did you get along with the other actors on set?

(AndyS) There were so many great times on the set. I had so much fun. I can't think of anything that wasn't super

(SciFi.com) (MeGgiE) to (SciFi.com): How was it filming the scenes where you struggle with Sam and Frodo in an attempt to try and steal the ring?

(AndyS) We filmed every single frame of that for real on the set. The fight We must have shot that scene about thirty times It was physically demanding

(SciFi.com) (ercirithiel) to (SciFi.com): how did they make the oliphaunts?

(AndyS) That's an example of the animators best work. The towers were real. They used motion capture to get the movement just right

(SciFi.com) (CrazyHalk) to (SciFi.com): When doing the shot when you are spashing after the fish in the river, during that cold day, did you ever get annoyed with peter having you reshot the shot again and again?

(AndyS) For all my method acting when I hit that cold water I thought I was going to die. My body took over and kept acting, but I was freezing. And there wasn't much left of my opwn precious after thaT

(SciFi.com) (MyPreciousssss) to (SciFi.com): If you could have chosen what character you would play, do you think you would have chosen Gollum?

(AndyS) I only wanted to play Gollum. He was just right for me

(SciFi.com) (veronica) to (SciFi.com): does the third film sticks to the book for what concerns your character?

(AndyS) Well post production is still going on so I can't say for sure I'd say in the same way that the first two films are true to the character the third film will be as well

(SciFi.com) (OMGGollumIsSOSexy) to (SciFi.com): Did you like "Gollum's Song"?

(AndyS) It's beautiful and haunting and I loved the way it was performed.

(SciFi.com) What will you remember about LOTR 20 years from now when you career has moved on to other great things?

(AndyS) It will have left a deep scar in my memory -- those latex suits! Seriously though roles like Gollum only come up once or twice in a career. Its like gold dust It's been a genuine priviledge Good night now

(SciFi.com) Okay. Andy is STILL in traffic... And now's he late for his 10PM appearance. We had to let him go. We'll open the floor now

(SciFi.com) He said he'd love to come back next year after the last film

Viggo To Read Poetry At St. Lawrence U
Xoanon @ 11:46 am EST

George writes: Viggo is going to be reading his poetry at his alma mater, St. Lawrence University. A good chance for Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal (and Kingston, etc.) fans to see him in person.

CANTON - Viggo Mortensen, star of the current hit film The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, and a 1980 graduate of St. Lawrence University, will make several public appearances at the University on Friday, February 28, and Saturday, March 1, in conjunction with an exhibition of his photographs in the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery on campus from February 28 through April 5.

Mortensen will appear at the following public events.
Attendance at each requires free tickets. Friday, February 28

- Opening reception for the exhibition "Signlanguage:
Photographs by Viggo Mortensen," 7:30-8:30 p.m. and 9-10 p.m., Richard F. Brush Art Gallery. Saturday, March 1

- Poetry reading, 2:30 p.m., Gulick Theatre

- Book signing, 3-7 p.m., Brush Gallery

- Screening of the extended version of The Lord Of The Rings, Part I: The Fellowship Of The Ring, Gulick Theatre, 7:30-11 p.m., and The Underground (E.J. Noble University Center), 7:45-11:15 p.m.; each with introductory remarks by Mortensen.

In order to accommodate as many people as possible for
participation in at least one event, tickets will be made available as follows:

- Any one person may request up to 2 tickets for one event only.

- Tickets will be available for in-person pick-up on Monday, February 17, beginning at 8 a.m., at the E.J. Noble University Center main desk.

- Tickets will be available to St. Lawrence University students, faculty, staff and retirees, and members of the community, through 5 p.m., on Friday, February 21. After that date and time, tickets will be available to anyone for any of the events on first-come, first-served basis.

- At all times, those who desire tickets must go to the
E.J. Noble University Center main desk in person; identification will be required. No telephone requests will be accepted. Also, please note that no waiting list will be established and tickets will not be mailed out.

2-02-03 Latest News

Important News For Barliman's Chat Regulars
Demosthenes @ 5:15 pm EST

This evening we'll be upgrading TheOneRing.net's IRC server software. Most of the changes will be invisible to chatters, but will result in a better, more reliable chatting experience for everyone. We strongly encourage you to take the time to acquaint yourself with these new features by reading through our brand new chat FAQ.

One change in particular will impact on everyone who has a registered nickname. This is a significant change to the registration process that regular chatters must be aware of.

New e-mail requirement for nickserv registration

Registering a nickname allows you to reserve a nickname for your own exclusive use. As regulars know, this is invaluable for maintaining a personal identity on the TORn IRC server.

In the past, registering a nickname has not required an e-mail field. However, with the server upgrade this will change and everyone - including those with currently registered nicknames - will need to add an e-mail address to their registration.

You will be prompted by Nickserv once the upgrade has been completed. You do not need to do anything until then, and you don't need to be there for the upgrade. You will be prompted the next time you log on.

Also, please note that your nickname is not being deregistered, and that no-one will be able to steal it during the changeover. This upgrade merely adds a requirement for an e-mail field. Even people who already have set an e-mail address (which until now has been optional) will need to go through this process and re-set it.

Why an e-mail address is very useful!

This is because the software that we use to power our IRC Services (IRCServices v5) - which includes nickserv - requires that all registered users submit a valid e-mail address in order that very useful and exciting functionality such as memo-forwarding and password-retrieval can be used.

If you really do not want to submit an e-mail address, there is no obligation for you to register your nickname at all. Needless to say, TORn treats all the private data of its users (e-mail addresses, memos, etc.) with the utmost privacy and respect - the only e-mail you will ever receive from us via your registered e-mail address will be that which you request yourself by interacting with services (with the proviso of a serious emergency where we (TORn Senior Staff/IRC Operators) might need to personally contact you specifically, in the absence of any other contact details).

Steps to re-registering under the new sytem

So how do currently registered users adapt to this new system and re-confirm their nickname registration? This step-by-step guide shows you how. After the changeover, when you login, you'll be prompted by nickserv as normal for your password, like this:

NickServ- This nickname is registered and protected. If it is your nickname, type /msg NickServ IDENTIFY password. Otherwise, please choose a different nickname.

If you have a kill set on your nick, you will also receive a warning like this:

NickServ- If you do not change within 20 seconds, I will change your nickname.

Enter your password as per normal:

/msg nickserv register password

Once you've done that, you'll receive this new message from Nickserv:

NickServ- You must set an E-mail address for your nickname before you continue using it. Please set one now with the command: /msg NickServ SET EMAIL address

If you're familiar with nickserv operations, this shouldn't be too difficult. However, if you have a kill on your nick, you'll again receive a warning that your nick will be changed if you don't perform the operation quickly. If you're too slow, Nickserv will forcibly alter your nick to something like Guest2097645. If it happens to you, simply change your nick back to your registered nick and start over.

So, now you must swap your chosen e-mail - and it's very important that you use a valid one - for address. For example, I would type:

/msg NickServ SET EMAIL demosthenes@theonering.net

Please do not use my address! You must, must, MUST use one of your own! Did I say must enough?

Once you've done that, Nickserv will spit a message somewhat like this back at you:

NickServ- An authorization code for your nickname has been sent to demosthenes@theonering.net.

NickServ- When you receive this message, type /msg NickServ AUTH code (replace code with the authorization code in the message) to complete your E-mail address change.

NickServ- Please note that you will not be able to continue using your nickname unless you complete the change.

Now, to ensure that your e-mail address is valid, you'll receive a message containing a nine-digit authorization code at the e-mail address you gave. You'll have to retreive this from your e-mail before you can finish the registration process.

When you've retrieved your code from your e-mail inbox, simply follow the instructions and type:

/msg nickserv auth code

Simply replace code in the above command with the nine-digit authorization code given in the E-mail message. For example, if I was to receive an auth code of 923560279, I would type:

/msg nickserv auth 923560279

The only complication will be if you have your nick changed because you have a kill set. In this case, once you've received your code via e-mail, change your nick back to your registered nickname, then type in the authorisation code. Note that in this case you do not need to identify before typing in the auth code, you can type the code in straight away as directed in the e-mail from Barliman's IRC Services and as shown above.

If you follow these steps, your chosen nickname should now be registered under the new system!

And be sure to check out all the new goodies in our brand new chat FAQ.

Bulgarian Box Office Smash!
Tookish @ 11:46 am EST

From Ringer Skycycle:

I just want you guys to know that TTT has reigned supreme ever since it was released in Bulgaria on January the 10th. Up to January the 26th (17 days) it has grossed exactly 501,144 Bulgarian Levs, which equals around $280,000, which ranks it the second highest grossing film in its first two weeks, beaten only by Titanic. TTT launched with a pretty good $110,000 in its first three days - just for comparison, FOTR finished with $325,000 in Bulgaria after almost 4 months of screening, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone ended up with close to $300,000 and The Chamber of Secrets, which is currently in its 8th week of screening has close to $170,000. All of this adds up for an expectation that TTT will pass the $500,000 in the next 5 or six weeks, as it is yet to be launched in several of the country's big cities in the middle of February...

Towers Breaks Fellowship's US Record
Demosthenes @ 6:20 am EST

In Box Office news, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers has finally passed the US mark set by its predecessor Fellowship of the Ring.

In the US all-time moneylists, Towers just leapfrogged Fellowship to nab 10th spot and push toward Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 9th position. Towers now has amassed a US$315 million box office in just 44 days compared to the US$313 million that Fellowship took last year.

Source: Box Office Mojo

Outside the US, Towers is yet to overhaul Fellowship. But it only US$120 million in arrears. Box Office mojo reports that as at 31/1, Towers had grossed an enormous US$423.1 million, with the Japanese release still due to occur. Towers will release in Japan on February 22.

2-01-03 Latest News

In Memory of the Columbia Astronauts
Quickbeam @ 5:10 pm EST

The horrible news this morning of the Columbia Shuttle disaster brings this nation, and many across the world, to grieve. To see this happen again is devastating. Too much so.

My grief today is deep. My family is very close to the NASA Space Program. I was born on the Florida coast, only a few miles north of Cape Canaveral. For over 30 years, my Mother and Grandmother worked for NASA at the Cape -- today my Brother is an electrician working on the Shuttle missions. He and I grew up in a community where everyone was somehow connected to the Lunar Missions, the Space Shuttles; and we all knew the astronauts as heroes.

We shared more than a common history and civic pride; it was more like sharing a great dream and passion about the future of Mankind.

On January 28, 1986, I was in fourth period History class at my high school. None of us were working on our lessons, instead we watched the Space Shuttle Challenger flying high above, right outside our window. I saw the craft explode with my own eyes, right in the sky above me. We heard screams and crying out in the halls. Teachers and kids were running to the Library, to see the news broadcast on the television. We were all shattered.

I never, ever wanted to see that again. But now the worst has happened.

Today, all seven astronauts are gone. Their spouses and children were waiting for them to come home, waiting on the runway, for they were only 15 minutes away from landing.

I believe bravery is measured by a person taking great risk for some thing or cause that is greater than himself. Tolkien teaches us that, surely, in the struggle of Frodo and his companions.

But it is truly brave to seek out and reach for an ideal -- a dream that goes beyond all of us -- and to give your life for it. The President said they pursued a "high and noble calling." To me, those pilots and astronauts in the Space Program are the greatest adventurers. Only their passion takes them up so high. How else can we learn about Mankind's future out there, without them?

I ask all of you to remember them and the families who are now bereft. As an American, I never forget how proud I am of our soldiers, firefighters and law enforcement, who are so brave in the face of death. But when you speak of the astronauts.... their bravery is unique. They bring us the hope and promise of the future; and it cannot truly be measured.

The Staff and contributors of TheOneRing.net extend their sympathies to all who suffered loss today, especially to the families of Rick Husband, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, William McCool, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon.


RoTK Two Towers Preview Rumours
Demosthenes @ 1:37 am EST

In March last year, Peter Jackson attached a four-minute Two Towers preview to the end of Fellowship of the Ring. It's starting to seem quite likely that he'll be doing a similar thing for Two Towers. This of course gives us something to look forward to in just over a month's time. Check out this spoilericious report from the boards of Comingsoon.net.

This report was posted on the Comingsoon.net forums on January 30 by Jedi5150. Now, keep in mind that at this stage it's still pretty rumoursome, but this is what Jedi5150 had to say:

"SOURCES" are reporting that PJ in the coming weeks will be viewing fine cut and complete footage of RoTK for the extended preview to added to TTT in March. "THEY" say that PJ has a short list of certain scenes he wants to put in and then he will view any other footage to add and make it complete. According to "SOME" this is what PJ's list is said to include:

(And although) they do not want to show too much... Denethor

FINALLY (for) THE BIG FINALE, I have possible dialouge to go with this one ... Frodo and Sam by the crack of Doom, SAM: DESTROY it Mr. Frodo! FRODO: no ... I will not destroy it! THE RING IS MINE!!!

You can read the entire thread here on Comingsoon.net.

1-30-03 Latest News

Richard Taylor Talks Uruk 'Genes'
Xoanon @ 3:49 pm EST

Christopher writes: The January issue of Post has a 2 page interview with Richard Taylor. Not much new here but there is one interesting quote regarding the Uruk-Hai-

"They're just built to kill and they never retreat; hence they had no armor on their backs since Saruman never imagined they'd turn and flee. But, like so many genetic frailties of our own time, as we follow the Uruk-Hai through film three, we'll appreciate that, as Ridley Scott called it so beautifully, they have "accelerated decrepitude." They begin to break down quickly and Saruman hasn't actually quite got his alchemy right. We wanted to build an analogy to the frailties of playing with sciencde in our own world."

I don't recall this from the books but it is an interesting addition. That may also explain the peculiar look of the Uruk shot in the ROTK calender. I just assumed the Uruks were finished and we wouldn't see them much in ROTK. I was puzzled by the shot from the calender. Looks like there is more story for Saruman and the Uruks to come...

Discounted Tux Rentals for Two Towers - One Party
Calisuri @ 10:34 am EST

Ringer Sarumann sends us this great offer!

Worried about getting a tux...or paying out the nose for it? Well, no need to worry any more! Gingiss Formalwear has provided a special group discount rate on rental tuxedos for people attending this year's Oscar Party!

Basic Tux (vest included) - $49.99
Designer Tux (vest included) - $100
Basic Shoes - $10
Designer Shoes - $20-$27 depending on brand
(sales tax not included on these prices)

This is nearly a $50 discount on tuxes! A better deal you will not find!

You can contact Gingiss by calling (818) 243-4231 to set up an appointment for an initial fitting.

Or you can walk right in. The address is:

Gingiss Formalwear
2306 Glendale Galleria
Glendale, CA 91210

Be sure to mention that you want the group rate for TheOneRing.net.

Not in Los Angeles? Not a problem! Gingiss has locations all over the country where you can get your initial fitting. They can then mail your measurements to the Glendale location, and you will have a tux waiting for you 2 days before the party.

If there isn't a Gingiss location near you, you can still get your initial fitting done at a local formalwear retailer or tailor. Most provide complimentary measurements as a professional courtesy. Just call Gingiss at the number above, and they can send you a mail-in fitting form.

All tuxes can be picked up at the Glendale location by the Friday before the party, and they can be returned the Monday after the party.

If there are any questions, you can call Gingiss at (818) 243-4231 - ask for Tammy or Nicole, or you can email Sarumann.

1-28-03 Latest News

Lao_of_Gondor @ 7:38 pm EST

ARMS and TACTICS: The Lord of the Rings TCG FAQ
Version 1.0

Welcome to the first FAQ (or Frequently Asked Questions) List dedicated to The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game!

Thanks to the efforts and questions of our many loyal, tenacious and talented trading card game fanatics (with a special thanks to Gaming Havens Ringers Tamara, The Blue Kat and Dot), we at Gaming Havens now have quite a nice collection of the common, uncommon and rare questions which have come across our E-mails over the last few months. So without further delay...


Q. What is the advantage of having additional copies of the same UNIQUE COMPANION and what happens to a UNIQUE Companion he or she is killed in a skirmish?
A. Using ARAGORN as an example: To answer the first question, the reasons why you would place multiple copies of a Unique Companion in your deck are:

1. To heal him at the beginning of your turn (start of turn action)
2. To draw him faster (increasing your card draw odds)
3. To discard him if necessary, only to pull another copy of him in a later time in the game for these subsequent reasons:

a. Because your Fellowship is too large or you do not need him at that time (twilight pool denial)
b. Or to retrieve him from your discard pile (using the new GANDALF Greyhame Text)

NOTE: HEALING: The healing of a UNIQUE COMPANION is a Fellowship phase action. During your Fellowship phase, spot a UNIQUE COMPANION (or unique ALLY) with at least ONE wound token and discard a card from your hand with the same card TITLE (and not necessarily the same subtitle) to heal that character.

To answer the second part of this question: If ARAGORN dies in a skirmish, then he is placed in the DEAD pile and you cannot play another version of ARAGORN at all. Once a companion is DEAD then all other cards that are on that companion are immediately discarded and cannot be transferred as well. Also, any of his or her COMPANION SPECIFIC cards may also no longer be played - i.e. Aragorn's Bow, Aragorn's Sword, etc. These cards may be discarded following standard reconcile procedure of discarding when you reconcile your hand - i.e. Aragorn's Bow, Aragorn's Sword, etc.

Q. How is it possible to CANCEL a skirmish?
A. If there is a card or an effect that cancels the SKIRMISH, or cancels a skirmish involving a companion, then the skirmish does not take place, nor do skirmish actions involving that companion/minion. However, there are effects that do not require a skirmish to take place during that phase, and they remain unaffected.

Example: The Fellowship Card "Hobbit Stealth"" cancels a skirmish involving a Hobbit at Site 5. Which means, the skirmish never took place and your Hobbit hides and lives. You may assign the BALROG to a Hobbit (during the assignment phase) and then play Hobbit Stealth (skirmish phase) to cancel "a" skirmish - meaning ONE only. Since this skirmish never happened, total strength and the ability to use and effect such as the Bounder's game text (which prevents a Hobbit from being overwhelmed unless his strength is tripled) no longer applies - unless that Hobbit Stealth card effect is somehow cancelled or negated.

The BALROG (either flavor) however is FIERCE and has the opportunity to skirmish a second time Since Hobbit Stealth will only work once per skirmish, hopefully, there will be a second one in your hand to play at that time or you can assign another Companion to combat the FIERCE Balrog.

NOTE: The SHIRE Ally Filibert Bolger always works well against FIERCE minions: While Filibert is in play, exert a Hobbit companion twice to cancel a FIERCE skirmish involving that Hobbit.

Q. What does SPOTTING Mean? For example: using the Gandalf culture card SERVANT OF THE SECRET FIRE: Spot Gandalf to make a minion strength -3.
A. Spotting means physically locating that card in order to play certain cards requiring that particular card to be present.

EXAMPLE 1: Spotting to use a card effect: Spot Gandalf on the table. Once Gandalf has been identified as legally in play, then you may play "Servants" and benefit from the strategy in the text of the card.
EXAMPLE 2: Spotting to use an effect on a companion: Spot Gandalf and heal a companion twice". Would this effect also include Gandalf himself since he is a companion? Yes it would. Spotting a companion means any companion. Unlike ARAGORN, King in Exile - his text clearly states: heal "another" companion who bears the Aragorn Signet.

Q. If you prevent a wound, do you still win the SKIRMISH?
A. NO. If you prevent a wound as a RESPONSE action to losing a skirmish, you have still LOST that skirmish and are subject to all penalties of that loss.

1. Ulaire Attea is a strength 12 Nazgul. Boromir is a strength 7 companion.
2. During the SKIRMISH phase, Boromir loses to the Nazgul.
3. However, Gandalf prevents the wound using INTIMIDATE and Boromir does not suffer a wound token.
4. However, the Nazgul player has BLADE TIP in his support area which is used as RESPONSE action to winning the skirmish - even if the wound was prevented.
5. Intimidate is an EVENT-RESPONSE action to taking a wound. Therefore, the Blade Tip can be transferred to that companion from your support area.

Q. Can you have more than one copy of the same CONDITION in play at the same time?
A. Yes - as long as the condition is not UNIQUE - which requires that card to adhere to all regulations concerning UNIQUE cards in play.

EXAMPLE: You can have 2 Blade Tips in the Support Area at the same time because they are non-unique conditions. However, the Sauron Culture condition THIN & STRETCHED does have the unique "dot" by the title which meaning that this card is in fact UNIQUE and you may only have one in play (in this case, on the ring-bearer.)

Q. Can Allies Heal at a Sanctuary?
A. NO. Allies cannot be healed at Sanctuary - even in TWO TOWERS site path , unless it is in their ability to do so or if you discard a UNIQUE ALLY card from your hand to heal the same UNIQUE ally in play (like healing UNIQUE Companions). Only specific Allies with the ability to heal in their CARD TEXT can do so.

NOTE: Be observant to the new TWO TOWERS Site Path rules. For example:
1. Elrond, Lord of Rivendell CAN heal at FELLOWSHIP Site 3 and can use his special abilities only at THIS Site.
2. He CANNOT do so at the TWO TOWERS Site 3 since it is a completely different Site Path indicated by the TOWER-SHAPED icon underneath the Site number.
3. All TWO TOWERS sites are marked like this and are made in reference to on TWO TOWERS cards to make them completely unrelated to all FELLOWSHIP sites in terms of allied abilities.

Q. Why would you choose to DISCARD a COMPANION Card from your hand?
A. There are specific strategic and timing reasons to do this such as:

EXAMPLE: 1. In your deck you have:
Faramir, Son of Denethor x 1 (Starting Companion)
Merry, Learned Guide x 1 (Starting Companion)
Boromir, Lord of Gondor x 1
Gandalf, Greyhame x 1
Aragorn, Heir to Elendil x 4
Legolas, Greenleaf x 1

2. Now, throughout the course of 4 sites, you have managed to fully arm and keep healthy: Boromir: with Sword of Gondor, Armor and Flaming Brand Faramir: with Faramir's Bow, Faramir's Cloak, Sword of Gondor and Armor Gandalf: with Gandalf's Staff and Glamdring Legolas: with Long Knives of Legolas and Bow of the Galadhrim Merry: with Hobbit Sword.

3. Remember, every time you move you are adding the SITE Twilight number, PLUS 5 Twilight: one for each companion.

4. You have just finished your Shadow phase and it is now your regroup phase. In your hand, you have one ARAGORN card. You know that you have three left in your DRAW DECK and you need to replenish your hand with as many FELLOWSHIP cards as you can draw so - you already have 5 healthy companions in play, do you really need the sixth? - which will add 4 to the pool (Aragorn's cost) plus and additional 1 to make a total of six twilight for your Fellowship when you move. That's TEN twilight when you move PLUS the Site Twilight number. You could possibly give your opponent a HUGE POOL depending on the next site's twilight cost.

5. Discarding ARAGORN at this time would be a wise choice because it will give you an extra card draw during REGROUP, it will give you the possibility to draw another strength adder or valuable possession or even a Hobbit Stealth if you are lucky. But you have discarded 1 out of 4 Aragorn’s in your deck - you still have three more in your Draw Deck or you can even use Gandalf, Greyhame's card text to retrieve ARAGORN from your discard pile if need be.

6. You really don't want to DISCARD any companion if you don't have to but there are situations where sometimes you don't need that multiple copy of a companion in your hand at that time. Remember, any time you can draw additional cards is very, very good.

Q: What is the purpose of adding more than one copy of a UNIQUE COMPANION in your deck design?
A. It all comes down to strategy and odds and being able to employ different tactics in your gameplay so that you can exercise your playing options.

EXAMPLE: if you know that ARAGORN (any version) is your favorite character, then you will use the PRANCING PONY or the new TT Site 1 which exerts 2 unbound companions to play ARAGORN from your draw deck. Many times, players will only put ONE copy of Aragorn in the deck because they will (and mind you, this only works in OPEN format because of the card availability):

1. Begin with SAM (burden removal) and Legolas (direct archery)
2. BID high (around 4-6 burdens)
3. Use Sam's game text to remove 3 burdens
4. Depending on the SITE TEXT - retrieve ARAGORN from your draw deck.

However, what will happen if you cannot get ARAGORN by LOSING the opening bid? Or what if he is only one exertion away from death? Or what will happen to your deck strategy if ARAGORN is either KILLED or your only other copy is somehow DISCARDED, unavailable for healing? This is where multiple copies of UNIQUE Companions come into play. You must know that about your deck and how it affects your play.

Most of the time, adding additional copies of a particular card means that you are tailoring your deck towards that certain COMPANION and either not drawing or losing that COMPANION (because you cannot heal or are past sanctuary at SITE 6) will hurt your deck and eventually will cost you the game.

NOTE: Never rely on one companion to champion your fellowship. If you lose him, or her, your deck will stagnate due to the related cards and strategy tied into that companion. Try to see how other companions will benefit from the support cards that you have used to bolster you main fighter/leader. Like this:

Companions: Mablung, Boromir, Ranger of Ithilien and Faramir

Q. If ARAGORN dies in a skirmish, but I have a second copy of him in my deck, I could play him again when I draw him?
A. NO. He is placed in the DEAD pile and you cannot play another version of ARAGORN at all. Once a companion is DEAD then all other cards that are on that companion are immediately discarded and cannot be transferred as well. All COMPANION SPECIFIC cards may also no longer be played - i.e. Aragorn's Bow, Aragorn's Sword, etc.

Q. Can you combine LOTR Cards from previous sets?
A. You may combine cards only if the tournament format allows you to do so. Unless that is specified, then you have the choice of playing 1 of three formats:

1. FELLOWSHIP Block: Fellowship of the Ring Expansion cards only.
2. TWO TOWERS Block: Two Towers Expansion Cards only.
3. OPEN Block: Fellowship and Two Towers Cards are both playable however, you are only allowed to play the site path from the Two Towers Expansion.

NOTE: OPEN BLOCK: Future expansions - such as Return of the King, will require you to only use the site path of the most current expansion which is legally playable - in this case, Two Towers.

Q. ARAGORN: King in Exile - how does his special ability work? Game text: At the start of your turns you may heal another companion with the Aragorn signet.
A. You may only heal up to ONE wound from any ONE companion who bears the Aragorn signet. The key words here are "other companion", which also means that Aragorn cannot heal himself as well. If in fact you could heal more than one wound then the text would declare "X" as being how many wounds you may heal. For example - Heal X companions where X equals the number of companions you spot with the Aragorn signet. If you can spot 3 companions with the Aragorn signet than you may heal up to one wound from each companion.

Thank you for all of these great and challenging questions. Please keep them rolling in! If there is a question that you need answered...then Lao of Gondor will see it done!

1-27-03 Latest News

Weekly Cast Watch
Xoanon @ 8:08 pm EST

To get more information, use the sites I use like the ones below. Simply find a movie or actor you want to see, go to one of the sites below and see if the film is playing in your area. mydigiguide.com, tv-now.com and IMDB.com

Note: These are films that are listed as being on TV THIS WEEK ONLY, this is NOT a list of all the films the cast has done

Cast List

  1. Viggo Mortensen

  2. Liv Tyler

  3. Ian Holm

  4. Sean Bean

  5. Ian Mune

  6. Martyn Sanderson

  7. David Weatherley

  8. Marton Csokas

  9. Taea Hartwell

  10. John Noble

  11. Alexandra Astin

  12. Peter McKenzie

  13. Hugo Weaving

  14. Karl Urban

  15. Miranda Otto

  16. Noel Appleby

  17. David Wenham

  18. Cameron Rhodes

  19. Elijah Wood

  20. Cate Blanchett

  21. Bruce Hopkins

  22. Ian McKellen

  23. Mark Ferguson

  24. John Rhys-Davies

  25. Andy Serkis

  26. Stephen Ure

  27. Craig Parker

  28. John Leigh

  29. Timothy Bartlett

  30. Sinclair">Harry Sinclair

  31. Orlando Bloom

  32. Lawrence Makoare

  33. Robbie Magasiva

  34. Ray Henwood

  35. Dominic Monaghan

  36. Robyn Malcolm

  37. Bruce Spence

  38. Megan Edwards

  39. Billy Boyd

  40. Sarah McLeod

  41. Sean Astin

  42. Christopher Lee

  43. Sala Baker

  44. Brian Sergent

  45. Bernard Hill

  46. Nathaniel Lees

  47. Brad Dourif

  48. Alistair Browning

  49. Bruce Allpress

  50. John Bach

  51. Bruce Phillips

  52. Robert Pollock

  53. Olivia Tennet

  54. Howard Shore

  55. Jim Rygiel

  56. Peter Jackson

Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
28 Days (2000)
Albino Alligator (1996)
Prophecy, The (1995)
Crew, The (1994)
Boiling Point (1993)
Ruby Cairo (1993)
Young Guns II (1990)
Witness (1985)

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Liv Tyler (Arwen)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Dr. T & the Women (2000)
Cookie's Fortune (1999)
Can't Hardly Wait (1998)
Armageddon (1998)
U Turn (1997)
Stealing Beauty (1996)

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Ian Holm (Bilbo)

Emperor's New Clothes, The (2001)
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
From Hell (2001)
Last of the Blonde Bombshells, The (2000) (TV)
Beautiful Joe (2000)
Bless the Child (2000)
Alice Through the Looking Glass (1998) (TV)
Fifth Element, The (1997)
Big Night (1996)
Madness of King George, The (1994)
Dreamchild (1985)
Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984)
Soft Targets (1982) (TV)
Alien (1979)
March or Die (1977)
Fixer, The (1968)

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Sean Bean (Boromir)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Don't Say a Word (2001)
Essex Boys (2000)
Bravo Two Zero (1999)
When Saturday Comes (1996)
Black Beauty (1994)
Field, The (1990)

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Ian Mune (Bounder)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Martyn Sanderson (Bree Gatekeeper)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Ned Kelly (1970)

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David Weatherly (Barliman Butterbur)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Marton Csokas (Celeborn)

XXX (2002)
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Monkey's Mask, The (2000)

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Taea Hartwell (Child Hobbit)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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John Noble (Denethor)

Superfire (2002) (TV)
Monkey's Mask, The (2000)
Virtual Nightmare (2000) (TV)

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Alexandra Astin (Elanor Gamgee)

No listings this week

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Peter McKenzie (Elendil)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Hugo Weaving (Elrond)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Strange Planet (1999)
Bedrooms and Hallways (1998)
For Love Alone (1986)

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Karl Urban (Eomer)

Price of Milk, The (2000)

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Miranda Otto (Eowyn)

Human Nature (2001)
What Lies Beneath (2000)
Jack Bull, The (1999) (TV)

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Noel Appleby (Everard Proudfoot)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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David Wenham (Faramir)

Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course, The (2002)
Moulin Rouge! (2001)

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Cameron Rhodes (Farmer Maggot)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Elijah Wood (Frodo)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
North (1994)
Radio Flyer (1992)
Avalon (1990)
Internal Affairs (1990)
Back to the Future Part II (1989)

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Cate Blanchett (Galadriel)

Shipping News, The (2001)
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Man Who Cried, The (2000)
Gift, The (2000)

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Bruce Hopkins (Gamling)

No listings this week

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Ian McKellen (Gandalf)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
X-Men (2000)
Apt Pupil (1998)
Restoration (1995)
Cold Comfort Farm (1995) (TV)
Shadow, The (1994)
I'll Do Anything (1994)
Six Degrees of Separation (1993)
Scandal (1989)
Keep, The (1983)

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Mark Ferguson (Gil-Galad)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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John Rhhys-Davies (Gimli)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists (2000)
Au Pair (1999) (TV)
Protector, The (1997/I)
Great White Hype, The (1996)
Perry Mason: The Case of the Murdered Madam (1987) (TV)
Firewalker (1986)

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Andy Serkis (Gollum)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Among Giants (1998)

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Stephen Ure (Gorbag)

No listings this week

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Craig Parker (Haldir)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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John Leigh (Hama)

Atomic Twister (2002) (TV)

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Timothy Bartlett (Hobbit)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Sinclair">Harry Sinclair (Isildur)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Price of Milk, The (2000)

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Orlando Bloom (Legolas)

Black Hawk Down (2001)
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Wilde (1997)

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Lawrence Makoare (Lurtz)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Price of Milk, The (2000)

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Robbie Magasiva (Mahur)

No listings this week

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Ray Henwood (Man from Rivendell)

No listings this week

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Dominic Monaghan (Merry)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Hostile Waters (1997) (TV)

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Robyn Malcolm (Morwen)

No listings this week

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Bruce Spence (Mouth of Sauron)

Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995)
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

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Megan Edwards (Mrs. Proudfoot)

No listings this week

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Billy Boyd (Pippin)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Urban Ghost Story (1998)

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Sarah McLeod (Rosie Cotton)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Sean Astin (Sam Gamgee)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Deterrence (1999)
Icebreaker (1999)
Long Way Home, The (1997)
Harrison Bergeron (1995) (TV)
Encino Man (1992)

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Christopher Lee (Saruman)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Feast at Midnight, A (1994)
Police Academy: Mission to Moscow (1994)
Death Train (1993) (TV)
Return of the Musketeers, The (1989)
Goliath Awaits (1981) (TV)
Caravans (1978)
Three Musketeers, The (1973)
Horror Express (1972)
Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)
Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
Oblong Box, The (1969)
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)
Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)
Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965)
Valley of Eagles (1951)
Prelude to Fame (1950)
Trottie True (1949)
Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948)
Scott of the Antarctic (1948)
My Brother's Keeper (1948)

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Sala Baker (Sauron)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Brian Sergent (Ted Sandyman)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

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Bernard Hill (Theoden)

Scorpion King, The (2002)
Going Off Big Time (2000)

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Nathaniel Lees (Ugluk)

No listings this week

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Brad Dourif (Grima Wormtounge)

Shadow Hours (2000)
Ghost, The (2000)
If Looks Could Kill (1996) (TV)
Death Machine (1995)
Color of Night (1994)
Amos & Andrew (1993)
Child's Play 3 (1991)
Jungle Fever (1991)
Child's Play 2 (1990)
Exorcist III, The (1990)
Mississippi Burning (1988)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Dune (1984)
Ragtime (1981)
W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings (1975)

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Alistair Browning (Damrod)

Vertical Limit (2000)

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Bruce Allpress (Aldor)

No listings this week

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John Bach (Madril)

No listings this week

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Bruce Phillips (Rohan Soldier)

No listings this week

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Robert Pollock (Mordor Orc)

No listings this week

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Olivia Tennet (Freda)

No listings this week

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Howard Shore (Composer)

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Panic Room (2002)
Score, The (2001)
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
High Fidelity (2000)
Cell, The (2000)
Yards, The (2000)
Last Night (1998)
Game, The (1997)
Cop Land (1997)
Crash (1996)
Truth About Cats & Dogs, The (1996)
Looking for Richard (1996)
Sliver (1993)
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Silence of the Lambs, The (1991)
She-Devil (1989)
Signs of Life (1989)
Innocent Man, An (1989)
Big (1988)
Moving (1988)
Dead Ringers (1988)
Videodrome (1983)
Scanners (1981)

Jim Rygiel (SFX)

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Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
102 Dalmatians (2000)
Multiplicity (1996)
Outbreak (1995)
Species (1995)
Batman Returns (1992)
Last of the Mohicans, The (1992)
Ghost (1990)
2010 (1984)

Peter Jackson

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)

Click here to visit his official site

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Weekend Roundup
Xoanon @ 12:38 am EST

More Info On LOTR Themed Planes

Radio Watch: Andy Serkis On NPR

'Lord of the Rings' star takes cyberspace crown, too

IMDB Lists TTT As Second Best Movie

Massive Attack

Korean LOTR Book news

Sean Bean to Hand Out Awards

Why Can't They Just Lose The Ring In The Sink?

FOTR Most Popular Movie At Box Office Mojo

Box Office: Ireland

New Cartoon!


Report from Viggo and Karl signing

1-26-03 Latest News

Massive Attack
Arathorn @ 4:21 pm EST

From last weekend's Sunday Times Culture supplement, here's yet another article all about MASSIVE - the artificial intelligent crowd scene generation software used by Weta Digital on the films. Whilst most of it's regurgitation of the excellent video documentaries on the Official Site, there are a few new snippets to be garnered.

Massive Attack

A computer with a mind of its own made the awe-inspiring battle scenes in The Two Towers, reports Courtney Macavinta

In a sparse, sunlit loft, the programmer Stephen Regelous quietly works alone every day to the hum of his laptop. But what he is really doing is leading the masses. Regelous created Massive, the special-effects program behind the colossal battles in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Using Massive, the Oscar-winning Weta Digital team pulled off hugely anticipated scenes for The Two Towers - such as the battle at Helm's Deep - by digitally generating smart crowds to supplement the live action.
The computer generated characters, called agents, have minds of their own. "Every agent has its own choices and a complete brain," Regelous says. "The most important thing about making realistic crowds is making realistic individuals."
To bring JRR Tolkien's books to life, Gathering 70,0000 or so tall, broad-shouldered extras, dressing them in elaborate armour and choreographing them slaughtering each other was out of the question. And that was just one scene from the prologue to The Fellowship Of The Ring. So in 1996, Peter Jackson asked Regelous, who had worked on the director's film The Frighteners, to come up with a program that could handle the task. In Massive, agents' brains - which look like intricate flow charts - define how they see and hear, how fast they run and how slowly they die. For the films, stunt actors' movements were recorded in the studio to enable the agents to wield weapons realistically, duck to avoid a sword, charge an enemy and fall off tower walls, flailing.
Like real people, agents' body types, clothing and the weather influence their capabilities. Agents aren't robots, though. Each makes subtle responses to its surroundings with fuzzy logic rather than yes-no, on-off decisions. And every agent has thousands of brain nodes, such as their combat setting, which has rules for their level of aggression. When an animator places agents into a simulation, they are released to do what they will. It's not crowd control, but anarchy. Each agent makes decisions from its point of view. Still, when properly set up, the right character will always win the fight.
"It's possible to rig fights, but it hasn't been done," Regelous says. "In the first test fight we had 1,000 silver guys and 1,000 golden guys. We set off the simulation, and in the distance you could see several guys running for the hills." For inspiration, Regelous didn't watch war movies as you might expect. Instead he experimented with artificial intelligence by growing digital plants, and studied how people avoided each other on crowded streets.
Massive is not just for making war. It was also used to generate doubles of the film's stars and to create flocks of birds. "I wanted to take the processes of nature and apply them to generate computer imagery," Regelous said. As a result, when the dark wizard Saruman sends his Uruk-hai warriors to Helm's Deep to crush the human alliance in The Two Towers, the army isn't made up of the same character copied and pasted 50,000 times, marching around like a chain of paper dolls.
"Every soldier is drawing from their own repertoire of military moves and determining how they will fight the fight," explains Richard Taylor, director of Weta Workshop, on New Line Cinema's site. "Some of the scenes in Helm's Deep defy belief."
Regelous plans to sell Massive for £25,000 per single floating licence. Even if he doesn't win over the market, some say he's made great advances. Seth Lippman, a technical director for the first two Rings films, said Massive surpasses techniques used for other Oscar-winning films he has worked on.
"In What Dreams May Come, the crowd characters were like 2-D billboards in space - filler. They couldn't become main parts of the action," Lippman said. "The illusion created by using the 2-D billboards would be exposed when employing the radical 3-D moves Peter Jackson is famous for. With the Massive approach, he could fly cameras right through the middle of the battle."
For his part, Regelous is satisfied that Massive's agents are covert enough to win over fans of the trilogy. "I can't tell what's Massive and what's not any more."

Originally reprinted by the Sunday Times Culture from Lycos News. Copyright © 2002 Lycos Inc. All rights reserved.

Korean LoTR news from Lotrlab
Arathorn @ 2:40 pm EST

Thanks to Lee Loorien of the Lord Of The Rings Lab, TORn's Korean community site, we have some interesting news from back in November regarding the the Fourth Korean version of the books. Of specific interest is the effort made by the translators to analyse the Middle-English/Anglo Saxon etymology of Tolkien's place-names and people-names - and then for the translation reconstruct them out of equivalent Ancient Korean elements, with the intention of preserving the same fundamental relative cultural meaning.

"In November of 2002, we will have the Fourth Korean version of LOTR!! Until now; Korean fans have had a long, long argument about the translation of the books. Nobody has been satisfied by the first, second, and third versions.

"Moreover, each version has come from a different publishers. The first is a retranslation of a Japanese edition (more then 10 years old), Second was fine in its own way, but was not a legally licenced version (it's a pity, at that time 10 years ago, Korean
publishers had no concept of 'licence' about foreigners' material). The Third is a licenced
version - and it was good. But not perfect enough.

"So some fans have even insisted on Ancient Korean scholars joining the translating team for the new edition. And now we'll all soon read this new LOTR, where the scholars have followed Tolkien's wishes in the Appendices as best they can. (And you understand that that's very very difficult.)

"I was the first of almost all the Korean fans to see the books yesterday (17th Nov 2002), at the Publisher's offices (who have newly obtained all the license for all of Tolkien's work).

"The translators are essentially the same people who did work on the second (unlicenced) version. I heard they had countless meeting for new LOTR, specially for NAMES.

"A example, 'Dunharrow' (hill-temple) is to gum-san o-reum, not just a transcription of the pronunciation of a word in Korean [Hangul]. They have made the word a-new, gum (meaning God, Holy Spirit), san (mountain) and o-reum (height). (If you have Korean language facilities, °Ë»ê¿À¸§ should render correctly if viewed in the ISO-2022-KR character set - Ara)

"Of course, new books are not yet 'perfect' - but we Korean Tolkien fans will be nonetheless travelling to Middle-Earth Utopia through them."

-- Lee Loorien

Updated Loorien has sent in these beautiful promotional images of the Korean editions of LoTR and The Hobbit as described above. Complete with Alan Lee illustrations - and PJ-style fontography (albeit in Hangul) of the actual booknames, they really do look rather nice.

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