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October 23, 2006 - November 21, 2006

11-21-06 Latest News

Ojai Music Festival Open House
Xoanon @ 10:21 pm EST

Ojai Music Festival Open House Every year the Ojai Music Festival has a house tour to help raise funds. This was the 61st year of the Festival and there was what has to have been the crowning jewel of houses on the tour. It was the Whitman House as noted on The One Ring on November 7th. This stunning home was designed and built by noted architect Marc Whitman and his wife Julia. Julia’s father bought the original home that had been built in the 1930’s as part of a cattle ranch. Marc remodeled the home in two phases with an eye to influence by art nouveau and gothic revival – especially Antoni Gaudi and Bernard Maybeck. The delightful result is a home that, to a Tolkien fan’s eyes, looks like a combination of a hobbit hole and Rivendell.

Mr. Whitman’s philosophy is that “Nature is the standard on which we weigh our sense of beauty.” The home and gardens (as designed by Mrs. Whitman) fit as seamlessly into the natural landscape of the hills of Ojai as any elfin home. Each room of the home is a cozy individually sculpted creation that would please the most discerning hobbit. Mr. Whitman believes “Integrating architecture and nature is the ultimate marriage of mind and heart.”

Mr. and Mrs. Whitman had a charming story about the round hobbit door of their home. That part of the house was completed just two weeks after the opening of Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring. They were teased at how lovely their “hobbit door” was, as though they had somehow put it together in just a few weeks!

If you are interested in learning more about the other works of Mr. Whitman please visit his website at whitman-architect.com. If you would like to learn more about the Ojai Music Festival please visit their website at ojaifestival.org.

I would like to personally thank Mr. and Mrs. Whitman for the privilege of photographing their beautiful home.

TheOneRing.net Encourages your reaction to Peter's Letter about The Hobbit
Celeborn @ 12:19 pm EST

TheOneRing.net believes that our strongest allegiance is to you, the Lord of the Ring fans. Therefore, we will continue to strive to keep you up to date with all of the latest information on the making -- or breaking -- of The Hobbit.

The best way for us to do that is to give you the information you need to express your feelings, especially after reading Peter Jackson's letter to our community. Tell the people who can change the future of this film what you think about the recent developments in the possible production of The Hobbit, and how you hope they proceed.

Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs Robert K. Shaye and Michael Lynne
New Line Cinema Corp.
888 7th Ave., Fl. 19
New York, NY 10106
Phone: 212-649-4900
Fax: 2112-649-4966

Contact Form: http://www.newline.com/contactus.shtml

New Line Cinema parent company
One Time Warner Center
New York, NY 10019-8016

CEO Harry E. Sloan and COO Rick Sands
10250 Constellation Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90067-6421

Contact Form: http://www.mgm.com/help.do

MGM parent company
Sony Corporation of America
550 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Contact: consumer@SPHECustomerSupport.sony.com

Please be as professional and courteous as possible in your correspondence with these entities - and take into account how they are responsible for bringing The Hobbit to the big screen!

If you are inclined to sign petitions, here is a running list of what is currently out there:
The Hobbit Film - the way it was meant to be or not at all
The Hobbit petition
Italian fans' petition

Talk to other fans about how you feel! Share your thoughts on The Hobbit with other Ringers by joining us through our java chat using your browser. Alternatively, point your favorite IRC client to our server:irc.theonering.net and join #theonering.net. Come along and vent and discuss. All we request is that you do so politely!

11-19-06 Latest News

Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh Talk THE HOBBIT
Xoanon @ 10:32 pm EST

Moments ago we received this email from Peter Jackson and his crew down in New Zealand, take a look...

Dear One Ringers,

As you know, there's been a lot of speculation about The Hobbit. We are often asked about when or if this film will ever be made. We have always responded that we would be very interested in making the film - if it were offered to us to make.

You may also be aware that Wingnut Films has bought a lawsuit against New Line, which resulted from an audit we undertook on part of the income of The Fellowship of the Ring. Our attitude with the lawsuit has always been that since it's largely based on differences of opinion about certain accounting practices, we would like an independent body - whether it be a judge, a jury, or a mediator, to look at the issues and make an unbiased ruling. We are happy to accept whatever that ruling is. In our minds, it's not much more complex than that and that's exactly why film contracts include right-to-audit clauses.

However, we have always said that we do not want to discuss The Hobbit with New Line until the lawsuit over New Line's accounting practices is resolved. This is simple common sense - you cannot be in a relationship with a film studio, making a complex, expensive movie and dealing with all the pressures and responsibilities that come with the job, while an unresolved lawsuit exists.

We have also said that we do not want to tie settlement of the lawsuit to making a film of The Hobbit. In other words, we would have to agree to make The Hobbit as a condition of New Line settling our lawsuit. In our minds this is not the right reason to make a film and if a film of The Hobbit went ahead on this basis, it would be doomed. Deciding to make a movie should come from the heart - it's not a matter of business convenience. When you agree to make a film, you're taking on a massive commitment and you need to be driven by an absolute passion to want to get the story on screen. It's that passion, and passion alone, that gives the movie its imagination and heart. To us it is not a cold-blooded business decision.

A couple of months ago there was a flurry of Hobbit news in the media. MGM, who own a portion of the film rights in The Hobbit, publicly stated they wanted to make the film with us. It was a little weird at the time because nobody from New Line had ever spoken to us about making a film of The Hobbit and the media had some fun with that. Within a week or two of those stories, our Manager Ken Kamins got a call from the co-president of New Line Cinema, Michael Lynne, who in essence told Ken that the way to settle the lawsuit was to get a commitment from us to make the Hobbit, because "that's how these things are done". Michael Lynne said we would stand to make much more money if we tied the lawsuit and the movie deal together and this may well be true, but it's still the worst reason in the world to agree to make a film.

Several years ago, Mark Ordesky told us that New Line have rights to make not just The Hobbit but a second "LOTR prequel", covering the events leading up to those depicted in LOTR. Since then, we've always assumed that we would be asked to make The Hobbit and possibly this second film, back to back, as we did the original movies. We assumed that our lawsuit with the studio would come to a natural conclusion and we would then be free to discuss our ideas with the studio, get excited and jump on board. We've assumed that we would possibly get started on development and design next year, whilst filming The Lovely Bones. We even had a meeting planned with MGM executives to talk through our schedule.

However last week, Mark Ordesky called Ken and told him that New Line would no longer be requiring our services on the Hobbit and the LOTR 'prequel'. This was a courtesy call to let us know that the studio was now actively looking to hire another filmmaker for both projects.

Ordesky said that New Line has a limited time option on the film rights they have obtained from Saul Zaentz (this has never been conveyed to us before), and because we won't discuss making the movies until the lawsuit is resolved, the studio is going to have to hire another director.

Given that New Line are committed to this course of action, we felt at the very least, we owed you, the fans, a straightforward account of events as they have unfolded for us.

We have always had the greatest support from The Ringers and we are very sorry our involvement with The Hobbit has been ended in this way. Our journey into Tolkien's world started with a phone call from Ken Kamins to Harvey Weinstein in Nov 1995 and ended with a phone call from Mark Ordesky to Ken in Nov 2006. It has been a great 11 years.

This outcome is not what we anticipated or wanted, but neither do we see any positive value in bitterness and rancor. We now have no choice but to let the idea of a film of The Hobbit go and move forward with other projects.

We send our very best wishes to whomever has the privilege of making The Hobbit and look forward to seeing the film on the big screen.

Warmest regards to you all, and thanks for your incredible support over the years.

We got to go there - but not back again ...

Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh

Xoanon here, this is a big blow to the LOTR community. I feel like there has been a death in the family...there are a LOT of questions that will remain unanswered for the time being. Why couldn't New Line come to an agreement with PJ? Is there really a time option on the film rights for New Line? Who will they get to direct? Those are some massive shoes to fill if you ask me. I hope that whoever they get to direct will not try something 'new' with the look and feel of PJ's Middle-earth...and what is this LOTR 'prequel' project?

There have been rumors about The Hobbit being split into two films, will this prequel project then become the third film in another trilogy? Who knows...

I'm sure Peter and Fran aren't going to want to talk more about this, but that doesn't mean we won't be begging for a sitdown and chat! Stay tuned for more...

Update: Demosthenes here. Like yourselves, many of us here have been getting more and more excited by the news that the Hobbit, whether via one or two movies, seems to be gradually drawing closer to production. The news that Jackson and MGM studios were in close talks and that production could begin as soon as 2008 or 2009 was particularly promising.

The news of New Line's apparent veto is quite cutting. What does it mean for the viability of the production? Will anyone back two films if Jackson is not directing? Who are the alternatives anyway? Will WETA still do the FX, and will the production be based in New Zealand? And will actors such as Ian McKellen still want to come on board? A few of us are discussing these things in TheOneRing.net's IRC channel. If you to care to join us, simply drop in and join us through our java chat using your browser. Alternatively, point your favourite IRC client to our server:irc.theonering.net and join #theonering.net. Come along and vent and discuss. All we request is that you do so politely!

11-09-06 Latest News

ComBOTS at Ring*Con
Xoanon @ 3:43 pm EST

Europe’s biggest “The Lord of the Rings” Convention - the ideal setting for the premiere of the ComBOTS character Aragorn

Fulda/Karlsruhe, 11/09/2006. ComBOTS AG (ISIN: DE000CMBT111) presents the first character, Aragorn, from the forthcoming “The Lord of the Rings” collection live at Ring*Con 2006, Europe’s largest gathering of the fans of hobbits, elves & co. Just a few weeks after the announcement of the license agreement between ComBOTS and New Line Cinema at the International Consumer Electronics Trade Fair (IFA) in Berlin, more than 5,000 participants in Ring*Con (November 11-12, 2006, Fulda) have an opportunity to see for themselves the high graphics quality standards, fun and emotionality of personal, digital communication using ComBOTS.

ComBOTS is an internet-based service that leaves behind all the complexity of existing applications including installation- and compatibility problems, complicated user interfaces, the necessity of spam protection. The new product puts simplicity, fun and privacy back into everybody’s personal digital communication.

ComBOTS has its own stand at Ring*Con 2006. All “The Lord of the Rings” fans who register there for a free test will be given, as community scouts, an exclusive character in advance of the sales launch in the ComBOTS Shop free-of-charge.

Using intuitive Drag & Drop operation, a top-design straightforward user interface, hiding the all powerful technology under the surface, ComBOTS brings back fun into communication through permanent and private one to one connections to friends and family. Each of these connections is represented by a high quality 3D character with animated emotions that make icons, smilies or greeting cards look outdated.

From now on anything, like pictures, files or video clips can be sent using Drag & Drop within seconds. Media messages might contain photos, voice, folders or animated emotions. If both friends are online, quite naturally a chat or - with just another click - a free phone conversation can evolve. [combots.com]

11-02-06 Latest News

PJ's Autobiography: Gala Booklaunch in Wellington
Tehanu @ 12:34 am EST

Harper Collins launched Brian Sibley's biography of Peter Jackson at Park Road Post last night with an interview between writer Tom Scott and the film maker.

These days PJ seems to enjoy interviews, approaching them with a relaxed, anecdotal style that makes the most of the storyteller in him. Some of what he said repeated what we've heard elsewhere, but he said some interesting things in reply to Scott's questions on becoming a film maker. Jackson said it was almost a process of "natural selection" that weeded out anyone but those willing to persevere for years. Most people fall by the wayside, he said.

"There's nothing that anybody can do at school, no exams you can sit that are really going to help you in the film industry. There's nothing I could suggest that anyone does. Even film schools...if you're a real film maker, I suggest you don't need them."

Scott suggested that by starting out being his own cameraman, actor, director and props maker, Jackson had in a sense invented his own apprenticeship and then served it.

Jackson agreed, and then added that any time he watched a movie he could make it serve as a film school. For example, just three weeks ago he'd been in a hotel room in Hong Kong, too tired to go out. Flicking through the TV channels he'd found a Spielberg movie he'd seen three or four times before, but this time he watched it entirely to see how Spielberg framed the shots, moved the camera, followed the characters and so on.

Other times, he said, he'd watch really good movies to pick himself up. Sometimes during LOTR filming he'd feel exhausted, his imagination worn out, so he'd watch something like Scorsese's Goodfellas. "You watch those and you get jazzed up. That's real film making."

Jackson described how he'd failed to get a job at the National Film Unit, his first port of call when he left school. They liked him, but there were simply no jobs. That night, he opened the paper to the "Situations Vacant" pages and saw the job "Photo engraver." He said he didn't even know what a photo-engraver was, but just saw the word "photo" and thought that was a start, at least, even though he preferred his photos to be moving.

How did his parents feel about his photo engraving apprenticeship, Scott asked. Jackson said they were thrilled, as for most of his childhood they had thought he would become a film maker. Since they knew nothing about film, (and there was almost no film industry in NZ, he noted elsewhere) they probably found that quite scary.

Scott asked him about talent and confidence: when did Jackson develop his "extraordinary certainty" and realise he had the potential to make great movies?

"It's not even confidence," Jackson said. "Fear is what motivates you when you're making movies - which is a good thing." He went on to describe a dream he had every night while he was making LOTR. "I have an anxiety dream when I'm filming that I'm on the set and there's all these people around, and I don't know what movie I'm making. During the day I'm convinced I'm making the worst movie ever."

The gala event attracted lots of Wellington glitterati (well, a minister and a deputy mayor), Harper Collins publishing people, Dominion Post folk (they'd sponsored a competition giving away tickets to the event), twenty lucky Wellingtonians who'd won said competition, booksellers, and local luminaries from the film world including Dan Hennah and Richard Taylor.

Peter Jackson was introduced by Harper Collins managing director Tony Fisk, who said the biography answered the question, "How on earth did this guy come to be making The Lord of the Rings?". "That's the question Peter Jackson sets out to answer in this book," Fisk said. He also mentioned that the captions to the photos were written by Peter himself, and were in themselves a delight. "We're treated to things like the sight of his teenage bedroom with all its projects and his birthday cake complete with Kong decorations."

Many of us had never been in Park Road Post before, so we were pretty stunned by the small theatre where the interview took place. It is a pocket version of the vaguely oriental-fantasy film palaces of the Twenties and Thirties, complete with goddess-shaped pillars holding lamps and wreaths of greenery, faux windows with Moorish filigree-work, plush swags of velvet curtains, and a star-spangled ceiling imitating the night sky. Truly a cinema dream.

Thanks to Dominion Post reporter Tom Cardy for Peter Jackon's quotes about film school - I didn't get as complete a transcript from my notes. And double thanks to him for getting my copy of the book signed by Peter. I had to leave early to go to work.

I'll post a review of "Peter Jackson: A Film-maker's Journey" itself in a few days. The brief glance I've had time for so far looks very, very good.

11-01-06 Latest News

Viggo Mortensen’s Unusual Role: Indie Publishing Mogul
Xoanon @ 1:37 pm EST


From nytimes.com (via Laurelin): Pity Viggo Mortensen, the director of the Center for Multireligious Studies at Aarhus University in Denmark. He edited an anthology called “Theology and the Religions: A Dialogue,” and all it does is make people angry. They order this $35 paperback by mistake. Then they grouse about it online, because they thought it had something to do with the “Lord of the Rings” guy.

It’s easier to mix up these two than it might seem. The Viggo Mortensen who acts also has his literary side. He is the author of art books that combine painting, photography, poetry, journal entries and whatever else he cares to include, with interests that also extend to fervently antiwar politics and music.

If his books and CDs seem remarkably free of constraints, that’s because they are. The dreamboat actor runs a fine little publishing house, too.

Indirectly, Mr. Mortensen’s Perceval Press is a “Lord of the Rings” offshoot. It began operations in 2002, soon after Mr. Mortensen had finished playing the warrior-king Aragorn in the movie trilogy. His first book, the poetry collection “Ten Last Night,” had been published nine years earlier. And by 2002, his art gallery exhibitions and books were arriving on a regular basis. Thanks to “the movie, you know, notoriety,” as Mr. Mortensen mumblingly describes his career trajectory, they were selling nicely too.

He noticed. So he asked a question of Smart Art Press, the publisher of most of his work: Could he reprint? “I’ll do the work of making sure they look right,” he remembers saying. “We’ll split the cost of reprinting each new batch. I’ll give you half the books, and you can do whatever you want with them.” And Perceval Press, which takes its name from a part of the Holy Grail myth that particularly appeals to Mr. Mortensen’s sense of independence, was born.

In 2003 Perceval’s roster included three books of Mr. Mortensen’s: “Miyelo,” “45301” and “For Wellington.” Their combined effect was to put the business in the black. When his own output is smaller, however, profits are low or nonexistent. Perceval’s print runs are small, Mr. Mortensen said, there is no real advertising, and its books are available primarily online from percevalpress.com. The point of the enterprise is to cast light on work that might not otherwise be published, and to present artists’ work as it was intended to be seen.

Recently, en route to a film festival with “Alatriste,” a swashbuckling Spanish-language film based on the popular novels of Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Mr. Mortensen stopped in New York. He had preliminary versions of Perceval’s four forthcoming books in tow. Perceval now puts out about eight books a year, all shepherded by Mr. Mortensen in his typically hands-on, “nitpicky” fashion.

“I go over all the books with a fine-tooth comb before they go out,” he said. That includes accompanying the page proofs to Jomagar, the Spanish press outside Madrid that actually produces them.

On this particular day, Mr. Mortensen was ensconced at the Algonquin Hotel, where the main floor recalls the Round Table, and the upstairs wallpaper pattern is fashioned out of New Yorker cartoons. His own literary tastes are not so gilt-edged or mainstream. One of the fall titles, which are expected to be ready at the end of November, is a Spanish-language critical anthology devoted to new Cuban art, intended primarily as a university-level textbook. Henry Eric Hernández’s book “La Revancha/Revenge” is a bilingual alternative to official accounts of the Cuban revolution. A third new book, “Magical Meteorite Songwriting Device,” reprints a set of vibrant collages made by the singer Exene Cervenka of the Original Sinners — formerly with X, and formerly Mr. Mortensen’s wife.

Ms. Cervenka’s book demonstrates what Perceval does best: choose offbeat material and produce it with close attention to the little details. “I say the same thing to everyone: We will make a really beautiful book,” Mr. Mortensen said. “It’ll look the way you want it to look, and you’ll be consulted all the way.”

Not surprisingly, this attitude is attractive to the would-be Perceval author, but Mr. Mortensen is tougher than his soft-spoken manner suggests. “I don’t have trouble saying no,” he said.

Perceval’s specialty items — science adventures (“Land of the Lost Mammoths” by Mike Davis); portrait collections (“On the Way Home,” Anne Fishbein’s photographs from Yaroslavl, a port city northeast of Moscow); odd juxtapositions (“Supernatural,” fusing doll photographs by Lindsay Brice with a Flannery O’Connor short story) — arise out of quirky, unpredictable circumstances.

None are more serendipitous than the ones that yield Mr. Mortensen’s own books, which are often prompted by the globe-trotting that goes with his film career. His latest, “I Forget You for Ever,” is also due in November. It takes its strange title from a phrase written on the side of a bus in Iran.

Perceval will print 2,000 copies of “I Forget You for Ever” and sell them at $38 each. That print run is twice what other Perceval books are usually given, but for good reason: Mr. Mortensen’s books sell out. They also go into multiple editions: one book, “SignLanguage,” has had eight printings, while “Recent Forgeries” and “Coincidence of Memory” have each had seven. And as to the question of whether Mr. Mortensen’s own books bring in revenue, the manuscript for “Ten Last Night” (which was published by Illuminati) has found its way to the used-book site Alibris. Price: $16,499.95.

Perceval has a tiny staff in Santa Monica, Calif., that includes the youngest of three Mortensen brothers, Walter Mortensen. It also includes Sandra Fu, Pilar Perez and Michelle Perez, who is credited with many of Perceval’s sleek, imaginative designs. Asked who in this group has the head for business, Viggo Mortensen answered, “Probably no one.”

Mr. Mortensen, 48, says he learned about publishing from practical experience. He has seen what happens when small presses are bought by bigger publishers and then lose control of the decision-making process. He has also experimented with using a distributor for Perceval’s products, which include CDs and T-shirts as well as books.

“We had a distributor,” he said. “And it’s kind of become like the movies, where they’ll say, O.K., Barnes & Noble will take X amount. They put the books out, and then they get sent to the back of the store if they don’t sell. If it doesn’t do very well, boom, then you’re out. Plus you’re paying a lot just to get them in the store.” Perceval is now back to distributing its own books.

“I Forget You for Ever” is another of Mr. Mortensen’s eerily abstract photo essays, with haunting images that are titled in cryptic, oblique fashion. One street scene, “Arieto,” is named for the barely visible label glimpsed on a broken record. Less subtly named are pictures of foreign cities entitled “Bomb This,” intended as a form of deterrent.

“I do hear people saying I should keep my mouth shut and not say what I think about politics,” said Mr. Mortensen, who clearly has no intention to do so. One of his avowed aims is to find the humanity in faraway places, as he did on the trip to Iran that yielded some of the pictures here.

He went there to visit Sara Solati, a young Iranian author, actress and filmmaker who had woven him into her fiction. (Such is the nature of Viggomania.) Through a bizarre series of events, she had been stalked by an actor and wound up with head trauma. She had been in a coma for months. But when Mr. Mortensen showed up in Tehran to visit her, Ms. Solati had the good sense to open her eyes.

Next time Mr. Mortensen does a book, it’s likely to feature glimpses of Russia and London, locations for the not-yet-titled film he is currently making for David Cronenberg (who directed him in the 2005 film “A History of Violence”). After that, he has three more films planned.

And where does Perceval fit into this tight schedule? “I need to sleep more than I used to,” he said. “I’ve got to do less. There may come a time when it feels like too much, so next year we may not do as many books.

“Of course,” he added, “I said that about this year.”

10-31-06 Latest News

Press Pause: Halo on Hold
Xoanon @ 1:27 pm EST

As many of you may have heard, the PJ produced live action Halo film has been put on the back burner. Here is the press release from Wingnut Films:

As was previously confirmed, we deeply regret that both Universal and Fox did not choose to move forward with financing the Halo film under the original terms of the agreement. At this time Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, along with their partner, Microsoft, have mutually agreed to postpone making a feature film based on the Halo video game universe until we can fulfill the promise we made to millions of Halo fans throughout the world that we would settle for no less than bringing a first class film to the big screen. We are fully supportive of Director Neill Blomkamp's vision of the film. Neill is a tremendously gifted filmmaker and his preliminary work on Halo is truly awe-inspiring. While it will undoubtedly take a little longer for Halo to reach the big screen, we are confident that the final feature film will be well worth the wait.

We will continue to follow any and all news stories on this, if you have heard anything about this send it along!

10-23-06 Latest News

Bruce Hopkins in
Tehanu @ 1:18 am EST

Kiwi actor Bruce Hopkins aka Gamling gets involved in all kinds of experimental stuff exploring the possibilities of digital media and the Net. Here's a word from him on his latest project:

"I have been working on a project with a guy over here called Andrew McKenzie, a lecturer in Digital Media. He got me on board to perform for an animation series he is creating to release on the mobile phone 3G platform. It is very cool to see what he has been able to do. We literally film this on a mini DV against a green screen in one corner of the space he teaches in. He films each character separately creating a library of sequences and then is able to manipulate this to create an episode such as what you see on this posting on Youtube."

There's some background on the project here.

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