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December 06, 2004 - December 15, 2004

12-15-04 Latest News

Earthsea: Bleached White and Shrunk to fit on your TV?
Tehanu @ 5:54 pm EST

I really shouldn't comment on the Sci-Fi channel's miniseries of Earthsea, based on Ursula Le Guin's books. I haven't seen it, since it's not showing in New Zealand. Thanks by the way to you generous people who offered to tape it and send me a copy - I'll reply to you individually.

So yes, I shouldn't comment on something I haven't seen myself. But I am a HUGE fan of Le Guin's work - my NAME is taken from her Earthsea books, for those of you who haven't cottoned on yet. I was wildly excited to learn that Earthsea would be filmed, and that Philippa Boyens, who is another passionately keen Earthsea fan, would be writing the screenplay. I was aware that she'd had to let go of that project halfway through, and I was disturbed when I couldn't seem to make any contact with the film makers after that. "There is still hope," I thought, "if somewhat diminished."

But now the finished film has screened, and I've been getting emails from people whose opinions I respect saying things like 'I watched it and I was sick to my stomach after seven minutes.' I can't stand by and let it look as though TORN will recommend and promote any rubbish just because it's a well-known fantasy series.

What really made up my mind on this was Ursula Le Guin's own reaction to the miniseries. She finally broke silence when the director was printed in Sci Fi Magazine, "explaining" what Le Guin supposedly meant by the books, and how "true" to that his film was. As she says herself:

"But then Mr. Lieberman published a statement telling people what "Ursula" (whom he has never met) "intended" by the books. That changed the situation. They were taking advantage of my silence by sticking words in my mouth. I put a reply on my web site, and since then have spoken freely to interviewers who have asked my opinion of the production."

You can read all about it here in Le Guin's article Earthsea in Clorox.

Dom Monaghan Confirmed for ORC!!
Xoanon @ 1:18 pm EST


TheOne.Ring.net and Creation Entertainment are extremely pleased to announce today that the sensational DOMINIC MONAGHAN is joining his comrades to party with all of us at The One Ring Celebration, coming to Pasadena, California January 14-16, 2005.

Thanks to you, this event is a home-run with our "fantastic four" headlining: ELIJAH WOOD, SEAN ASTIN, BILLY BOYD and DOMINIC MONAGHAN! They are joined by genre legend JOHN RHYS-DAVIES and more than a score of other celebrities, scholars, and artists!

The day of Dominic's appearance will be announced shortly. In the meantime AUTOGRAPH and PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES with Dominic are available now at. Please note that these rare chances to get an in-person autograph or have your photo taken with Dominic are available in VERY LIMITED quantities. Autographs with Dominic are NOT included in the now sold out Wizard's Circle Weekend Packages.

SPECIAL CONGRATULATIONS to Dominic for the Golden Globe Award Nomination his huge hit series LOST received. He is wonderful on the show which has turned into "absolute must" TV for all of us here at Creation (not that we can figure out what is going on!!)

More good news coming soon....


12-14-04 Latest News

Lord of the Rhymes News
Xoanon @ 2:10 pm EST



Hobbit rap superstars Quickbeam and Bombadil, known in lands near and far as the Lords of the Rhymes, officially released 'Lords of the Rhymes: The Untolde Tale' today, instantly topping the Billboard charts, shredding all previously held sales records, and putting several small South Asian economies on the brink of collapse. The 40-minute feature — hailed by one critic as 'the best piece of pure filmmaking ever executed' and by another as 'a surreal yet cardboard-infused journey into the proto-pubescent fantasy realm of two hairy-footed beatboxing wannabe hacks,' — details the rise to stardom, the music, the hype, the fans, and the secret lives of MCs Quickbeam and Bombadil — aka the Lords of the Rhymes.

The film, directed by hip-hop aficionado Morgan Barnard (aka Curufin the Crafty), features interviews with the Lords and their managers, live performance footage, never-before-heard songs, scenes from the Lords' "Lucky Charms" and "Irish Spring" commercials, archival footage of the Lords' early days busking in the New York City subway, commentary on the history of hobbit rap by Tolkien Scholar Tayshaun Greensleeve, pedicures, music videos, elf-girls and much more... It is being released on a limited-edition, specially shrink-wrapped DVD which also contains a bevy of special features, including a 14-minute featurette on the making of the Lords of the Rhymes wildly popular music video.

The raucous and profanity-laced film recently caused an uproar at the Greater Hobbiton Film Festival, when the Sackville-Baggins Council on Good Hobbit Morals declared it unfit for public viewing. Despite this, bootleg copies made it out into the market, resulting in a near riot in South Bywater and several unwanted Elven pregnancies.

When asked if the Lords would be making any further forays onto the silver screen, rapper Quickbeam remarked: 'This is only the beginning. We're currently in the process of shooting a series of prequels. And then we're going to singlehandedly re-enact the entire Silmarillion with all cardboard props. And if that fails, we can always be like our man Snoop Dogg and get into porn."

"S'right" added Bombadil. "We've certainly got the feet for it."

'Untolde Tale' is the Lords' first feature film. In addition to its sold out engagements across Middle-earth, the film has also been screened at the First Annual Gathering of the Roleplayer's Society of Greater Helsinki.

Lord of the Rhymes News
Xoanon @ 2:08 pm EST



Hobbit rap superstars Quickbeam and Bombadil, known in lands near and far as the Lords of the Rhymes, officially released 'Lords of the Rhymes: The Untolde Tale' today, instantly topping the Billboard charts, shredding all previously held sales records, and putting several small South Asian economies on the brink of collapse. The 40-minute feature — hailed by one critic as 'the best piece of pure filmmaking ever executed' and by another as 'a surreal yet cardboard-infused journey into the proto-pubescent fantasy realm of two hairy-footed beatboxing wannabe hacks,' — details the rise to stardom, the music, the hype, the fans, and the secret lives of MCs Quickbeam and Bombadil — aka the Lords of the Rhymes.

The film, directed by hip-hop aficionado Morgan Barnard (aka Curufin the Crafty), features interviews with the Lords and their managers, live performance footage, never-before-heard songs, scenes from the Lords' "Lucky Charms" and "Irish Spring" commercials, archival footage of the Lords' early days busking in the New York City subway, commentary on the history of hobbit rap by Tolkien Scholar Tayshaun Greensleeve, pedicures, music videos, elf-girls and much more... It is being released on a limited-edition, specially shrink-wrapped DVD which also contains a bevy of special features, including a 14-minute featurette on the making of the Lords of the Rhymes wildly popular music video.

The raucous and profanity-laced film recently caused an uproar at the Greater Hobbiton Film Festival, when the Sackville-Baggins Council on Good Hobbit Morals declared it unfit for public viewing. Despite this, bootleg copies made it out into the market, resulting in a near riot in South Bywater and several unwanted Elven pregnancies.

When asked if the Lords would be making any further forays onto the silver screen, rapper Quickbeam remarked: 'This is only the beginning. We're currently in the process of shooting a series of prequels. And then we're going to singlehandedly re-enact the entire Silmarillion with all cardboard props. And if that fails, we can always be like our man Snoop Dogg and get into porn."

"S'right" added Bombadil. "We've certainly got the feet for it."

'Untolde Tale' is the Lords' first feature film. In addition to its sold out engagements across Middle-earth, the film has also been screened at the First Annual Gathering of the Roleplayer's Society of Greater Helsinki.

LOTR Exhibit Set To Soar in Sydney
Xoanon @ 1:59 pm EST

From Powerhouse Museum:

Experience the fantastic world of Middle-earth when the international blockbuster The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy – The Exhibition comes to the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney this summer.

Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go behind the scenes of the hugely successful film trilogy and see costumes, jewellery, weapons, props and film footage, as well as discover the secrets behind the trilogy’s Academy Award-winning special effects.

Developed over two years by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in conjunction with New Line Cinema, the producers of the film trilogy, this extraordinary exhibition has been seen by more than 800,000 people worldwide in Wellington, London, Singapore and Boston, and now comes to Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum – the only Australian venue.

The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy – The Exhibition explores both the thematic and technological aspects of the films. Visitors are transported to the world of Middle-earth where they are met by the films’ main characters including Frodo and his hobbit companions, the wizards and other magical creatures, the Black Riders, and the monstrous creations of evil, all dressed in the actual costumes used in the films.

Visitors can experience the film trilogy’s cutting-edge technology and special effects through interactive demonstrations. Discover how the filmmakers made actors appear hobbit or wizard-sized using an ingenious mix of trick photography, forced perspective sets and props made at different scales. Find out for yourself by being photographed hobbit-sized in a set from the film. Or see the life-like prosthetics which transformed the actors into character, including hobbit hands and feet and gruesome orc masks.

See an extraordinary array of costumes including Arwen’s riding outfit, Galadriel’s stunning dress and Gandalf’s robes plus weaponry and armour belonging to Aragorn, King Theoden, Gandalf, and Frodo. There are also exclusive interviews with the cast, crew and director Peter Jackson.

The exhibition culminates in an immersive encounter with The One Ring. In the middle of a dark, atmospheric space is the central icon of the films. Visitors will see and hear faces and voices of the story’s main characters urging Frodo to use or destroy The One Ring.

The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy - The Exhibition opens at the Powerhouse Museum on 26 December 2004.

Avoid the queues and book your tickets now. Admission will be through two timed sessions daily: Morning (9.00am – 1.00pm) and Afternoon (1.00pm – 5.00pm). Tickets are available through Ticketmaster7 on 136 100 or www.powerhousemuseum.com.

During the January school holidays families can also experience The Shire Play Space. Kids can play as hobbits for a day in a space as magical as The Shire with rolling hills and miniature doorways. Dress up like a hobbit, elf or wizard, create your own prop to take home, enjoy a magic show or participate in story-telling and quizzes. Open 3 January – 31 March, 11.00am – 4.00pm (weekends & school holidays). Free with The Lord of the Rings exhibition entry.

On View:

The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy – The Exhibition 26 December 2004 – 31 March 2005

Powerhouse Museum
500 Harris Street, Ultimo, Sydney

(02) 9217 0111 or infoline (02) 9217 0444


Exhibition hours 9.00am to 5.00pm
General museum hours 10.00am to 5.00pm

Adult $19.50, Child $9.50, Concession $12, Seniors $10,
Family $48 (includes general admission)

12-13-04 Latest News

'Ringers' Set for SLAMDANCE with Monaghan as Narrator!
Xoanon @ 9:43 pm EST

Planet BB Entertainment
Office: 323-669-1173


HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA --TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2004 -- The Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, will launch its 2005 slate with the world premiere of RINGERS: LORD OF THE FANS on its opening Friday night (January 21, 2005). The producers also announce the final addition to their remarkable project, the voice of Dominic Monaghan (Merry Brandybuck from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, now starring on ABC’s Lost) will be heard as the film’s Narrator, relaying the dynamic story of J.R.R. Tolkien’s pop-culture legacy.

RINGERS: LORD OF THE FANS is a feature-length documentary that explores how "The Lord of the Rings" has influenced Western popular culture for the past 50 years. The film reveals many layers of history and artistic inspiration behind Tolkien’s books, while reveling in the pop frenzy carried forward by the Hippie movement, the rockers, the fantasists, the activists, and legions of adoring fans. Produced in association with TheOneRing.net, RINGERS is executive produced by Tom DeSanto (Apt Pupil, X-Men, Transformers), and directed by first-time writer/director Carlene Cordova.

Monaghan gained worldwide fame starring as fun-loving hobbit Merry Brandybuck in the “Rings” Trilogy, which has won a total of 17 Academy Awards, including a Best Picture win for the final installment, “The Return of the King.” Monaghan is a recipient of the Screen Actor’s Guild Award (Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture) for his work in the “Rings” Trilogy.

Monaghan currently stars on ABC’s smash hit drama “Lost,” as drug-addicted rock musician Charlie. The show follows a group of survivors stranded on an island after a devastating plane crash in the Pacific. “Lost” recently received nominations for the 2005 Golden Globe and People’s Choice Awards.

Started in 1995 by a group of independent filmmakers, SLAMDANCE is a year-round organization dedicated to new filmmakers and their vision. Slamdance Film Festival has established a unique reputation for premiering independent films by first-time directors working with limited budgets; the festival continues to be true to its roots and is organized and programmed by active filmmakers. Past Slamdance films have been picked up for distribution, invited to festivals around the world, and have won Independent Spirit Awards, the Palm d'Or and an Oscar among other awards. The Slamdance Film Festival Official Site is http://www.slamdance.com

Slamdance Film Festival Alumni include Memento director Christopher Nolan ('99 festival award winner Following); the Russo Brothers ('97 Pieces) and Monster’s Ball director Marc Forster ('96 festival audience award winner Loungers).

RINGERS: LORD OF THE FANS serves as a remarkable dénouement to the past 50 years of the worldwide following of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.”

About the documentary:

RINGERS: LORD OF THE FANS shows how, after 50 years, “The Lord of the Rings” continues to spark the minds and hearts of millions. RINGERS explores the real foundations of Middle-earth; a community of true fans who share a common bond. Moving beyond “cult classic” and over several different generations, the film unearths countless people gathered under the banner of ‘Ringer’ -- academics, musicians, movie stars, authors, filmmakers, and a plethora of pop junkies. Celebrity interviewees include Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Clive Barker, and David Carradine.

RINGERS features a dynamic rock-driven score with musicians who were influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien. Several indie recording artists have provided new covers of songs from previous “Rings” adaptations. Produced in association with the popular fan-site TheOneRing.net, RINGERS stands as the most comprehensive film document of the ongoing fandom of “The Lord of the Rings.”

From the hippie counter-culture to the electronic age; from the Bakshi animated film to Jackson’s epic trilogy; this documentary brings together extensive footage collected over 21 months -- across three continents. Our cameras have captured the most energetic “Lord of the Rings” events.

What began as the private amusement of a tweedy Oxford professor has now become a new mythology for the 21st century. RINGERS: LORD OF THE FANS shows how an adventure story published in 1954 has had dynamic ripple-effects through Western pop-culture. RINGERS carefully pulls away the veil between Tolkien’s book and the creations of art, music, and community that have been inspired by it.

RINGERS: LORD OF THE FANS spent 21 months shooting on three continents. Produced in association with the popular Tolkien fan-site TheOneRing.net, Ringers stands as the most comprehensive film document of the ongoing fandom of "The Lord of the Rings."

Current “Ringers” Interviewees include:

Actor - Dominic Monaghan, Writer/Director/Producer - Peter Jackson, Actor - Elijah Wood, Actor - Sir Ian McKellen, Actor - Viggo Mortensen, Actor - Sean Astin, Actor - Billy Boyd, Actor - Andy Serkis, Actor - John Rhys-Davies, Actor - John Noble, Screenwriter - Philippa Boyens, Producer - Barrie Osborne, Author/Interviewer - Cliff Broadway, Author/Filmmaker - Clive Barker, Writer/Director/Producer - Cameron Crowe, Actor - David Carradine, Author - Terry Pratchett, Author - Peter S. Beagle, Author - Terry Brooks, Musician - Lemmy Kilmister, Musician - Geddy Lee, Tolkien Scholar - Dr. Jane Chance, Chairperson of the Tolkien Society - Christine Crawshaw, Author - Colin Duriez, Filmmaker/Critic - Chris Gore, Writer/Publisher - Forrest J. Ackerman, Actor - Sala Baker, Actor - Bill Mumy, Author/Broadcaster - Brian Sibley, Illustrator/Author - Colleen Doran, Illustrator/Author - Jill Thompson, Film Critic - Elvis Mitchell, and hundreds of Tolkien fans!

For additional information, contact:

Planet BB Entertainment
2658 Griffith Park Blvd., #243
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Office: +1 323-669-1173

More News

"Ringers: Lord of the Fans" will be screening at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah this January. Ticket prices are unknown at the time. But, the location and screening times for all screenings in Salt Lake have been released. All Salt Lake screenings will take place at the Murray Theater, located at:

4959 South State St.
Murray, UT 84107
(801) 506-0060

Screening Dates/Times for the Murray Theater in Salt Lake:

Sunday January 23rd at 8:30pm
Monday January 24th at 5:00pm
Thursday January 27th at 9:00pm

Box office and ticket Information on Park City screenings should be available through the Slamdance official website. For all inquires pertaining to where and when "Ringers" will appear in other theaters around the world, and on dvd, the filmmakers have absolutely no idea of such information at the time. They anticipate picking up distribution for the film at Slamdance, and would expect that a theatrical release will follow some time after that. One way of expediting the release of "Ringers" to the world could be for fans of the film to submit requests to all of the major Motion Picture Distributors, both Foreign and Domestic, asking to bring "Ringers" to its world wide audience as soon as possible.

12-12-04 Latest News

Alan Lee Interview!
Xoanon @ 7:05 pm EST

Lawrence French writes: I interviewed Alan Lee and introduced him before his appearance in San Francisco on Friday, so I thought you might like to post my intro, along with a the first part of my interview...

I think it's only appropriate that Alan Lee be welcomed to San Francisco here in the Haight-Asbury, where Prof. Tolkien's book were "rediscovered" in the late sixties.

Tonight we are in for a special treat, as Alan has brought along a series of behind the scenes slides showing us his work as well as photos taken on the set of The Lord of the Rings movies.

Earlier today, Alan was telling me that in 1991 he did the first fully illustrated edition of Tolkien's books, (besides the Queen of Denmark) which believe it or not was 37 years after Tolkien's book was first published in 1954!

Mr. Lee's 50 exquisite watercolors that graced Houghton Mifflin's centenary edition, led to his being invited to New Zealand to work as the architect of Middle-earth for director Peter Jackson.

During the last six years, Mr. Lee has been creating images of middle-earth for Jackson's movie trilogy, and there is practically no question you can ask him about The Lord of the Rings that he can't answer. He knows, because he's been there. And not only is he a brilliant artist, he's especially invaluable as a film designer, because he can draw something and also sketch how it has to be built, and then hand it off to the construction department.

Last year Alan Lee won an Academy Award for best art Direction for The Return Of The King, which is most appropriate, since Mr. Lee, along with John Howe, were really the two people who defined the look of middle-earth for the screen.

Here's what Richard Taylor, the head of Weta Workshop had to say about Alan's drawings for the city of Minas Tirith as realized on screen in The Return of the King from Alan Lee's drawings:

"Alan did a series of sketches from a variety of different angles, which were never rationalized as architectural blueprints. We built purely from Alan's sketches, but as we built the miniature from each of Alan's 2-D drawings, the construction would join up almost perfectly, because Alan had illustrated how the structure would ultimately be realized in 3-D. It was a phenomenal thing"

Finally, tonight we're very lucky that Alan will be here to sign his books and artwork for us, since as you may have noticed, his signature dosen't appear on his artwork. The reason for this, as he told me earlier today, is because he feels his signature might interfere with the visual integrity of the artwork itself.

So please give a warm welcome to Mr. Alan Lee!

LAWRENCE FRENCH: How did you first become acquainted with the Tolkien books?

ALAN LEE: I was around 17 years old and just about ready for Tolkien. I had read quite a lot of mythology and folklore as I was growing up, and a friend of mine was reading the trilogy. He said they were wonderful books, and as he finished each volume he passed it on to me. I totally lapped it up and lived in the world of Middle-earth for a few months while I was reading them. It was quite wonderful. I spent quite a lot of time by myself growing up, and from my early childhood, I had always drawn. It was an extension of my playing with toy soldiers or building castles. I would also do a lot of daydreaming, because I didn't get out a lot.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: Did you start drawing scenes form the book, after you first read it?

ALAN LEE: One of the things I did was write a little Tolkien-esque psychological fable, which I illustrated. It had dwarves and Elves in it and I illustrated that, so I probably did more drawing for that, than I actually did for Lord of the Rings.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: When Peter Jackson first contacted you, you had done some conceptual drawings for Ridley Scott's Legend, but you really hadn't been too deeply involved with the production of a movie, had you?

ALAN LEE: No, I had very little idea of what an actual film production would be like, although I'd done some conceptual art for Legend. And originally, on Lord of the Rings we were only supposed to come down to New Zealand for six months, but it was obviously going to be a huge project. But at the time I first became involved, the film was still in a state of flux. It hadn't really gotten a green light from Miramax. They were backing it on a kind of a week-to-week basis. So nobody knew what would happen, and I don't think anyone realized how much time, energy and resources would ultimately be involved in making it. But coming onto the project, I must say, you just got swept away by it. Within the first few days of being there, I was thrown straight away into the work. I met with Peter and Grant Major, who came on about the same time I did, and they were already working on Rivendell and Helm's Deep, and were putting together some of the first ideas that weren't going to be realized for two or three years. In fact, some of those ideas, we're only just completing now, in 2003! So it has been a very long process, but it's been important for me to stick with it, because there are things that were designed as miniatures in a fairly complete way, and then designed as set pieces in only a partial way. There were limitations on how much of the sets we'd actually need to build. We knew there would be CG extensions for a lot of the environments. So I'm glad to still be here, after 5 years, completing work on the rest of the film. With the city of Minas Tirith, we've extended it way beyond the nine or ten meters we actually built as a set. None of the environments that surrounds Minas Tirith actually existed in any one place. The White Mountains, Pelennor Fields, Mordor, and Osgiliath - they were all elements taken from different parts of New Zealand, which we're trying to make into one comprehensive 3-D environment. It's a huge challenge, as it will be the most spectacular part of the third film. It serves as the arena for all the amazing battle scenes that will be taking place in The Return of the King.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: So how closely did you work with production designer Grant Major?

ALAN LEE: Well, after our initial period of doing designs at Weta Workshop, the art department was set up at Stone Street studios, and John Howe and I went down there. We worked in the same office, and Grant was in the next room, in another office. So after we did our drawings, we'd show them to Peter and Grant to get their feedback. Invariably, cost considerations meant we'd have to reduce certain things by 30% or so to keep it within the budget. But I really enjoyed working with both Grant and (art director) Dan Hennah.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: Grant Major was telling me how you tended to gravitate towards the lighter side of Middle-earth, while John tended to do more of the darker designs.

ALAN LEE: Yes, in general it did work out that way, but John did some work on the light side as well. He designed Bag End and the Green Dragon in Hobbition. And I did some work on the dark side, designing Cirith Ungol and Orthanc. But it did seem to broadly suit our different styles,as the two architects of Middle-earth,John with a strong Gothic-spiky esthetic, and me doing a more classical approach. I think it worked out quite well.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: Working in such close proximity, did it allow you to play off each other's ideas to a degree?

ALAN LEE: Yes, and to begin with, we would often work on the same things and then one of us would seem to take a strong lead, and the other person would go on to do something else. But there was always so much to do! It never felt like we were moving forward. I can't believe how busy it's kept us over the years. Cirith Ungol is an example of a combination between John Howe's work and my own, because John had done a lot of designs for Cirith Ungol before leaving, but when we actually went to build the miniature, Peter wanted to have a fresh look at it. So I kind of re-designed it, incorporating some of John's original architectural elements into it. Also the full-size set was a lot of fun, because there's a wonderful fight scene between the Orc Captains, Shagrat and Gorbag , where they're all killing each other off, and it was quite complex, because we needed to create a smallish size set that would allow us to shoot from a lot of different angles, while keeping it quite contained. It was really a stunt man's paradise, because it had all these ledges for them to fall off of, or stairs for them to roll down and doors for them to crash through. It was really like a big Orc playground.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: I noticed most of your drawings in "The Art of books" were done as pencil sketches.

ALAN LEE: That was partly because it's quicker, and we were always racing to get the designs approved, so there wasn't a lot of time to develop drawings into full-scale paintings. John did more than I did; he did a number of full-scale paintings. And (effects art director) Jeremy Bennett has done a huge amount of paintings. That was one of Jeremy's great strengths, doing the coloring and lighting schemes, which would then be shown to cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, as a guide to lighting the sets, so everything would match in the finished composite shots.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: Jeremy Bennett was saying how he did over 2,000 drawings for the three movies.

ALAN LEE: Yes, and so did I! What's nice for me is that I'm now working on the computer. I'm working directly on the shots, painting in the backgrounds and painting out the blue screens. For example, I'm now working on CGI drawings of Mordor, showing the Gorgorath plain, between the black gates and Barad-d{r. I find it's a very convenient and quick way of working. It's also very enjoyable, because it brings you a little bit closer to the finished product, and means we can create more variations to show to Peter. Peter's whole involvement in the design process has been huge. He's always coming up with bright new ideas, so it's a very collaborative process.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: When Peter Jackson first contacted you, I understand he wanted to base some of the designs on different illustrations of yours that had already been done, such as Orthanc tower.

ALAN LEE: Yes, and for Orthanc it was just a matter of extending the building that I had already drawn upwards by another 400 feet, and then creating the inside for it in that same sort of style. But for Minas Tirith, although I had done previous drawings of it, they weren't done in any great detail. So they really had to be expanded on, and working with the wonderful team of model makers at Weta workshop, they have gone on to realize all the environments, by creating the most magnificent and detailed miniatures.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: Effects supervisor Jim Rygiel told me you were very helpful in piecing together the geography of Middle-earth, so people would know where they were in the various landscapes, since the characters go on quite a long journey, from the Shire to Mordor.

ALAN LEE: That largely had to do with finding the appropriate locations. You do get a sense of a change in the landscape over the three films, and that was one of the major things we were concerned with, creating convincing environments, so you can go out and see 360 degrees in every direction. And because of the extent of the distance they traveled, you do want them to feel like they are moving between one region and another. So because Gondor is further south, they are now in a dryer climate and it feels quite different that Hobbition, which is very lush and green. The whole of Rohan was quite wonderful and different, because you had these mountains and this big open countryside, covered with grass which goes on for miles, with these big rocky outcrops.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: One of the nice touches in the Lord of the Rings movies is how you'll have these little details of architectural ruins, or statues, like the stone trolls, which are just visible in the background, but add tremendously to the atmosphere.

ALAN LEE: Yes, that's something we felt was going to be important right from the beginning. To put these little details in the background, not so we'd be grandstanding every single thing we did, but just to have it drift in and out of the shot, so it would lend weight to the idea that this is an ancient land, full of the remains of ancient cultures. I quite like the fact that we spent quite a bit of time designing things that you barely see. You just catch a glimpse of it, rather than have it being in center frame, to milk it for all it's worth. Having those details in the background helps to create the idea that we are in this very rich world and it makes it more believable.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: I imagine there's a lot of detailing to the sets, like Rivendell, that we don't even get to see.

ALAN LEE: Yes, quite a lot of Rivendell didn't even make it into film. Or if it did, it's just a glimpse of color, or something you see through some trees. I think that really helps make it feel like it's a real place. Rivendell is kind of an ideal architecture, because it's living so close to nature. Art Nouveau was an influence on its design, but I didn't consciously go around and look at other architectural work. I drew more on the dreams and musing of my years wandering in woods and by rivers.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: Richard Taylor (head of Weta Workshop) was telling me that a set like Minas Tirith was built so you could shoot it from any angle. So if you were to walk around in it, there was nothing to give away that it was actually a set.

ALAN LEE: That was done because we never quite knew what Peter might want to shoot. There was a huge amount of pre-visualization and storyboarding going on, but basically when Peter arrived on the set, it was all up for grabs. He might want to point the camera in any direction, so the sets had to be ready for any possible angle. Consequently, there were a lot of details in all of the sets that we don't actually see in the movies.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: John Howe said after watching the finished films, he now has trouble drawing some of the characters differently then the actors who played them, like Christopher Lee's Saruman.

ALAN LEE: That's quite an interesting observation, because I've always thought that characters that get summoned up by reading a book are always going to be different than any representation that is made of them in a film. And before doing The Lord of the Rings I'd never had the experience of the image from a film being transplanted into the image you get from reading a book. But now I'm finding that when I go back to the book, instead of my old vision of Gandalf appearing, I am seeing Ian McKellan. And that is happening with the other characters, as well. So I think it's a testimony to what the actors brought to their characterizations. I think the actors really enriched the roles. For me, Gandalf is now a much more interesting character than I experienced from reading the books. It's really been a dream cast, and all the actors have done a wonderful job. It's nice that Peter hasn't gone for big Hollywood names, but for actors who are right for the parts.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: Yes, mis-casting is something that can be quite fatal for a movie. If Tom Cruise was playing Aragorn, I'm sure the film would be nowhere as good as it is.

ALAN LEE: Probably one of the most exciting things for me is seeing the actors bring Tolkien's characters to life. Having Christopher Lee come over and do Saruman has been fantastic. He's such a nice person and he knows everything about the books. It must be extraordinary for him to have been involved in this. He's read the books more than I have and he knows certainly knows them better than I do.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: Are you a fan,like Peter Jackson is,of Ray Harryhausen's films?

ALAN LEE: Yes, I saw Ray Harryhausen's Jason and the Argonauts when I was about 16, and it made quite an impression on me. Seeing that, and other films, like Alexander Korda's The Thief of Bagdad had a very strong effect on me. Actually, I've just gotten the DVD of The Thief of Bagdad, and it's still a very wonderful and magical film.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: The Thief of Bagdad was quite an inspiration for Ray Harryhausen, as well. It had that wonderful art direction by Vincent Korda and William Cameron Menzies, as well as a marvelous score by Miklos Rozsa, who Harryhausen later used for The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. As a fan of Jason and the Argonauts, I imagine that might have been influential for you in doing the illustrations for your books on Greek Mythology, Black Ships Before Troy and The Wanderings of Odysseus.

ALAN LEE: Yes, in fact, I think probably the first mythology books I read as a child where the ones about the Greek myths.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: You should do an illustrated version of Apollonius of Rhodes' Jason and the Argonauts.

ALAN LEE: I've thought about that from time to time. It would certainly be a lovely book to do.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: Who were some of the classical artists that inspired you?

ALAN LEE: I was quite taken with the pre-Raphaelites, but I've probably spent more time looking at Rembrandt, Botticelli, Leonardo DaVinci, Giovanni Bellini and the other great Renaissance painters. Bruegel had a very powerful influence. I just love the clarity of his vision, as well as the romance, magic and the elements of mythology in his work. I've realized though, that I've been more influenced by film and television, because I was more exposed to that while I was growing up. I didn't really visit any art galleries until I was 16 or 17.

LAWRENCE FRENCH: Any final thoughts?

ALAN LEE: The Return of the King is definitely the most spectacular and the biggest of the three films. The Two Towers was very successful, but it had this central problem of dealing with these separate groups of characters who never actually get together throughout the film. They start off on separate journeys, and they end up, still separate. It's very hard to bring any sort of resolution to that, and I think Peter, Fran and Philippa did an amazing job of creating a cohesive film out of The Two Towers, so it works and doesn't leave you bewildered or disappointed. But The Return of the King is beautifully told; it's well paced, and constantly exciting and delighting. I think it's going to be a most fitting climax to the trilogy.

12-11-04 Latest News

Sean Astin Book Tour Report: San Francisco
Xoanon @ 11:35 am EST

Sean Astin and Alan Lee a hit in San Francisco
Click for more images

Celebriel writes: The first fans arrived at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books at 11am Friday morning for Sean Austin’s 7 pm appearance. They came from all over the Bay Area and from at least as far as Seattle.

Events Manager Wendy Sheanin, who introduced Sean, had wanted him to appear since she first heard about the book. “People have been calling for weeks,” she said, adding “the book is doing really well.” About 200 fans attended, with the seating area and adjacent aisles completely filled.

Sean impresses fans as sincere, patient, enthusiastic, generous, and caring, pretty much like his character San Gamgee. He loves connecting with fans and sharing with them his experiences as a central figure in the “Lord of the Rings” films and the cultural phenomenon they have become. Some fans were very nervous and tongue-tied when they got to speak to him, but Sean always tried to get them to relax and give them a little extra time to ask a question. He also loved talking to children, shaking their hands and offering them encouragement.

He started by thanking the bookstore, noting that the name was the title of a Hemingway story, and talked enthusiastically about the intimate setting of the store and how nice it is to know staff members who will track down books for you. He remarked there is a Barnes and Noble near his home in Los Angeles, which generated some hisses. (The host book store is an independent and its loyal customers view B&N rather the way Merry would view The Witch King.)

Sean then introduced his wife Christine, daughters Alexandra and Elizabeth, and a special visitor, his middle school English teacher, Ms. Gilbert, saying he still remembered a class trip to Williamsburg, VA he took as a kid and how hard it was to be away from his family. He has stayed friends with her over the years since eighth grade.

Turning to “There and Back Again,” he said, “I felt I really had a book in me,” and kept pitching the idea to his agent. His partner on the book, Joe Layden, was “not a Lord of the Rings guy” but Sean only had to read about fifteen pages of his work before deciding to work with him.(Layden has written about the Grateful Dead and a large number of sports celebrities including Kobe Bryant, Monica Seles, Sammy Sosa, Tonya Harding and Steve Young.) He was eager to get started, not to miss what he called “the window of interest,” noting that for each of the last three years there has been a new “Lord of the Rings” film at year end. “This year there’s only the Extended Edition. It’s kind of sad. A lot of people are bummed out,” he observed, indicating that “There and Back Again” offers fans something else with history and insight into the project.

He knew the book tour would be “edifying personally” but didn’t imagine “all the things I would learn.” Sean laughingly admitted he liked “the sound of my own voice” and could talk for many hours. He placed his watch on the podium to keep track of time and asked daughter Alexandra to remind him it was there.

Sean first asked how people had learned of the event. Not surprisingly, many were regulars at The One Ring.net or www.seanastin.com. A few people found out about the event from his local appearances earlier Friday on KRON and KGO radio in SF.

Sean’s ongoing appearances at Sci Fi and Fantasy conventions are also connected to “There And Back Again.” At the conventions he observed “working class families willing to pay $35 to meet a celebrity in the flesh and get an autograph.” He felt, “I had so much more to offer, much more than a moment.” From meeting fans at conventions and other events he realized “People would talk to me as if they were part of our experience.” It was “a cool, weird way to relate to millions of people.”

As an actor, Sean explained he felt he had two responsibilities when representing a film. The first is to be “an ambassador for the studio.” This means putting the best face on the experience, and keeping in mind all the people who worked hard on the film and have a stake in its success. He described it as “an open house for millions of people,” noting he was “constantly trying to frame everything I would say with confidence.” Over time, he began to feel that “the way I felt inside was different than the public persona,” and this too fueled his desire to write a book in which he could tell more of the story in his own words. He described “Lord of the Rings” as “the most incredible thing I’ve done in my life,” but also the hardest and most painful – “painful in a good way.”

At that point, his wife Christine interrupted him to say he actually has three responsibilities, and one of them was to “answer questions from all these people.”

Thursday night Sean and his family had been at Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, OR. About 700 people came, but he only had an hour and a half for the talk and book signing since his flight had been moved up because of a fog alert in San Francisco. He talked about how bad he felt because of the insufficient time to meet everyone.

An actor’s second responsibility he described as “honoring the audience,” understanding who the audience was for each TV, radio, or magazine appearance and sharing with fans more of the “Lord of the Rings” story.

Sean talked for just over half an hour. With all of his stories, there was time for only two questions. One man asked if it was hard to stay in character, given that the total time spent filming was nearly five years while in the books only 13 months passes.

“My work as an actor is fueled by an honest approach based on what is happening in my life,” Sean explained. “You get to experience how art imitates life and life imitates art.” He recalled the first camera tests at the start of filming. “The costume, ears, wig and feet gave me the character.” This was after six weeks of on site work that included fight classes, working in water, and dialect training. Sean commented it took him a long time to get comfortable with the Gloucestershire-inspired Hobbiton accent, but the dialect coaches were always there to help.

At one point a “one hundred year flood” destroyed several sets in Queenstown, NZ, so the production moved on to other scenes. On a hotel squash court workers built the rock face used in the stair climbing scenes at Cirith Ungol, which take place well into Return of the King. He said of himself and Elijah Wood, “We panicked. We hadn’t finished [reading] the books yet.” They talked to Peter Jackson and he assured them they’d be fine. Sam’s close-ups were shot first. Then the weather improved and the production did not resume filming on those scenes for ten months. “In that ten months I had found Sam,” he said. Sean considered having the close-ups reshot so they would better communicate Sam’s character, but Peter Jackson showed him some original dailies and said there was no need to reshoot them.

The pace quickened as the release date for the first film approached. Publicity for “Lord of the Rings” started at the Cannes Film Festival seven months before the December 2001 opening of “The Fellowship of the Ring.” The first film wasn’t finished yet.. “We still had pickups and reshoots to do,” he said. Press coverage began to build after Cannes, and by June the cast had “its first inkling that the film was going to be big.” Sean even appeared on the cover of Pipe and Tobacco magazine as Sam, holding his pipe.

Going back into filming, he explained, the challenge was “how do you push the white noise out to get back into character?” In preparing for the Shelob scenes, for example, Sean found that looking at Shelob artwork by Alan Lee and John Howe always helped.

A second fan asked “How do you prepare yourself for multiple takes, especially of very emotional scenes?” Sean responded that this process is different in each work and for each actor. “I never developed a technique or craft,” he explained. “Peter Jackson designed the project and New Line allowed him space unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of.” Often he was spent and exhausted from crying after an emotional scene but the director would want more. Sean mentioned filming one emotional scene only to learn that he had been wearing the wrong vest, and the scene would need to be redone. In retrospect, “Lord of the Rings” taught him that “what human beings are capable of doing is amazing.” Going forward, he said he will never accept that some emotional expression is not possible for an actor. It’s important to “honor the spirit of excellence from Peter Jackson,” adding, “My father would have liked me to say, ‘you just go to your technique’.”

Sean’s special guest, Ms.Gilbert, whom he calls “Ms. G,” currently teaches in Palo Alto, CA. Middle school is her specialization – she has been teaching for 31 years. Ms. Gilbert worked with Sean at St. Paul the Apostle Middle School in Westwood, CA. She described him as “a very special young man, bright, witty, sensitive,” noting “he’s worked hard for his success.” Sean still meets with Ms. G’s students each year on their class trip to Los Angeles. “He spends quality time with them,” and observes them acting scenes and monologues from Shakespeare. She added, “I loved when he played Rudy,” explaining that in 7th grade Sean’s mother told him he could choose drama or football as an extracurricular activity but not both. He surprised everyone by choosing football.

In a brief chat, Christine Astin said the family had been in Calgary recently where Sean is filming the western “Into the West,” which will air on television in 2005. Despite the title, the film has nothing to do with “Lord of the Rings.”

Fans attending the event were diverse but united in their passion for “Lord of the Rings.” Most has seen the films more times than they could count. Helen from San Lorenzo, CA, took the day off to be at the bookstore by 11am. She has a large “Lord of the Rings” tattoo on her left leg. A group of four friends, Ivie, Taylor, Hollis and Genevieve, also arrived at 11 am. Ivie and Taylor explained they arrived early because their Christmas break from UC-Santa Cruz had just started and they had nothing else to do.

Ivie stayed in the bookstore reading most of the day. Taylor forced her parents to name her younger sister Sam. She helped organize a line party in Sacramento, CA, and started a “Lord of the Rings” club in high school. She and several friends have bought trees in support of Dominic Monaghan’s environmental project. She is attending the ORC convention in Pasadena. Her father began to read the trilogy to her when she was seven, and she’s been a fan of Sean since “Toy Soldiers.” Taylor & Genevieve went to Los Angeles for the unveiling of Patty Duke Astin’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and met Sean and his family for the first time. “It’s definitely exciting to see him for a second time,” she said.

Annette and Lance were up at 2 am for a flight from Seattle and got to the bookstore at 3 pm. They’ve stopped counting how many times they’ve seen the films. Annette and her coworkers at a bank purchased a DVD player and watch the films on their lunch break. This was their first live event with a cast member, though they attended the Lord of the Rings Symphony in Seattle. They are also attending ORC.

Marleena and her Mom Nancy from San Rafael, CA have been fans together since the films came out, having seen them more than ten times. Marleena is a big fan of Dominic, Elijah and Sean, while her Mom is partial to Viggo Mortensen.

Linda and Robert arrived from Antioch CA at 4:30 pm. Robert arranged to take a few hours off his night shift job so he could attend. Both have been fans for many years. Linda first read the books in high school nearly forty years ago, and now is an avid collector for her “Ring Room, which holds her swords, autographed posters, Treebeard, Sauron, and Gandalf statues, and the talking Gollum her husband won from a radio station. Their three children and five grandchildren are also big fans, and the family has seen the films “multiple, multiple times.”

Sean patiently greeted each fan, signing their book and chatting briefly. His family sat a few feet away, behind the signing table. When the signing was done just after 8:30, Wendy led him off to another area to sign more books for fans who could not attend in person. Fans who had met at the bookstore exchanged email addresses and phone numbers and many promised to meet up again in Pasadena in January.



Sean Astin and Alan Lee both had large crowds on hand for their respective book signings in San Francisco tonight. Unfortunately, they both had an event at the same time in different areas of the city. But even then, there was a record crowd for both!

Mr. Lee not only discussed his long involvement with the works of JRR Tolkien, he had a stunning visual presentation including a slide show and a display of a dozen original illustrations. Booksmith (bookstore) sponsored the event at the local library and had many books on hand including "The Art of the Lord of the Rings" Booksmith also gave away free posters, buttons and Alan Lee trading cards.

Mr. Astin's booksigning was a pleasant surprise. Not only did he come with his entire family, but his middle school drama teacher (Mrs. G). He spoke for a limited time and took a few questions. His generousity in sharing himself with the large crowd at A Clean Well-lighted Place for Books could not be surpassed.

He shared many stories of his time filming the movies with Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood. One charming story was about continuity and how he and Elijah Wood were told about a scene they'd be doing in a few days time (Stairs of Cirith Ungol) and how they thought it wouldn't happen. Well, it did happen and they both panicked a little. They weren't ready to do the scene! They tried to talk PJ out of doing the scene, but Mr. Jackson told them they'd be fine. They ended up doing the scene working on the closeups of Sean. Unfortunately, the 100 Year Rains came in and they ended up finishing the scene (and finally Elijah's closeups) 10 months later!

His time spent sharing stories were really something else and I'm glad I brought my daughter and her friend with me. It's nice to see a celebrity who is not only kind, but humble and generous with his stories he had probably shared with thousands of other people in the other many cities he has already been. I watched him as he signed his book, he tried to make a connection with each person he signed a book for. Considering how many cities he and his family have visited, you could really tell that he appreciated us by making each story new to us and not a rehashing of the same story he has already told many times.

We were lucky, since we arrived early to have Mr. Astin sign our books we went to the Alan Lee signing and got to meet him as well!



There was a standing room only crowd for the event which had an added surprise. Fans had an abundance of riches to choose from since Sean Astin was also doing a signing across town at the same time tonight. Alan's fans discovered that Sean had been by the bookstore this morning and autographed copies of his new book were also available at Alan's signing, as well as copies of the brand new Art of Lord of the Rings book which just came out two days ago!

Alan arrived about 20 minutes early and signed until it was time to talk. He gave an excellent talk, illustrated with slides. Most were of his pencil sketches, but there were some watercolour paintings and a few photos that he had taken of the crew and models.

Some of the things he talked about: the process of designing Middle Earth for the camera, his favorite set (Rivendell), and the collaboration between the Art Dept. and Weta Workshop. We were told that getting Alan's autograph was quite something since he does not sign his work, not wanting its artistic quality to be compromised by writing on it!

He was very kind to all the fans, signing everything from the Sideshow/Weta Edoras Model to books he had done in the years before LOTR and even the collectable author photocards issued by the bookstore. He spent some time with each person and seemed genuinely happy to meet everyone.



Alan Lee was due at 6pm, so I arrived at about 4pm. We were supposed to take tickets for our numbers in line, mine was 35. About 100 people ended up coming, so it was a pretty good place in line. At just about 6pm a worker came out and said Alan Lee had arrived, and would be out in two minutes. I started to freak out. I am a huge Alan Lee fan, and one of the youngest people there. I watched the door, and finally he came out. I was really excited, and he recieved a huge round of applause from everyone.

He started off by showing a slide show of some of his finished paintings, pencil sketches and actual photographs. He was incharge of the slides, but the machine kept changing them. Confused by the slide machine he said, "I don't know why it is doing that! I didn't change it!.......Oh, it's on automatic. Can someone fix that?" So we went back to the beginning of the slideshow and with each picture he gave a short explanation. After the slides ended, he told us that he had brought about ten more, but then decided we should get to the Q and A.

I was about the fourth person to get their question answered, so I asked, "If Peter Jackson makes The Hobbit into a movie, do you think you will go back to work on it?" So he looked straight at me to answer my question, but I was so, um, surprised, by the fact that I was actually talking to Alan Lee that I didn't actually comprehend alot of what he said. I did hear, "Well I sure hope so." In effect the rest of what he answered was that he would like to. He also told me that he had just recently gone to do a little bit of work on Peter Jackson's film in progress, "King Kong", as well. After the majority of the questions had been answered, someone came over to tell him that he should begin the signing.

You were allowed to have him sign anything, and he would even personalize it. Lucky for me, because I wanted him to sign some of the seven posters I had with me, not to mention my mom's book she bought that day by Alan Lee, Faeries, and my little sister's poster. We were also allowed pictures with him, which was really cool.

So I waited in line for maybe 30-45 minutes, because each person had a bit of time with him getting everything personalized. So finally it was my turn, and I was shaking quite a bit, I mean, it's Alan Lee!! So first he signed my sister's poster, then my mom's book, and then he signed my posters. I gave him the first one and he asked if I wanted it personalized, or just his name. I said he could just put his name because there were so many other things I wanted signed, not to mention a picture. So he signed his name, and then I handed him the posters I wanted personalized. In line, someone came around with Post It notes to stick on everything you wanted personalized. Alan Lee signed the first poster, then accidentally signed the wrong one, and asked if I just wanted him to sign the other one as well. Of course I did, an extra signed poster from Alan Lee! So after he signed everything, I asked if I could get a picture. He said sure, so he got up and my sister and I stood next to him. He put his arm around me for the picture. My mom went to take the picture, but instead of pushing the flash button, snapped a picture of, um, I dunno, Alan's shoes? So then a kind man said if my mom wanted to get in the picture too, he would take the picture. So we all got in the picture!!!! I can't wait to have them developed. After the picture was taken, he sat back at his signing table, told us to have a great Christmas, and we left. I was really sad to leave. So we went and looked at the Christmas lights across the street, and decided to go back to Border's one more time before we went home. Alan Lee saw us and looked up at us and smiled, and then went back to signing whatever he was signing. Over all it was the most amazing experience I've ever had!

12-08-04 Latest News

Alan Lee Booksigning Review
Xoanon @ 4:27 pm EST

Emma writes: It was wonderful to be back at the North Michigan Avenue Borders, where we were once again treated like welcome guests by the wonderful Mark and Molly, who's been so kind to us at the Sean Astin signing. They remembered most of us, and their familiarity with us, and ours with them, made the whole event run very smoothly and pleasantly for all concerned.

Although some of us had gotten there earlier, the crowds were starting to arrive in large numbers by 5, so Mark let us into the seating area quite early, which made for a very comfortable wait. At just after 6, Alan Lee showed up, nearly an hour early. We were told that he had passed up resting somewhere "off stage" in preparation for his presentation, and instead (in typical Alan fashion) chose to mingle with fans and sign some early autographs.

The presentation itself was lovely, despite a snafu with a bad slide projector that necessitated having a staffer drop in each slide individually (poor guy!). Alan talked a bit about Gary Russell's delayed "Art of LOTR" and his part in it (Gary Russell had been in Chicago the week before, which was great for those of us getting things signed by both of them), as well as the sketch book Alan himself is having published next year. His slides ranged from his sketches, to photos he'd taken during production, from armor to scenery to characters, to locations, and just flew by so fast I barely had time to take it in. There was a Q&A after the presentation, with a lot of interesting questions asked concerning his work, the movie, books, and a wide variety of things. One question, concerning whether he had a favorite sketch, saw Alan pull a drawing out of his portfolio and pass it around the room! Just amazing.

I couldn't manage to find a way to word what I wanted to ask--which concerned how little of Kaitoke Regional Forest was actually used in creating Rivendell--but I managed to talk to Alan about that while he was signing my book. He seemed to spend more time LISTENING to his fans than autographing, which was wonderful. It was great to hear so many people want to talk to him, to ask questions or make observations about his work. Some people wanted sketches and he obliged--I hadn't wanted to ask, myself, but when I saw one of Gandalf he'd done for another fan, I was sorry I'd been so reticent!

A few of us from the Chicago Fellowship decided to wait around and try for a group shot at the end--unfortunately, we didn't adequately communicate that to the others, so there were only 4 of us left when Alan finished his last sketch. But it was a great night with a great artist, and I'm glad he decided to keep on with his tour despite having nothing to particularly promote on it. [Images]

Baltimore LOTR Concert Review
Xoanon @ 4:21 pm EST

ScottyJoy writes: I just got home from attending the Lord of the Rings Symphony in Baltimore. It was a wonderful evening. Howard Shore's friend John Maurceri conducted the Baltimore Symphony with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society (100 voices), Maryland State Boychoir (32 voices), two female soloists (Susan Egan and Tammy Tyburczy), and the boy soprano who was uncredited in the program notes.

The percussion was slightly elevated across the back row of the orchestra and the choir was on risers behind them. The men were in the top two rows spanning the risers, then the next 4 rows had the sopranos (I think) on the conductor's left, altos on the right, and the boys in the middle. The screen for the Alan Lee/John Howe artwork was in front of the orchestra hanging down from the ceiling. It was a very effective arrangement visually, and the sound was balanced pretty well.

I met one of the singers in the parking lot on his way in to the concert hall. I asked him how rehearsals had gone. He said they had had lots of vocal rehearsals because the music was difficult, not so much in the words, but the notes/chords. They had only practiced twice with the BSO - once last night and again this afternoon. He said they only had to tweak a few things. I wish I had had the opportunity to sit in on rehearsals as FredO did in Pittsburgh.

My friends and cousins and I had tickets in the 8th row Center. We couldn't see all the orchestra members or what the percussionists were doing in the back, so maybe someone else can comment on what it was like to be able to see the more unique instruments. I was prepared for the tempos to be somewhat different based on what others have said in different cities. I was surprised that the tempo was accelerated for The Breaking of the Fellowship and Forth Eorlingas. I love those pieces and would rather they had lingered longer. The Lighting of the Beacons was a little slower than the CD, but not annoyingly so, as others have commented.

The featured instrumentalists and the soloists took their artistic licenses, which is one thing that made it unique. The other was the different balance. I really appreciate the mix on the CD now because there is so much going on that is audible. I couldn't hear as many different sounds when it was live, but an instrument or a vocal phrase would be more prominent than on the CD. When the Chorus' consonants came through, like their "T"s or "K"s, it was very powerful. The subtle lighting effects also added to the power, as with the red lights on the Choir during Khazad-dum.

We were a pretty symphony-savvy audience, as all the applause was held for the end of the 2nd and 6th Movements. But when we applauded, it was full of enthusiasm and appreciation. We called John Maurceri and soloists back out twice. He seemed very pleased with how it went.

It was a fabulous experience that I only wish had lasted longer, or that I could take in again tomorrow evening. The BSO was splendid, and the Chorus and Boychoir added so much. I really want to thank the singers who devoted the most time over the past weeks to making our two hour trip to Middle Earth feel so real.

12-06-04 Latest News

Clips, Clips Everwhere!
Xoanon @ 10:20 pm EST

Yes, New Line Cinema is going all out with impending release of The Return of the King Extended Edition DID, clips are popping up on every site even remotely related to LOTR. And with almost an hour of new footage, and about 600 hours (or thereabouts) of behind-the-scenes documentaries, they can afford to spread the wealth.

Here now is a collection of links from various sites on the web. Some of these clips may repeat.


Clip 1 (Quicktime)
Clip 2 (Quicktime)
Clip 3 (Quicktime)


Clip 1 (Windows Media)
Clip 2 (Windows Media)
Clip 3 (Windows Media)


Clip 1 (Quicktime)
Clip 1 - low rez (Quicktime)
Clip 2 (Quicktime)
Clip 2 - low rez (Quicktime)
Clip 3 (Quicktime)
Clip 3 - low rez (Quicktime)


Clip 1 (Quicktime)


Clip 1 (Flash)

Alan Lee Booksigning Tour: Philadelphia
Xoanon @ 9:28 pm EST

Alan Lee Booksigning Tour: Philadelphia
Click for more

AnneMarie writes: I attended the presentation/booksigning of Mr. Alan Lee at the Free Library Of Philadelphia yesterday and would like to share these images with you all. Unfortunately, they did not allow photography in the auditorium during the presentation, so I only got these of Alan signing books.

The event started off with a library employee introducing Mr. Lee, and they he came onstage. Alan talked about ten minutes giving us some background on his life growing up, and then proceeded with a slide show which lasted about a half hour. The images presented during the slide show included original unfinished sketches, finished paintings and photos he took during production of the movie. There where a couple of funny moments when the slides where upsidedown which provided some comic relief. After the slideshow presentation there was a brief Q&A, which in my opinion was way too short, probably due to time constraints as the was quite a line building up for the actual signing of Alan's work. I asked a question, but had at least ten more in my head I would have loved to ask, and there were many around me who had their hands raised but did not get called on before it was all over. Alan was gracious and humble, and even seemed a bit shy speaking in public. I did record the whole presentation, and will provide a transcript of it when I get time to transcribe it. It might take me some time though so be patient. All is all it was a great experience and an honor just to be in the same room as such an extraordinary artist and person as Mr. Alan Lee.

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