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December 11, 2002 - December 17, 2002

12-17-02 Latest News

More Reviews Than You Can Possibly Read!
Demosthenes @ 7:12 pm EST

CNN, AICN, ABC, NYT ... arghh ... I'm going review mad here! Anyway, here is a review round-up from critics and sites around the world. And remember, if you have a fan review, you'll be able to post it in our Two Towers review section very very soon ...

Spoilers may lurk in these reviews!!

First up, Ms Allegro's review from BagEndInn.com [More]

CNN's review: [More]

The New York Times (registration required): [More]

A quote: The director Peter Jackson's scrupulous devotion to the spirit of J. R. R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy manifests itself in a gripping, intense fashion for the second of the film adaptations, "The Two Towers."

Fandango: [More]

MSNBC: [More] and [More]

ABC news: [More]

The Guardian: [More]

The Onion: [More] plus an amusing [infographic].

Metacritic's reviews compilation: [More]

Chicago Tribune: [More]

USA Today: [More] and []More]

Penny Arcade: [More]

AICN: [More]

The LA Times Gollum article (we posted the scan already, but it's worth a second look!): [More]

IGN Filmforce: [More]

And now I'm reviewed out! Thanks to everyone who sent in the links - far too many people to mention, but your work is much appreciated!

12-16-02 Latest News

Media Watch: Germany's 'Cinema' Magazine
Xoanon @ 10:08 pm EST

From: Tina

Here's an article I found in the German Cinema magazine, along with a brief portrait of Liv Tyler and a more detailed portrait of Viggo Mortensen. I translated and transcribed the articles.

The Lord of the Rings – The two Towers
Into the heart of Evil

Everything about part 2 of the Epos: Gandalf's rebirth and Frodo's Odyssey through the Dead Marshes. Plus: Peter Jackson, director and Fantasy-Revolutioniser; Viggo Mortensen, Aragorn star and punk rocker; and: win a trip to New Zealand.

Actually Peter Jackson could be in the best mood. He's sitting at the pool of the Four Season Hotel in Beverly Hills, a steaming mug of tea in front of him. The April rain from the evening before has washed away the smog from the air. Vases with freshly cut flowers are placed everywhere. But the New Zealander isn't impressed by this kitsch idyll. Because he's at a place that he dislikes from the bottom of his heart. “I never had the ambition to become a Hollywood director.” In his eyes, the movie city is Mordor, in Tolkien's story the heart of evil. “They hire the foreign film makers because of their creativity, but then they want them to deliver hollow commercial products. That won't ever happen to me.”

About six years ago, he spoke words like these easily. Back then he had just finished the queer horror comedy “The Frighteners” – for the cost of modest 17 million dollars. The ordeal of fire for his principles had still to come. Cinema audience all over the world know by now how this ended. With the first instalment of “The Lord of the Rings” he proved that a blockbuster doesn't need an FX-Overkill. Besides he made the Fantasy-Genre acceptable. With “The two Towers”, the second instalment of the trilogy, he shows even more impressive, who's the more powerful: The creative Kiwi – and not the Hollywood companies.

Yet at first Jackson hadn't been considered as a suitable candidate for the Million Dollar Game about Middle Earth. In the late eighties he had taken the Splatter Fan Community by storm with films like “Bad Taste”. With the Oscar-nominated adolescence-drama “Heavenly Creatures” he gained critics' merits in 1994. His first dream project, a re-make of “King Kong” got “shredded during the decisions of Universal. But in 1997, the deal of his life was within reach. He convinced Miramax company to purchase the rights for J. R. R. Tolkien's “Lord of the Rings”, which were owned by “producer's pope” Saul Zaentz at that time (“One flew over the cuckoo's nest”, “Amadeus”). But only two years later on the next setback followed. Miramax only wanted to produce one “Ring” movie, not two, like previously agreed. Jackson was desperately looking for sponsors.

Fortunately Mark Ordesky, an old friend and mentor, was in the management of New Line Studios. His boss, Bob Shaye, granted the stubborn freak an audience. It's told that he offered an extension to three films from the beginning, corresponding to the literary form. But before he signed the contract, he consulted Saul Zaentz.

In the meantime the triple Oscar winner had met Peter Jackson and his wife Frances Walsh for a dinner in San Francisco. Ever since his failed animated version in 1978, Saul Zaentz wanted to develop a “real” movie of the Tolkien epos. But directing candidates like John Boorman (“Excalibur”) failed with their concepts. But not his guest from the far side of the world. “Peter had a passion that I didn't realize in any of the others. For all of the others it was just a chance to do a good movie. He wanted far more than that.”

Just the place of this dinner was under a bad star. Co-owner of the restaurant “Rubicon” was Francis Ford Coppola, Synonym for the megalo-maniac director who had hopelessly miscalculated himself with his extravagant visions.

But psychologically Jackson is on the opposite side of the spectrum. And this exactly explains why the New Zealander did not experience an “Apocalypse Now”. Whereas “Godfather” Coppola acted the big shot like a big circus director, the Lord of the Hobbits took the part of a teamplayer.

One word is the leitmotif of all the stories from the “Lord of the Rings” set: Comraderie. Whenever he thought it necessary, the director shared his power. In writing the screenplay, the real wirepullers were Frances Walsh and Philippa Boyens. Whereas Jackson was dealing with production, they worked on scenes and dialogues every day. The actors gave lots of inputs. There were real seminars about the different roles. Whenever the actors had questions about their characters, the authors answered. Especially “The two Towers” shows that two women did the storylines. It's not only swords and wizards that drive the story, but also love and jealousy. And of course it's no coincidence that the background story in the prologue is presented by a female narrator.

Jackson even put the design of this world into others' hands, even though he owns an extensive library with Tolkien- and Tolkien-related literature. From England and Switzerland illustrators Alan Lee and John Howe were flown in, who had brought Middle-Earth to paper countless times before. As Europeans they were experienced in the style of old cultures – unlike most New Zealanders. “We didn't want to copy other Fantasy movies, we wanted to interpret the story”, John Howe points out.

Even in directing, Jackson left the field to others. Because of the extraordinary dimensions of the project, there were up to seven teams at work, each one with a different director. Jackson himself sat in front of several screens like a mix between a Buddha and Big Brother, and watched the material that kept being submitted via satellite.

Jackson's way of working explains that in the age of effect spectacles the species of directing dictators belongs to the extinctive kind. For that, there are just too many “minor” directors part of the game. Nevertheless, “The Lord of the Rings” is everything else but “lived democracy”. Richard Taylor, who was awarded with two Oscars for his fantastic tricks and make-up work on “The Fellowship of the Ring” points out clear who was the boss: “Peter has done a job like Alexander the Great.”

The respective teams listened exactly to the voice of their Lord in the Ring. There wasn't much of creative freedom anyway, because all of the scenes had been laid down detailed in Jackson's storyboard. So they rather shot one take too many, than one too less, so Jackson had enough material to choose of. Important scenes were done by the master-director himself anyway. Despite the dimensions of this project he remained in control of his vision. That's why he kept his actors at close reins. He watched exactly the movements, told them about dialogue tempo and rhythm. He forced “GandalfIan McKellen to 24 takes for a mini-dialogue. With “Mikro-Management” like this he even brought veterans like “Ex-Dracula” Christopher Lee on the edge of desperation.

Peter Jackson was pushing for realism from the beginning. That's why he refused to use computer graphics whenever possible. If in doubt, he'd rather have the fantastic scenarios built as models. In impressive sizes. For example, the mountain fortress Helm's Deep was constructed on a scale of 1:8. There was a 4-m-high puppet of Treebeard, the bizarre forest creature. All this wasn't just looking impressive, it also made the entrance in the world of Middle-Earth easier for the actors. “I felt like I was living in another world”, Karl Urban, who gives his debut in the “Two Towers” as prince Éomer, confirms.

With his inclination to perfectionism, Peter Jackson didn't stop for anything – let alone for his sponsors. Backed up by the success of “The Fellowship”, he squeezed a couple of millions out of New Line, to prepare “The Two Towers” to the high expectations. It didn't really make it easier, that the storylines got even more complex than in Part 1.

The story parts into three separate storylines: Sam's and Frodo's odyssey to Mordor and the adventures of their scattered fellows in the country of Rohan. Also, the effort in effects increased immensely. There is the first spectacular battle of the trilogy at the mountain fortress Helm's Deep, and with the outcast hobbit Gollum a fully digital character is being introduced, on whose plausibility the most important storylines depend. Therefore Jackson extended the re-shootings far over the planned time. Until the last, he was working on effects, especially on the appearances of the Ents, the tree creatures who live in the forest of Fangorn. Die impersonated spirits of nature have the ability to walk, but in a very slow manner, but have the ability to blast mighty walls by the incredible power of their roots.

There are two different stories about Jackson's deep occupation with the Ents. The first tells, he was so pleased with the visual appearance of the good-hearted Ents, that he went and developed more scenes for them. The second story tells exactly the opposite: The first Ent-animations had failed. Fearing the Ents being disliked like the Star Wars Ramble-Alien Jar Jar Binks, Jackson ordered a major overhaul for the wooden rangers. No matter which one of the stories is right: There was lots of overtime work - even though Jackson already had expanded his effect team. It was planned that the effect team was to be expanded on 110 workers – in the end 350 were hired. Compared to the “Fellowship”, the efficiency of the processors grew about 10 times as much.

Insignificant (an attribute that forbids itself with “The Lord of the Rings”) in all this expensive and extravagant production only one person: Peter Jackson himself. Physically, he could be Coppola's cuddly cousin. His wardrobe only seems to consist of t-shirts and shorts. If he has to dress formally (that happens rarely enough), he wears shoes.

The comparison to the barefoot Hobbits pops on one's mind, since they also like to stay unrecognised and don't think much about exaggerated politeness. But Hobbits are a conservative people. Jackson's mind instead is subversive. Someone like this doesn't let Hollywood take him in. “I do my kind of movies. That's it.” That's why he did the “Ring” production in “funny, small” New Zealand, where no one was able to try and botch-up in his job. Where other laws - his laws - counted. Jackson's first commandment was “You shall have fun – even at the hardest work.” And his crew had fun.

Not only that a string quartet was on-set all of the time, playing during the breaks, there also were some other obscure “Ring” rituals that confused non-prepared guests. For example, one day Peter Jackson welcomed a group of New Zealand Generals, who were to make their soldiers available for mass scenes. When they entered the Hall of the costume designers, a fully-dressed Drag Queen was waiting for the Generals. Even worse – everywhere the soldiers looked, they saw men in Drag and women in men's clothes. It was then that they were explained that the costume designers were celebrating their annual “Frock Day”, a day when men wear skirts and dresses and women wear pants. And everything else that belongs to it. Peter Jackson did get his soldiers anyway.

The Crowning of the Stubborn

Loner, Stubborn, Punk-rocker in spirit. How – of all people - Viggo Mortensen became as Aragorn a hero and a sex symbol

He is the most stubborn star who was ever put on the list of the 50 most beautiful people by US glamour magazine “People”. He avoids mirrors and hates parties. He recorded three albums between lyric and noise together with “Guns 'n' Roses” guitarist Buckethead. He was married to punk rock singer Exene Cervenka. For his book “A hole in the sun” he photographed nothing but swimming pools. And this man is now on eye level with Britney Spears and Hayden Christensen. (note: Britney Spears?? That's a downright insult to Viggo!!) “Now it's definitely too late to change my name into Vic Morton” he grumbles. He fired the agent who suggested changing his Danish name into a more “mainstream” pseudonym.

Until the very day when he was chosen to become a ranger, Mr. M. had done 32 movies – from his debut in “Witness” to “28 Days” with Sandra Bullock. In between: a steady change between ambitious projects that didn't find an audience and simple parts that secured him paying his rent (“Daylight”, “Psycho”). Apart from an hypnotic guest appearance as Lucifer in “God's Army”, his “hard-on-the-outside/good-at-heart” manner is most intensive in Ridley Scott's army flop “G.I. Jane”. As Demi Moore's slave driver in the Navy-training camp he quotes D. H. Lawrence “I've never seen a wild animal feeling self pity”. Viggo Mortensen is the kind of guy who puts out a flame with his fingers.

He owes the part that made the loner a sex symbol to a workplace accident. Shooting to “The Fellowship” was already weeks in progress, when Peter Jackson separated from Aragorn-actor Stuart Townshend – too young. Viggo was old enough. The 44-year-old remembers, shaking his head: “There was that call 'Hey, Viggo, do you want to go to New Zealand tomorrow for 1 ½ years?' “ He said no. Until Henry Mortensen, his then 11-year-old son, told his father (who had never read Tolkien) “Aragorn is the coolest guy in the book!”. Already Viggo's call back gave an impression that the ultimate Aragorn had been found: “Okay, how old was I when I came to live with the Elves?”

Viggo fits in very quickly. The son of a Danish father and American mother grew up in New York, Buenos Aires and Venezuela. After school, the nomad travelled through Denmark as a carpenter. And now New Zealand! Adventures! At the plane, he studies Tolkien's work and discovered motifs of the tales that he read as a boy. “In northern mythology there's no promise of a paradise. Knowing that one did right is the only reward one has to expect.” The man who left the plane was Aragorn.

Veni, Viggo, vici. The crew greeted the newest member of the Fellowship like a hero. His total “fusion” with the part is notorious – like a legend that is told on camp fires. When Peter Jackson once called him “Aragorn” for hours, no one corrected him – because no one noticed. When Viggo cracked a tooth during an action scene he called for superglue and continued the scene. Viggo sleeps in his boots. Viggo retired to the woods by himself for days. The method actor weights out: “I was fishing a couple of times, but I didn't live in the woods. How would I receive my call for duty every day?” Viggo despises cell phones.

But he can't deny his sometimes noxious devotion: “Sometimes I was so exhausted that I hallucinated. At a time, I really thought Liv Tyler was an Elven princess! Fortunately, there was always somebody to watch over me. We were a real community. Like a big circus family.”

Elijah Wood praises Viggo's infectious energy: “I bow to Viggo. He saved us.” Viggo is embarrassed about the fuss: “There is no star in “Lord of the Rings”. The Fellowship is a unity.” Away, bad spell vanity! Viggo turns stained t-shirts to the left side, and as jewellery, he only has the one ring: As a memory and a sign of attachment to the Fellowship he has kept Aragorn's ring.

It's his hands that betray him. They're never the strong, callous hands of a fighter. Those beautiful fingers belong to an artist. In the Hitchcock-remake “A perfect Murder” in 1998, Viggo played a deceiving painter. An average movie, yet it means much to him. “It was nice to kiss Gwyneth Paltrow.” And all paintings in his film-studio were his work. That Douglas refers to his work in one scene as “trashy, but potent” – that's still a reason for Viggo to party.

The artist Viggo Mortensen has shown his work in Athens, New York and L. A, four books have been published. His spoken-words-CD's are sold out. Viggo's pictures reveal him as a watcher of the little things, saving the moment. He always keeps dried flowers in his pick-up truck. His paintings are always a “work in progress”, he's always able to add something: collages, over-painted photos, parts of poems – symbols of a world in motion. Worth up to $ 5,000.

To the opening of his “Sign Language” exhibition in New York back in July about 1300 fans showed up. “I know they didn't come because of my photos and paintings.” Viggo grants himself a smile “But now that they're here I hope they like them. If not, than not.”

But he's not always seeing things so casually. “Sometimes I stand in front of my pictures and I think: God!! What's all this?? Then I question everything. Am I a good actor? A good father? I should stop harassing people with this shit. I can understand some people jumping out of the window.” When the doubts threaten to eat him up, he calls his Danish relatives in (can it be true?) Ringsted, leaves L. A. in a hurry and relaxes in his cabin in the mountains of Idaho. “You have to face your demons. I have to tolerate my mistakes”. His creative output isn't limited to one form. His “curiosity” puts the shy guy in front of the camera. His longing for independence ties him to the arts. “The working progress and the result are mine.” That's why he distributes his books himself: His publishing company is named “Perceval Press” after Perceval, the knight from the Arthur's tale who searched the holy grail.

Viggo keeps on searching. “Do I have an aim? I want to be happy – even if I play a tortured person.”

Amnesty International Two Towers in San Francisco
Tehanu @ 7:21 pm EST

There's still a few seats left at the Amnesty International early screening of The Two Towers at 7pm Tuesday 17 in San Francisco. I've just been talking to the organisers and it sounds like a fantastic event, if you can get to it! Peter Jackson's been an incredible supporter of Amnesty International, and for this screening he filmed a special introduction in which he talks about the relationship between Tolkien's story and the world we live in, and the way the films can make us think about issues of power, freedom and the abuses of force that affect us all.
Everyone who attends this special showing will receive a compilation book about all three movies, and a movie poster. Those alone are worth $35, so the $50 ticket seems like a pretty good deal. To book a ticket to the screening, click here for an invitation.
All proceeds from this charity screening go to Amnesty International

'Rings' trilogy director takes liberties with middle film
Xoanon @ 6:06 pm EST

by Douglas J. Rowe
Associated Press

NEW YORK - Peter Jackson's middle movie may suffer a severe case of middle-child syndrome.

"The next one is my favorite. I shouldn't actually say that. I'm supposed to be promoting this film," says the director, who's come from New Zealand to flog the second in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "The Two Towers," which opens Wednesday.

"In 'The Return of the King' we get to pay it all off in a very triumphant kind of a way," he says. "There are just great bits of drama; it's very heroic and very emotional."

OK, but before we skip ahead to next Christmas and that film, what about this one?

"The Two Towers" was the toughest of the three, he says, explaining that he pulled apart the book to make it more cinematic and make sure that "the bottom didn't drop out" in any of the three story lines, which will converge in the conclusion.

"This one is a classic kind of middle chapter. Which is tough in a sense in that it doesn't have a beginning and it doesn't have an end."

Is he afraid that will leave fans unsatisfied?

"I hope not. The first one didn't have an ending, either," he says, laughing. "Only one of them is actually going to have an end. . . . We're going to become specialists in movies with no endings."

The absence of a beginning in "The Two Towers" was "a blessing," Jackson says, because he didn't need the complicated, introductory exposition that began last year's "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

And he deliberately avoided a recap of the first film.

"So many people last year said, 'Oh God, I wish I could have just sat there and seen the second film straight away.' So I thought: Let's treat this film in that way," he says. "We just pretend the year hasn't gone by and we're just carrying the story on from the moment that we left off."

Even though Jackson's cinematic magnum opus has very detailed, definitive source material in J.R.R. Tolkien's books, the 41-year-old New Zealand filmmaker always saw himself and his collaborators as more than just conduits of the legendary literature.

"As filmmakers, we never felt that it was our job to faithfully take everything that Tolkien had written -- in the way that he wrote it -- and just put that on screen," he says. "Our primary responsibility was as filmmakers and to make an entertaining film, or three entertaining films in this case. And by doing that we've had to change a lot of things in the book.

"And I think people have forgiven us."

Tolkien fans who five years ago would have howled at the thought of any changes have appreciated his efforts, he says.

More things were changed in "The Two Towers" than in the other two films. (Aficionados will notice, for instance, that Jackson developed more scenes for the Gollum/Frodo plot line than the second book contained. And the confrontation with a giant spider, which ends the second book, has been moved to the third movie.)

"Everything deviates from the books in some degree. I mean, we don't have a single scene in any of our films that sort of takes the book and verbatim just translates the dialogue and the events . . . into the movie."

He prepared for three years (1997 through 1999) before he even started shooting. Besides writing the script, he did a lot of storyboards, made models of castles and used little plastic soldiers to map out the battle scenes.

He also approached the story as if it were history, rather than fantasy.

"I don't know anybody else who could have done this, who could have gone through this whole period and stayed with these three films," says Mirando Otto, who plays Eowyn, the niece of the king of Rohan, who lost her parents to marauding orcs.

With his eyes twinkling through big round glasses amid a forest of long hair and beard, Jackson does come across as unflappable.

After the success of the first film -- $860 million worldwide box office, 13 Academy Award nominations and four statuettes -- he says the pressure this time is different.

"The pressure on the first film was basically, would the studio survive? -- this folly of making three films at once," Jackson says.

Now the pressure stems simply from not wanting to disappoint people who loved the first film, he says.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Rated: PG-13 (epic battle sequences, scary images)

Cast: Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, John Rhys Davies, Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee, Liv Tyler and Cate Blanchett

Director: Peter Jackson

Writers: Frances Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair and Jackson based on novel by J.R.R. Tolkien

Running time: 2 hours, 59 minutes

Computer Weekly Talks WETA
Xoanon @ 2:44 pm EST

Thought this might interest you - it's from this week's Computer Weekly (cover date 12th december, published by my company RBI) about the chief techie at WETA.

Best regards,

Dream job: Lord of the Software Scott Houston started out as a Cobol coder and is now chief technology officer for WETA, producer of the digital effects on The Lord of the Rings films. Karl Cushing reports

If you are looking for a challenging and rewarding IT career head for the silver screen. That is the advice of Scott Houston, who worked on the latest Lord of the Rings movie, The Two Towers.

"I have spent my entire 22-year career in the IT sector but the film industry has to be the most demanding and time-critical I have ever worked in," says Houston, who is chief technical officer at digital effects company WETA Digital in Wellington, New Zealand. Although being an IT professional on a movie like The Two Towers is high-pressured, challenging and demanding, Houston says it is also exhilarating and highly satisfying when the team delivers.

Houston says he became obsessed with The Lord of the Rings project when, as a salesman for Silicon Graphics, he began managing the WETA account. He finally got the chance to join the project team at the end of April. Luckily for Houston there was already a world class IT team in place and this helped to ease the transition into the new role. "Having a bullet-proof hide did come in handy from time to time," he adds.

A high-profile movie like The Two Towers, which is so heavily reliant on network-hungry digital effect production to bring all the orcs, elves and goblins to life, creates some major challenges for a chief technology officer - not least coping with the scale and speed of growth in the facility. In the last six months Houston's 30-strong team had to triple the online storage capacity and quadruple the processing power available to the facility. "This was all while we were in a 24x7 production environment," he says. "It was like changing the engines on a Boeing 747 whilst flying at 10,000 feet, at 900km/h, with 400 people on board. Thankfully the plane didn't crash, and neither did we, and the movie got made."

A lot of the key technical challenges Houston faced mirror those of chief technology officers in the commercial sphere. A key consideration was that the film's producer New Line wanted the project to follow the central structure of JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings story, which is a trilogy. This meant building an IT platform that was sufficiently robust to last until the third movie, The Return of the King, and beyond. It also had to be scalable enough to meet the ever-increasing demands of visual effects production and to manage the integration of new technologies. Enabling future expandability to 10 Gigabit Ethernet was essential.

Houston didn't work on the first Lord of the Rings movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, but he says the increase in the technology used for The Two Towers has been "exponential", resulting in a massive overhaul of its IT infrastructure. For the first film, WETA used a high-speed network to handle its multiple gigabit throughputs and enable the digital effect production teams to analyse and cross-reference the digital film segments quickly and efficiently. WETA believes that infrastructure, based on technology from Foundry Networks, significantly helped to reduce production time and cost. However, for The Two Towers it has had to invest in some more powerful network switches and 450 new dual-processor servers.

Houston says working on the project represents one of the highlights of his 22-year IT career. He says his job is "immensely rewarding" and he would not hesitate to recommend the movie sector to IT professionals in other industries.

"The attraction of being on the leading edge of technology has always kept me in the IT sector and I can honestly say the work we are doing at WETA is right on the leading edge, using the latest technology to its maximum potential," he says. "The work is never boring, always challenging and if you are lucky enough to work on a project like The Lord of the Rings you get something to tell your grandchildren about."

WETA's networks

For The Fellowship of the Ring, WETA used a high-speed network based on technology from Foundry Networks, with storage from NetApps and StorageTek.

For the latest installment, WETA added Foundry's Bigiron Layer 3 network switches, three Bigiron 15-slot chassis, and two Bigiron 8-slot chassis with multiple gigabit copper and fibre interfaces. WETA will test 10 Gigabit Ethernet between switches and high-end filters next year. Its dedicated render wall, which turns the special effects and footage into film sequences, now has 1,200 processors.

How Scott Houston's career developed

* 1980 Began a data processing course in New Zealand

* 1981-1983 Cobol programming using batch punch cards and systems design

* 1984-1986 Cobol programming in London, where he designed, wrote and implemented supermarket chain Sainsbury's maternity pay system and worked on the computerisation of the London Stock Exchange

* 1987-1990 Returned to New Zealand and set up a PC sales and services company with a friend

* 1991 "I tried to sell IBM AS/400s and discovered virtual reality," says Houston

* 1992-1995 London again. "Tried to find, write or discover the virtual reality killer app," he says

* 1996-1998 "Marriage and young children meant safe, stable and secure hannel management role for Compaq, back in New ealand"

* 1998-2002 "The old virtual reality bug bit again", resulting in a sales role at supplier Silicon Graphics, where he started to manage the WETA account and fell in love with the Lord of the Rings project

* 2002 Got a chance to join the WETA project team.

TTT Benefit with Barrie Osborne
Xoanon @ 2:19 pm EST

Sal A. Mander

Last Friday (the 13th), I was lucky enough to attend a TTT pre-release screening at a benefit for producer Barrie Osborne’s Alma Mater, on Friday the 13th. It was held at a brand new entertainment complex in downtown Minneapolis.

Mr. Osborne introduced the film by saying that Peter Jackson would have been there if he could, but the director was home in New Zealand to prepare for the release there. Barrie also announced, to much applause, that he would try to have a pre-release screening for The Return of the King, next year. The film was shown immediately after.

When it was over there was a party at Gameworks; which is a restaurant, bar, video game center and bowling alley that is set up like a nightclub. There were free appetizers, soda, and best of all, TTT movie posters.

During the party I had the opportunity to get several people’s reactions to the film. Everyone I talked to thought is was very good and they will see it again soon. (WARNING: Minor Spoilers Ahead) Specific positive comments were;

“The one thing I was worried about was the Treants, but they nailed him dead-on. It couldn’t have been done any better”.

Gollum deserves a Best Actor Nomination”

“The battle of Helm’s Deep was amazing”

Among the things not so positive things that people said were;

“I like the first one better”

“Every time Gimli was on the screen it just for comic relief. How many short jokes can you fit into a movie”?

After the movie itself, the highlight of my evening was talking to Barrie Osborne. At the party I was lucky enough to get a few minutes with him to ask a few questions. Please note that his responses are paraphrased and not direct quotes.

Sal: The Lord of the Rings has unprecedented cooperation between the studio and the fan sites. Do you feel this has been a positive experience or is there anything that didn’t work out?

Barrie Osborne: it’s not an industry standard but Peter Jackson is a big fan of the Internet, as am I. Some sites took a while to get up to speed, but all in all it was a good experience.

S: Ian Mc Kellan has stated that he would be interested in playing Gandalf in a film adaptation of ‘The Hobbit’. Is this something you would be interested in producing?

BO: (Laughing) Well, after this is over, I am going to take a big break. But, there are so many Tolkien stories out there that could be made, that you never know what will be done.

S: What difficulties do you see in getting the cast back to New Zealand this summer to shoot additional footage?

BO: I’ve talked to most of the cast and we became such a family that I believe that we will be able to get it done. Of course, many of them have other things going on, but I believe we will be able to work around everyone’s schedules.

This was all the time I had to talk to Mr. Osborne or I would have asked him a lot more.

All in all it was worth the $50 per ticket. The movie was great, the party was fun, and Mr. Osborne was very Gracious. The biggest problem with seeing the move when I did is; I have to wait 5 days before I can see it again.

Sal A. Mander

More NZ News
Xoanon @ 2:11 pm EST

James Brown writes: Tonight's One News bulletin here in NZ had a very cool story, which I thought might be of interest, on the $2-million LOTR exhibition which opens at the Te Papa museum in Wellington this Thursday. Not sure if you will have heard about this exhibition, but it looks amazing. It will be at Te Papa until the end of February, then it will be touring science museums around the world for the next 2 years.

The story had some fantastic shots of some of the props and models in the exhibition, including a huge cave troll maquette, Sauron's armour and the Hobbiton mill 'bigature' from Frodo's vision in the Mirror of Galadriel. I can't be the only one who has noticed that the spiky millwheel looks an awful lot like the infamous wizard-kebab picture. If this is a hint that we will get to see the scouring of the Shire in ROTK, I for one won't mind if the details of Sharky's death are altered slightly. The coolest shot, though, was an extreme close-up of the Boromir model we saw go over the Falls of Rauros. It's an amazingly detailed and lifelike model. The skin colouring and texture is eerily convincing. And I'm pretty sure I remember Richard Taylor saying in the DVD commentary that the model was made in a hurry at the last minute. Wow. I can't wait to see the exhibition.

The story was preceded by a little piece about how our Prime Minister is a big fan of FOTR, but still prefers the books. Here's a transcript:

There's been high praise from many quarters for the Lord of the Rings movies, but today the Prime Minister announced she prefers the books. Helen Clark, who's also Minister of Arts and Culture, says good as Peter Jackson's films are, no movie can do justice to a great piece of literature.

CLARK: 'The definitive impression of Lord of the Rings will always be for me what I read in 1967.'

Helen Clark says she makes it a rule never to see a film when she's read the book. But she made an exception for the first Tolkien movie, and will see part two this week.

New Zealand: Edge Of Disaster?
Xoanon @ 2:04 pm EST

Atheryn writes: If you're like me, you probably just finished watching the two features on New Zealand that were shown on the Travel Channel a little while ago ("New Zealand: The Royal Tour" and "Secrets of New Zealand"). Being a New Zealander myself, I just thought I'd make a comment, particularly in regard to the second feature.

"Secrets of New Zealand" depicted New Zealand as being a country teatering on the edge of nationwide disaster - that is simply not the case. It is true that New Zealand has volcanoes and experiences earthquakes from time to time, but not in the way that was made out. The truth is, as far as I can remember, Mt Ruapehu (Mt Doom in LOTR) has only erupted once in my lifetime, and that was in 1996. Most of the earthquakes I've experienced in my time were very small ones - usually so small you don't even notice them. It is true that the waters between the North and South Islands (The Cook Strait) are rough sometimes, but when they are, the interisland ferries simply don't make any crossings until it is safe. While the programme did show a lot of the natural caution-points New Zealand has, it did over-dramatise them severely - so please, if you have any desire to come to New Zealand for a holiday, whether it's to visit LOTR locations or simply to relax, don't let this programme scare you away. New Zealand is just as safe as any other holiday destination out there.



Weekend Roundup
Xoanon @ 12:30 am EST

Live In NYC? Wanna See TTT EARLY?!

TV Spot - In Three Days!

TV Spot - In Five Days!

The USA Today Poster!

A Towering New TV Spot!

Who Wants To Be Polled?

Media Watch: LoTR And Propaganda

Magazine Overload

Sunday Times Magazine review of TTT

Howard Shore Talk At Museum of Art Report!

TV Watch: Ian McKellen To Return To SNL!!

Orlando's 'Pirates' Online

Media Watch: USA Today

McKellen's 'Emile' Set Report

Media Watch: Macleans Magazine

Media Watch: Gear Magazine

Media Watch: Germany's 'Stern' Magazine

Hollywood CA USA: The Line in Full Swing

Live Towers Internet Radio Chat Tonight!

True Fans Are Going To Love It!

When It Absolutely Positively Has To Be There ... Overnight

Andy Serkis On Headline News

LoTR For Dummies

Academic Brands LoTR Racist

Your Guide To LoTR TV Programs This Week

The NZ - LOTR Connection Keeps Growing

TTT Clips & Interviews On Ireland's TV3

Official Site Update!

Douglas Anderson Chat Transcript!

Hobbitsteacosy Reports From Paris

Media Watch: Fraud Of The Rings?

Bringing The Ghoulies Out Of The Shadows

Battle Of The Cover Stars: Wood Vs Bloom

Media Watch: RoTK - Death Or Success Of The Quest

The Return Of The International Releases Update

BBC NewsRound Site Has Something For All

UK Tolkien Fans Wanted For Trivia Show

Weekly Cast Watch
Xoanon @ 12:04 am EST

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

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

Cast List

  1. Viggo Mortensen

  2. Liv Tyler

  3. Ian Holm

  4. Sean Bean

  5. Ian Mune

  6. Martyn Sanderson

  7. David Weatherley

  8. Marton Csokas

  9. Taea Hartwell

  10. John Noble

  11. Alexandra Astin

  12. Peter McKenzie

  13. Hugo Weaving

  14. Karl Urban

  15. Miranda Otto

  16. Noel Appleby

  17. David Wenham

  18. Cameron Rhodes

  19. Elijah Wood

  20. Cate Blanchett

  21. Bruce Hopkins

  22. Ian McKellen

  23. Mark Ferguson

  24. John Rhys-Davies

  25. Andy Serkis

  26. Stephen Ure

  27. Craig Parker

  28. John Leigh

  29. Timothy Bartlett

  30. Harry Sinclair

  31. Orlando Bloom

  32. Lawrence Makoare

  33. Robbie Magasiva

  34. Ray Henwood

  35. Dominic Monaghan

  36. Robyn Malcolm

  37. Bruce Spence

  38. Megan Edwards

  39. Billy Boyd

  40. Sarah McLeod

  41. Sean Astin

  42. Christopher Lee

  43. Sala Baker

  44. Brian Sergent

  45. Bernard Hill

  46. Nathaniel Lees

  47. Brad Dourif

  48. Alistair Browning

  49. Bruce Allpress

  50. John Bach

  51. Bruce Phillips

  52. Robert Pollock

  53. Olivia Tennet

  54. Howard Shore

  55. Jim Rygiel

  56. Peter Jackson

Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
28 Days (2000)
Psycho (1998)
Albino Alligator (1996)
Prophecy, The (1995)
Young Americans, The (1993)
Carlito's Way (1993)
Ruby Cairo (1993)
Young Guns II (1990)
Fresh Horses (1988)
Witness (1985)
Purple Rose of Cairo, The (1985)

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Liv Tyler (Arwen)

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

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Ian Holm (Bilbo)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
From Hell (2001)
Last of the Blonde Bombshells, The (2000) (TV)
Joe Gould's Secret (2000)
Bless the Child (2000)
Simon Magus (1999/I)
Match, The (1999)
Alice Through the Looking Glass (1998) (TV)
Fifth Element, The (1997)
Big Night (1996)
Hamlet (1990)
Henry V (1989)
Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984)
Chariots of Fire (1981)
S.O.S. Titanic (1979) (TV)
Robin and Marian (1976)
Juggernaut (1974)
Fixer, The (1968)

Click here to visit the TORN cast page

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Sean Bean (Boromir)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Don't Say a Word (2001)
Essex Boys (2000)
When Saturday Comes (1996)
GoldenEye (1995)
Field, The (1990)

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Ian Mune (Bounder)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? (1999)
Piano, The (1993)

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Martyn Sanderson (Bree Gatekeeper)

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

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David Weatherly (Barliman Butterbur)

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

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Marton Csokas (Celeborn)

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

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Taea Hartwell (Child Hobbit)

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

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John Noble (Denethor)

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

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Alexandra Astin (Elanor Gamgee)

No listings this week

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Peter McKenzie (Elendil)

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

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Hugo Weaving (Elrond)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Russian Doll (2001)
Matrix, The (1999)
Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
Bedrooms and Hallways (1998)
Babe (1995)
Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, The (1994)
Reckless Kelly (1993)

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Karl Urban (Eomer)

Price of Milk, The (2000)

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Miranda Otto (Eowyn)

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

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Noel Appleby (Everard Proudfoot)

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

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David Wenham (Faramir)

Russian Doll (2001)
Moulin Rouge! (2001)

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Cameron Rhodes (Farmer Maggot)

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

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Elijah Wood (Frodo)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Faculty, The (1998)
War, The (1994)
Good Son, The (1993)
Radio Flyer (1992)
Forever Young (1992)
Paradise (1991)
Child in the Night (1990) (TV)
Avalon (1990)
Back to the Future Part II (1989)

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Cate Blanchett (Galadriel)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Shipping News, The (2001)
Man Who Cried, The (2000)
Gift, The (2000)
Ideal Husband, An (1999)
Pushing Tin (1999)

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Bruce Hopkins (Gamling)

No listings this week

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Ian McKellen (Gandalf)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
X-Men (2000)
Apt Pupil (1998)
Bent (1997)
Restoration (1995)
I'll Do Anything (1994)
Shadow, The (1994)
And the Band Played On (1993) (TV)
Six Degrees of Separation (1993)
Ballad of Little Jo, The (1993)
Keep, The (1983)

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Mark Ferguson (Gil-Galad)

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

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John Rhhys-Davies (Gimli)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists (2000)
Protector, The (1997/I)
Cats Don't Dance (1997)
Marquis de Sade (1996)
Stargate (1994)
Under Cover (1991) (TV)
Firewalker (1986)
Sadat (1983) (TV)
Victor/Victoria (1982)
Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1982)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Nativity, The (1978) (TV)

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Andy Serkis (Gollum)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Shiner (2000)
Pandaemonium (2000)
Topsy-Turvy (1999)
Career Girls (1997)

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Stephen Ure (Gorbag)

No listings this week

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Craig Parker (Haldir)

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

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John Leigh (Hama)

Atomic Twister (2002) (TV)

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Timothy Bartlett (Hobbit)

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

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Harry Sinclair (Isildur)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Price of Milk, The (2000)
Heavenly Creatures (1994)

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Orlando Bloom (Legolas)

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

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Lawrence Makoare (Lurtz)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? (1999)

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Robbie Magasiva (Mahur)

No listings this week

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Ray Henwood (Man from Rivendell)

Heavenly Creatures (1994)

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Dominic Monaghan (Merry)

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

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Robyn Malcolm (Morwen)

No listings this week

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Bruce Spence (Mouth of Sauron)

Queen of the Damned (2002)
Munsters' Scary Little Christmas, The (1996) (TV)
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

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Megan Edwards (Mrs. Proudfoot)

No listings this week

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Billy Boyd (Pippin)

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

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Sarah McLeod (Rosie Cotton)

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

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Sean Astin (Sam Gamgee)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Sky Is Falling, The (2000)
Kimberly (1999)
Icebreaker (1999)
Deterrence (1999)
Rudy (1993)
Encino Man (1992)
Toy Soldiers (1991)
Like Father, Like Son (1987)

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Christopher Lee (Saruman)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Jinnah (1998)
Odyssey, The (1997) (TV)
Feast at Midnight, A (1994)
Death Train (1993) (TV)
Double Vision (1992) (TV)
Return of the Musketeers, The (1989)
Avaro, L' (1989)
Safari 3000 (1982)
Eye for an Eye, An (1981)
Arabian Adventure (1979)
Vem var Dracula? (1975)
Creeping Flesh, The (1973)
Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)
Death Line (1972)
Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
Oblong Box, The (1969)
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968)
Ten Little Indians (1966)
She (1965/I)
Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951)
Scott of the Antarctic (1948)

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Sala Baker (Sauron)

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

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Brian Sergent (Ted Sandyman)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Meet the Feebles (1989)

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Bernard Hill (Theoden)

Scorpion King, The (2002)
Going Off Big Time (2000)
Titanic (1997)
Shirley Valentine (1989)
Milwr Bychan (1986)

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Nathaniel Lees (Ugluk

No listings this week

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Brad Dourif (Grima Wormtounge)

Shadow Hours (2000)
Prophecy 3: The Ascent, The (2000) (V)
Interceptors (1999)
Sworn to Justice (1996)
Murder in the First (1995)
Color of Night (1994)
Escape from Terror: The Teresa Stamper Story (1994) (TV)
Amos & Andrew (1993)
Critters 4 (1991) (V)
Child's Play 3 (1991)
Child's Play 2 (1990)
Exorcist III, The (1990)
Child's Play (1988)
Fatal Beauty (1987)
Dune (1984)

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Alistair Browning (Damrod)

Vertical Limit (2000)
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983)

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Bruce Allpress (Aldor)

Piano, The (1993)

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John Bach (Madril)

No listings this week

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Bruce Phillips (Rohan Soldier)

No listings this week

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Robert Pollock (Mordor Orc)

No listings this week

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Olivia Tennet (Freda)

No listings this week

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Howard Shore (Composer)

Panic Room (2002)
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Cell, The (2000)
Yards, The (2000)
High Fidelity (2000)
Last Night (1998)
Game, The (1997)
Before and After (1996)
Truth About Cats & Dogs, The (1996)
White Man's Burden (1995)
Nobody's Fool (1994)
Ed Wood (1994)
Guilty as Sin (1993)
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Sliver (1993)
Prelude to a Kiss (1992)
Single White Female (1992)
Kiss Before Dying, A (1991)
Silence of the Lambs, The (1991)
Postcards from the Edge (1990)
Signs of Life (1989)
Dead Ringers (1988)
Big (1988)
Moving (1988)
Fire with Fire (1986)
After Hours (1985)
Videodrome (1983)
Scanners (1981)

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Jim Rygiel (SFX)

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
102 Dalmatians (2000)
Multiplicity (1996)
Species (1995)
Scout, The (1994)
Batman Returns (1992)
Last of the Mohicans, The (1992)
2010 (1984)
Last Starfighter, The (1984)

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Peter Jackson

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Meet the Feebles (1989)

Click here to visit his official site

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12-15-02 Latest News

Towering New TV Spot
Demosthenes @ 8:52 pm EST

It's been floating around all weekend. Here's some comments from posters (and where they've seen it):

And remember, here be spoilers!

VampyreQuuen6: Hello, there was a new TTT TV spot going around on cable which I caught on Bravo. I don't think you've talked about this one yet. This one starts out with a Galadrial voice over and shows some new shots from Helms Deep and even some new dialouge from Aragon at the end of the commercial.

Ayudiran: Just letting you guys know, if you didn't already, that there is a new ttt tv spot hat aired tonight (12/13/02) on UPN. Unfortunately, I did not record it, but I figured if I let you guys know, someone could record it and then post it. It's brand new, with shots we haven't seen before.

Chris: I wanted to send in a report about the new tv spot that was on during saturday night live. I dont remember much from the trailer, but what I really remember is a shot of Sam next to Frodo who is lying down, then you hear the nazgul scream sam looks up, then the shot swithces to the nazgul flying just above them.

Matt: I don't know if you folks have seen it yet, but there is a new TTT tv spot and it's not the one you reported yesterday. It aired around 9:30 pm (east coast USA) on Fox during America's Most Wanted.

It featured the text "In 4 Days" at the beginning and ended with King Theoden at Helms deep saying, "And so it begins". There were many new clips scattered throughout the commercial. Among them, new clips of Treebeard, more shots of Nazgul steeds, an old withered King on a throne (not Theoden) I suspect it is Theoden. Can't think who else it would be! - Dem, and more shots that ran by too fast.

I didn't see a mention of this on the site yet.

Bazooka Joe: While watching Firefly on Friday night, I saw a new commercial, different from the one shown during Survivor earlier in the week. The new shot I remember most distinctly was an ill-kempt old man that I assumed was Theoden under Wormtongue's influence.

It's possible this was on another station ... I could have been flipping channels during a commercial break ... but it was definitely during the Firefly time period.

Brett: There was a brief 15-second commercial shown during the FOX football game announcing the LoTR movie was coming in three days. Most of the footage was the same from the 13th, but it appeared to have a couple of shots I had not seen (low swooping Nazgul, Saruman surrounded by his minions).

Jeff: Two things that I have not seen mentioned were:

* A shot of Frodo underwater, surrounded by ghostly figures (Dead Marshes?).
* A closing shot of Gandalf holding Glamdring aloft, with lightning crackling from a darkened sky into the blade.

If anyone has capped and encoded this new commercial, drop us a line so we can post it up!

Magazine Overload!
Demosthenes @ 6:36 pm EST

Lee went on a shopping spree at Borders and came home with an armload of new magazines with LOTR stories. If anyone is wondering what magazines are featuring LoTR right now, here's a short list:

X-Pose, issue 74, has an article about/interview with Elijah

American Cinematographer, Dec. 2002, has a cover story, "The Two Towers Continues An Epic Tale"

Realms of Fantasy, Feb. 2003, has a cover story, "Lord of the Rings Returns"

Sci Fi Magazine, Feb. 2003, has a cover, "Lord of the Rings: Special--Inside the Two Towers" plus an interview with Elijah

Starburst, Issue 293, has a cover "The Lord of the Rings: Massive Coverage of The two Towers, Star Elijah Wood and the epic battle at Helm's Deep"

Premiere, Jan. 2003, has Viggo on the cover and "Exclusive: Lord of the Rings--Viggo Mortensen on Orcs, Elves, and Being a Middle Earth Hunk in The Two Towers"

TORn staff Starlady mentioned these as well:

Creative Screenwriting - doesn't have the issue online yet, it's an interview with Phillippa

Cinescape - interview with EJW [More]

Us Weekly
- not online yet (This is the Britney/Justin issue, there's apparently an article about TTT in it too)

scr(i)pt magazine - article isn't online but the blurb is: Who Shot J.R.R.? The Writing of The Two Towersb By Bob Verini

Sunday Times Magazine review of TTT
Arathorn @ 4:10 pm EST

This review from today's culture section of The Sunday Times Magazine is intriguing in that it presents an reasonably alternative view on the film. Suffice it to say that is quite critical in some areas - some of which criticism might well be quite insightful and perhaps justified, whereas some might well be considerably illfounded. Needless to say, it is slightly spoilerish.

Greatest show on Middle-earth

The story line in The Two Towers is worryingly fragmented, says Cosmo Landesman, but you will be awestruck by the spectacle.

Yes, it's good... But how good? As good as, or even better than, The Fellowship of the Ring? There's been a critical trend of late to say, with a sigh of relief, that the latest one in a franchise - Attack of the Clones, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Die Another Day - is much better than the one we all suffered before. And I suspect that most people will think that The Two Towers is even better than The Fellowship of the Ring. So, on behalf of a small group of malcontents and movie misfits, may I say: they are wrong and we are right. All three of us. (this figure doesn't include TORn Staffers - Ara ;)

The reason we are right is that The Two Towers is a bit too much like a conventional blockbuster; it's action- rather than character-driven, and relies heavily on big set pieces and special effects to wow us. (There's no doubt that, at its best, it wows wonderfully.) It operates on a visual scale that is far bigger than the first film's. The director, Peter Jackson, and his camera seem to swoop and swirl in and out of shots like a man surfing the sky. He loves the big backward tracking shot that pulls up and zooms towards the heavens to reveal the majesty of nature or the malevolence of men at war. As for his crowd scenes, well, move over Cecil B DeMille, and tell Leni Riefenstahl the news: nobody does it better than Jackson. But The Two Towers is a triumph of spectacle over storytelling.

In place of the feelgood glow of the fellowship in the first episode, here we get something a little more edgy, a touch darker and a lot more obviously dramatic. But there's something calculated in Jackson's grab-'em-by-the-eyeballs opening, with its what-happened-next when Gandalf and the monstrous Balrog disappeared down a ravine in the first film. And it looks fake, so obviously computer-generated, that it undermines the realism of the whole Middle-earth world. It reminds us of what we most want to forget: that it's only a movie.

Okay, it's a rocky start, but there's plenty of time for Jackson to weave his spell. The real trouble with The Two Towers is its structure. Together, hobbits, dwarfs, men and elves are a terrific team. But like a great rock band that pairs off to make different albums, the end product is never as good as the original combination. Here, the fellowship has been fractured into three separate story lines, with mixed results.

The best of the bunch involved Frodo (Elijah Wood), Sam Gamgee (Sean Astin) and Gollum (based on Andy Serkis) on their journey towards Mordor. This is a subtle, superb slice of drama. The darkness of this film comes not just from the hideous collection of creatures - orcs, Uruk-hai, wargs and Liv Tyler - but from the spectacle of Frodo's mental and moral decline. Jackson presents us with a boy who is into heavy Rings addiction, and, like all addicts, denies that he has a problem. (Invisibility, Omnipotence, Eternal life? Hey, I can handle it!) But Sam is worried: "You hardly eat, and you hardly sleep." The Two Towers brings into focus a central theme in Tolkien: the question of temptation and what a man will lose to gain the greatest buzz of all - power.

We can see Frodo's screwed-up future in the hideous face of his new friend Gollum, who has the cadaverous, junkie demeanour of one who lives only for the high of the Ring. Gollum's bulging blue eyes - which echo the innocence of Frodo's - look as if they want to pop out of their sockets, rush off and score. For me, Gollum steals the show. It's the first time a computer-generated character actually outshines real actors. There's a beautiful pathos in the scene where Frodo reminds Gollum of his pre-Ring life as a hobbit called Sméagol. But best of all is Gollum's frenetic, Hamlet-like soliloquy as good and evil fight for control of his soul.

The only other big personality on show is Gandalf (Ian McKellen). Obviously there's nothing like a life-and-death struggle with a fire-breathing monster to put the wiz back into an old wizard's step. Gandalf the Grey, who seemed at times like a tired old man ready to retire, is back as Gandalf the White, and this time he's swinging his stave like a man half his age.

It's the new characters and storyline that are a disappointment. Most of the drama is set among the humans of the Rohan kingdom, and, consequently, at times The Two Towers looks and sounds like second-hand, second-rate Shakespeare. Bernard Hill does his best with the role of King Théoden, the man who rules Rohan with a heavy crown and heavier heart. His face has that wonderful lost and wounded gloom of a Lear, but he's let down by creaky dialogue incapable of eloquence. The manipulative Wormtongue (Brad Dourif), who has Théoden under his thumb, aims for slimy malevolence, but just seems creepy. We get a new beauty in the form of the king's niece, Éowyn (Miranda Otto), but she's nondescript.

Into this world come Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), the elf archer Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Middle-earth's answer to Brian Blessed, the dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) - and they end up overshadowed by the story of the king trying to save his people. But the weakest link of all is the story of the two missing hobbits, Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd). They have entered the magical forest of Fangorn, and are being carried along by a giant walking, talking tree called Treebeaerd. (Talk about a wooden performance!) Treebeard looks about as real as the Jolly Green Giant.

Jackson may lose some fans in the middle of the film, but he'll win everybody back with the climactic battle scene at Helm's Deep, involving the evil Saruman's 10,000 Uruk-hai soldiers storming the Rohan fortress. It's one of the greatest battle scenes ever filmed, yet free of blood and gore. These days, any film that involves anything more than a slap on the wrist is said to be connected to 9/11 or the impending war on Iraq , but it's hard to ignore the similarity between this film's talk about resisting "evil" and the rhetoric of George W Bush. It's surprising that the "love generation" of the 1960s should have taken Tolkien to heart: clearly he was no hippie-dippy pacifist.

What's so interesting about both Ring films is that they deliver an old-fashioned message you rarely hear in popular culture any more: that it is through struggle with adversity and sacrifice to a greater cause, and not a life of comfort and consumerism, that we bring out the best in ourselves.)

The Lord of the Rings:
The Two Towers.

12A, 180 mins   ***

Update: Ringer Spy James writes in to point out that I had incorrectly assumed that the Sunday Times rates its articles out of 5 stars - a rating of 3 stars seemed in keeping with the tone of the review. But in fact, the key to the star system overleaf states:

*** Outstanding
** Good
* So-so
No star Give it a miss.

Which perhaps makes the review a little easier to stomach.. :-)

Howard Shore Talk At Museum of Art Report!
Xoanon @ 3:10 pm EST

Howard Shore gave a nice two hour discussion today on how to turn a movie image into music. It was a very informative talk on just how a musician puts images into sound. So, here is a little review of the event, and I'll try my best to remember all the really cool and interesting points Mr. Shore brought up.

First off, the event was not sold out, but the room seemed pretty darn full by the time it did start. It was held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which had actually been showing several films that Howard Shore wrote the score for. After this discussion, they screened The Two Towers, which was the final film in the Museum's film schedule for the year. The screening was sold out within hours of going on sale, but that didn't stop people from lining up in the hopes of snagging any spare seat that came along. I'm not going to review the film at all, since this is about the music and the man who created it.

So, back to the discussion. There was very little preamble to the event, Howard Shore and a few other walked in from the balcony, he sat down, and started talking about what he was going to talk about. He found the microphone, which made life easier, and launched right into his discussion. Because the museum had been showing several of his films, and the whole film series was about Music in Movies, he did not talk exclusively about Two Towers. That was fine with me, turns out his written music for over 60 different films. He discussed how he approaches creating a score as such:

Talks with the creative team and reads the script or book it's based on, or whatever will give him an idea of the story and the people in it. He goes on set and get's a feel for the creative process going on there, and starts formulating ideas. Once the film is shot, the director screens a copy of it, and it's this point in time he really starts to write the music. He demonstrated this with a very Improvisational piece he recorded the day after watching the directors print of Crash. He then played a tape from the next day, which was a little more refined, and then a tape two days later. All this improvisation was done on the piano, but the tape he played before showing us the final version was of Guitars. Finally, we got to see the opening credits with this improvisational number played on guitars, and then the same number used in a scene involving the aftermath of a big car crash. It was fascinating to hear the slight progression the music made from a Searching pattern to a more urgent and emotional final version. He starts this improvisation right after seeing the film the first time, to start writing down the emotions the film elicited. He really seems to feel that they only way to write a film score is from an emotional base, put the feelings on page and play them.

It was at this point that he explained how he arranges the music after he has begun to write it. Howard Shore grew up around repertory theater, music (he was in a rock band in the late 60's, early 70's), and finally went to a lot of opera. When sitting in an audience, watching an opera or a musical, the musicians are placed in a specific manner. You hear the violin on the left, the percussion in the back, the woodwinds in the center, etc. Because movies have surround sound nowadays, he arranges his musicians the way they might be if the film was a live performance. This also helps when there is ambient sound in the scene coming from a person or thing, so that the music is coming from someplace else. I found this concept of placing the musicians in the recording the way it would be in a live performance quite fascinating.

There was then a lot of discussion about his interest in music, learning new forms and sounds all the time, and how he sees his whole life as one big progression preparing him for the next step in his life. Aside from writing the scores to over 60 films, his rock band opened for the likes of Jimi Hendrix, and he was one of the original creators of Saturday Night Live. I knew there was a reason I thought Howard Shore was cool, but could never put my finger on it.

Because of the scope of working on Lord of the Rings, which he is actually enjoying working on such a large project, he sees working in Opera to be a natural progression from this. He can't imagine there being any other place to be able to work on such a grand scale again. Right now, he's got 200 musicians at his disposal, and he's loving that.

He knows he can just use one vocalist or instrument for something delicate, or the full power of the orchestra to fulfill his needs for a scene. OH, and when he's feeling a bit burned out on scoring films, he writes Chamber Music, just for fun. He says it's because he has no one telling him what to do, or what to cut out or change, he writes it just for himself.

In regards to the Lord of the Rings music, he did say there were times he was very nervous about it's scope. At least, in the beginning he felt this way, but there was so much support from Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philipa Boyens. He mentioned that he knew he was really writing a 9 hour piece of music, broken down into shorter pieces, and that he had to get the first one right, because it sets the tone for the following segments. He also mentioned the performances of the Fellowship music at the Hollywood Bowl, in New Zealand and coming up in London. He also mentioned how it is highly likely that in 2004, there will be performances of the entire set of music, which made several people in the audience quite happy.

After taking more questions and running over time longer than they had planned, he stayed around and chatted with anyone who came up. Those of us with tickets for the screening didn't stick around too long, but it was necessary to at least say hello and thank him for such a beautiful piece of music. Howard Shore is a very nice man, and very eloquent on creating a musical tapestry for films. I'd highly recommend that anyone who has a chance, goes to see him in the future.

I'll have pics of the audience the Mr. Shore fairly soon, I hope, so I'll send those when I have them.

Media Watch: Germany's 'Stern' Magazine
Xoanon @ 1:31 pm EST

Ringer Spy Rubin sends along these scans from the latest issue of Stern Magazine. The text was not translated and is apparently same old same old news...however some of these pictures are really interesting!

True Fans Are Going To Love It!
Demosthenes @ 6:59 am EST

Ringer Fan Jim writes of his experience at the London premiere:

Having attended the UK premiere of TTT at the Odeon Leicester Square last Wednesday night, I can confirm what Luthien said about the NYC Premiere. Most of the stars turned up in spite of appearing the night before in Paris. Peter Jackson made the same point about deviation from the book (he's obviously concerned about reaction to the interaction between Faramir and Frodo/Sam/Gollum, but this does lead to a great (shocking) scene - I won't say where for those who don't like spoilers.

Running three story threads is obviously difficult, but he pulls it off; though I did read in my local paper that the reviewer couldn't follow the complicated plot (obviously someone who has never read the books).

The major element is the battle of Helm's Deep which is almost overwhelming,but the actors manage to avoid being lost in the hugeness and loudness and sheer scale of the setting.

This is a much darker film than FOTR; few idyllic scenes, though there are odd moments during the move to Helm's Deep, but it gets through a lot of action and stays more or less faithfuill to the book. Gollum is a triumph; I always found it difficult to be sympathetic to the character, but Jackson manages to make a CGI almost human and certainly vulnerable.

True fans are going to love it!

Cant wait for ROTK.

When It Absolutely Positively Has To Be There ... Overnight
Demosthenes @ 6:34 am EST

Ringer Spy Ataahua writes: Tonight One Network News in New Zealand carried a story on how Peter Jackson, losing precious TTT editing time attending awards ceremonies for FOTR, used new technolgy built by Weta to help him keep working on the film while overseas.

One News presenter Simon Dallow: "Two Towers is a tribute to Kiwi special effects wizardry. But director Peter Jackon only made his deadline thanks to another bit of Kiwi innovation, involving the Internet and video conferencing. Here's economics reporter Mike Jaspers."

(Shot of Peter Jackson at a sound desk)

Mike Jaspers voiceover: "Peter Jackson in London in September, finishing the sound track for Two Towers. Back in Wellington, the final special effects are being added. Time's running out - the director's already lost five weeks thanks to the Oscars and other awards. He needed more time."

(Shot of Barry Osborne talking to Mike Jaspers) BO: "Put simply, it was crucial..."

MJ voiceover: "Barry Osbourne's the producer, on a video link from New York via the Internet - technology vital for meeting deadlines. Each day, hours of editing were emailed to Jackson in London."

Duncan Nimmo, 'computer expert': "In normal circumstances that footage would have to be put on a plane. So being able to do it overnight bought the process three days each time."

MJ: "The huge volume of data needed a big Internet pipe. Telecom's Southern Cross cable links us to the northern hemisphere. It funnelled sections of film to Jackson's computer."

BO: "Even though he was in London and we were in Wellington, it would be just like he was in Wellington."

MJ: "Jackson's computer wizards designed the system to synchronise the video links."

BO: "Weta built some software to allow us to control the playback on video footage at either end - to slow it down, to play it slowly. And it also had a pointer so Peter could say, 'Gee, Mordor shouldn't have all those green trees on it, I want to really have this black rock there'."

MJ: "It's all part of Jackson's vision for Wellington as a one-stop shop for world-class film making. That's why he's building a $30 million post-production facility near his other studios. Peter Jackson's Internet technology removes one more worry for Hollywood moguls considering projects here in Wellywood: they can simply log onto the Internet and view the day's filming or editing, from the comfort of LA. Smart solutions, all part of Jackson script for success."

Andy Serkis On Headline News
Demosthenes @ 6:13 am EST

From TreeBeard:

I happened to be watching Headline News and unexpectedly saw a short interview with Andy Serkis. He mentioned how he took on the role of a heroin addict to get into his character who we all know is Gollum.

He was asked to give the viewers a teaser of Gollum, and Andy proceeded to do "the voice"!!! It was a nice little surprise. The transcript of the interview might pop-up on HN's website later.

Here's a shot of the screen that Treebeard took:

12-14-02 Latest News

Vista Line - Day 1
Flinch @ 1:17 pm EST

It's 4:30 in the afternoon, and I can't find a place to park. After some trickery and interesting maneuvers I make my way towards the Vista Theater, hope of the Two Towers line hosted by TheOneRing.net and LiningUp.net. It takes a while before anyone shows up, but one by one fans from TheOneRing.net and members of LiningUp.net [Who did the Episode II Line this past summer see pics] settle in with their fold out chairs and sleeping bags to camp outside this beautiful theater to see Peter Jackson's next step in The Lord of the Rings experience.

I take a detour from the line for a time to pick up Green Books staffer Quickbeam and swing home to kiss my wife before curling into a shivering huddled mass on the sidewalk in Hollywood. Members of the Episode II line take some time to catch up and we finally manage to get power setup, thus the TV and PS2 gets more attention than before. Electronic Arts has taken good care of us at our Vista line and we have a copy of the Two Towers for the PS2 and GameBoy Advance to hand out each night of the line, with last nights trivia hosted by that same Green Books Ent Quickbeam!

So overall the first night went off quite well, only a few visits from the displaced people of the city, nothing compared to our time spent on the busy street of Hollywood Blvd. right in the heart of Mann's Chinese. So if you're in the LA area, or near enough to get down to the LA area, swing on by, we'll have trivia every night for more chances to win prizes provided by Electronic Arts and a TV and a PS2 setup to enjoy their Two Towers game. Hrm it's 8:30 in the morning isn't it... I really should head home, thats 12 hours logged! Here's looking forward to Wednesday!

"Hey what are you guys in line for?"

"Maid in Manhattan 2!"

More info on the Vista line here, and if you want to find another Line Party in your area go here.

Hobbitsteacosy Reports From Paris
Demosthenes @ 8:50 am EST

Hobbitsteacosy was at the Paris Premiere of LOTR - The Two Towers last week, and wrote this report for us to share!

The European Premiere of The Lord Of The Rings - The Two Towers
Le Grande Rex Cinema, Paris 10th December 2002

by HobbitsTeaCosy

Warning.... contains SPOILERS!!!! (well, mild ones)

I was one of the lucky few who attended the Paris premiere of The Two Towers and I feel privileged to have the chance to share my experiences with you all.

My friends and I left the Intercontinental Hotel in Paris at 5:30 pm and taxi'd to Le Grande Rex cinema. Two of us had tickets, the others would be waiting outside to hopefully catch an autograph or three. We hung around outside for a little while to get a good look at the decor and soak up the atmosphere. The cinema looked a treat from the outside; there was a swish purple entryway with "Le Seigneur D'Anneux - Les Deux Tours" (Lord Of The Rings - The Two Towers,) emblazoned on it, huge, huge posters of all the characters and a canopied walkway for the stars and guests to walk down. The weather wasn't so hot so that's probably why the walkway was covered. Anyway, as I made my way along I spotted Sean Astin (Sam), signing autographs at the barrier, (he's lost a LOT of weight,) but I held my cool and kept moving!

Once inside the reception area, which looked like your standard cinema lobby save for the influx of press and TV people lining one side, I was given directions to my seat, which was on the left hand side of the ground floor, a few rows back from the front. Excellent! The seats reserved for cast and crew were in the centre, about ten or fifteen rows back. The auditorium itself certainly lived up to expectations ... baroque and beautiful, with thick carpets and serene lighting. The atmosphere was relaxed, yet exciting at the same time. I didn't feel the least bit intimidated. There was a little red bag containing popcorn, a bottled drink and a chocolate bar in front of each seat, just in case anyone got the munchies during the film. (I hoped it would contain a party ticket too, to no avail.)

I went to the bathroom to freshen my face, and when I came out I saw Elijah Wood being interviewed by what I assumed was French TV. He was charming and chatty in a beige suit, and his brand new buzz cut made him look younger. I was surprised at how petite he was. Peter Jackson was there too, in regulation casual garb. By this time I was standing by the main staircase when I noticed Dom and Billy arrive. Dom seemed on top form, joking with the press, and he was wearing a get-up which .... well, I suppose the kindest description is LOUD! A gold and black striped jacket, jeans and trainers, and his hair was blond and spiked, not unlike David Beckham's. Billy was wearing what I first assumed to be a kilt, but I didn't see a tartan pattern ... it was black. A kilt noir, I suppose. Liv Tyler's dress was astonishing - a pale-pink bodice with a voluminous skirt. I had a cigarette in the lobby then returned to the auditorium. Some of the stars were being interviewed onscreen - Sean Astin, Andy Serkis in a white jacket and huge Elvis quiff, Brad Dourif, Karl Urban, one or two French celebs.

It's a bit of a blur until the time came to introduce the actors and crew onstage. I got up to go to the loo again and passed Brad Dourif talking to one of the attendants. Then back into the auditorium, just in time for the introductions. Peter Jackson, Howard Shore, Phillippa Boyens, Rick Porras, Elijah, Dom, Billy, Christopher Lee, John Rhys-Davies, Brad Dourif, Karl Urban, Liv Tyler, Andy Serkis, Bernard Hill etc. No Ian McKellen (he's still working on the second X-Men movie) or Orlando (he's filming Pirates of the Carribean - I think.) Ditto Miranda Otto, David Wenham and Cate Blanchett. Peter gave a nice speech about the honour of holding the European premiere in France and said some nice things about French cinema. He said that Fran had decided to stay at home with their children this time.

Then it was TIME. I don't want to let the cat out of the bag for those who haven't seen it so I'll talk about the standouts. One or two spoilers follow, so go to the last paragraph if you don't want to know. Suffice to say the opening dream-sequence - a tumbling Gandalf and Balrog locked in battle - is incredible. It's not long before we get our first look at Gollum, and let me tell you, it is difficult to separate the CGI from the character himself. It is SEAMLESS. Andy's Gollum has all the requisite whining, hissing sliminess crossed with a strangely appealing wretchedness - cute in a way, but not nauseatingly so. I actually felt more sympathy for the movie Gollum than the character in the book. And the schizophrenic Slinker/Stinker conversation later on is a treat.

Frodo's gradual disintegration is subtle, with clever use of facial expressions and nuances. In one scene Frodo's face is half-lit, the other half in shadow, with a discernible darkness under his eye, a hollowness of the cheek. There's a certain facial feature of Gollum's that echoes that of Frodo, and so serves as a kind of tragic presentiment, a signifier of what Frodo is in danger of becoming. I won't say what it is here. Sam, as always, is stalwart, despite the fracturing friendship between him and his master as the latter begins to succumb to the potency of the ring.

We also follow Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in pursuit of Merry and Pippin. Running into Eomer and a crew of renegade Rohirrim,, banished from Edoras by the Saruman/Grima-brainwashed King Theoden, they make a grisly discovery. Eomer informs them that he and his men have just routed a brigade of Uruks and that there were no survivors. All the bodies were cremated. Disconsolate, man, elf and dwarf conclude that Merry and Pippin must also have perished in the battle. All hope seems lost, until they make a cheering discovery ... the switch from utter despair to elation in this scene is marvellous.

As Theoden, Bernard Hill handles the transition from broken puppet-king to rejuvenated leader with deft assurance. Miranda Otto is a sensitive, quietly serious Eowyn, appalled by her father's gradual erosion at the hands of Grima, saddened by his lack of belief in her swordswomanship, and torn by her attraction to Aragorn, which she downplays wonderfully, evoking her feelings by looks and gestures. Brad Dourif is in top Richard III form as Wormtongue, hunched, greasy and weaselly.

But for the real treat, two words - Helm's Deep. The build-up is incredible. The scene where Saruman stands atop Orthanc before thousands of marauding, battle-ready Uruks is powerfully unsettling, with eerie shades of Leni Riefensthal. The battle itself far exceeds anything seen in Fellowship, a triumph of both effects and the human touch. The powder-keg sense of doom inside the fortress are tense and profoundly moving. A child is seen preparing for battle. Rohan women hug their children close and weep, in realisation that they could be saying goodbye to their menfolk for the last time.

Gandalf's return is suitably dramatic, Treebeard is fabulous, and there's some good exchanges between Merry and Pippin. One little gripe - the march of the Ents on Orthanc just seemed to be over too quickly for my taste.

While I'm on this critical interlude, I found one or two elements a little contemporary - most notably a scene where Legolas appears to SKATEBOARD down the fortress stairs. Not so good.

There's also the overuse of flashbacks - handy for those who haven't seen Fellowship and need a pick-up, but smacks of unnecessary padding nonetheless. The Black Gate didn't give me the shivers the way it did in the book either. Maybe I'm splitting hairs, but the sky above the gate was BLUE - and this, after all, is Mordor, where the sun never shines and the black cloud has already begun to spread. It simply didn't ring right. There are more deviations from the book than in Fellowship - whether this is judicious or not is an entirely subjective matter, and it often works - but on occasion it doesn't.

However, the positives far outweigh the negatives and the film will be a well-deserved smash. It might not be The Two Towers in the minds of some, but it is an astounding cinematic achievement nonetheless.

So I can say I left the cinema enthralled, happy - and relieved. I met my friends outside near the stars' exit. I'm not one for name-dropping, but here's a taster ... I was standing in front of a guy who wanted to get into the car in front of me, I turned round and it was Karl Urban! I said, "Oooh, sorry!" or something like that, feeling like a real ninny, and he smiled and said, "It's okay!"

One of my friends had a ticket to the party, (lucky so-and-so!) and we dropped her off there then made our way back to the hotel, where we finished off the champagne we'd bought earlier! I wish I could have gone to the party too, but the sheer excitement of being one of the first people in Europe to see the film, outside those directly involved with the production, more than made up for the disappointment. Paris, quite simply, was the realisation of a dream ... I'm confident you'll all be over the moon come December 18th!

Coming Up On The Box
Demosthenes @ 6:50 am EST

Worried about missing the latest LoTR TV programming? To help everyone out, here's a list of some upcoming programs/specials. Thanks go to Skybeing, Bricklayer, Susan, Maija, Lee and George for sending in this stuff

Please, note, I can't warrant any or all of these programs, I've taken it on trust. Also, I do occasionally make typographical errors. So, please check times and dates against your local guides.


There's a special "New Zealand: The Royal Tour" airing at 9:00 PM EST tonight (December 15) in the USA on the Travel Channel. It is hosted by Karl Urban (Éomer.) The commercial seems to focus on Lord of the Rings somewhat, although I'm not sure whether the show itself refers to LOTR. The special apparently concerns New Zealand's extreme landscape and adventure opportunities, and the commercial shows truly jaw-dropping scenery including a flyby of Milford Sound.

Mon 12-16-02 - NA - Jay Leno - Elijah Wood
Mon 12-16-02 - NA - Today Show - Liv Tyler
Mon 12-16-02 - NA - The Early Show - Elijah Wood
Tue 12-17-02 - NA - Caroline Rhea - Elijah Wood (Syndication so check your local listings)
Tue 12-17-02 - 3:00 PM - BRAVO - Page to Screen (from FoTR)
Tue 12-17-02 - 7:00 PM - BRAVO - Page to Screen (from FoTR)
Wed 12-18-02 - 9:00 PM - South Park: The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers COMEDY CENTRAL
Thu 12-18-02 - 8:00 PM - J.R.R. Tolkien OVATION
Thu 12-19-02 - 10:35 PM - Sean Astin Tonight Show with Jay Leno NBC
Thu 12-19-02 - NA - The Early Show - Peter Jackson
Fri 12-20-02 - 12:00 AM - J.R.R. Tolkien OVATION
Fri 12-20-02 - 11:00 PM - South Park: The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers COMEDY CENTRAL
Fri 12-20-02 - NA - David Letterman - Liv Tyler
Sun 12-22-02 - 7:00 PM - National Geographic Explorer LOTR MSNBC
Sun 12-22-02 - 10:00 PM - National Geographic Explorer LOTR MSNBC
Sun 12-22-02 - NA - Ebert & Roper LOTR:TTT (Syndication so this may be shown any day around the 22nd)
Sat 12-21-02 - 9:00 PM - South Park: The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers COMEDY CENTRAL
Sun 12-22-02 - 1:00 AM - South Park: The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers COMEDY CENTRAL
Mon 12-23-02 - 4:00 PM - J.R.R. Tolkien OVATION
Mon 12-23-02 - 5:00 PM - Face to Face: Sir Ian McKellen OVATION
Thu 12-26-02 - 5:00 PM - Behind the Scenes: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers E!

NB: Check your local guides for times! After all, I might make a mistake. It *always* pays to check ahead.

Also, on December 17, TNT will be screening the special behind the scenes program at Return to Middle Earth at 11pm (EST).

You can also check out our extensive (if now slightly dated) USA TTT programmiung guide here.


I was just checking my TV Listings via Zap2it and I happened to notice that at 7pm EST The History Channel in Canada is airing "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Return to Middle Earth" followed by "National Geographic Explorer: Lord of the Rings" at 8pm EST. "Return to Middle Earth" is airing again on Showcase on December 14 at 1AM EST and again on December 22 at 1AM EST. Folks should check their local listings, of course.


12-16-02 - 11.15pm GMT - "Film 2002" with Jonathan Ross will be shown on BBC1 UK, reviewing "The Two Towers"

Film 2002 with Jonathan Ross (Entertainment)
The latest film news, reviews, video and DVD releases. Jonathan ventures into Middle Earth as The Lord of the Rings trilogy continues with The Two Towers, and looks at the latest hit comedy from Reese Witherspoon, Sweet Home Alabama.


Return to Middle earth airs tonight at 11pm on channel 9 tonight in Oz. Just wanted to let you know that it's actually on at 10.45 on Channel 9 and at 11pm on Win (Regional victorian station). I know I'd hate to miss the first 15 minutes so I thought I'd let you know!

12-13-02 Latest News

SCRYE MAGAZINE: Special Lord of the Rings Issue!
Lao_of_Gondor @ 5:45 pm EST

LORD OF THE RINGS: Your Guide to Gaming in Middle-Earth

The latest special issue of SCRYE Magazine is so far, the most complete and comprehensive resource material you will find on The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game, as well as spotlighting many of the most recent (and not-so-recent) LOTR Gaming franchises.

This special issue entitled "YOUR GUIDE TO GAMING IN MIDDLE EARTH" definitely lives up to its title. By and large, I'm not a very big fan of these "special issues", mainly because they're usually a total re-packaging of articles recovered from previously released issues. In this case however, I'm glad I made the exception.

This edition is in fact quite current in terms of information and offers a new variety of articles and reviews for both the LOTR TCG, and for "what was, what is and some things that have not yet come to pass." There is extensive coverage spanning several gaming decades from the 1977 SPI classic The War of The Ring (Old Schoolers - you guys remember that one?) to the current TWO TOWERS by EA (Electronic Arts). Basically, there's almost something for every generation of LOTR gamer inside this special issue. Comparing and contrasting the evolution of these games is like trying to compare the evolution of Atari's PONG to PS2's METAL GEAR 2: Sons of Liberty. Watching the maturation process of The Lord of the Rings gaming throughout the last 20 years...it's just mind blowing! However, before I digress any further down memory lane...let's return to the main focus of the magazine: The LOTR TCG.

The researchers at SCRYE have left no Hobbit-hole unturned as they have provided for us a catalogued and compartmentalized issue of The Lord of the Rings TCG. From the very first article, this magazine offers fans of the LOTR TCG and in-depth and personal understanding of what it takes to create a TCG of this magnitude and how one can take part in this epic gaming phenomenon. After reading this issue, you will be able to understand, if not incorporate, most of the basic–and some of the more advanced–strategies and tactics incorporated in the game.

Yet aside from all of the great strategy articles, interviews, previews and reviews, absolutely the BEST PART of this magazine is the almost 40 page FULL COLOR SPREAD of every single card from the original three sets: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Mines of Moria and The Realms of the Elf-Lords. Not only are there images of every card, including the PROMO cards and certain International cards, but there are colored borders around each card signifying their respective rarities. Believe me when I say that this spread alone is worth the price of the issue!

But wait...there's more. There are also complete Collector's Checklists of each and every set that has been released - including The Two Towers. These lists are in alphabetical, and not numerical, order according to their respective expansions. There is also a TWO TOWERS spoiler list. Aside from being a checklist itself–it offers players the opportunity to see which card belongs to which culture and how the card texts apply to the game. It's basically a mini-strategy guide packaged in a very easy-to-read and convenient format.

There are also very informative and in-depth articles covering Decipher's upcoming ONLINE format of the LOTR TCG, Decipher's Role-Playing Game (RPG), The Lord of the Rings Tabletop Battle Game by Games Workshop and The Lord of the Rings Board Game from Fantasy Flight/Reiner Knizia–which is one of the very best Lord of the Rings games out there…hands down (thanks Quickbeam!).

Bottom line...buy this magazine. This is an issue made by the fans for the fans. And, as I mentioned earlier, if you are looking for the most complete resource for the Lord of the Rings TCG–this is it!

By the way, did I mention the fact that is also comes poly-bagged with a TWO TOWERS booster pack and a FIERCE tatoo?

All this LOTR goodness for only $5.99 (US MSRP)!!!!


Lao of Gondor

Gollum: A Problem On The Set?
Xoanon @ 2:08 pm EST

Grey Area writes:

Here in the UK, Channel 4 have a morning / breakfast show called RI:SE. This morning they had a brief bit on TTT, humourous in nature concerning the antics of Gollum.

There were a number of snippets of the cast and Peter Jackson talking about things Gollum alledgedly got up to.

PJ said that between takes it got close to gwetting out of hand, Gollum pinching bottoms and running amok.

Elijah Wood said that it was sad to see that Smeagol disappeared completely between takes and that Gollum took over.

Sean Austin said that " We kept an eye on him" and that he smokes like a chimney.

Liv Tyler said that it got embarressing, Gollum hitting on all the female cast and crew.

It was also mooted that there might be a thing going on between Gollum and Jennifer Lopez. I *think* it was Peter Jackson who gave a little comment on how Gollum and Ben Affleck had it out in a carpark and Gollum put Affleck on his [bum]

Douglas Anderson Chat Today 6 PM EST
Jincey @ 12:54 am EST

If you have a copy of The Lord of the Rings, you've more than likely read a bit of Douglas Anderson's work. He has the singular honor of being the writer of the 'Note on the Text' that is printed in each book. This was first published in 1993 and has been included in each edition thereafter.

Last year Doug revised and published his delighful and informative "The Annotated Hobbit". This book is actually Tolkien's "The Hobbit" but the text has been researched and notes are provided upon each page about what Tolkien wrote. Many illustrations have been added as well, showing the various illustrations in worldwide publications. Doug states in the preface, "In general, I have tried to keep Tolkien's own views about his writings in a position of central importance. My annotations start from there and move outward in a biographical and historical context. The goal of annotation itself is usually considered to be illuminating a text, but i have also attempted to give more information about Tolkien's life, his friends and associates, his literary interests, and his other writings so that a better cumulative portrait is achieved."

For the official press release of The Annotated Hobbit, please check out publisher Houghton Mifflin's [site]. and for more information about the chat please click [here].

12-12-02 Latest News

Media Watch: Flaunt Magazine
Xoanon @ 11:54 pm EST

Flaunt Magazine spent some time with Viggo while he was working on his latest film 'Hidalgo'. Take a look at these truly stunning images!

Elijah Wood Chat On MSN
Xoanon @ 8:53 pm EST

Thanks to everyone who sent this along!

DishDiva: In just a few moments we will be welcomed onstage by Frodo himself, Elijah Wood.

DishDiva: Welcome to MSN Live! This afternoon we are pleased to welcome Elijah Wood (Frodo) who stars in the new film "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."

Elijah_Wood: Hello everyone around the world. There aren't many opportunities to say something like that!

DishDiva: Elijah, this film has become such a phenomenon. When you first accepted this role did you have any idea it would become this worldwide hit?

Elijah_Wood: I didn't. I think I assumed it would have a pretty wide apeal, but I didn't expect it to become as massive as it's become, I don't think any of us did. I think part of it came from immersing ourselves in the land of New Zealand, it took us all slightly by surprise. It is definitely gratifying.

farseanean in Onstage_1 asks: Hi. This is so great to get to talk to you. I'm a big fan for a long time. You must receive a lot of scripts for movies to consider. How do you choose which movie you want to do next? What kinds of movies/characters are you looking for in future roles?

Elijah_Wood: It's always difficult to choose scripts. I'm pretty picky and opinionated when it comes to movies because there is a lack of really good scripts that come along often. They only came along once in a while. For me, I just want to grow as an actor, just things that are different than I've done in the past. Maybe older, darker roles.

Star7707 in Onstage_1 asks: What was is like working with people like Sean and Orlando, especially Orlando? Was he really as crazy as he appeared to be in the extra footage? Was YM the first time you were on the cover of a magazine?

Elijah_Wood: (laughs!!) Orlando is crazy! He's probably one of the most impulsive/energetic person I now, he can't sit still for a finite period of time. He was constantly trying to talk us into buying bikes, go bungee jumping, (laughs). He is really funny, the ideas just kept flowing. He's always fun to be out with because you never know where you'll end up. It's like a spinning top, you pull the string and off he goes! (laughs)... It wasn't the first cover, I can't remember my first cover, but that wasn't my first cover. Insidently I shared that cover with Orlando. They did two covers and Orlando did the other one.

(in response to a question asking if this was really THE Elijah Wood)
Elijah_Wood: I guess. I am me, and I don't know anyone else that is me, so I guess in that sense I'm the one and only, but not in any kind of egotistical way.

Melyndie in Onstage_1 asks: The Lord of the Rings story often contains a sense of hopelesness, especially for your character. Did filming the movies ever contain this feeling for you since you had to "get into" your character?

Elijah_Wood: No, it actually wasn't. Even though we were there for so long and involved with the characters, we were able to still turn it off at the end of the day. We could leave the set and focus on something else. Not only to leave our character, but leave work. We would go to work, go home, sleep a little, and dream about work, then wake up and go back to work, so it was important to be able to leave for a bit. I've always been able to leave my character, which is good because if Frodo stayed with me it could have been dark there.

DishDiva: I heard the weather in New Zealand was a challenge.

Elijah_Wood: It was very cold. But it's part of the journey and I wouldn't have it any other way.

coldbloodkittie in Onstage_1 asks: hi Elijah I heard that you and the other nine members of the "fellowship" got tattoes of the elven nine where did you get yours?

Elijah_Wood: I got mine on my hip. Lower hip.

AlmightyPlum in Onstage_1 asks: Most of us have heard that you loved to play loud music at the early hours of the morning... But I'm just wondering what type of music it is that you're into?

Elijah_Wood: I love music and I'm incredibly passionate about it. It's difficult to answer because I love so much about music, it's so wide spread it's hard to answer. In terms to what I'm listening to now, Spoon, The Kinks, Roots, Coldplay, White Stripes, The Hives, Led Zeppelin, so it's all over the place. I'm kind of insane when it comes to music, a little obsessed. I get to host about an hour of music videos tomorrow on MTV. I get to choose the videos, I'm very lucky.

DishDiva: Do you know any of the videos that you will play?

Elijah_Wood: Yeah, I will be playing Smashing Pumpkins, "Only You" by Portoisehead, Queens of the Stone Age.

âagel in Onstage_1 asks: Who do you think would win in a fight, a Dark Orc or a Stick wielding goblin?

Elijah_Wood: I'd say probably an Orc actually. Although goblins tend to be with bow and arrows, so maybe goblin. Goblins are a little bit more flexable.

DishDiva: I hear you love films. Do you have any favorite movies?

Elijah_Wood: I have LOTS of favorite movies. I don't have one favorite, "Delicatessan," "Harvey," "Night of the Hunter," "The Graduate."

wannabeMegWhite in Onstage_1 asks: What makes you feel self-confident when you're at a set, what makes you feel that you're doing the right thing?

Elijah_Wood: I don't always feel confident. In the early days of filming you are getting your feet on the ground and trying out your character. I think in those early days it's good to have the confirmation from the director helps, and after that knowing you are doing what you want for you and for the director, the comfort level increases, and you can concentrate on the rest of the movie. Also getting to know everyone you are working with and developing a camaraderie, then I feel most comfortable on the set with them. We're all working for the same goal. I love that process.

CeleM in Onstage_1 asks: What kind of cultural differences are there between you and your British costars?

Elijah_Wood: That's a good question. The music, television, movies, those are all kinds of differences that they knew things I didn't know because I wasn't exposed to the same television or music. There were plenty of recommendations from the actors on the movie for music and movies. There's a massive pop culture in England, I was aware of it because I've spent time there, but I really integrated myself into that perspective when I got there. A beer and a pub become very important especially with friends.

SleeplessMarea in Onstage_1 asks: This is for my daughter: What is your favorite line from Fellowship? (We already know Billy's!)

Elijah_Wood: One of my favorite lines is when Galadriel says, "Even the smallest person can have an effect on the rest of the world." Which is what she says to Frodo when he's alone and feels the burdon of wearing the ring. You have within you the ability to have an effect on the world around you.

sgchik in Onstage_1 asks: You said you were into film editing, how about one day directing?

Elijah_Wood: I would absolutely love to do that. I'm just scratching the surface of film editing. I feel so lucky to have been working as long as I have, it's like being in film school for 12 years. I love all the departments that pour out their heart to create a collective effort. To be part of "Lord of the Rings" and see the process, it's fascinating, I would love to be a part of the process from a different perspective.

UtilityPorpoise in Onstage_1 asks: I've heard there will be five months of reshoots or pick-ups next year for ROTK. What all will that entail?

Elijah_Wood: There will be pick ups next year. I don't know how long it will take or entail. I don't think they know yet, it will be determined the first few months of next year when they look at the rough edit of the film and what they think they can improve on what we've already done. They are talking about us returning in June, and we'll know then what we have to shoot. I'm looking forward to go back.

SwedishSuzy2 in Onstage_1 asks: We're all excited to meet you.Is there a person YOU would love to have a chat with?

Elijah_Wood: There are so many people I'd love to chat with. Tom York from Radiohead because I find him fascinating and incredibly talented. I always think of people in music because I gravitate to music and musical artists. Prince would be interesting, I'm rediculously curious what his perspective is. Also directors like Lars Von Trier, Spike Jonez, there's tons of people.

DishDiva: Have you met Steven Spielberg?

Elijah_Wood: Yes, have you heard of his Shoah Foundation? He’s got a foundation that educates people on the holocaust, there are about 80 survivors and what they experienced. I had the honor to do some narration and they did interviews with older people who were children at the time and their perspective.

IndieDontCare in Onstage_1 asks: I just got turned down for the part of Lady Macbeth in the school play. How do you you react if you dont get a part that you really wanted?

Elijah_Wood: First off, I'm really sorry you got turned down, that's aweful. I think if you're looking forward to a role and it doesn't work out, it can be disappointing at the moment but I think what's meant to be will be. I look back on movies I couldn't be a part of that I really wanted to do, it left me open to do something else that I really enjoyed doing. It can be disappointing, but there's always something else, hopefully. It can be. I don't know. I feel like if I'm not cast in something and they don't want me to be a part of it, then that's ok. They want someone else, and they'll do good. I wanted to be a part of "Rushmore" and I'm glad now that I wasn't in it because Jason was awesome.

DishDiva: gigaladriel in MSN_AoVivo1 asks: Did you already know the J.R.R.TOLKIEN books before the invitation for the movie?

Elijah_Wood: Yes, I read "The Hobbit" but not "Lord of the Rings" until I got there. The excitement of getting the role was pure and I didn't need the emotional connection with the book to have the profound connection I had. I wanted to work with Peter Jackson, I also really wanted to play Frodo, and to go to New Zealand.

DishDiva: RogerRoque in MSN_AoVivo1 asks: In which ways do you resemble Frodo?

Elijah_Wood: That's a difficult question, eqating qualities of yourself and [your] character. I relate to him because he has a worldliness coming from stories from Bilbo. So I related to that being able to travel around and learn from people. Also what makes him a hobbit, love of food, land, and I apply that to my life as well.

Crazy_Sexy_Cool88 in Onstage_1 asks: We hear that you're a real romantic, what sort of thing do you do to make a girl feel loved?

Elijah_Wood: I don't know. I am a real romantic, not in the classical, or cliche like flowers all the time, but I think I'm romantic in the sense I believe in passion and the moment, and words that mean something in a special way. I guess I'm really tactile and I love the sense of touch from someone you care about. And expressing one's emotion in an honest way and that can be romantic. I think one of the most romantic things is waking up to someone in the morning, I find that beautiful waking up next to someone in the morning.

DishDiva Wow. OK!

Mariand6 in Onstage_1 asks: what gift would you like to have?

Elijah_Wood: It's funny, this year has been difficult to think of one thing I want. I enjoy DVDs and books. This year I want a Palm Pilot, I'm a bit of a pack rat and lose things easily so to have something to organize my life would be beneficial. Or a new video camera, mines a bit out of date.

DishDiva: Elijah, thank you for joining us tonight on MSN Live!

DishDiva: From all of your fans from around the world best of luck with "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."

Elijah_Wood: Good night, good morning, good afternoon, thank you so much for waiting so long to chat with me. It's been so much fun for me and brilliant and a nice respite from the normal junket questions. I appreciate your love and support.

Amnesty International TTT Screening!
Xoanon @ 4:29 pm EST

Amnesty International to host Special Preview Screening of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. All proceeds to benefit Amnesty International.

Moviegoers will receive official movie posters, copy of Lord of the Rings compilation book, and will be treated to a special introduction by Peter Jackson, made exclusively for this screening.

WHERE: Loews Theaters Sony Metreon (4th & Mission) San Francisco

WHEN: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2002, 7PM, doors open at 6:30pm

Tickets: $50.00, available at http://www.ticketweb.com

Vivendi Woes Continue
Xoanon @ 1:54 pm EST

Ianthe writes: You might like to track today's news announcements about the French raid on the headquarters of Vivendi Universal. That omni-industry supergiant owns Houghton Mifflin - which in turn is the publisher of LoTR. It's also under close Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.

Part of what's being looked into is mis-stating of financials that made the firm look healthier than in fact it was. One of the results of the disclosure of Vivendi's liquidity crisis was their selling Houghton Mifflin to raise cash.

Tracking the thing from the LoTR perspective is a bit like watching one spot on the back of a leaping jaguar, but it's interesting none the less.

Here's one link from the Boston Globe. I am sure just about every other news outlet has similar articles: [More]

'Images from the Middle Earth' Info
Xoanon @ 1:18 pm EST

Imola 12 December '02
"Images from the Middle Earth"

Albertini Palace FORLI'
19 December 2002 - 6 January 2003

The fantasy event of the year has arrived

A journey through the Middle Earth with more than 110 works of art by the most important illustrators of "The Lord of the Rings" from around the world, including Ted Nasmith, the Hildebrandt Brothers, Angus McBride, Stephen Hickman, Alan Lee, Roger Garland, David Wyatt, Donato Giancola, Tom Cross, Elizabeth Danforth, April Lee, Rob Alexander, Luca Michelucci, Angelo Montanini, Randy Asplund and Stephen Walsh. It is the most complete exhibition on the theme of "The Lord of the Rings" ever put together. Throughout the period of the show there will be various related events, as enclosed. Web-site with all information:

Seat of the exhibition: Forll by the Albertini Palace, Saffi Place, 50.

Opening: Thursday, the 19th of December 19.00 p.m. with artists and experts of Tolkien.

Opening time: every day from 20 December to 6 January

From 10.00 to 12.30 a.m.
From 15.30 to 19.00 p.m.

Closed 25 December 2002 and 1 January 2003
Entry ticket: 5 Euros (full price) - 3 Euros (reduced price)

12-11-02 Latest News

Good News For Japanese Ringers!
Xoanon @ 12:58 pm EST

Ataahua writes: Peter Jackson has confirmed that the Japanese translations of TTT will be a lot better than they were for FOTR. PJ was interviewed by TVNZ before the TT premier in Paris, during which he commented that there had been a lot of complaints from Japanese fans about the quality of the dialogue translations for FOTR.

"They said that whoever did the translation obviously didn't know the subject and was making big mistakes, and they asked that this person not do the translations for The Two Towers - and that's what we've done. We've got someone else to do the Japanese translations this time around."

Media Watch: Time Magazine
Xoanon @ 12:33 am EST

Ringer Spy Aragorn sends us the scans from the LOTR issue of TIME Magazine.

Media Watch: American Cinematographer
Xoanon @ 12:14 am EST

Ringer Spy Serai sends along these great scans from American Cinematographer Magazine. Some really amazing behind the scenes shots! Great SFX stuff!

Go back to Special Reports Archives