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May 07, 2002 - May 15, 2002

5-15-02 Latest News

Japan Magazine Goodies
Xoanon @ 1:48 pm EST

Ringer Spies KT and Malva writes: Finally I have scanned some of my Japanese LOTR articles! Unfortunately I haven't been able to get them translated, but the pictures sure are pretty!

Premiere Mag: Hobbits on the Star Wars Set.
Tehanu @ 12:57 pm EST

Melissa sent this in from the June edition of Premiere: "The June edition of Premiere magazine has a cover story on Star Wars: Episode II. Throughout the article are references to Lord of the Rings, mostly comparisons between special effects techniques and whether or not films like Lord of the Rings and The Matrix were inspired by Star Wars. There's one passage that's pretty funny:

Ahmed Best, the actor behind Jar Jar Binks, would get a call, and it would be The Lord of the Rings' Elijah Wood. "They called themselves hobbits," Best says with a laugh. "I'm like, 'Wait a minute, you call yourselves hobbits for real, like a gang?' They were happy to be in civilization, 'cause they shot in New Zealand, in the woods. We could go get coffee, and people would be looking at us, but everybody thought we were a band. I was like, 'You all don't realize what's going on here, but these are hobbits, I'm Jar Jar Binks, and that's Queen Amidala.'"

5-14-02 Latest News

An Actor So Prolific, It's Downright Scary
Xoanon @ 5:44 pm EST

From: The New York Times

LONDON IN "Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones," Christopher Lee portrays Count Dooku, a former Jedi knight with possibly lethal separatist tendencies. Dooku might or might not be the movie's No. 1 bad guy. But the film's director, George Lucas, admitted that the character's name is a teasing nod to Mr. Lee's association with the role of Count Dracula (We have heard from Chris Lee himself that this is NOT the case - Xo). He wanted, he said, an actor whose steely menace would be artfully concealed by elegance a bogyman less bald than Darths Vader or Maul.

"Christopher has a certain persona," Mr. Lucas said by telephone from Northern California. "Most people who see him say, `Ooooh' " here he gives a gasp suggesting fear and awe. "You wouldn't cast him in a remake of `Father Knows Best.' He's formidable."

Asked about Count Dooku, Mr. Lee, who turns 80 at the end of this month, is formidably coy. Happy to abide by a contractual demand for secrecy, he will scarcely admit to sharing the screen with Yoda. Not that he's certain he does: actors in special-effects-laden movies often work in front of blue screens and don't see their computer-generated co-stars until the movie is finished.

"It was blue screen, almost all of it, and nothing was coming to me from behind the camera," he says. "Mind you, that's an experience I've had with a lot of my colleagues through the years."

He did relish working with one of the movies' most autonomous moguls. "When I accepted the role George Lucas rang me up and said: `I'm very glad you're going to play it. We'll have fun.' That one word did it for me. Most films are made with four-letter words, and here was a three-letter one."

With his prominent roles in the new "Star Wars" (opening Thursday) and the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, in which he plays the power-mad wizard Saruman, Mr. Lee has heard the word "comeback" a lot of late. "I have never been away!" he protests over lunch at a favorite restaurant, one of London's most august. "This is a new phase of my career a foot on the accelerator. Public awareness is growing."

A different kind of public, it should be said. Since the 1950's, Mr. Lee has been an idol of genre aficionados who regard him as the last living English-language horror star in a line that began with Lon Chaney and continued through Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price and Mr. Lee's frequent co-star, Peter Cushing the one who gave orders to Darth Vader in the first "Star Wars." In all, Mr. Lee has appeared in more than 200 features and scores of television movies and series episodes each of them evoked in Jonathan Rigby's dauntingly thorough book "Christopher Lee: The Authorized Screen History." "I felt badly for the poor fellow," Mr. Lee says. "Can you imagine having to watch all my movies? I haven't seen most of them; I can think of few prospects more horrifying."

This is one of the few occasions Mr. Lee voluntarily invokes the concept of "horror," which he regards as a pejorative: "It implies something nauseating, revolting, disgusting which one sees too often these days. I prefer the word `fantasy' " Mention Dracula or Hammer Films and you'll precipitate an oft-repeated ritual of denial and acceptance. First Mr. Lee will tell you that he hasn't made a "pure horror" film since 1975. Then he will add that the genre was a "tremendous platform" and that he will always be "immensely grateful" for its legion of fans among them such directors as Joe Dante, Tim Burton, Steven Spielberg and Mr. Lucas, all of whom were weaned on Hammer horror and have cast Mr. Lee, in part, out of happy memories of that work. Finally, he will build to the declaration that just as Sean Connery should not forever be associated with 007, he longs to be regarded as an actor.

All this is rather discouraging if you believe that some of his monsters especially his Dracula are astonishing creations, and that there's no reason the terms "horror icon" and "powerful actor" should be mutually exclusive.

Mr. Lee weighs this for an instant, then admits: "I don't like the label because it's used to my disadvantage. People say, `He can't be funny, he does horror movies.' Well, I have been funny. I played a gay American motorcyclist in `Serial.' I did one of the highest-rated `Saturday Night Live' programs ever. Most casting directors are blinkered and overcautious: time and again they have flatly refused to accept my versatility. And time and again I have proven them wrong.

"My whole life," he adds pointedly, as if dictating the opening of an article, "has been about proving people wrong."

There is something more than professional pride at stake: Mr. Lee's struggle to shed the role of "alien other." Born Christopher Frank Carandini Lee in London's upscale Belgravia, he led the life of a privileged Englishman until the age of 13, when his stepfather went bankrupt and as if to cement his sudden outsider status he shot up to a then-freakish 6-foot-5. After a long stint in the Royal Air Force during the war, he decided to become an actor but was discouraged by directors and casting agents on the grounds that he was "too tall and foreign-looking" to portray Englishmen. What followed were years playing Nazis, Slavs, Asians, Arabs, swarthy buccaneers and finally, in 1957, Frankenstein's monster opposite Mr. Cushing's fanatical scientist.

A spastic agglomeration of mismatched limbs, Mr. Lee's monster was both frightening and hideously poignant. But it was his Dracula alternately totemlike and bestial, with a penchant for nuzzling his buxom female victims that made him an international sex symbol. Many monsters followed, both in England and in the rest of Europe, where Mr. Lee's exotic handsomeness and facility with languages proved an asset.

On his scores of protracted death scenes, he writes, in his engaging 1977 autobiography, "Tall, Dark and Gruesome" (revised in 1997), "I could only hope that they would serve some purpose, and that perhaps a reputation might come in the same way as a coral formation, which is made up of a deposit of countless tiny corpses."

That is, more or less, what happened. And for good reason: often coldly imperious on screen, Mr. Lee was never so animated or so poetically vulnerable as when attempting to extricate himself from a stake or sword or shaft of sunlight. As a character in "Macbeth" puts it, nothing in his life became him like the leaving of it.

It was not until 1970, when Billy Wilder cast him as Sherlock Holmes's haughty brother, Mycroft, in "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes," that Mr. Lee had a taste of life outside the low-budget genre ghetto. It agreed with him and he still admires Mr. Wilder above all other directors. He had another shot as the cardinal's swashbuckling assassin, Rochefort, in Richard Lester's "Three Musketeers" (1974); and that same year he brought unnerving childlike glee to the assassin Scaramanga in "The Man With the Golden Gun" one of the most charismatic Bond villains in what was, unfortunately, one of the most maladroit Bond movies.

Hoping to capitalize on such high-profile projects, he left London for Los Angeles in the mid-70's and found himself largely ignored. After six fish-out-of-water years he returned to his flat in Chelsea, not far from his birthplace, where he lives with Birgit, his wife of 41 years.

MR. LEE appears remarkably hale for a man on the threshold of his ninth decade, and in "Attack of the Clones" he brings a touch of wry insouciance to such B-movie dialogue as "You have interfered in our affairs for the last time." He wields a light saber as if to the Force born. (One suppresses the urge to ask if his vitality is due to all the human blood that he has consumed.) He has the barest hint of catarrh in a voice that has dropped from baritone to a cavernous bass, of equal proportions oil and flint. (An enthusiastic vocalist, he has recorded a CD of arias and show tunes.) His hair is white and meticulously combed back, his manner formal he tends to hold forth on such subjects as the importance of discipline but with injections of drollery. He does myriad accents and knockout impressions of other actors.

"I'd been told he was pompous and had no sense of humor," said Joe Dante, who cast Mr. Lee as a zealous scientist in "Gremlins 2" (1990) and plans to direct him again in a big-budget remake of the 1967 Hammer occult thriller "The Devil Rides Out." "When I met him I couldn't believe this was the guy they were talking about. He was so funny and self-deprecating and such a big Warner Brothers cartoon fan the polar opposite of the cold cad he usually plays."

One can understand why Mr. Dante is eager to work with his childhood hero again. Mr. Lee is at the peak of his abilities, with age having removed some starch and added emotional gravity. He gave one of his most eloquent performances as the haggard, lumbering manservant Flay in the 1999 BBC mini-series "Gormenghast." And he is extremely affecting as the dying founder of Pakistan in the handsome, earnest but fatally didactic "Jinnah" (1998) a performance he often cites, along with his hearty pagan lord in "The Wicker Man" (1972), as his favorite. He lobbies for "Jinnah," largely undistributed, at every opportunity.

Then, of course, there is his towering Saruman the White in Peter Jackson's "Fellowship of the Ring" a film that as a lifelong J. R. R. Tolkien buff he strove to be a part of. With a snow-white mane and a beak like a fishhook, he hurls mighty imprecations in a voice that sounds credible commanding his foul minions to rrrrrrip the trees out of the earth a voice that led his co-star, Ian McKellen, to comment that Mr. Lee's avoidance of the theater (after some dire experiences in his youth) meant the world had lost a great Shakespearean actor.

"In front of the camera he has this wonderful ability to do something to his eyes," said Mr. Jackson, now editing the second of the three "Rings" installments. "They suddenly glaze over and then gleam in a very chilling way; it's as if he turns on an internal light. When you've got your shot he turns it off and he's back to being his warm self."

Mr. Lucas will direct Mr. Lee in the next "Star Wars" installment. In the meantime, Mr. Lee finds himself with more offers than in any of his 56 years as an actor. "I'm getting flooded," he reports. "I say no to them all. They're all variations, and usually very bad ones, on pictures that I've already done." He does not add, "The horror, the horror." This is clearly the stuff of fantasy.

Tolkien Weekend at Sarehole Mill
Calisuri @ 5:26 pm EST

Yet More Fun at Mill!

18th-19th May 2001

This year’s Tolkien Weekend at Sarehole Mill (the third such event now becoming an annual item in the Birmingham calendar) will be the biggest yet. The museum at Sarehole Mill will be open for extra hours, and a miller will be demonstrating his craft.

On the green around the mill there will be:

Last year’s Fun at Mill weekend (19-20th May 2001) saw a record 2,200 people visiting Sarehole Mill. Sarehole Mill was the original" of the Mill at Bywater in the Shire (as mentioned in The Lord of the Rings), and is now maintained as a traditional milling museum.

A Tolkien Country Park?

The Fun at Mill weekends have been organised to provide a free good day out, and to publicise the concept of a new park centred around Sarehole Mill. Contrary to several articles in the press in 1998, this is not a Tolkien Theme Park, but a country park based around Sarehole Mill and Moseley Bog. Since 1998 a group of charitable organisations, the Moseley LNR Conservation Group, the River Cole and Chinn Book Conservation Group, The Tolkien Society and The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, otherwise known as the Tolkien Country Park Partners, have been working towards the creation of this park in Birmingham. It was decided that this park should be known as The Tolkien Country Park because of the importance of the area to world-famous author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

The plan is to create a linear park along the course of the River Cole past Sarehole mill, which is believed to be the last functioning water mill in Birmingham. The suggestions came initially from local residents, some of whom were aware of Tolkien’s links with the area.

Contact details for those wishing to discuss the Park Project:

(Please note that all these organisations are run by volunteers in their spare time)

The Tolkien Society: e-mail chairman@tolkiensociety.org

Mrs Chris Crawshaw, 30 Span Meadow, Shawbirch, Telford, TF5 0NE.

The Moseley Bog LNR Conservation Group:

c/o Mrs Joy Fifer MBE, Wake Green Road, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 9UZ.

The River Cole & Chinn Brook Conservation Group:

c/o Peter Bennett, 68 Smirrcus Road, Hall Green, Birmingham, B28 0LB.

The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country:

c/o Peter Bennett address as above.

About the Tolkien Society

The Tolkien Society was founded in 1969, its aim being to further interest in the life and works of Professor J.R.R. Tolkien, CBE, the author of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and other works of fiction and philological study. Based in the United Kingdom and registered as an independent, non-profit making charity, the Society boasts an international membership. The Society helps to bring together those with like minds, both formally and informally, with gatherings throughout the year. There are three such events at a national level: an Annual General Meeting and Dinner, the Seminar and Oxonmoot.

The society produces two publications; a bulletin, Amon Hen, appears six times a year with Tolkien-related reviews, news, letters, artwork and articles, both humorous and serious. The annual journal, Mallorn, is more serious in nature with longer critical articles, reviews and essays. For young members there is an active group, "Entings", which has its own section in the Society bulletin.

We also have a website, which provides members and non-members with general information about the park project, the society and the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien:


5-13-02 Latest News

Weekend Round Up
Xoanon @ 2:28 am EST

A Nazgul Could Whoop A Jedi Anytime....

Sinclair's 'Toy Love' At Cannes

Ash Wednesday Report From Tribeca

Cello Preformance In Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Last IMAX Screening In Perth...

Bruce Pelz: R.I.P.

'Ash Wednesday' Premiere Report

Hall of Fire Chats For May 11th & 12th

Wood's 'Ash Wednesday' To Premiere Today

LOTR Concert In Ontario

5-10-02 Latest News

Media Watch: Premiere Magazine
Xoanon @ 12:57 pm EST

From: Colleen

Have you seen the latest Premiere magazine? There's an article (page 64) on the 25 power people under 35, and our Elijah Wood is in it. Interesting to note that Kirsten Dunst is on this list, but Tobey Maguire is not, Natalie Portman is in, but not Hayden Christensen:

Elijah Wood Age: 21

Avalon's tot is now at the center of the multi-billion-dollar 'Lord of the Rings' phenomenon, from which he can either Harrison-Ford-it to super-stardom or Mark-Hammill himself into oblivion. We suspect the former.

Next up: 'Try Seventeen', an indie comedy (his first).

5-09-02 Latest News

More Viggo News
Xoanon @ 12:58 pm EST

From: Jaimie

Since the (Mann) gallery is very limited in space, with one elevator to the 10th floor that can carry about 8 people, it was decided to have a private opening on July 11th for the Robert Mann Gallery guests.

Viggo will be in attendance at the gallery on Friday, July 12th to sign books--exact hours will be posted shortly on the Robert Mann website.

We would also like to announce that Viggo and Smart Art Press will be re-printing "Recent Forgeries" and "Signlanguage." Viggo will also be publishing a book of photographs that will include poems from "Ten Last Night" and "Recent Forgeries" as well as some new poems.

It will be the first book from his newly formed press for art books (stay tuned for name and details, including a website where you will find all the details regarding future publications, as well as information regarding Viggo's exhibitions).

Scotland Today Talks 'Sniper 470'
Xoanon @ 12:25 pm EST

From: Stephen

The afternoon edition of the news programme 'Scotland Today' showed Billy Boyd on the set of his next project, 'Sniper 470' which is being shot in Glasgow.

Billy is cast as a lone astronaut and was shown in an oversized spacesuit and even bigger helmet about to be sucked out an airlock!

The 'film' is being made as part of a new Scottish short film scheme called NEW FOUND LAND and apparently, this means that the 'film' will be shown on TV first.

I use the word 'film' loosely as a digital video camera was being used.

The director was interviewed and explained that Billy got the job because he could pretend he was floating while sitting down and did it better than anyone else!

Viggo News Update
Xoanon @ 11:47 am EST

Viggo will be appearing at the LA Virgin Megastore on May 16 [More]

And his exhibition at the Robert Mann Gallery will open July 12 [More]

He will be in attendance to at the gallery on Friday, July 12 to sign books - hours TBD.

Viggo and Smart Art Press will be re-printing "Recent Forgeries" and "Signlanguage." Viggo will also be publishing a book of photographs that will include poems from "Ten Last Night" and "Recent Forgeries"." It will be the first book from his newly formed press for art books. A new website is in the works where you will find details regarding future publications as well as information on Viggo's exhibitions.

More details will be posted at The Corner of Viggo when available. [More]

5-08-02 Latest News

TTT: Towers Info YOU MUST HAVE!! -Update-
Xoanon @ 3:59 pm EST

Criz sends along the Houghton Mifflin TTT info from an insider within the HM camp, take a look!

A Hobbit Hunter In Heaven
Xoanon @ 10:34 am EST

Ringer Spy Ataahua sends along this article. Take a look!

NYC Book Expo Report
Xoanon @ 10:15 am EST

From: Garfeimao

I just got home from New York and the Book Expo there last night, and have some little tidbits of info for you.

I talked with just about every Tolkien related booth I could and got some release dates on TTT items. It seems that most of all the licensees will be releasing the next slate of promo items on November 6. This includes Cedco with the daily calendars, Antioch with those lovely bookmarks with the rings attached (one set for release to Barnes and Noble bookstores only, and another set for general release), Del Rey/Ballantine with the paperbacks (Hobbit cover will remain the same, while the Trilogy will now have new covers in the box set), and Houghton Mifflin with a new set of the visual companion book, kids companion, and official movie guide, along with new covers for the hardcover books and the large trade paperbacks. All of these will have new TTT covers.

The new cover for Two Towers actually is of Sam and Frodo looking out over their road to Mordor, the final scene from FOTR. They said this is how they intend to promote the next installment, and get away from all that Two Towers being related to the WTC terrorist issue. I also got to see the new Art of LOTR book, which looks fabulous. It is now shipping to bookstores and should be on shelves in the next 2-3 weeks. Oh, and a re-issue of The Hobbit will have a bit of FOTR in it, as a lead in to the trilogy. Now, I know the new companion books will be out in November, but the new trilogy books, I'm not sure of the release of the new covers, sorry about that. It didn't occur to me until after I talked with everyone several times that I should probably be writing all this stuff down. Everyone at all the booths were so friendly and helpful, so I just want to say thanks to everyone at Cedco, Del Rey/Ballantine, Antioch and especially Houghton Mifflin, where I got to watch the Two Towers trailer as often as I wanted, which was often. Oh, and I got another LOTR book bag, woohoo.

5-07-02 Latest News

Walsh vs. Walsh: Screenwriter takes journo to court
Tehanu @ 11:33 pm EST

This came in today from Onfilm, NZ's film trade magazine.

"According to a report today from the NZPA, 'Lord of the Rings' co-writer and co-producer Frances Rosemary Walsh (aka Fran Walsh) had three claims for damages filed in the High Court last Wednesday against the 'NZ Listener' and its editor Finlay Macdonald over an article that appeared in the magazine two months ago.

"Walsh claims that the article, written by Auckland freelance journalist Frances Walsh, which criticised the NZ film industry's lack of financial success, was defamatory and that, by not clearly differentiating journo Walsh from filmmaking Walsh, the magazine "had deliberately attempted to mislead its readers".

For more info, NZ Ringers can watch tonight's TV news or read your newspaper of choice tomorrow - they'll be all over it, you betcha...

Barliman's event in Perth
Tehanu @ 11:19 pm EST

The Australian Ringers in Barliman's are organising a get-together to see LOTR on an IMAX screen. Here's the details:
Date: Saturday 11th May
Place: Imax Cinema, Northbridge.
Time: 6pm
Details: Wear a leaf on you (fake or otherwise) so we know that you're a Perth LotR fan / Barlimans' Regular! Fancy dress encouraged.

Ring-Leader will be wearing a hobbit dress and curly brown hair. If we get more than ten people the cost of the tickets will only be $7. Imax has a LARGE screen and huge sound systems, so this is a real bargain! Prime opportunity to see Fellowship of the Rings in a great cinema before its run is finally over!

Contact: Nancy (Periwinkle) at: tosh@opera.iinet.net.au or Eledhwen at elfsheen@hotmail.com

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