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May 23, 2003 - May 31, 2003

5-31-03 Latest News

Jackson's LoTR Fan Club Interview
Demosthenes @ 4:19 am EST

This is - in the main - oldish news now, but a couple of weeks ago the LoTR Fan Club published its most recent edition. One of the most interesting reads was an interview with Peter Jackson. Grammaboodawg - one of our Board regulars - transcribed the juicy bits. And although we already new the guts of the interview, it's nice to see some of the detail. Enjoy.

Update with Peter Jackson

Q. Peter, are you going to be doing some additional shooting for The Return of the King?

A. Yes, we plan to. We haven't quite gotten to the point where we know exactly what it is we want yet. Philippa and Fran are looking at the footage as I cut. We work up ideas, and then get together and talk about the storyline and potential scenes we would shoot to improve it and enhance it. That process is beginning now, too. We're still anticipating that we'll shoot bits and pieces with most of the cast. But it's born from ideas that come from the cut, and I haven't done quite enough of the cut yet for Philippa and Fran to really get into the script writing. But the first seeds of ideas are starting to happen.

Q. Fans were very excited to see the incredible CG (computer-generated) work with Gollum and Treebeard. Won't Shelob be the next big CG character you introduce?

A. Yes, that's true, Gollum is now a member of the cast and continues through the story. The mûmakil and Nazgûl have their real center-stage appearances after cameos in The Two Towers. They will be more spectacular from a cinematic point of view. But Shelob is definitely going to be the creepiest and scariest of the creatures. We did some work on Shelob a long, long time ago when we were in pre-production.

Most of the creatures of the trilogy were designed before we even started shooting back in 1998-99. We've just dusted off the designs for each of the creatures as we've gotten to them in the post-production process, so Shelob has only just come back onto the drawing board for re-evaluation now.

I've got a real fear of spiders; I guess I have arachnophobia. Ever since I was a kid, spiders have freaked me out. There is a spider in New Zealand called a Tunnel Web spider, which is a common New Zealand spider but a very nasty, fat, pudgy one that lives in gardens.

Ever since I was a kid, I have been terrified of coming across these things. You find them under old bricks and old logs and leaves and such. It is a very evil-looking spider; it's small—about an inch and a half long. About three weeks ago, we had a Shelob design meeting, and I looked at the designs and said, "You know, we have to make this look more like the Tunnel Web. She has to be more like this horrible spider." Most of the CG guys that I was talking to were from the U.S., so they didn't have a clue what a Tunnel Web was. So I turned to one of the Kiwi designers, Christian Rivers, and said, "Can we find pictures of one?"

The next morning, Christian poked around in his garden and managed to catch one in a glass jar! So right now, we have a live Tunnel Web at Weta being the model for Shelob. As far as I'm concerned, a photograph would've been just fine!

Q. How closely will you be sticking to the book in The Return of the King?

A. The Return of the King is quite close to the book. There are notable exceptions. The first thing with RotK is that we still have to wrap up The Two Towers. We have the Isengard sequence—in which they go to Isengard to deal with Saruman, who is imprisoned at the top of a tower—which is at the tail end of TT book. It is now at the beginning of RotK. Likewise, we don't have the scouring of the Shire, which is a major chapter at the end of the book....

...When the ring is destroyed at the end of RotK, that is really the climax of the film. Those two things are the notable major exceptions as well as Shelob, which is another spill-over from TT—Minas Morgul, the stairs of Cirith Ungol and into Shelob's tunnel are now in RotK.

When fans of the book see that sequence, I think they will understand immediately how impossible it would have been for it to be in TT. It feels so right to be where we've got it from a story point of view—for reasons I can't discuss now! At this point, we don't have Ghân-buri-Ghân, the Wild Man that the Rohirrim come across on their way to Minas Tirith in there. I don't know if this will change with us doing pickups, but I doubt it.

Having said that, the rest of RotK movie is going to follow the book reasonably well. What I like about RotK is that the story is the centerpiece of the film, more so than in the first two films. If you thought about what the major memorable thing was about FotR, it would probably be meeting these characters for the first time, and getting used to the actors playing them—that was the memorable thing.

In TT, you've got Gollum and Helm's Deep — the spectacle and the size of it. The same characters are there in RotK, the spectacle and size is there, Gollum is there — but there are not those new elements anymore. What it does have is the most compelling narrative of the three films. It has a story that unfolds in a very exciting way.

I think that is going to make it a very strong film, because you know the places, you know the characters, and you know the situation. We only meet one new character, which is Denethor — and he's only new to these who don't check out TT extended cut in November! We're now just simply paying it all off with a narrative that twists and turns and unfolds in quite a thrilling way.

Q. Many of the Actors who worked on these films have spoken of their unique collaborative nature. Bernard Hill told us that the actors involved in upcoming scenes would gather at your home or Philippa's home to go over scenes and that everyone involved was invited to give feedback. He was struck by the fact that he was offered this opportunity to contribute. How did you, Fran Walsh, and Philippa decide to take this collaborative approach, and how did it help you? Can you think of any examples where input from an actor changed the direction of a scene or a character in a particularly striking or positive way?

A. We just have a philosophy of collaboration. We ended up with some very good actors in the films, and as with any good actor, they are going to get under the skin of their character. They are going to get to know their character better than you do. As screenwriters or director, we have to give equal attention to many characters; in this particular trilogy of films, there are 20 major characters....

The wonderful thing about actors is that, obviously, the only character that they are interested in and that they really think about is their own. We find that the actors can be wonderfully useful to sit down and talk about scenes with because they are going to be approaching the scene from a unique point of view.

They are going to be approaching it from their point of view, whether they are Théoden or Gandalf or Aragorn - their take on reading a particular scene is going to be from their character's own viewpoint. They provide insights into that character and we don't often think of these insights because we're looking at it from a more global perspective.

We've always found it very useful to discuss the script with the actors and to figure it out. It serves two purposes for me: One, it obviously improves the script because they come up with ideas and bits of business we like to use. The other huge advantage is that when you get on set, everyone knows that he or she is doing, and there is less debate.

You can easily use up the first hour or two each day talking to the actors about the nature of the scene and what they have to do. But if we have already had those discussions in the context of a meeting, then we turn up on set and can start shooting because we all know what we're doing. Not only that, but the scene has been improved, and everybody is happy, so we can just shoot it. It actually makes the shoot run a little bit more efficiently to have these early meetings.

Actors contribute to various degrees. For instance, Ian McKellen would always have suggestions that were based on the book. Ian became a very great fan of the book; he hadn't actually read the book at all when he was first approached about the role. By the time we were filming on the set, he became a very great admirer of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Ian would turn up for meetings — and sometimes on set — carrying the book under his arm. He would have basically looked at the scene that we had written and [then] gone to the book to look at the equivalent moment there, too, and he would see lines we hadn't used, or he would see moments for Gandalf that Tolkien had described that we hadn't put in our script.

A lot of Ian's ideas and suggestions were based on the book itself. He was very funny because he would say, "There is this wonderful line. Why didn't you put it into the script?" We would always have a reason and say, "Oh, well, the scene was too long," or "We didn't think that was very important." Because he is such a wonderful actor, he would say, "Well, that's fine, but if this line were in the script, this is what I would imagine it sounding like."

And then he would read the line to us in the character of Gandalf, and it would be so wonderful that we would immediately want to put it in the script! He knew that and would always get that past us! He always had the ability to pull that off, because he was so great. He was a great salesman for getting us to put extra bits and pieces in the script!

Q. How do you reach the point on these films where you can let go and say, "It's done"? Is it a matter of tweaking a film as much as possible until you have literally reached the deadline, or is it there something that you just clicks instinctively and lets you know it is finished?

A. These films are tool long and complicated to ever be able to sit back and say, "It's finished. I don't want to do anymore." That moment never arrives. You literally run out of time.

You are really describing what happens in the last two months of post-production. The end of post-production is at a point that is called "the delivery of the film." Here in New Zealand, we have to supply the studio with a finished cut negative and soundtrack of the movie. That usually happens at the end of every October or the first week of November.

The reason that date is very, very important — and really can't be changed — is that New Line has a phenomenally complicated process that they have to go through in producing up to 10,000 prints of the film. The delivery date allows New Line the barest number of weeks to do what they have to do to release the film simultaneously around the world ...The entire soundtrack of the film is on computer hard drives — every sound effect, every piece of dialogue, every piece of music, every nuance of sound is on the computers. We edit the film on computers, so the picture is on a hard drive too....

...What happens now is that at almost any time before delivery, I can say, "You know, I want to extend this shot by 10 seconds," or "I want to cut this scene out," or "I want to reduce this by half." It happens automatically on the hard drive containing the picture....

All these computers talk to each other, and the process happens relatively easily. That enables the filmmaker to keep fiddling with the movie right up until just before delivery, which can be both good and bad. It gives you enormous flexibility and advantages, and we were certainly fiddling with TT right up to the delivery and the same with Fellowship.

For example, on TT, I added the scene of Saruman talking with the wildmen the day before delivery. I just have a simple philosophy that nothing is ever perfect. There is no perfect cut of the film — it doesn't exist ... We've shot over 5 million feet of 35mm film on this project, and there are infinite ways you could tell the story. You can generally keep improving the films the longer you can spend on them.

The most useful thing that could happen during cutting would be to walk away from it for three months and have the ability to then come back and take a fresh look at the film, because it is after the passing of time that you suddenly see things that you hadn't thought of before.

When you have been cutting for a year, and you have a deadline approaching, you really just lose objectivity. You're operating on gut instinct, and you have to try to guess the best way a scene should play. After the space of two or three months, a lot of the things you were confused about or just couldn't get your head around become glaringly obvious if you see the film again.

That is why we are also shooting these pick-ups. RotK was shot over three years ago. As we put that footage together, what we are finding — which is enormously helpful - is a fresh view of the film. We're able to look at a rough cut of the film, and it is something that we haven't really thought of or looked at for three years. Everything that we had written and shot... suddenly it all has a wonderful sense of perspective about it.

We look at it and say, "Oh, you know we should have a scene that does this," or "Let's add that." Looking at it with fresh eyes after a distance of time is a really exciting thing to do because the script problems you couldn't get your head around at the time — because you were so tired or so busy - suddenly become obvious. It all becomes clear, and you are able to shoot the scenes that help the film.

It's an interesting process. But I never really get to a point where I think something is perfect. I do work on it until there is no more time left.


5-30-03 Latest News

Hall Of Fire Chats This Weekend
Frode @ 5:36 pm EST

Eowyn and Theoden are borne off the battlefield in honour, while noone notices a small fatigued Merry wandering in the background with tears filling his eyes. When Pippin finds his friend, Merry is already falling under the Black Shadow. Soon the wounded are all laid in beds in the houses of healing, but though they are tended well there seems to be no cure for the shadow of the nazgul. But then a wise woman of Gondor remembers an old proverb; "the hands of the king are the hands of a healer".

How do you think the Black Shadow affects its victims? How are Eowyn, Faramir and Merry affected differently? What can the houses of healing tell us about Gondor?

Now Aragorn enters the capital city of his realm at last. Not yet to rule, but to aid the wounded. We shall look at how he goes about treating Faramir, Eowyn and Merry. Furthermore we shall talk about what Aragorns behavior tells us about him as a man and as a king. Perhaps this one chapter reveals more about the mysterious and aloof future ruler of the reunited kingdom than any other part of the book.

Join us in #thehalloffire as we take a look at Return of the King book V, Chapter VIII – The Houses of Healing.

Saturday Chat:
5:30pm ET (17:30)
[also 11:30pm (23:30) CET and 7:30am Sunday (07:30) AET]

Sunday Chat:
7:00 pm (19:00) CET
[also 1:00pm (13:00) ET and 3:00am (03:00) Monday morning AET]

ET = Eastern Time, USA's East Coast
CET = Central European Time, Central Europe
AET = Australian East Coast

Do you have a possible topic for Hall of Fire? Drop us a line at halloffire@theonering.net.

Frodo and Sam NOT in Osgiliath?
Tehanu @ 5:38 am EST

About the Frodo and Sam in Osgiliath Sewers pictures.

Simon wrote, "Interested to read MattForce's comments on the picture. If anyone looks in the 'photograph guide to the Two Towers' book, they will see these pictures at the end with text that reads something like, 'After Faramir decides to let them go, he shows Frodo and Sam a secret way out of the city'

On the other hand, Jolyon writes to argue with this:

"When I saw these pictures on TORN, the first question that leaped to mind was: "Why are Frodo and Sam alone?"

"They were brought to Osgiliath as captives of Faramir and his men and left with Gollum, so this didn't make sense.

"Then I started thinking, where else do Frodo and Sam walk alone through a tunnel? The answer of course is "on their way to Shelob's Lair", when Gollum deserts them.

"There were orc-built passageways intended to avoid her lair, but these were intersected by all of her tunnels. The book describes the passage that Frodo and Sam initially enter as high and wide, with smooth walls and an even floor, suggesting a tunnel fashioned by orcs ("as orc-like a place as ever there could be"). This would seem to describe what we see in the photo's quite well.

"The only problem with this is that in the pictures that we know show Shelobs Lair, the walls are very definitely cavern-like. Very rough and irregular. But this might only be the condition of the walls in that part of the tunnels that Shelob has made her home.

"Why these pictures would appear in a book about The Towers is a bit of a mystery, although it could be explained if there was some question during production over how far Frodo and Sam would get toward Shelob before the end of the second film. Perhaps it was being considered at one point to have the film leave them in the tunnels, with the final decision coming too late to alter the content of the book prior to publication."

5-28-03 Latest News

Lord of the Rings Sweeps BayCon 21 Masquerade Awards
Xoanon @ 5:09 pm EST

[Click here for the images!]

Costumes created by fans of TORn received five major awards at BayCon 21, the San Francisco Bay Area Science Fiction and Fantasy Conference, held in San Jose California between May 23-26 2003.

Over thirty individuals and team entries competed for prizes in the Novice and Professional classes. Entrants were judged on technical costume making, and on over-all presentation in front of an audience. According to Trystan Bass of the Greater Bay Area Costuming Guild, one of the event's sponsors, the quality of this year's costume entries were the best in over ten years.

Best of Show was won by the One Ring Circus, a group of ten who portrayed members of the Fellowship and performed a hilarious skit to the tune of "The Pitch (Spectacular Spectacular)" from the motion picture Moulin Rouge, as if Peter Jackson was "pitching "Lord of the Rings" to New Line. Spectacular is the only word for their costumes, too. Members of the troupe included Carolyn Staehle (Frodo), Leah Jakusovsky (Sam), Kelly Bolton (Merry), Cathleen Trowbridge (Pippin), Mitch Steinberger (Aragorn), Aimee Steinberger (Arwen), Kelly Lima (Eowyn), Gordelia Willis (Legolas), A.J. Wu (Ringwraith) and Gimli (Judi Grivich). (See http://oneringcircus.stitchinbabes.com/orcindex.html for
lyrics and more photos).

Best Fantasy Novice was a tie between two entries. Philip Gust as Theoden, who performed the famous "Arise, riders of Theoden!" speech. In a separate entry, Kathe Gust as Eowyn dramatized the moment when Eowyn first resolves to go into battle. (See http://celefinniel.webhop.net for more photos and costume descriptions).

Best Workmanship, Professional Class went to Judi Givich as Gimli for her stunningly accurate recreation of John Rhys Davies' dwarf costume and makeup. The costume was complete with hand-made chain mail, leather work, shoes, helmet, beard, wig, and facial prosthetics.

Best Workmanship, Novice Class went to Philip Gust as Theoden. The costume, created by Kathe Gust, was a near-perfect replica of Bernard Hill's costume, with hand sewn gold trims on the green wool cloak and brown velvet surcoat, a hand embroidered horse patterns on the neck and front of the leather-laced black under tunic, brooch, boots, sword, and belt.

The Greater Bay Area Costuming Guild's Rising Star Award was given to Kathe Gust as Eowyn for her recreation of Miranda Otto's court dress of greenvelvet, with brocade underskirt and lined front skirt panel and sleeves, hand sewn gold yoke trim, boots, jeweled belt and necklace.

Also competing were Jeanette Peters as Arwen, and Sam Peters as Gaffer Gamgee, with prosthetic hobbit feet and a long pipe.

Silviane Mann-Willrich as a Elven Maiden won a special "hall costuming award" presented to costumed participants for notable costumes spotted by special judges while walking around BayCon.

Lord of the Rings: The Musical
Xoanon @ 10:07 am EST




“THE LORD OF THE RINGS”, the first major stage musical adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s classic trilogy, will receive its World Premiere when it opens in London in Spring 2005. This coincides with the 50th anniversary of the publication of the complete trilogy, “The Fellowship of the Ring”, “The Two Towers” and “The Return of the King”.

The £8 million production has book and lyrics by Shaun McKenna and music by Stephen Keeling and Bernd Stromberger. McKenna & Keeling were the team responsible for the critically acclaimed West End musical “Maddie”.

Award-winning Matthew Warchus will direct. His recent credits include the London musicals “Tell Me On A Sunday” and “Our House”, and the Yasmina Reza plays “Life x 3”, “The Unexpected Man” and “Art”. Award-winning Rob Howell will design. His recent West End credits include “Our House”, “Simply Heavenly”, “The Graduate”, “The Caretaker” and “Sophie’s Choice” at The Royal Opera House.

“THE LORD OF THE RINGS” will be produced by Kevin Wallace and Saul Zaentz. Kevin Wallace was in-house producer at The Really Useful Theatre Company from 1997-2001 when it produced the Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals “Whistle Down the Wind”, The Beautiful Game”, “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Sunset Boulevard”. In 2001 he received an International EMMY Award as executive producer of the film version of “Jesus Christ Superstar”. His other London productions include the critically acclaimed “Gagarin Way” and “Eden”. The legendary Saul Zaentz, whose film productions include the award-winning “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, “Amadeus”, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and “The English Patient”, was this year awarded the BAFTA ‘Academy Fellowship’.


5-27-03 Latest News

Cannes Plays TTT Score During Ceremony
Xoanon @ 1:39 pm EST

raptor writes: The TTT score seems to be highly appreciated, it was played several times during the Cannes festival awards. Here's a presumed complete list (I only managed to watch three quarters of it)of the fragments played:

Helm's Deep
Forth Eorlingas (twice,one time for Sting's entry to announce the winner)
King Of The Golden Hall
Breath Of Life (announcing the best director award)
Samwise The Brave (announcing the best actress award).

The LOTR Props Exhibition: Steve la Hood Speaks
Tehanu @ 6:41 am EST

Smokering went to Waikato University for a lecture by LOTR Te Papa Exhibit maker Steve la Hood. Here is her report:

Steve la Hood is a third-generation New Zealander, also Lebanese. He worked ten years with TVNZ, before becoming a freelance producer and documentary maker. He’s also an Executive Member of the Screen Director’s Guild. Among his other accomplishments are the Jade Boulder Trail: Exhibition Concept, Content and Design for Te Papa, and another te papa exhibit ‘Stories of the Sea’ themed attraction.

Steve—sorry, Mr la Hood—began by telling us that some of us probably thought the whole LOTR Te Papa thing was just big moneymaking venture… that LOTR was such a success you couldn’t go wrong, etc. He then asked us how many of us had read LOTR—seen LOTR—been to the exhibish. About seventy per cent of us had read and seen it, and only slightly less for the exhibition! He then showed us a short film promoting the exhibition, with quotes from Richard Taylor, and shots of the armour, props etc. with Steve narrating. The exhibit is 670 square metres and is going to Sydney, Britain and Singapore, among other places, on a tour. (Lucky thing).

Much of the content of the exhibish is about imaginary cultures. Steve asked us to imagine several real cultures now…. A vast, bureaucratic American government who all have ‘email addresses with capital letters’. An English family trust—the Tolkien Estate, all upset about how popular the film is. New Zealand museum-frequenters who think the very idea of a LOTR exhibit is crass. A frenzied tribal horde desperate to prove they can do it—the film professionals of NZ. This tribe is led by chieftains, named Richard Taylor, Grant Major, Ngila Dickson etc. These chieftains are ruled by Peter Jackson. Barrie Osborne is the visiting potentate who is really calling all the shots. Or so Steve described them!

When Steve first mentioned the idea of a LOTR exhibit, back in the early days, Fran Walsh just burst out laughing. Later Ngila showed him the costumes, and he was impressed with the quality after spending 30 years on film sets. So he sent Richard and PJ a 12-page begging letter, asking if he could make a museum exhibit. Richard developed the idea, as he does, until it was basically a LOTR theme park with all the film tricks! Then a Lady Someone approached Steve separately with the same idea—a LOTR exhibit—and Steve decided very tactfully to agree.

Then followed a six-month email-phone relationship which resulted in Te Papa being interested in the exhibit. They decided to focus on the answers to the question, "Why could JRRT’s story seem so familiar to first-time readers?"

They came up with four answers:

-The characters

-The story

-The themes

-The world of LOTR

Then Steve talked a bit about how Tolkien’s world was based partly on Norse and Celtic myth; ancient Irish legends, various pictures of one-eyed gods, powerful rings, swords re-forged for kings, beasties with split personalities, and so on. Steve obviously didn’t believe Tolkien’s protestations about how LOTR is not an allegory—he mocked the ides that orcs were not Nazis, the Ring not a nuclear weapon, etc., etc. I noticed a few people gritting their teeth here! Anyway, the exhibition decided to follow three major strands—Tolkien and his influences, the story of LOTR, and the filmmaker’s vision. This original exhibit would have been 1200 metres squared, and much more geeky than the one they ended up with! Plans included a walk-through ‘ghost-train’ Moria, complete with orcs and a ‘real’ Balrog; a recreation of Tolkien’s study; a 3-D interactive map of Middle-Earth; a ride-on fell beast; and a room in Lorien with dialogue by Cate Blanchett projected onto glass so she seemed real—I’m a bit hazy on how that one worked, but you get the idea—and the visitors could look into the Mirror and see images with themselves somehow added to the picture! VERY cool. There would have been 3 identical exhibits—one in Te Papa and two in Asia.

Sadly, it was not to be. In January 2000 a delegation flew to LA to show the New Line people what they wanted. They loved it, agreed and began work on a contract, when the Tolkien Estate stepped in. Now, as we all know the Tolkien Estate was a bit iffy about the whole LOTR films idea to begin with, and since for various legal reasons they couldn’t get at the film, they decided to have a bash at the exhib. (According to Steve, this is not, me!). So, ALL the references to the Professor had to go. The entire exhibit would have to be reconstructed without the T-word. Of course, this removed a lot of the depth and intellectual-ness they could have had in the exhibit, but Steve said they weren’t too disappointed because, after all, with Viggo and Liv around a dusty old dead professor could get in the way a bit anyway. (Cue small noises from the back of Smokering’s throat).

Then they (‘they’ being Story Inc.) got together with the filmmakers. Mark Ordesky subbed for the very busy PJ (wonder what he could have been doing to while away the time?)—then, as lawyers do, the lawyers joined in and slowed the whole thing down to a crawl. Then there was another fall-through due to some major sponsor, an automobile company, being sold…

Months later, Te Papa came back with the idea of a much smaller exhibit that could be moved to museums around the world. One or two immersives, a few interactives, lots of props—you know. One of the key elements, however, was a display of the costumes on silicon masks of the actors. Sadly this couldn’t be done, so they moved on to Concept 4.

This concept was a more traditional museumy display with items in glass cases and so on. They came up with the lighting ideas and so on, and walked New Line through it. Once again everything was hunky-dory, but the exhibit now had to open months early, so it could coincide with the release of TTT (as opposed to February 2003, the date for which they’d hoped). It took lots of help, but they did manage, and the final exhibit opened 4 months later for the night of the TTT premier.

Steve then went on to tell us nothing I didn’t know about how great Tolkien’s imaginary cultures are, and how well PJ achieved them on film. The inscription on Arwen’s sword (which I can’t remember—check the Fan Club Mag) is an example of this—it was written for Idril, Arwen’s ancestor, but the word in Elvish for ‘noble lady’ was ‘arwen’, and it was thus both a pun and foreshadowing. Of course, most people wouldn’t pick this up (really, really long shot of sword with subtitles? Glamorous), and it was a created backstory—not from the books. As far as Tolkien tells us, Idril could have used teaspoons as defensive weapons. So, this is just one indication of PJ’s grandeur, vision, talent, creativity, et cetera, et cetera, hand me an apple…

Anyway. Then things got a bit more interesting. Steve described Richard taylor as a ‘religious visionary’! Richard took Steve on a tour of the workshops and showed him stuff like Theoden’s armour (engraved with the king’s seal even on the INSIDE), and Sauron’s (acid etching all over it)…

Steve says PJ’s single vision being realized is not due to force, but in keeping craftsmen from other films, and by letting the collective imagination FIND the vision. I thought this was pretty hot stuff. Anyway.

When the Story Inc guys came to collect the props for the exhibit, their premise was to treat each prop as a precious artifact. They were to imagine these things had been dug up 100 feet under the streets of Hamilton, and they were the only ones of their kind, and they only had one shot at preserving them. Laudable, but when they turned up to Weta clad in white coats and gloves, Barrie Osborne roared with laughter! The ‘artifacts’ they were carefully labeling for replacement cost, uniqueness, fragility and so on and tenderly swathing in cotton wool, had a week before been thrown round fields, dragged in the dirt, lost in rivers, sweated in and breathed on!

Another principle of the exhibition was that there was to be no self-promotion in the video clips. The people were THERE, they didn’t need to drag them in; and they were going to see ROTK anyway; plus, they’d heard it all before. (As one of the people who did go to the exhibit, I appreciated this! Although people would say ‘We made six thousand of this..’ or whatever, they refrained from adding the usual ‘which goes to show what grandeur and scope we are achieving here in terms of scale, operators are standing by, Burger King is on the right’ which makes news clips about LOTR so annoying). There was ambient sound, dim light, and an eerie, shrine-like quality pervading the room.

On April 21, after a many-times-extended four-month run, the exhibit closed. After ROTK comes out the exhibit will be brought up to date for the third film. The final exhibit they ended up with was Plan H—about one-eighth the size of the original plan. Steve readily admitted that given the chance, he would do it over again differently. But, he added, he was ‘pretty happy’ with the result!

After that there were some questions, during which we all gossiped about the Tolkien family and failed to say anything illuminating at all. So we went home! Thanks very much, you’ve been a wonderful audience.

* Smokering bows and exits humbly backwards, knocking a pot plant onto the floor to expose the half-buried chicken legs Maisie just couldn’t face after that big lot of soup *

5-25-03 Latest News

Japanese Fans on NZ LOTR Tour
Tehanu @ 5:05 pm EST

Last night I was able to attend a banquet held here in Auckland for 180 Japanese LOTR fans who had come to New Zealand to do a Nippon Travel/ Red Carpet tour of the locations. Now, who do you think would be the target market in Japan for a tour like that? I bet you guessed wrong. Nippon Travel advertised in a few magazines and websites that are read mostly by young Japanese women, and the response was overwhelming.

So, last night I turned up at their dinner along with friends including Ringers Kimi and Mr. Kimi, and saw scores of young Japanese women sitting around tables.

We Kiwis all went up on the stage and introduced ourselves - when I said I was Tehanu from TheOneRing.net there was a murmur of recognition. I felt quite humbled by that, knowing that these fans still visited TORN despite the fact that English isn't their first language. It's harder work reading in another language, and most of us are too lazy to do it, but not these fans!

Now, I'd thought that these would be people who just wanted to do a tour of NZ because it was fashionable, and maybe some of them would have seen the film. Not so! Many of them were wearing green polarfleece hobbit cloaks, and many more had the leaf brooch, or a Ring replica on a chain, or even Arwen's pendant.

Each of us Kiwis was asked to describe when we first read the books, then our favourite scene and character from the movies. There was another murmur of appreciation when we described our favourite scenes. These people knew their movies. I must add, we had a wonderfully expressive interpreter working with us.

We stepped down and things got bizarre for me, as a few dozen people wanted their photos taken with me and a few of them also had things for me to autograph. My friend Declan was looking at me like I'd grown feathers. 'You're a star, I had no idea!'

Ahah, but there were REAL stars due to arrive. After the meal, two of the character actors turned up - Hama [John Leigh] and Grishnakh [Stehen Ure]. Stephen was a great raconteur and he and John made a great double act together. Actors are great at this kind of thing anyway - they act out their stories, and most of the time the Japanese were laughing before the interpreter had translated them. Stephen said some funny things like the costume made him look so good that when he first saw himself in it, he figured they could have filmed him reading the telephone book and it would have looked pretty interesting. Also, PJ was so focussed on the film - it didn't matter where or when you ran into him, getting a coffee or whatever, you'd never get into an idle conversation about the rugby or something, it was always straight into the film. And one day, when Stephen was filmed chasing Merry and Pippin through Fangorn, it was really really hot under all that makeup and prosthetics, and Stephen just had to stop. PJ asked why, and he complained that he was just too hot and tired, he had to rest. PJ said, 'What do you mean, I saw the rushes for yesterday and you were leaping and doing two-footed flying kicks and everything!' Stephen explained that that was his stunt double. Long pause, then PJ said, 'Well, just do it anyway!'

He also had a funny story about his first scene with Christopher Lee, who he met for the very first time already in makeup, seated in his throne looking about ten feet tall. Stephen had to do a scene where he whipped some Uruks in front of Lee. First take, it was 'cut!' immediately. Stephen had whipped Lee (who was standing behind him) in the face on his windup stroke. Next few takes were cut as Lee kept stepping back out of the shot, and PJ kept trying to herd him back into it, with Lee finding excuses why the role demanded that he stay away from Grishnakh. 'But it's a close shot!' PJ argued. The final shot never made it into the movie, since Stephen was so paranoid by this time that he could only do a really wimpy gesture with the whip.

What else....Liv Tyler hated sword practice, they said, and would complain she'd hurt her hand and give up after 5 minutes. "She wasn't Xena."

Anyway, that was all fun, and the fans had some perceptive questions. Then Craig Parker (Haldir) came in as the guest of honour.

Well, forget any preconceptions about the Japanese being all buttoned up and afraid to show emotion. The girls screamed, they leapt out of their seats and danced for joy, one of them near us was actually crying with excitement. It was so cute!!
Craig was terrific - natural, funny, respectful of his audience. First he just had to STAND there for about five minutes while hundreds of flashes went off in his face. Every time he moved at all, the cameras would go crazy. It was extraordinary!

But some of the questions for him were very good, later, and he answered them seriously or jokingly or sometimes both. Things about why the Elves came to Helm's Deep - that PJ wanted to kill an elf, [that is, an immortal being] to show the waste and carnage, that in that dying moment Haldir, who could have lived forever, died thinking that evil would win and Middle-earth was lost. There's a scene filmed between him and Elrond and Galadriel that was cut, but he couldn't tell us much about it except that it once existed. He mimed the familiar elf walk with the inevitable pratfalls the actors experienced - because elves walking gracefully never look down, and the NZ bush is full of tree-roots. Somebody asked him if PJ insisted on what underwear the Elves should wear as part of their costume! That was a left field question. [Blame Liv Tyler for announcing to the world that she didn't wear any!] He just laughed and said Calvin Kleins, of course.

One girl asked why Haldir was the only Elf not to wear a helmet, and Craig answered with a laugh 'Because my hair was so pretty!' He went on to say he was glad, because the nosepieces on the Elvish helmets tended to dig into people's noses [especially if they were hit, I suppose!] so you could always tell during the lunchbreaks who the Elves were because of the bloody lines and bruises across their noses.

Another asked why he Haldir reacted the way he did at Helm's Deep when Aragorn hugged him. Craig said partly because Elves were not very huggy people [at least, I think that's what he said] and also because 'you have to remember, Aragorn hasn't changed his clothes in the entire film. Pheww!'

Anyway, it was a great if bizarre evening. Later in the year the same company will advertise a South Island tour, which Red Carpet will also guide around NZ.

Oh, and if any of you Japanese fans from last night are reading this and you have photos of the Stone St. Studios you want to send us [we know you saw some of the sets through the gate there!]......just remember to send them to spymaster@theonering.net and we'll post them up.

5-24-03 Latest News

Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy Press Release
Flinch @ 4:15 am EST

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. – April 3, 2003 – Continuing the epic legacy of the critically and commercially acclaimed Jedi Knight action game series, LucasArts, a Lucasfilm Ltd. company, announces Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy for Windows PC and the Xbox' video game system from Microsoft. Expected for release fall 2003, this latest chapter in one of interactive entertainment’s most celebrated game series extends the partnership between LucasArts and Activision, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI), through its developer Raven Software.

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy is the follow up to Star WarsÒ Jedi KnightÒ II: Jedi Outcast', the best selling premium priced PC game in America, United Kingdom, and Germany upon initial release in 2002.

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy is a dynamic single and multiplayer action experience featuring an all-new epic story. Players are immersed in the role of apprentice at Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Academy where they learn the power – and danger – of the Force. Amidst a multitude of complex and richly detailed Star Wars environments, including twice as many unique locales as those in Star Wars: Jedi Outcast, players face a variety of powerful and insidious enemies.

For the first time in a Jedi Knight series game, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy allows players to create and customize their own characters by choosing various characteristics including species, gender, clothing, and physical attributes such as hair and facial features. In addition, players can create a custom lightsaber, selecting from hilt and blade color. As apprentices progress in their training, different lightsabers will become available, such as the double-bladed lightsaber or dual lightsabers.

“With the overwhelming success and critical acclaim of Star Wars: Jedi Outcast, continuing an alliance with Activision and Raven Software was a clear and very easy decision,” says Simon Jeffery, president of LucasArts. “As they did with its best selling predecessor, Raven will bring to Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy innovative, dynamic, and challenging game play that honors the well-respected legacy of the series.”

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy begins shortly after the conclusion of events in Star Wars: Jedi Outcast. Players create a Jedi apprentice character and join the Jedi Academy on Yavin 4 to learn the ways of the Force under the tutelage of Luke Skywalker and Kyle Katarn. While the young apprentice embarks on various missions to hone their skills and abilities, a mysterious group is discovered creating havoc throughout the galaxy. Until order is restored, the fate of the Jedi Academy – and the future of the Star Wars galaxy itself – hangs precariously in the balance.

While players will be able to accomplish more by using the lightsaber in Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, they also will have a variety of weapons - new and old - at their disposal including a blaster, blaster rifle, Wookiee bowcaster, Imperial repeater, and a Destructive Electro-Magnetic Pulse gun.

A unique level selection system allows players to choose their own path through the game as well as the missions they undertake to improve their Jedi skills. The game will add new multiplayer modes and bring back the most popular modes from Star Wars: Jedi Outcast.
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy will be published and distributed by LucasArts in North America. Activision will publish and distribute the game in all other territories worldwide.

Knights of the Old Republic Press Release
Flinch @ 4:07 am EST

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. – May 2, 2003 – LucasArts today announced the PC version of its critically acclaimed role-playing game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, is expected to release this fall. A version for the Xbox video game system from Microsoft is expected to be available this July.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is highlighted by a entirely original storyline set some four thousand years prior to the events in Star Wars: Episode I. The ancient era is dominated by an epic struggle between the Jedi and the evil Sith. The game features customizable male or female heroes and evolving playable characters, as well as dynamic lightsaber combat. Players can choose to pursue divergent paths of good or evil as they journey through numerous locations both familiar and new throughout the Star Wars galaxy.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic will be published and distributed by LucasArts, and is being developed by BioWare Corp.

Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike Press Release
Flinch @ 4:02 am EST

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. – May 14, 2003 – One of interactive entertainment’s most critically and commercially successful action arcade series returns this fall in Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike from LucasArts. Available for Nintendo GameCube', this thrilling third chapter once again features the intense flight battles of Luke Skywalker and his elite unit of X-wing starfighter pilots and adds highly desired multiplayer capability and character-based and ground combat to the series for the first time.

Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike is the follow up to Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader', the best selling third-party title for GameCube upon initial release in 2001.

Designed and developed by Factor 5 in conjunction with LucasArts, Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike features stunning, movie-like visuals, immersing players into an intense action-arcade experience. Players are drawn into the classic Star Wars Trilogy through more than 13 action-packed missions that encompass branching paths in flight combat, and ground-based character or vehicle conflict. For example, players can fly a combat mission over the dense forest landscape of Yavin 4 before landing to engage Imperial Stormtroopers in ground battle. Upon defeating the enemy, players then return to an X-wing and take flight against TIE fighters in adrenaline-inducing dogfights.

“With Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike, LucasArts expands the award winning flight action franchise with multiplayer support and character-based combat, offering the widest variety of gameplay yet,” says Marcella Churchill, senior marketing manager at LucasArts. “This latest game in the popular Star Wars Rogue Squadron series is highlighted by stunning, cinematic-like visuals, tight controls, and dramatically engaging storylines that immerse players into the most memorable characters, vehicles, and battles of the epic Star Wars saga.”

Aerial and land-based conflicts in Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike take place in a variety of craft such as the legendary X-wing, Millennium Falcon, Snowspeeder, Imperial speeder bike, and AT-ST. Players also can carry out covert ground or air-based operations as Luke Skywalker, Wedge Antilles or Han Solo. Battle skills will be tested within extraordinarily detailed environments, such as the vast forests of Endor; Hoth’s foreboding, frozen world; Bespin’s gaseous Cloud City; and dangerous space meteor fields.

Multiplayer modes encompass co-op endurance, capture-the-base, challenging dogfights and more. In addition, the entire Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader game is available for play in cooperative multiplayer mode. The game also features a comprehensive reward system allowing players to unlock numerous bonus features including extra missions, vehicles, and locations.

Star Wars Galaxies Press Release
Flinch @ 3:43 am EST

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. and SAN DIEGO – April 11, 2003 – LucasArts and
Sony Online Entertainment Inc. today announced Dantooine as the tenth planetary environment for Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided, the highly anticipated first installment of the upcoming massively multiplayer online game series. In addition, the fan community for the game continues to grow unabated and has now reached 475,000 registered members, nearly a 20 percent increase since December 2002.

Dantooine is a legendary planet from Star Wars lore and was once the home base of the Rebel Alliance and a Jedi training center. Players who visit Dantooine can expect to encounter dangerous primitive natives known as Dantari, a sizable Imperial occupation force, and a small band of smugglers led by a vicious crime lord. As with all planets in Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided, Dantooine will offer a vast amount of terrain to explore, stunning vistas, and wide range of wild life.

“With the inclusion of Dantooine, we feel we're offering a diverse Star Wars experience,” says Haden Blackman, producer at LucasArts for Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided. “Fans of the films will remember Princess Leia's Dantooine reference from Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, though more important is our ability to leverage the world's rich history and striking landscape. As one of several 'adventure planets,' players will travel to Dantooine for the opportunity to engage in epic battles, uncover new storylines, and discover new sites.”

The Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided development team surpassed another major milestone April 2 by launching Beta 3. Throughout this phase of the beta program the team will continually increase the number of testers until a targeted number of 50,000 players is reached. A new release date for Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided will be announced within the coming weeks.

5-23-03 Latest News

Decipher's LOTR TCG Release Schedule
Flinch @ 6:45 pm EST

Release schedule for TCG Expansions:

  1. The Fellowship of the Ring November 6th, 2001
  2. Mines of Moria November 6th, 2001
  3. Realms of the Elf lords November 6th, 2001
  4. The Two Towers November 6th, 2002
  5. Battle of Helm's Deep March 12th, 2003
  6. Ents of Fangorn July 2nd, 2003
  7. The Return of the King November 2003
  8. Siege of Gondor March 2004
  9. Mount Doom July 2004
  10. Shadows November 2004
  11. Black Rider March 2005
  12. Bloodlines July 2005
  13. The Hunters November 2005
  14. Rise of Saruman March 2006
  15. Treachery and Deceit July 2006
  16. The Great Eye November 2006
  17. Shelob's Lair March 2007
  18. Age's End July 2007

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Bruce Hopkins paints for Charity
Flinch @ 4:01 am EST

Recently we discussed Games Day LA with Bruce Hopkins [Gamling the Old], regrettably Bruce was unable to get away from his filming schedule to attend Games Day himself, but he did have a chance to paint a figurine of Gamling with us at a local Games Workshop Hobby Center. Bruce spent hours working under the instruction of the Games Workshop crew, and even autographed the base. How can you get your hands on this miniature? Come on down to Games Workshop's Games Day LA and place a bid! The figurine will be auctioned from our booth at the Los Angeles Games Day event on May 31st and the proceeds will go to the charity of Bruce's choosing, the Kevin Smith fund.

If you'd like to have a chance to bid on this miniature, don't miss Games Day LA, and if you'd like to support the Kevin Smith fund, don't hesitate to make a donation here.

Don't have your Games Day tickets yet? Click here!

Click these images for their larger counterparts

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