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June 28, 2004 - July 05, 2004

7-05-04 Latest News

Lord of the Fringe
Xoanon @ 1:59 pm EST

Thanks to Hobbitangel for the info!

Lord of the Fringe at the Toronto Fringe Festival

To my deep regret, I missed Charlie Ross' The One Man Star Wars Trilogy at a previous Toronto Fringe Festival. I wasn't about to make the same mistake now that Ross has decided to tackle J.R.R. Tolkien in The One Man Lord of the Rings.

It is simply brilliant, one of the most enjoyable shows I can remember in 25 long years of Fringe-going. If you have any strings, pull them. Do whatever you can, but see this show.

Ross has several things going for him. He is a good mimic; he can nail, say, the Gollum voice or the Gandalf voice with consummate ease, or wrinkle his face and pull back his hair to conjure up King Theoden before your very eyes. But it's also his physicality and tumbling skills. Remember that moment when the skeleton falls down the mine at Moria? Aided by director T J Dawe, Ross recreates that memborable effect.

What's also impressive is that he's in complete control of a huge amount of data. He may have three long volumes and 40+ characters to cram into the space of 60 minutes, but he is still relaxed enough to poke fun at the material, or to ad lib a quick aside to the audience.

You'll need to know the movies, and it doesn't hurt to have a read the books as well. Ross works exceptionally hard, and he expects his audience to work too. Tickets won't be easy to come by. Friday's opening night was completely sold out.

7-04-04 Latest News

Houston Symphony Concert Reviews
Xoanon @ 12:12 pm EST

Houston Symphony Marquee


Did anyone else besides me attend the LotR Symphony performance? I had a blast in spite of the 6+ hour driving time surround the event (there & back again-a 12-hour journey!)

It was really wonderful. One of the most wonderful aspects of going to this event was how diverse the audience was. How many times do you get to go to an evening symphony performance and see lots of kids and people from all kinds of backgrounds? You could tell from the look on the kids' faces that they thought they were as cool as if they had been attending a rock concert! I was sitting in the second row, (being on a budget allows that you get neck strain from tring to look up at the screen to see the lovely sketches from John Howe's and Alan Lees concept art)....but it also allows you to really hear the instruments not just the mixed projected sound. We sat right under the first violin seat where we heard the unique sound of the hardinger fiddle and the featured vocalist, Sissel, who had a voice like an angel!

When the music from The Fellowship began to play and the first big graphic of Middle Earth came on the screen, I began to cry. I was embarrassed when the lights came up for intermission because I thought my husband would make fun of me (not quite the fan that I am), but he very kindly pointed out to me that he noticed I was not alone in my tearfulness. Sure enough, when I looked around, almost everyone else around me had tears in their eyes. I know I am very emotionally invested in the story and movies of LotR, but I think the music, on its own is also very powerful and moving. I loved the whole score to the Fellowship. The Two Towers played a little more like movie music, although also very beautiful to hear, but when they got to the RotK, I found myself crying again....especially when that short piece of music that plays when, in the movie, Frodo explains how hard it was to be back and that the Shire would never be the same for him. That part always gets me, and hearing the music is very evocative of the emotions expressed in that moment. Then, the Gray Havens and Into the West were also intensely moving. There was a 10 minute standing ovation which followed the concert.




We were at the Friday night sold out Houston Symphony presentation of the Lord of The Rings Symphony and it was magnificent. Our symphony is one of the top orchestras in the nation and it really showed. The music was overwhelming and the soloists were excellent. Conductor Alexander Mickelthwate was wonderful to watch. He puts his entire being into the music. Soloist Sissel has one of the clearest, purest voices I have ever heard. Her songs in Elvish weren't just mouthed, they were sung with feeling. Gollum's Song has never been one of my favorites, but Sissel brought a new life to it. After the concert she autographed her CDs at the gift shop. Alan Lee made an on stage appearance during the ovation. His art work was displayed on a screen above the stage. I especially liked the drawing of Shadowfax. The standing ovation was timed at almost 5 m! inutes and Mr. Mickelthwate had to return to the stage three times. The last time was fun for everyone. You could tell he was enjoying it because of the big grin on his face. First he pointed out the three soloists from the chorus, and everyone kept applauding and cheered. Then he pointed out the lead percussionist, and we all cheered again. He finaly gave up and just started going through every section of the orchestra and each group got a rousing cheer. It was a wonderful night. Howard Shore's music was designed for a concert hall. Whenever I hear my CDs, this performance will echo in my mind.

7-03-04 Latest News

Wood & Hill Attend Film Fest in Prague
Xoanon @ 11:49 am EST

From Variety:

PRAGUE -- With the scramble to bring in names heating up in the countdown to its July 2 opening night, Karlovy Vary is lining up a slate of stars. Latest to join the parade are John Cleese, who will present the July 10 closing-night screening of "Shrek 2," and Sherilyn Fenn, star of U.S. competition film "The Cavedweller."

Stars already confirmed include Elijah Wood and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman for the screening of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"; Wood is filming "Everything is Illuminated" in Prague for actor-turned-director Liev Schreiber, who's also expected in Karlovy Vary for the opening weekend.

Director John Irvin and actors Colm Meaney and Bernard Hill will accompany the opening-night showing of their "The Boys From County Clare." "House of Sand and Fog" helmer Vadim Perelman is expected, and Harvey Keitel will turn up to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Accompanying a John Cassavetes retrospective are actors Ben Gazzara and Seymour Cassel, daughter Xan Cassavetes and producer-editor Al Ruban, who also heads up the main jury.

The 3-year-old Industry Office, which is a networking link for film professionals, particularly buyers, sellers and fest programmers, reports a 50% increase in the number of companies and representatives signed up for its services.

High on the list is Cannes market director Jerome Paillard, attending Karlovy Vary for the first time to discuss possible cooperation between the French market and the Czech fest. Miramax plans to send a rep, its first time at the fest. Also new on the list are theatrical distributors from Poland and Hungary.

Attendance from all regions is on the rise, with especially strong representation from France, Germany and the U.K.

7-02-04 Latest News

Hall Of Fire Chats This Weekend
Demosthenes @ 7:11 pm EST

Thanks to Bilbo, Thorin and company have escaped from the dungeons of the Elf-king of Mirkwood. But to what end? Do the dwarves finally consider Bilbo a worthy member of their company? The journey down the river is an unpleasant one for the dwarves, but the end makes up for it -- or does it?

Are the men of Lake-Town as friendly and accommodating as they seem, or do they have a more sinister purpose? What of the legends of rivers running with gold? Do they realize what assisting Thorin's group might cost them? This is our first look at a village of men in Tolkien's world, does he present them with the same loving and realistic attention to detail as his more fantastic creations?

These and other thought-provoking questions will be discussed when you join us at this week s in #thehalloffire as we look at The Hobbit, Chapter 10: A Warm Welcome.

Upcoming topics:

July 10-11 -- Magic in Middle Earth
July 17-18 -- Powerful Objects in Middle Earth’s History
July 24-25 -- Gandalf's Involvement with the Hobbits
August 7-8 -- Middle Earth’s Greatest Cities
August 14-15 -- The Hobbit: Chapter 11: On the Doorstep

Chat Times:

Saturday Chat:
5:30pm ET (17:30)
[also 11:30pm (23:30) CET and 9:30am Sunday (07:30) AET]

Sunday Chat:
7:00 pm (19:00) CET
[also 1:00pm (13:00) ET and 5:00am (03:00) Monday morning AET]

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

More Images & Reports from Sean Astin at Origins
Xoanon @ 12:30 pm EST

Astin at Origins

Kathleen writes:

I'm pleased to say that the Origins games convention was overrun with ORCs...members of the Ohio Ring Council [www.ohioringcouncil.com] fan club, that is! The convention, held this past weekend in Columbus, Ohio, attracted over 10,000 people (the majority of gamers seem to be men, actually) from around the world.

We Lord of the Rings fans were drawn by the chance to meet Sean Astin, the award-winning actor who brought Samwise Gamgee to life in Peter Jackson's film trilogy. Here are some excerpts from his 10:00 a.m. Q&A session.

On the Stump

Sean spent about a third of the session talking about politics, even going so far as to say what he’d do as Mayor of Los Angeles or Governor of California. At one point asked the audience to identify their party affiliations. (I was surprised that there were more self-identified Independents than Democrats in the room.) I raised my hand when Sean asked who was registered with a third party. He asked me “which party,” and I said “Libertarian.” Then he asked me who the LP’s Presidential candidate is, and I blanked out—aaaack! (The Libertarian convention had just been a couple of weeks before, and my candidate hadn’t won the nomination.) I was mortified when the audience laughed at me! (For the record, it’s Michael Badnarik, a computer programmer from Austin, Texas. Sorry, Mr. Badnarik!)

Lucky in cards…?

[Edited transcript]
We went down and had a training session with the poker expert [Phil Gordon]. I was so good at it! He was giving us these incredible betting strategies. He was trying to improve the quality of the show by improving the quality of our game, but we only had like a half-hour. He gave us his book on tips, and I was racing through the book, and it's great! It's really great. But there's like a lot going on [before the show].

That poker champ, based on our practice session, made a side bet with his friend that I was gonna win. [groans from the audience] Because, he said, 'this kid's sharp, he gets it.' I was tired but I wanted to really concentrate, so I think I had a kind of serious poker demeanor, so everything about me seemed like 'winner' to him.

You're playing with their money, you know. I didn't even know what the numerical value of the chips was. It didn't mean anything to me. Thinking quickly about numbers is not my particular pattern.

The first hand comes to me, I get a King, Nine…a good hand, likely to pull a straight or at least high pair. So I go in. Chris Masterson, who's won two or three hands, matches it. Everybody else folds. Now I can either fold, call or raise. I was trying to remember the formula that [Phil Gordon] told me. I knew the formula was written down on the stool beside me, but I didn't want to look like I was going to the cheat book! It occurs to me that I'm taking too long. It was probably only five seconds but it felt like five minutes. I decide that I'm going to call him or maybe even raise him, and somebody yells out "Luck of the Irish" and I just go all in.

And Masterson rightly calls the bluff, which was a bad bluff. I wasn't thinking "bluff," I was just thinking "do something dramatic." It was dramatic, right? 'Go to the losers lounge.' So what I've been telling people is ‘You know, now everybody thinks I'm really bad at poker, so the side games I play, I rook 'em!’

A Goonies Sequel

“I saw Joey Pantoliano and Joey Pants is like, ‘let’s do a sequel! I gotta put an addition on the house!’”

Apparently Sean had heard that Richard Donner, who directed “Goonies,” didn’t want to direct the sequel. So Sean told Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News that he wanted to direct the Goonies sequel if Dick didn’t want to. And then Sean got a “very snippy” message from Dick that said something like, “Hey kid, get your facts straight!”

So Sean wrote back to Donner, “the guy who gave me my first professional directing job that got me into the Directors Guild of America, which was my dream…the guy who chose me and made me a star at 12 years old. The guy who has been my standard-bearer, the guy who gave me the most precious wrap gift for The Goonies…this towering figure in my life. So I wrote back to him, reminding him that when I went to his office and asked him about the sequel to the Goonies when I was 17, he told me ‘there’s no money in it, kid!’” The two finally got each other on the phone when Sean was directing an episode of Jeremiah. Sean says, “Dick, are you saying you WANT to direct it? Cuz I’m happy to tell people that. You just gotta be clear….” Dick Donner says he wants to direct it. And Sean replies, ’I’m proud to tell everyone that you want to direct it, and I would be grateful to work for you, and if you change your mind I’d be happy to direct it in your absence.’ “I hope it happens, “ says Sean. “Maybe someday it will.”

Extended Edition DVD

“I have not seen it yet….I hope there’s a scene in there, climbing up the stairs of Cirith Ungol…it’s Sam at his most intense and vicious and strong.”

Who’s On First

"Dom and Billy are supposedly writing a moving together. And I told them I hope they'd write something for me to do in it." Asked if he will direct it, he replies "I don't think that's appropriate for me to even think about. I just keep telling them that they are the modern equivalent of Abbott and Costello and it's an absolute crime against comedy for those two guys to not be in some contemporary setting riffing off each other. I've told them that a thousand times. They should be on television together."

Working with Rings alumni

“I’m happy to work with any combination…there isn’t one human being involved with Lord of the Rings in any position, in front of or behind the camera, who I wouldn’t it an honor and privilege to work with again.”

How not to run a con

It was great to have the opportunity to hear Sean's views on many topics—you can tell that politics is in his future. Unfortunately, Sean's appearance was marred by the Origin staff's handling of the event.

An Origins representative had contacted the Ohio Ring Council at MARCON, a sci-fi/fantasy convention held a few weeks earlier at the same facility. ORC had an impressive, well-organized booth at the con, and had won "Best In Show" and "Best Workmanship" for our musical number "One Ringular Sensation," presented during the MARCON Masquerade.

Based on our great showing at MARCON, an Origins representative recruited the Ohio Ring Council to provide logistical support and crowd control for all of his appearances. The offer was sweetened when we were told that Sean would spend about 20 minutes with us before his first event and that we'd each get an autograph from him, free of charge (the general public had to pay $25 per signature). We were also told that Sean was in the habit of taking his volunteer staff out to lunch with him, and we should be prepared for that possibility. We were told that Sean would be "all ours" all day, and it would be our responsibility to manage all of his events. Needless to say, we were all thrilled to have been invited to help out.

So about 15 ORCs reported to the Convention Center at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday for our volunteer orientation. The club has members all over Ohio, so many of us had driven in the night before (one die-hard member had driven 6 hours from Canada!).

It soon became apparent that something was wrong—we were stood up by the Origins staff, and at 7:30 a.m. we had to call someone and get them out of bed to lead our orientation! Unfortunately, this kind of thing happened throughout the day, leading to a series of disappointments that left the Ohio Ring Council quite disillusioned with the management of the convention. While the ORCs did get a chance to meet Sean, he was whisked away after only a couple of minutes. We only had time to present him with a souvenir scrapbook about the club and a Polo shirt embroidered with our club logo and "Sean Astin, Honorary Ohio Ring Council Member." (We were thrilled, however, that he loved the shirt.) Most disheartening of all, the Origins staff reneged on their promise of free autographs for the ORC volunteers. After we had worked the first event we were told we would have to pay $25 each for an autograph, just like the general public.

Sean’s handlers kept him on a tight leash throughout the day. Far from having a lot of "up close and personal" contact with Sean, we had virtually no contact at all, unless we paid for the privilege. We showed up to work the 2:00 p.m. autograph session and discovered that Origins staff had replaced us with other volunteers, so we were left with nothing to do for the rest of the day. A few of us who could afford it decided to bite the bullet and pay for an autograph. As always, Sean was lovely to talk to, and a complete gentleman. He even remembered meeting me in the press line at the TORn’s Two Towers Oscar Party—and he remembered the question I asked him (!). In the small amount of time we had with him, he was kind and gracious to the ORCs in attendance. (I'm sure he and his management knew nothing about the promises that had been made to induce us to give Origins hours of free labor.)

Yes, many ORCses were angry and very disappointed about the way we had been treated by the Origins staff. But I have to say that the ORC contingent had a fabulous time at the con, because we always have a fabulous time together--that's one of the best things about our club. We made the best of a bad situation by retiring to the open gaming area for some Euchre, Trivial Pursuit for Dummies, and Apples to Apples. We discovered that any game is more fun when played with a bad French accent. We made some new friends, recruited several new ORCs, and some of us ponied up the cash to get a nice souvenir from Sean. We took a lot of great photos. And we had a great learning experience—we learned how NOT to run a celebrity appearance and how NOT to treat volunteers or the media! So, a few years from now we’ll be all set when we launch our own Ohio Ring Con.



I had a wonderful time seeing Sean Astin at Origins on Saturday. He did an hour-long Q&A session, and then several autograph sessions.

The time of the Q&A had been changed, so it appeared wrong in the convention program book, which may explain why only about 75 people were there when Sean arrived. Another 75 or so came in while he was talking, including a stormtrooper and a Nazgul (complete with black bunny ears). Sean came in unannounced, through the main door, and just walked up to the front, hopped up on stage and sat down Indian-style and called out, 'Hello!' Throughout the talk, he was very familiar and personable and utterly enjoyable.

He started out by asking the audience whether they'd rather go straight to Q&A or have him talk for awhile. Show of hands overwhelmingly showed 'talk for awhile,' so he launched into about 25 minutes of stream-of-consciousness rambling about his life, which despite the jumbled way it was presented, was quite interesting. He started by saying that he hadn't slept at all the night before, and instead had taken advantage of being alone to stay up and think about his life and career and family and where he is going. On the flight over, he had talked for all four hours to the man sitting beside him, an investment banker, and said most of his night-thinking sprang out of that discussion. Also on the plane, Sean said he went back into coach and shook hands and greeted people, including some children who were big fans.

Sean talked a little about his Web site and started involving the audience (he really was into the 'show of hands' bit), asking them if they'd looked at it recently and how they liked the improvements. He seemed amazed how many people had been to his site, and then asked how many people were at the convention specifically to see Sean. Every person in the audience raised their hand. Then he asked who was just going to see Sean and do nothing else at the convention. About 80 percent of the people raised their hands. (Just an aside about the audience -- while all ages were represented, it was overwhelmingly adult women, I'd say most of them at least over 30. We were seated beside a brother and sister, both in their late 20s or early 30s, in front of a teen-aged brother and sister with their mother, and three women in their mid-20s. All were there just for Sean, as were my sister and I.)

The talk moved to politics when someone gave Sean a John Kerry dog tag for his pet, and someone asked him if he would run for vice-president. Sean pointed out that he's not old enough (he's 33 and a VP must be at least 35). Someone then asked what his platform would be if he ran for mayor of California. After pointing out that he could run for mayor of Los Angeles or governor of California, but never mayor of California, Sean said his platform if he ran for mayor of LA would be to build a monorail to provide safe, clean, affordable and convenient public transportation in the city. Then he said his platform if he ran for governor of California would be to pay every teacher in the state a salary $100,000. He talked for a bit about the logistical problems of that proposal, but was adamant that those types of salaries are the key to having good teachers and good public education. Sean also said that the assistant provided to him by the White House for being on the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation is a Republican. Apparently, Sean likes to use this to humiliate poor Republican Jeff, for when he recently met President and Mrs. Carter, after introducing his family, he introduced Jeff, told the President he was a native of Georgia, and a Republican. Sean giggled with evil glee while telling this story.

Sean's book on the filming of LOTR, There and Back Again, is done, he told us, and should be out in October. He said he anticipates it being his first book, and listed other books he'd like to write as a children's book, a motivational book, an interview book about child actors and directors who work with them, and another LOTR book 'that really services the fans.' He described this book as more anecdotal and playful than the book coming out in October.

Sean took questions from the audience then, and his first question was on why he did what he did on Celebrity Poker. I didn't see the episode, but apparently on his first hand, he bet everything and lost. Sean said he had done fantastic in the practice session, but when he got on camera, he was suddenly very aware of the camera and of being on television time and feeling the pressure of that. He said he had finally decided to raise the bet, but wanted to do something dramatic, and to his own surprise, just put everything in. He seemed to have enjoyed the experience and not be bothered by losing.

Someone asked what the holidays will be like this year without an LOTR premiere, and Sean said one of the reasons he wanted his book to come out later in the year is to honor that tradition of celebrating LOTR around that time. He also said there is talk of the Fellowship getting together during the holiday season, and that Dom in particular is adamant that if they all don't get together in the first year there isn't a premiere, it will make getting together in years to come even more difficult.

There was a question about the possibilities of The Goonies II, something Sean said he would love to see happen. He spoke about The Goonies several times during the Q&A, always with great fondness. He said he's thought about writing the script for The Goonies II himself, and has talked to Stephen Spielberg about the possibility. Mr. Spielberg recommended he get his thoughts on paper and then bring them to him. In fact, Sean said he mentioned this to Mr. Spielberg on Oscar night this year, and that his response was that the movie Sean had starred in had just swept the Oscars and Sean should take the night to enjoy that moment! He said he also saw Joey Pants (Joe Pantoliano, one of the Fratelli brothers in The Goonies) on Oscar night, and Joey asked about The Goonies II and said they needed to get working on it because he needs to put an addition on his house.

Sean also talked about telling Ain't It Cool News that he would be interested in directing The Goonies II and getting a sharp message from The Goonies director Richard Donner about it. Sean wrote to Mr. Donner in response, reminding him that they had talked several times over the years about the sequel, and Mr. Donner's response had always been, 'There's no money in it!' Mr. Donner called Sean about it later and said he'd love to do The Goonies II, and Sean said he'd love to see him do it, and would only put forth that he was interested in directing it himself if Mr. Donner had already turned it down. Mr. Donner then asked what was up with the project, what the ideas were, and after Sean filled him in, gave Sean a kind of Ehhh, we'll see response. At any rate, Sean said they were cleared up on that (he called Mr. Donner -- whom he referred to as 'Dick' -- his mentor, and said they had been close for years) and it remains to be seen what will happen with The Goonies II.

Someone else asked if Sean was away of The Goonies showing at '80s film festivals, and Sean said he'd gone to one of those and been amazed by the audience reaction. He said people were saying the lines along with the characters and the theater was packed. Also, during his initial talk at the beginning, Sean had mentioned occasionally using lines from movies during speeches, and said his favorite was 'This is our time.' People always recognized and loved it, and Sean said he loved that speech and expected to be using it for the rest of his life.

Someone else asked if Elijah had ever called Sean after the MTV Movie Awards, and Sean laughed quite hard and said his daughter kept asking the same thing. Sean then said he hadn't talked to Elijah recently because he was filming, somewhere in Eastern Europe. Several people in the audience yelled out, 'Prague!' and Sean make a scary face and said, 'Creeeeeppppyyy.'

Sean said he has not yet seen the ROTK Extended Edition, but he anticipates about 40 extra minutes. He said there is a scene between Sam and Gollum on the stairs to Cirith Ungol that he'd really like to see in, where Sam says to Gollum that 'if a hair on his (Frodo's) head is missing' Gollum would regret it. He said it is 'Sam at his most intense and vicious and strong,' and he really liked the scene.

Someone asked about Sean filming other movies with the other hobbit-actors, and he mentioned the script Dom and Billy are writing and said he has told them several times that he would love it if they would put in a small part for him. Someone asked if he'd like to direct that movie, and he said it wasn't appropriate for him to even be thinking about that. He then called Dom and Billy a 'modern Abbott and Costello,' and said it would be a 'crime against comedy for those two guys not to be in a contemporary movie together riffing on each other.' He added that it would be an honor to work again with anyone who worked on LOTR, in front of or behind the camera.

And then we were out of time! It didn't feel like an hour to me, but we got our full promised hour with Sean. I've posted some more personal thoughts about the signing and my experience at Origins elsewhere, but I'd like to say here that it was well worth the drive and I was glad I went. Sean was very down-to-earth and real -- I felt like this was a guy who knows how much a gallon of milk costs and what his kid is studying in school at any given time. He just exuded warmth and sincerity, and truly seemed to enjoy being with the fans.

'Ringers' Invades Comic-Con!
Xoanon @ 12:02 pm EST


HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA -- Friday, July 2, 2004 -- The production team behind the independent feature documentary, RINGERS: LORD OF THE FANS and revered fantasy author Peter S. Beagle (“The Last Unicorn”) have combined forces to appear at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2004 on Thursday, July 22, 2004. A special one-hour Panel Discussion featuring ‘Ringers’ principal filmmakers and the legendary author will be held that Thursday evening at the San Diego Convention Center, where tens of thousands of enthusiastic genre fans convene for the largest event of its kind in the world.

“We are thrilled to appear at Comic-Con 2004 before our core audience, presenting never-before-seen footage from ‘Ringers’,” said writer/producer/director Carlene Cordova of the upcoming event. “Having Peter S. Beagle at our side brings us full circle in our quest to bring all generations of Ringer fans together for our film.” In addition to showing an exclusive peek at the documentary, never shown before a public audience, the filmmakers promise many surprise announcements. Peter S. Beagle will make his Comic-Con debut; revealing personal stories of his work on the 1978 “The Lord of the Rings” animated adaptation under the direction of Ralph Bakshi. Also appearing with Ms. Cordova and Mr. Beagle will be writer/producer Cliff Broadway (‘Quickbeam’ from TheOneRing.net, co-author of The People’s Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien), producer Danny Lukic, and director of photography/co-producer Josh Mandel; all of whom will share their unique stories on the film-in-progress.

The Panel is scheduled for 6:00PM in the combined Ballroom 6CDEF. After the panel, fellow Ringers from around the world are invited to relax at our informal “RingersMoot,” a gathering hosted by the ‘Ringers’ team at the MARTINI RANCH (located at 528 F Street), from 8:00PM till closing, just six blocks away in the historic heart of San Diego’s beautiful Gas Lamp District.

Comic-Con and ‘Ringers’ go hand-in-hand; where at last year’s event the filmmakers shot a large portion of their film with a unique “confessional booth.” Inside this private booth, hundreds of Tolkien fans were able to speak directly to the camera about why they love “The Lord of the Rings.” The ‘Ringers’ team will also have a table for the duration of the Comic-Con 2004 weekend, allowing fans to get better acquainted with the core people creating this documentary. While the film is currently in post-production, Ms. Cordova will be directing her crew to shoot additional pick-up footage of Ringers in costume as they visit.

San Diego Comic-Con International is the world’s largest genre convention covering the realms of Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Comics, Genre feature films, Animation, and Pop Art. Comic-Con 2004 is held at the San Diego Convention Center, 111 Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA, from Thursday, July 22 through July 25, 2004, with a preview night on Wednesday, July 21st. Many thousands of dealers and artists will be in attendance to the delight of genre lovers. For more information about Comic-Con 2004 visit their official site at: comic-con.org

About the documentary:

Very funny and often moving, RINGERS: LORD OF THE FANS shows the hidden power behind J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” -- and how after 50 years a single literary work continues to spark the minds and hearts of millions, across cultures and across time. ‘Ringers’ explores the real foundations of Middle-earth; a community of true fans who share a common bond. Moving beyond “cult classic” and over several different generations, the film unearths academics, musicians, authors, filmmakers, and a plethora of pop junkies -- the people gathered under the banner of ‘Ringer.’

RINGERS: LORD OF THE FANS spent 16 months shooting on three continents. Produced in association with the popular Tolkien fan-site TheOneRing.net, ‘Ringers’ stands as the most comprehensive film document of the ongoing fandom of “The Lord of the Rings.”

‘Ringers’ Official Website:


Current ‘Ringers’ Interviewees include:

Actor - Sir Ian McKellen, Actor - Dominic Monaghan, Actor - Andy Serkis, Actor - Sala Baker, Author/Filmmaker - Clive Barker, Writer/Director/Producer - Cameron Crowe, Actor - David Carradine, Author - Terry Pratchett, Author - Peter S. Beagle, Author - Terry Brooks, Musician - Lemmy Kilmister, Musician - Geddy Lee, Tolkien Scholar - Dr. Jane Chance, Chairperson of the Tolkien Society - Christine Crawshaw, Author - Colin Duriez, Filmmaker/Critic - Chris Gore, Writer/Publisher - Forrest J. Ackerman, Actor - Bill Mumy, Author/Broadcaster - Brian Sibley, Illustrator/Author - Colleen Doran, Illustrator/Author - Jill Thompson, Great-Grandson - Royd Tolkien, and hundreds of Tolkien fans!

For additional information, contact:

Melanie Marquez, Publicist
9220 Sunset Blvd Suite 220
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Office: +1 323-669-1173
Cell: +1 626-833-6790

7-01-04 Latest News

ITV's McKellen Doco Review
Xoanon @ 9:16 am EST

Adrian writes: I've written a short review of the ITV documentary about Ian McKellen that was shown on the 29th June. If you think it is good enough, you're welcome to publish it on your site.

On Tuesday, 29th June 2004, ITV transmitted an hour long programme whose subject was Sir Ian McKellen. The documentary maker had followed Ian around for a year, and presented us with an intimate portrait of an actor in his prime during one of the most acclaimed periods of his acting career to date.

The programme commenced with backstage shots of the last night of "Dance of Death" in London's West End (in which Ian starred with Frances De La Tour and Owen Teale, and which I was fortunate enough to attend, becoming a back-door Johnny by waiting for his autograph, and managing to thank him for his portrayal of Gandalf, and particularly for his vocal support of Gay Rights).

The programme then moved onto Ian's final day of re-shoots for the Return of the King. We were treated to Ian getting made up as Gandalf the White and delivering his lines of "Now comes the Days of the King, may they be blessed....). As it was the last day of re-shoots, Ian and the crew decided to play a joke on Peter Jackson - they had created a white bouffant beehive wig adorned with pink flowers, which Ian proudly donned and then, dressed in Gandalf's robes, delivered the line "Now comes the Days of the Queen, may they be blessed.....". Both Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood cracked up - they even filmed the event, so hopefully it'll make the blooper reel. Peter then gave Ian a peck on the cheek, which I thought was a fitting way to say goodbye to an actor who has for millions embodied Gandalf in a way no other actor could.

The documentary then moved onto the press junket and crowd hysteria at the premiere on the red carpet in Wellington. It was good to see the banter between Ian and the cast - with Ian commenting on Liv Tyler's dress - she said she was going after a Polynesian princess look - which he said he thought was very apt.

In between all the hullabaloo of the worldwide whirlwind tour, Ian managed to find time to visit a school in Los Angeles whose pupils tended to come from underprivileged backgrounds, but who have cultivated a sincere love of the works of William Shakespeare. It is this shared love of the bard that connected Ian and the children and he said that he felt at home amongst them because of this shared passion.

Other highlights included seeing Ian on the set of a forthcoming film called Asylum in which he plays a psychiatrist, at home in London dealing with piles of correspondence, giving a lecture to students in Cambridge (his old university), and throughout the programme dealing openly and frankly with issues of being gay in an occasionally homophobic world.

The programme left us on a positive note with Ian gamboling on a beach having reached retirement age, (but with no intention of retiring!) - his next venture is to play a dame - Widow Twankie in Aladdin, but who knows, there's always the prospect of reviving the role of Gandalf in a couple of years time when the rights to "The Hobbit" have been resolved and Peter Jackson feels ready to take on Middle Earth again....

Bloom: A Big Shot
Xoanon @ 9:11 am EST

There's a story in Hollywood that, a few years ago, John Travolta was willing to work for peanuts for the role that would put his career back on track. Then Pulp Fiction restored his box-office appeal and he was back on the A-list. Now Jude Law has joined the Tinseltown elite. Not only is he said to be commanding $20m for his next role, but he can choose the director, his co-stars and have script control. It's that power, and the pay check, that defines membership of the elite. But who are the Brits that have it?

Directors, actors, producers whose films consistently generate huge profits; writers, executives and agents who can package a winning team. Here is the A-list of British big shots, the masters and commanders of movies and television, and the B-list — those for whom talent is currently not enough to win promotion.


Our writers scoured the industry for "insider" information in compiling this list. Our sources were both British and American Hollywood professionals and executives — those in the know from all branches of the industry who work daily with the names who can make or break projects. We have included television production.

Once a separate industry, it is now a prominent contributor to Hollywood names, projects and profits with crossover development and spin-off franchises.



To ensure that we won't just remember him as the elf Legolas in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, in the past year Orlando Bloom has appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean, Troy, and the "mockumentary" boxing film The Calcium Kid. Six feet tall with classical good looks, he has acquired heartthrob status and a place last year in People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" list. Luck was on his side in 1998 when he quickly recovered from breaking his back after falling three storeys from a rooftop terrace (he also broke a rib while filming Lord of the Rings). He's certainly come a long way since playing bit parts in Casualty. Next up is the lead role in Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, the sequel to Pirates, and Elizabethtown, with Kirsten Dunst. It all makes the 27-year-old from Canterbury, whose movie debut was as a rent boy in Wilde, in 1998, one of the biggest young stars.

'Yes' to Narnia wolf-pack.
Tehanu @ 1:30 am EST

This came in my local paper, the Waitakere City News, and should be of interest to all you Narnia fans out there:

Waitakere City Council has no problems allowing a pack of 10 North American wolves onto its turf to be filmed as "Witch's Minions" for the C. S. Lewis classic The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe.

The council's Environmental Compliance Team Manager Alan Ahmu says this is one of the more unusual requests handled by his office.

He told the film makers Lamp Post Productions that the Council has no objections to wolves being used within its district, so long as any conditions and controls stipulated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, in relation to the importation, welfare, custody and use of the wolves, are complied with.

And, naturally, the Council wants to be informed immediately if any of the wolves escape.

The film's North Island Location Manager, Peta Sinclair, says that the wolves will be "under tight regulations set by MAF, as their welfare will be of the utmost importance." Conditions have been set as to how the animals are penned, transported and handled while on set. As soon s their scenes are over they
will be shipped home.

Mr [sic] Sinclair says the wolves have been trained to work in a controlled environment. They will feature as minions of the White Witch in the film version of the mystical land of Narnia, a land where there are no humans, only mythical and real animals.

The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe is a multi-million dollar production which is being filmed largely in and around Waitakere City. [The same area that served as a base for a lot of Hercules and Xena filming, in case you're wondering - Tehanu]

6-29-04 Latest News

Kong Reports & 'Wellington 48 hr' Update
Xoanon @ 9:15 pm EST

Deni writes: Well, as I wrote a few weeks ago, there were a few WETA people involved in the local Wellington 48 hour film project, the finals of which were this saturday. As far as the rumours can tell, there was only one group including WETA digital that made it to the finals. Their's was an interesting story about a relationship which is being threatened by a blow up doll that comes to life. The only real WETA impact that was easily spotted in the film was a morph between the doll and actor, although it is also possible that I just blinked, and some interesting credits. Unfortunately they didn't win any prizes, and as far as I know it was a completely amateur team that won the competition.

As for the goings on in Miramar, it is actually quite quiet at the moment. Construction races ahead at Stone Street and Park Road Post although the big shipping containers do block the view somewhat, but I'm working on a new place to spy.

6-28-04 Latest News

Academy Invites Mortensen to Join!
Xoanon @ 8:05 pm EST

Academy Invites 127 to Membership

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has extended invitations to join the organization to 127 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves in the field of theatrical motion pictures. Under a revised ap-proach to membership, the group will be the only new members invited to join the organization in 2004. Invitations in prior years were extended twice yearly.

"This remarkably accomplished group is a slightly smaller one than we've extended invitations to in recent years," said Academy President Frank Pierson. "It reflects a decision we've made to slow the growth of the Academy somewhat, and to become even more selective in our membership process."

"The new approach is the result of a reevaluation by the branch executive committees and the Academy's Board of Governors of the fundamental way in which members have been accepted into the Academy," Pierson said.

"In the most recent dozen years, entrance standards in all branches have tightened considerably, but the process still has allowed the branch commit-tees to accept occasional candidates who have met just the minimum criteria for consideration.

"Now we are asking the committees each year to 'give us your most impressive candidates.' And that changes the nature of the selection process dramatically," Pierson said.

"The idea is that over the next twenty years or so we'll bring about an Academy that is as distinguished as we can possibly make it."

Pierson said that although the membership procedures instituted this year allow the organization to grow - after filling vacancies resulting from deaths and members opting for retired (non-voting) status - by a maximum of thirty new members annually, the Academy's voting membership will actually remain at about the same size as last year at this time - about 5,880 members - depending on whether all of the year's invitees accept their invitations.

Candidates for Academy membership are normally proposed by members and then considered by committees made up of prominent representatives of the organization's fourteen branches - directors, screenwriters, documen-tary filmmakers, etc. In addition, individuals nominated for Academy Awards, if not already members of the organization, are automatically considered by the appropriate committees though not necessarily invited to membership.

Though the great majority of AMPAS members are based in the U.S., membership is open to qualified filmmakers around the world. The Academy roster currently includes theatrical filmmakers from 36 countries.

The 2004 actor invitees are:


Shohreh Aghdashloo
Paul Bettany
Keisha Castle-Hughes
Patricia Clarkson
Keith David
Hope Davis
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Scarlett Johansson
Viggo Mortensen
Bill Nighy
Sean Penn
Audrey Tautou
Ken Watanabe
Treat Williams

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