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August 07, 2000 - August 20, 2000

8-20-00 Latest News

Info on Golden Bay
Xoanon @ 4:54 pm EST

After reading the newsbites on Stuff.co.nz I've done some digging on the Golden Bay area of New Zealand.

Map of New Zealand

Located on the very northern tip of the South Island, the Golden Bay area is surrounded by small NZ towns such as Collingwood, Puponga and Takaka.

Takaka is the last town of any size as you head towards the north-west corner of the South Island.

Golden BayGolden Bay
Golden BayGolden Bay
Golden Bay
Golden Bay
Images from Golden Bay

8-16-00 Latest News

New Tolkien documentary project based in NZ
Tehanu @ 12:01 am EST

Recently TOR.net was contacted by Assassin films, who outlined their ideas for a documentary on Tolkien and his works. As I understood it, they saw a need for something that would introduce the man and the book to people who don't know who Tolkien is or think he just wrote children's books. Like us, they were getting tired of the somewhat sneering once-over-lightly treatment Tolkien was getting in the main media worldwide. To this end they are planning to spend time at Oxenmoot and are angling for an interview with JRRT's daughter Priscilla. Another theme they're pursuing is the way Tolkien has inspired various famous artists and musicians. Glass Hammer are already booked to give them an interview.
Assassin Films are headed by NZer Mark Morgan and director David Perry, who's from England. They met in LA where both of them worked in films for a number of years.
TOR.net is interested in this project. This is a good time for this documentary to happen, and these seem like the right people to do it.

8-14-00 Latest News

New Line Press Release
Xoanon @ 1:25 pm EST


Steve Elzer
New Line Cinema/LA
(310) 967-6654


(Los Angeles, August X, 2000) -- New Line Cinema has acquired domestic distribution rights to Dungeons and Dragons: The Movie, it was jointly announced today by acquisitions chief Mark Ordesky, President of Fine Line Features, as well as producer/director Courtney Solomon of Sweetpea Entertainment.

Based on the classic role-playing fantasy-adventure game, the film, which is budgeted at $36 million, is executive produced by Joel Silver (The Matrix), and currently in post-production. New Line will release the project by the end of the year.

Dungeons and Dragons is one of the best-known fantasy titles in existence.

The game has generated more than a billion dollars in sales worldwide, including the publication of more than 400 novels. D & D products have been translated into 18 different languages and are still a fast-selling commodity. Leading toy maker Hasboro is in the process of launching a 25th Anniversary line of products.

"For millions of people worldwide, Dungeons and Dragons has been the penultimate fantasy game for more than 25 years, and this film will deliver for die-hard fans as well as those who have never been exposed to this epic world of magic, sorcery and adventure," Ordesky said. "Courtney has done a phenomenal job translating Dungeons and Dragons on film and we look forward to working with him and Joel Silver as we release this feature into the marketplace."

Nearly three generations of consumers have grown up on the game, totaling more than 25 million aficionados worldwide. "Beyond the new fans who are entertained by the game today, there is an incredible nostalgia factor to this title and we hope to capture and rekindle their imagination with this acquisition," Ordesky added.

According to web traffic data, a legion of fans are eager for news about the film. The unofficial website promoting the project, DNDMOVIE.COM, has received more than 1.5 million hits since launching last November, and the site continues to generate unusual levels of press and consumer interest.

In addition, members of the cast are already supporting the film as they appear this weekend in Milwaukee at Gen Con, the country's largest convention of D & D devotees. At the convention, it is expected that 50,000 fans will have the opportunity to get a first-look at teaser promotional footage from the film.

New Line will begin developing a marketing, distribution and publicity campaign immediately to support a year-end launch. "With New Line's great track record releasing genre films, and their experience with The Lord of the Rings, I think they are the perfect match for Dungeons and Dragons," said producer/director Courtney Solomon.

Added Rolf Mittweg, Co-Chairman of Worldwide Marketing: "Like Mortal Kombat and other fantasy/adventure franchises, this is the kind of programming that New Line has traditionally excelled with."

In the film, which stars Jeremy Irons, Thora Birch (American Beauty), Marlon Wayans (Scary Movie) Justin Whalin ("The New Adventures of Lois and Clark") and Richard O'Brien (Rocky Horror Picture Show) among others, a rag tag group of adventurers seek to foil the plans of an evil wizard.

In addition to landing domestic distribution rights, New Line has secured an option to make a potential prequel and sequel, as well as other ancillary platforms including cable, pay and network television.

Along with Ordesky, New Line's Vice President of Acquisitions Arianna Bocco was responsible for landing the rights to the project. New Line's Senior Vice President of Business Affairs Suzanne Rosencrans negotiated the agreement on behalf of the studio. Solomon is represented by attorney Sheri Jeffrey as well as Joe Gatta and David Gersh at the Gersh Agency. At Silver Pictures, the project was brought in and overseen by Steve Richards.

Solomon is a first-time filmmaker who began developing the concept for Dungeons and Dragons: The Movie while still in high school. A native of Toronto, Canada, he optioned the film rights to the project from TSR, Inc. when he was 21 years-old. Thereafter he secured the interest of Hong Kong-based financier Allan Zeman, who funded the project.

Solomon currently has several other projects in development, including a film adaptation of the best-selling comic book "Gen 13" as well as The Bell Witch, The Herald, and Puppetland, a computer generated live-action feature.

Joel Silver is one of the most successful producers in the motion picture industry, with the combined gross of his films tallying more than $3 billion.

With the success of The Matrix, 14 of Silver's films have earned worldwide box-office totals over $100 million. The others are the Lethal Weapon series I-IV, Die Hard and Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Predator, Commando, 48 Hours, The Last Boy Scout, Demolition Man, Conspiracy Theory, and Executive Decision.

An interview with Tolkien's biographer.
Tehanu @ 6:48 am EST

Kimi was lucky enough to hear this interview, and she was good enough to send us a report:
"Last Friday morning (11 August) Kim Hill of Radio New Zealand interviewed Humphrey Carpenter, the biographer of J.R.R. Tolkien. The interview was on the subject of Humphrey Carpenter's latest work, a biography of playwright Dennis Potter, but towards the end of the interview Ms Hill asked Carpenter what he thought Tolkien's reaction would have been to "The Lord of the Rings" being filmed.
Carpenter's response was interesting. He said that he had known JRRT fairly briefly (unlike Potter, whom he never met), and that he (Carpenter) had staged a production of "The Hobbit". JRRT's reaction to this production was that he considered his works to be unstageable; he simply didn't feel that they could be successfully translated to a dramatic form. Although he had sold the film rights long before this took place, he had no real expectation that "The Lord of the Rings" could be successfully filmed.

Carpenter himself made the rather startling remark that he thinks that "The Lord of the Rings" is unfilmable. He certainly startled Kim Hill, who laughed and said as if reading a headline, "Humprey Carpenter says 'Lord of the Rings' unfilmable!". He said that, while Volumes I and II are very good, he feels that Volume III is rather wordy and has language that is almost biblical. One got the impression that, while Humphrey Carpenter considers "The Lord of the Rings" a very good book, he doesn't necessarily consider it one of the great works of the 20th century. This is, however, only my impression of a rather brief and "off-topic" portion of the interview. And he did say that he intends to go to the films."
Thanks for that, Kimi!

Wizard Kebab part II
Tehanu @ 6:20 am EST

More thoughts have come in about the wizard-on-a-spike picture
SB was at the set on consecutive days and sheds some light:
"I just want to offer my opinion on the wizard on a spike. Shoulda done this earlier, I know. The same actor who was the wizard on the spike (or a good look-alike) was filming a scene the very next day. How do I know? Because I saw them filming at the Wingate set the next day. What were they filming? In the two hours I was there, it was a crane shot taken from 30 feet or so in the air, looking down on that same wizard on a white horse leading eight or so individuals. I noticed a Gimli dummy on the back of someone, and someone who looked like Aragorn (could be a double). This was all beside the big wheel. This leads me to believe that it *was* Gandalf, especially as he spoke some inaudible lines that day.

Why he was on the spike? Who knows. The security guards said that the Evening Post (stuff.co.nz) were very wrong, however. One more thing... on the day after the spike day, the security guard told me that they were using all doubles that day, and the real action was up the road at the river set, where all the stars where. I don't know if he was trying to get me to bugger off, but it certainly seems that most of the main characters have doubles."

A few people thought it was Saruman, such as AW:
"I think that it is pretty clear what the impaled wizard was. It was Saruman's demise(presumably by the actions of Wormtongue). I think that the destruction in the Shire will be completly omitted in the movies. It would be anti-climactic in a film(after the spectacular fall of Sauron) and really is of little relevence to the central story. As for the issue of no blood, remember how Saruman died in the books, it was fairly bloodless..."

Another good idea from MT:
"Just read your article... wanted to comment on the bit regarding the blood. The Wheel is rotating in water, thus its likely it would not be bloody... especially if the wizard (or whomever) died and was sloshing around there a bit before someone found him. Perhaps Saruman was let go, and stumbled on one of his own machines. After he was under water awhile, someone discovered it and the machine was rotated...bringing the unbloody body up out of the water."
I kind of like this idea - it's nifty and gets round the R13 classification (no scenes with oodles of gore). I still think he'd be pretty pinkish-looking though - blood doesn't rinse off as easy as you could wish. Not if you're wearing white.

Olorin said:
"... Nor can it be Sauron showing Denethor his doom (although that would be a cool way to make him even more suicidal), as he has no Minas Tirith uniform on, & I doubt that if they stripped him of it they would have given him some white robes in return. My guess, therefore, is that it might be a part of a flash through Mordor/Lugburz or Isengard/Orthanc, showing Sauron/Saruman torturing an old man. Unless Gandalfs been having nightmares after the fight with the Balrog..."

I'm really impressed with the imagination people have brought to bear on this, which is remaining such an intriguing problem. Bending the rules, playing with ideas....it makes us storytellers in our own right.

8-13-00 Latest News

Wizard Kebab Picture
Tehanu @ 6:14 pm EST

That mysterious picture of what appears to be a wizard impaled on a wheel has generated a lot of speculation in the Tolkien world. I thought it'd be a good use of Net resources to compile some of the thoughts and guesses we've received so people can mull them over.

Firstly, Sir Ian McKellen said that it wasn't him on the spike, though he was on the set at the time; Neither was it Christoper Lee, who's currently filming in Australia. Right, that's all clear enough, but it doesn't rule out that it could be either of their stunt doubles, or even a dummy, as Ken McGuire's suggested. Even though the camera's very close to the impaled figure, perhaps they can manipulate the image so it looks like a real (dead) face.

After all, Lee and McKellen are close to seventy, and PJ is going to find a better use for their talents than hanging them upside-down on a spike. Anyone can do that. (me! me! me! - did I just hear volunteers?)
If it isn't one of the wizards at all, somebody suggested Grima....so, say he gets ideas above his station, puts on the white robe, and Saruman pushes him out of Orthanc? I just made that up 5 seconds ago without a shred of evidence to back it up, but it's worth mentioning that if the Scouring of the Shire story is reduced, there's no requirement for Grima to die the same way as in the books.

'Gollum' suggested Denethor's death, with the same reasoning: it's not crucial to the plot HOW he dies. I dunno, though, would a director miss the chance to film a big fiery immolation scene? All those cool light and smoke effects? Though 'Gollum' reckons that could be added in afterwards.....but CGI is expensive and kerosene's cheap....Plus there's no mention of machinery in Minas Tirith; there certainly is around Orthanc, so that cogged wheel seems to belong there naturally.

Still, quite a few people opt for Saruman, having fallen out of Orthanc (in this version, Grima pushes him.....leaving Grima free to go on and mess things up in the Shire....and Saruman ends up impaled there.
Where's the blood? There'd be blood and last night's dinner all over that spike if it was really supposed to look like the wizard was impaled on it. Maybe that stuff can be added afterwards with CGI, but Xoanon couldn't see the point of that. I believe Watties Foods have been purveyors of tomato sauce to film directors for a long time in NZ, and nobody's seen any reason to replace their product with digital effects up til now. CGI is still labour- and time-intensive enough that directors avoid using it if there's an easier way.

So, if there's no blood, is it a vision? A dream? Something that Frodo sees in the Mirror of Galadriel? That's a nice guess from Ed Meier, because we're told that he sees 'many scenes flashing quickly before his vision' or words to that effect, but Tolkien doesn't tell us exactly what.

C Bracebgirdle offers the theory that it's a vision that the Ents have while chanting 'Down with Saruman,' or a image that appears as they intone, "Wizards ought to know better: they do know better. There is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of Men bad enough for such treachery. Down with Saruman!"

Equally, is it a vision sent via the Palantir to make Denethor or Saruman or Aragorn despair? That's stretching the Palantir a bit beyond the powers that Tolkien allows it, but still, it's possible.

Saint suggested perhaps they're filming some torture that Gandalf undergoes while imprisoned by Saruman. We know that Saruman uses violence against him in the scenes that have been filmed already, and it would make Gandalf's ordeal more believable, or drive home the fact that at that time, Saruman was more powerful than Gandalf, and was able to render him helpless. My objection to that is that having a spike like that through him wouldn't just torture him, it'd kill him stone-dead.

So, these are the ideas that are floating around at the moment. When all's said and done, it remains a mystery.

8-10-00 Latest News

Decipher gets Collectible Card License
Xoanon @ 6:40 pm EST

Decipher Acquires Coveted License for The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

August 10, 2000 - Decipher Inc. of Norfolk, Virginia, announced today that it has been granted the worldwide, exclusive rights to create and market trading card games and digital trading card games based on J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings. Decipher is the second manufacturer to announce a license for The Lord of the Rings from New Line Cinema, producers of the highly-anticipated screen adaptation of what has been called the Book of the Century.

The agreement with New Line grants Decipher rights to all three motion pictures: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003). A parallel agreement with New Line and Tolkien Enterprises also grants Decipher the same category rights for all of the literary properties related to The Lord of the Rings. This far-reaching deal gives Decipher the opportunity to explore in depth the entire universe of The Lord of the Rings for an initial period of six years, with a renewal right for an additional five years. The agreement also grants Decipher an option to develop trading card games and digital trading card games from The Hobbit (the trilogy's literary "prequel") and any new eventual Hobbit motion picture.

"We are extremely proud to be involved with such a wonderful property and production," said Warren Holland, Chairman and CEO of Decipher. "Everything we have seen from script to film footage points to a motion picture experience of monumental proportions. Our goal is to recreate and enhance that movie experience long after people leave the theater. We have a team of enormously creative employees who are passionately dedicated to this property and we will be bringing to life some of the most valuable and collectible game cards ever created."

"Decipher has proven time and again that they are the preeminent company when it comes to translating epic- sized properties to the collectible card game medium. Lord of the Rings could not be in better hands" commented David Imhoff, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Licensing & Merchandising, New Line Cinema.

While details of the games were not announced, it's safe to say that Decipher intends to use the film (and photo-realistic images generated in house on their state-of-the-art Silicon Graphics systems) to illustrate both the physical trading card game and its digital counterpart. Both versions of the game are scheduled to launch at about the same time, which should be very close to the opening of the first movie in December 2001. As Warren Holland said in his announcement, "The future of film and the future of trading card games are about to be forever redefined with a new standard of excellence."

Jonathan Quesenberry
Public Relations Manager
August 10, 2000

8-09-00 Latest News

More on Joel Tobeck
Xoanon @ 11:34 pm EST

While doing a bit of digging on the latest cast member to join LOTR, Joel Tobeck, I've discovered two things:

1) Amazingly he was never on Shorland Street

2) He plays Creegan, the coolest looking dude from 'Cleopatra 2525'.

Joel Tobeck has been working on TV and Film as early as 1986. His first job was an uncredited role in 'Queen City Rocker', he also played 'The Boyfriend from Hell' (hmm sounds like my X's name for me) in 'The Shrimp on the Barbie'. He has also done extensive work on the 'Herc, Xena, Cleopatra 2525' gigs, playing roles such as 'Strife' 'Demios' and 'King Boraeus'. Read a revealing interview about Tobeck here.

8-07-00 Latest News

Gandalf's Last Gasp?
Tehanu @ 10:53 pm EST

This is off the Evening Post, we believe:
Wellington, Aug 8, New Zealand Press Assc - Did Gandalf the wizard breath his last breath in the Hutt Valley today?
Filming of a scene from the $360 million The Lord Of the Rings trilogy could clearly be seen at a set on a vacant site in Peterkin St, Taita, today. Parts of the set, which included a large blue screen, a spotlight on a crane and props, have been visible from the street for the past few days. The scene today showed what appeared to be wizard character Gandalf, who is played by British actor Sir Ian McKellen, impaled on large spiked wooden wheel. Crew were moving the wheel in an anti-clockwise direction during filming. It was unclear where in J R R Tolkien's classic the scene takes place. It is possible that it is the first death of Gandalf after battling a creature called the Balrog on the bridge of Khazad-Dum. (But why wouldn't they film that indoors on soundstage, anyone know?-Tehanu )Gandalf falls into an abyss and disappears, returning later as the more powerful Gandalf the White.
Other sightseers today included a couple who perched on the roof of their car for a view of the action. A woman used a telescope, while a man took photographs. Film company Three Foot Six and New Line Cinema have been highly secretive about filming in the Wellington region, keeping the media off site and limiting the release of film images. Filming began on Mt Victoria last October and has also taken place in the Dry Creek Quarry on Haywards Hill, the former Fort Dorset site in Seatoun, and Harcourt Park in Upper Hutt.

We expect this article will appear in Stuff later, WITH pictures.

Hmmmm. Impaled on a wheel. Don't panic everyone, there's probably some explanation somebody can come up with.

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