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August 17, 2007 - September 18, 2007

9-18-07 Latest News

Baggins Birthday Picnic
Xoanon @ 11:10 pm EST

Southern Californian hobbits, elves, rangers and even orcses, or simply Tolkien fans, are invited to join in the merriment of TORN's Annual Baggins Birhday Picnic which will take place on Sunday Sept 23 starting at noon in Griffith Park near the Merry-Go-Round. Costumes are encouraged, and prizes will be bestowed upon the most beautifully or most creatively attired lads and ladies. There will also be games, trivia, and maybe even the traditional impersonation contest (if partygoers are up to it). And wonderful prizes to be won. The picnic is potluck so bring something to share. RSVP to Arwen@theonering.net.


From south: Take the 5 North to the Griffith Park exit. At the first stop sign you reach, turn right onto Crystal Springs Drive. When you reach the first stop sign, there should be a big sign for the "Merry Go Round." Turn left, and follow the road up to the top of the hill. Pull into the parking lot on your right (don't worry, there's plenty of parking). Follow the music to the Merry Go Round.

From north: Take the 5 south to Los Feliz Blvd West. At the intersection with Riverside Drive, turn right. Riverside Drive will turn into Crystal Springs Drive.When you reach the first stop sign, there should be a big sign for the "Merry Go Round." Turn left, and follow the road up to the top of the hill. Pull into the parking lot on your right (don't worry, there's plenty of parking). Follow the music to the Merry Go Round.

From Hollywood/LA: Take Western Ave north. It will turn into Los Feliz Blvd. When you reach the intersection with Riverside Drive, turn left. Riverside Drive will turn into Crystal Springs Drive. When you reach the first stop sign, there should be a big sign for the "Merry Go Round." Turn left, and follow the road up to the top of the hill. Pull into the parking lot on your right (don't worry, there's plenty of parking). Follow the music to the Merry Go Round.

9-16-07 Latest News

Celebriel’s Dragon*Con Report: Making “The Hobbit” Happen
Xoanon @ 1:25 pm EST

Celebriel’s Dragon*Con Report: Making “The Hobbit” Happen

TORn’s panel, “Making The Hobbit Happen,” presented by staffer Larry Curtis and co-founders Chris Pirotta (Calisuri) and Bill Thomas (Corvar) was a centerpiece of Tolkien Track programming, given on Saturday and again on Monday in the Hilton’s International Ballroom.

They took us through the Power Point presentation now posted here, which reviews the complicated publication and film rights history of Tolkien’s works, especially as they relate to “The Hobbit.” Critical dates in this history to keep in mind are:

1969: Tolkien sells the film rights to his works to United Artists/MGM.

1970: UA/MGM sells the film rights to Saul Zaentz for $10,000.

1997: Saul Zaentz sells the film rights to Miramax (Harvey and Weinstein).

1998: New Line purchases rights from Miramax.

2004: In its annual April Fool’s Day parody article, TORn announced that Paul Anderson (director of “Alien Versus Predator” and “Resident Evil,” among others) was set to direct “The Hobbit,” generating lots of attention from fans, studios, and attorneys alike.

TORn also launched the Help the Hobbit Happen web site in support of the film.

A petition signature campaign was led by Lynn Machie (LithQ) to rally fan support. (See this site) On September 22, 2006 the petition, over 2000 pages containing over 62,000 signatures, was delivered to MGM and New Line Cinema.

March 2005: Peter Jackson initiates suit against New Line, requesting a audit of the books of The Fellowship of the Ring. Often, this type of court is settled out of court, but Peter felt strongly, and continues to feel, that there were important underlying issues which needed to be brought to light about film production and revenue accounting.

November 2006: In an open letter to TORn, Peter Jackson releases the project, providing background on his reasons why. (Read the letter here) In the same month, Saul Zaentz reaffirms his support of Peter Jackson as director of The Hobbit.

January 2007: Bob Shaye essentially blacklists Peter Jackson from his studio, and Peter responds on Aint It Cool News.

July 2007: Bob Shaye begins to soften his stance. While Sam Raimi continues to be mentioned as director, discussions suggest that Peter Jackson could exec produce, thereby able to bring his vision for “The Hobbit” to the screen while remaining free to develop other projects.

Discussion at the panel was very lively. The TORn presenters outlined the possibility of “The Hobbit” as two films: one a straightforward adaptation of “The Hobbit” and the second a bridge film that would carry the story over to “The Fellowship of the Ring.” There is material in Tolkien’s works that could be developed in a second film, remaining true to the characters and the spirit of the books. For example, the death of Frodo’s parents and the development of his relationship with Bilbo, the White Council, Gandalf’s earlier activities in Middle Earth, Gollum’s earlier life and history, back story on other members of the fellowship, on the relationship of Aragorn and Arwen, on Aragorn’s personal history, travels and time spent in Gondor and Rohan, and much more.

Presenters and audience had a great deal of fun speculating about characters, cast, and locations for “The Hobbit.” For example:

Bilbo: probably not Ian Holm due to age/infirmity, nor Elijah Wood.

Gandalf and Gollum: No reason Ian McKellan could not return to play Gandalf and Andy Serkis to play Gollum, dates and contracts permitting.

Gloin: John Rhys Davies could play Gloin, father of Gimli, though he’s expressed a strong desire not to wear the makeup and prostheses for the dwarf costume again.

Dwarfs: Some of the dwarfs would be fully developed as characters, like Thorin and Balin, but most would remain unnamed, or at least undeveloped, in the film.

Elrond: Hugo Weaving could reprise his role as Elrond. Another suggestion offered was David Bowie.

Bard: Bard will be the high profile hunk of “The Hobbit.” Who should play him? Clive Owen? Gerald Butler? Hugh Jackman?

Smaug: Smaug the dragon will most likely be a WETAhttp://www.wetanz.com Digital creation, but as with Gollum, the voice of the actor playing him is critical to establishing character. Alan Rickman? Jeremy Irons? Morgan Freeman? Edward James Olmos? Michael Clarke Duncan?

Locations: The New Zealand public park used for Rivendell and the private land used for Hobbiton could be most likely be used again.

Props and Sets: A great many of the props and set materials still exist, though they are the property of New Line Cinema.

There was discussion consensus at the panel that “The Hobbit” will be made, as one or two films, simply because of the huge revenue potential from theatrical release, DVD sales and rentals, and associated merchandising/licensing. “Star Wars” (6 films) and “Harry Potter” (5 so far, 2 more to come) are only two franchises that demonstrate fans aren’t satisfied with just three films. The financial potential is big enough to bring together industry people to get the project funded, produced, and distributed, regardless of personal feelings or history. Even the rights issues can be resolved with the promise of a big enough financial pie to split.

At the end of the session, various prizes were given away, including a copy of Kristen Thompson's "The Frodo Franchise: The Lord of the Rings and Modern Hollywood." Larry, Chris, and Bill also encouraged fans to stay active in the fan community and to let Dragon*Con organizers know how important, valuable, and enjoyable the Tolkien Track is. (Staff and email links here)

A Google search of “The Hobbit + Movie” yields over 1.1 million results, with only some relating to the 1977 Rankin-Bass film. Studios, licensors, suppliers and manufacturers, producers and directors, cast, crew, the nation of New Zealand, and especially fans worldwide stand to win if the film/s come about. So let’s “Make the Hobbit Happen!”

John Howe's Journal: A Few Words, A Few Pictures
Xoanon @ 12:03 pm EST

A FEW WORDS, A FEW PICTURES (Or Determining How Many Words a Picture is Really Worth at Current Market Value)
By John Howe

I've often considered that artists should be subject to restraining orders, forbidding them to approach any closer than 100 yards to writing about their ownwork. Alas, I am a convicted and incurable recidivist, and like most of my earnest colleagues, am already serving a life sentence, so a few words won't hurt.

Those of you who've had the pleasure (or the misfortune) of meeting me will likely know I feel very strongly about this whole business of making pictures. (Deep inside me is a thoroughly repressed professor, chained up and living on bread and water.)

So, when offered the opportunity to do a book where I could actually say what I think, I was not going to keep my mouth shut or my typing fingers idle. I spent this spring chained up and living on bread and water, fingers madly dancing their two-step over my keyboard typing words in a frenzy of ardent application (I am an out-of-touch-typist at best), handed it all over to the editor and... well, nothing. That's publishing. The six months separating the frenzy of creation and revision from actual publication are often disconcerting. Now that interview time is coming around, I've forgotten most of what I wrote. [More]

9-11-07 Latest News

Dragon*Con 2007: Tolkien Track Highlights
Xoanon @ 9:10 pm EST

Dragon*Con 2007: Tolkien Track Highlights - TORN Table

Celebriel reports, Well another Dragon*Con has ended, and Tolkien Track attendees are still busy this week editing photos, uploading videos, emailing new and old friends, and getting costumes and props cleaned and safely put away. Here are just some of the track highlights this year (not including Anne Petty’s Dragon Smackdown and TORn's 'The Hobbit' DragonCon Presentation, which are covered separately).

Friday night: An Evening in Bree. This Friday party traditionally gets the weekend into high gear, with most attendees in their best Lord of the Rings finery eager to catch up with friends, enjoy the great bands (The Brobdingnagian Bards and Emerald Rose), and dance like hobbits at The Green Dragon.

This year there was no costume contest, and there was a scary medical emergency (which fortunately, we understand as of Sunday, the individual survived), but the ballroom was full and was even closed for crowd control for a time.

Saturday morning: The fourth annual parade through the streets of Atlanta featured a record number of participants and thousands of spectators. Middle Earth was again well represented. View CNN’s feature with parade footage here. Find video of the whole parade uploaded in sections on YouTube. The parade was followed by the LOTR/Arms of Middle Earth pizza lunch on the 10th floor of the Marriott.

Saturday morning: Tolkien Costuming. Michael Cook, Marcia Banach and Jules Kelly gave an excellent workshop on costume design, materials, and fabrication. Marcia and Jules detailed each layer of their elaborate new King of the Dead and Soldier of the Dead costumes (see photos), and Michael offered solid advice on leather and weaponry. Attendance was limited only because the official schedule listed their panel at 11:30PM rather than AM.

Other high points included talking to the delightful Peter Beagle in the Walk of Fame and hanging out at the TORn fan table in the Hilton, where the new Smaug Kills t-shirts were on sale, visitors picked up free Sideshow Collectibles gift cards, and fans inspected and signed the Help the Hobbit Happen petition (currently at over 62,000 signatures.) Track Director Jean Baughman and her staff once again did a great job planning the programming, keeping everything on schedule, decorating the track room, providing raffle prizes, and dispensing advice and support to attendees and presenters alike.

9-10-07 Latest News

Dragon*Con Tolkien Track Report: Anne Petty's Dragon Smackdown!
Xoanon @ 9:09 pm EST

Anne Petty at Dragon*Con

Celebriel writes, Who better to talk about dragons at Dragon*Con than Tolkien scholar and author Anne Petty? Anne’s talk, “Glaurung vs Smaug: Dragon Smackdown,” helped kick off the Tolkien Track on Friday and was repeated on Sunday.

Anne reminded us that Tolkien called dragons “a potent creation of men’s imagination,” and she took us through the characteristics of dragons and dragon tales as classified in Finnish scholar Antti Aarne’s Tale Type Index, published in 1910 and now known as the Aarne-Thompson Tale Type Index after English translator and scholar Stith Thompson. These include:

Anne explained that Tolkien knew dragons from childhood, from stories in Andrew Lang’s Red Fairy Book, first published in 1890 and still in print, which included “The Story of Sigurt.” He visualized dragons as worms, long and skinny, and in length 20 feet or more, very different from the squat, bulky dragons known most commonly in the west from the St. George legend. She noted that the dragon in the Rankin-Bass animated “The Hobbit” of 1977 is fairly is close to Tolkien’s vision - an Eastern dragon not a Western one.

With this background, Anne developed the contrasts and comparisons between Glaurung and Smaug. Glaurung is a dragon of the First Age, the first of Morgoth’s great dragons. His name means “burning,” suggesting that he is a firedragon or uruloki.

Tolkien describes him as a “golden dragon of Morgoth,” “the father of dragons” and “the golden dragon of the god of hell.” In personality, Glaurung is impulsive and calculating in a human sort of way. Glaurung is relative young – we know this because in his early battles his platelike armor has not completely hardened. In “The Children of Hurin,” Turin kills Glauring by stabbing him from beneath. His vulnerability was ignoring or underestimating humans in his focus on the elves.

Smaug, also called a worm and a winged firedrake, is the last of the dragons. He doesn’t work for Sauron or Morgoth but is a free agent. He lives in under the Lonely Mountain (Erebor), which he took from the dwarves, and is red gold in color.

His name means “to squeeze through, like a snake through a hole.” Bilbo noticed Smaug’s vulnerable spot when the dragon was flattered into revealing his diamond waistcoat. A thrush overheard Bilbo telling the dwarves and relayed the information to Bard of Esgaroth, who shot Smaug with an arrow. Like Glaurung overlooking humans, Smaug erred in overlooking hobbits and focusing on his dwarf enemies.

Smaug’s descriptors, while impressive, are not as terrifying as First Age dragon Glaurung’s. He is known as “Smaug the tremendous,” “Smaug the mighty,” and Smaug “the unassessably wealthy.” Smaug is also, we might say, better socialized. It’s almost impossible to imagine a dragon like Glaurung in conversation with Bilbo in “Riddles in the Dark.”

At the end of Anne’s talk, fans discussed who might voice Smaug in any forthcoming production of “The Hobbit.” Among the suggestions were James Earl Jones, Sean Connery, John Rhys-Davies, and Jeremy Irons.

Read more at www.annepetty.com. Check out Anne’s books, especially The Dragons of Fantasy (2004), at the web site.

Tolkien Sculpture Appeal Goes Global
Xoanon @ 8:42 pm EST

Tolkien fans everywhere will soon be able to buy into a legend by subscribing to the public appeal to finance a sculpture celebrating the internationally acclaimed author and his Birmingham roots. From October 1st, courtesy of EBay, fans can bid for a metal leaf with a personalised dedication and associate themselves with this most famous of writers.

The iconic controversial 20 ft high “Ent” will be located on Birmingham’s Tolkien Trail close to where the author lived in Moseley Village, and between his childhood home of Sarehole, later immortalised as “Hobbiton” and the Edgbaston of his youth. The Ent, a benign and friendly tree-like being, is depicted striding across a carpet of metal leaves towards Moseley Bog, the inspiration for the “Old Forest” in “The Lord of the Rings.”

The sculptor is Tim Tolkien, grandson of JRR Tolkien’s younger brother, Hilary. Tim already has a track record in creating landmark public art like his spectacular `Sentinel’ sculpture on Spitfire Island in Castle Vale marking the area’s association with the WWII fighter plane.

The giant statue will be fabricated in recycled stainless steel with bronze and copper coatings. The individually wrought leaves will be embedded into a paving of resin bonded, crushed green glass at the base of the Ent. Tim will engrave each unique leaf with wording of the sponsor’s choosing.

There are a total of 400 silver coloured metal leaves, the first of which has been reserved by The Tolkien Society and some others sold to local patrons on a preferential basis. In addition there are 30 larger bronze leaves for corporate sponsors and private donors,

The Moseley Statue Group who finally obtained planning permission earlier this year has always envisaged an international dimension to the public appeal to raise the £80,000 needed to finance the sculpture. Tolkien is a worldwide phenomenon with readers, admirers and devotees in every corner of the globe.

For those familiar with the EBay worldwide marketplace, buying your leaf couldn’t be easier. Type ‘Ent Leaves’ into the search box, and you will be offered the opportunity to ‘Buy it Now’ on a strictly limited number of leaves. £500 will secure you a leaf, but if you are a risk-taker, you can make an offer - and take a leaf out of Tolkien’s book…

9-01-07 Latest News

Trilogy Screening in the UK
Xoanon @ 11:43 am EST

All three of Peter Jackson's hugely successful, Oscar-winning films will be available to see in their original theatrical 35mm with this fantastic all-nighter on 15 September. Tickets £25, £18 concs. [bfi.org.uk]

John Howe's Journal: Wrapping Up
Xoanon @ 11:08 am EST

Or How All Good Things Come to an End

John Howe writes: I confess to being a creature of habit. Good and bad, of course, but nevertheless...

Closing weekend this weekend in Saint-Ursanne. The banners and statues will remain in place until the end of September, but the rest will be packed away.

Also, given that Alan Lee will be there on the Sunday, a certain amount of congestion is definitely going to occur. I think he will remember his first visit to Switzerland as being... very busy.

The organisers have edited a lovely series of postcards (yes, I know it makes little sense to have these at the END of the exhibition, but put it down to my pain-in-the-neck attitude concerning quality and atmosphere.) They can be ordered via the official site. Most of the photos are courtesy of (the very talented) professional photographer Darrin Vanselow.

Click here to view the postcards

At any rate, as a creature of habit, I initially found difficult the requirements of weekly driving to Saint-Ursanne as the statues were taking shape. Now that I no longer need to, I awake before dawn Tuesday mornings wondering just what it is that's missing. Initially I looked with some dismay at my "days-John-Howe-present" calendar, now that my presence is not required, I find that I miss being dragged out of my lair. (On the other hand, I've finally realized why I don't teach or give courses on a regular basis.)

I was intending to write something witty and philosophical about how all good things must have an ending, but a certain precipitation of things-to-do has left me high and dry, well above the tideline of idle creativity. Also, with the two books appearing this fall, the curiously dismaying lull that follows delivery and proofreading is now nearly over as the publishing dates draw closer and most spare moments are consumed by details-to-supply, resized-images-to-send and articles-to-go-over just in case I-didn't-mean-to-say-exactly-that.

Actually, just now I am struggling with essential trivia like just how much was the fine that the Greek court condemned Heinrich Schliemann to pay to the Turkish authorities for smuggling Priam's Treasure out of Troy under his wife's red shawl. One source says 5000 dollars, another says 50,000 francs (but WHICH "francs", or are these the piasters that Turkey used prior to switching to lira, about the same time the judgement was made) or 10,000 francs (or dollars, it depends). And how much is that worth in today's currency?
Or what year was it in A.D. 1?

Or why do historians call the Phoenicians a "merchant race"? (Is that ALL they did? Are we a "computer race"?) or seem to think the inhabitants of Mohenjo-daro were dull because their bricks are all the same size?

Or more practical matters, such as how much of the face of the northernmost colossus of Memnon was intact before Napoleon's troops decided it would be perfect for target practice? (As for the one Severus Septimus so summarily stacked up again, which of the blocks are made of sandstone and which of quartzite? And will my editor pay my trip to go see if I asked politely?) Or what might the ceremonial fire-bowl of a high priest of Cahokia have really looked like, or a view of Ultima Thule? How do you walk a songline? What colour was Eve's hair, and how many legs did that pesky serpent have? Could anyone read rongorongo? Who wrote the letter from Prester John? How many towers in storied Camelot, and how far by boat to Avalon?
Where have all the unicorns gone?

So, with all these interrogations buzzing like pesky bees around (and in) my little head, this witty and philosophical newsletter will not be written. (If I can remember one-tenth of what I'll have written for the book at hand, I'll be amply satisfied.)

Thankfully, there are other distractions.

Saint-Ursanne will be auctioning off the sculptures and the banners, as well as the ink-jet prints from the Cloister. A 25-foot fern was JUST what your garden needed? There still might be room in the garage for a 75-foot dragon? That banner of Gollum would be just perfect in the stairwell? Now's your chance, the auction is here. Starting once the show closes, and ending on September 30th. (The auction pages will be in English, French and German. If they are not quite ready by the time this goes on line, they will be very shortly.)

See you in a few weeks.

8-22-07 Latest News

DragonCon is only a week away!
MrCere @ 9:04 pm EST

Ringer Celebriel sends this pre-con report:

Just over a week to go!

Fans start gathering next Thursday night for the 21st annual Dragon*Con convention in Atlanta, which runs through Labor Day. Tolkien Track programming this year covers art, costuming, music, literary discussion, live action role play, film screenings, fan fiction, collectibles, and New Zealand travel, not to mention Saturday morning’s Parade, Friday night’s Evening in Bree with Emerald Rose
and the Brobdingnagian Bards, authors Peter S. Beagle and Sherrilyn Kenyon, Tolkien scholar Anne Petty, and "Making the Hobbit Happen," led by TORn founders William Thomas, Chris Pirrotta and staffer Larry Curtis. (Corvar, Calisuri and MrCere respectively).

Many of the panels will be given twice during the weekend, to accommodate your wish to see the Weasley twins over on the Young Adult track or check out the Miss Klingon Beauty Contest on TrekTrac.
The main Tolkien Track room (except for parties and such) is the Clayton Room on the second floor of the Atlanta Hilton. Also, we are trying to get a few copies of Kristin Thompson’s "The Frodo Franchise" to give away as prizes!

Highlights include:
Meet & Greet: Find old friends and make some new ones before An Evening in Bree! (5:30PM Friday)

TORn panel: Join William Thomas, Chris Pirrotta and Larry Curtis for "Making the Hobbit Happen" (Saturday at 2:30PM and Sunday at 1:00PM)

Music: Emerald Rose, with their new “Con Suite” CD, plays Friday night at "An Evening in Bree" (8:30PM) and Sunday night at the Yule Ball (8:30PM)

The Brobdingnagian Bards play at An Evening in Bree and at Sunday’s late night Pirate party (11:30PM)

Film: Saturday night’s film program (10:00PM) includes "Ringers: Lord of the Fans" and MARS Productions’ "Middle Earth Idol," along with some surprises!

Peter Beagle and Felix Silla talk about Ralph Bakshi’s animated Lord of the Rings (1972) at 4:00PM on Saturday. Catch Peter showing The Last Unicorn on the Young Adult track at 8:30PM on Saturday.

Dragon Smackdown: Come prepared to support your favorite dragon in Anne Petty’s discussion of Glaurung vs. Smaug. (Friday at 2:30PM and Sunday at 11:00AM)

Costuming: Join professional armor and sword maker Michael Cook of Celebrate Studios and award-winning master costumers Marcia Banach and Jules Kelly for their Saturday afternoon double session on "Bringing Your Costume to Life."
(Oh yeah, and watch for Marcia’s new LOTR costume this year – A Return of the King character you’ve never seen before!)

Art: Discuss artists who have brought Middle Earth to life in a panel discussion featuring LOTR and Star Wars artist Sarah Wilkinson. Saturday at 5:30PM
and Monday at 10:00AM.

FanFic: Join Zhie and friends at the FanFiction Luau, Sunday night at 10PM. Age 18+ or with parent/guardian – IDs will be checked!

Travel: Thinking about New Zealand or been there and want share your story? New Zealand IS Middle Earth – Sunday at 1:00PM

Parade: The Dragon*Con parade is Saturday morning at 10:00AM. If you haven’t registered yet, please do so at the Parade Table when you arrive in Atlanta. You’ll see it when you pick up your convention badge.

Some Essential Links: Print your Tolkien Track Dragon*Con schedule at: tolkientrack.queencheetah.com/cale2007.htm

Anne Petty: www.annepetty.com

Arms of Middle Earth: www.armsofmiddleearth.com (Atlanta area Tolkien group)

The Brobdingnagian Bards: thebards.net

Celebrate Studios: www.celebratestudios.com

Dragon*Con Main: www.dragoncon.org

Emerald Rose: www.emeraldrose.com/mainpage.htm

Peter Beagle: www.peterbeagle.com

Sarah Wilkinson: www.sarahwilkinson.net

8-17-07 Latest News

Weta Press: Warthog & Beta Keys
Xoanon @ 12:36 pm EST

From the Geek Gods at WETA: Thanks to everyone who visited the WETA stand at Comic Con. Attached are are few highlights from the Weta crew.

The Rayguns statue gathered alot of attention, and creator of Dr Grordbort's world, Greg Broadmore, was on hand to answer media and fan enquiries. The show exclusive, the Miniature ManMelter, completely sold out, and a little birdy tells me they are going for three times the original price on Ebay!

Here are this weeks updates for your news stations:

Go back to Special Reports Archives