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December 12, 2003 - January 14, 2004


Bernard Hill on Radio
Tehanu @ 5:25 pm EST
Jennie writes: "Bernard Hill was interviewed on Mix 107.3 FM in Washington, D.C. this morning, on the Jack Diamond Morning Show. Unfortunately, I was in the car and so unable to record the interview or I'd have transcribed it for you. He mentioned how wonderful all the fans had been, and remarked how even the die-hard Tolkien geeks (I think he means us) were with them every step of the way, and very much appreciated. He also said that they'd filmed the movie, "with one foot on the book," contrasting the filmmaking to how other book-to-film projects are often made. He said that normally, they read the book, put it aside, go on holiday for the weekend, and then sit down to write the screenplay. Not so with this film. The book was always there and they were always trying to slip more of Tolkien into it throughout the process.

"He did mention something I'd never heard, and something Bernard claims he's never told anyone before.

"When the warriors are returning to Helm's Deep, he was supposed to be riding a white horse. But his horse had pulled up lame, and he'd wound up riding a brown one. (They had several horses trained for the set, but the only one available to him was the brown.) This horse wasn't used to him, nor he to it. So the horse went up when he went down, and when you see him about to dismount at Helm's Deep, you see a pained look on his face, as though he's had a hard ride and a difficult time getting there, and is devastated by the loss of Aragorn and so many men, etc. etc. Really, he's just thinking, "Ow! I think the pommel just cracked my sternum!" Which is what had happened. So look for the wince. It's real."

LOTR news from Japan: Release, Premiere Frustration, and Credit Card
Tehanu @ 5:01 pm EST
Ringer spy KT says, "Quoq Inc. in Japan has just released a Lord of the Rings credit card! There is a website, to apply for the card, but I am quite sure that only people residing in Japan will be elligable to get one, I am sure going to try my hardest to get one." [More]
"I think this goes someway to making up for making me wait two months to see the movie.

"The release date in Japan has now been announced as February 14, on Valentines Day."

Helena writes about the premiere in Japan, which is proving to be frustrating for the fans, because it seems like they'll be excluded from the chance event to line up by the red carpet and cheer like they do in other countries:

"I'm writing about the Japanese premiere, that apparently is going to happen maybe on next 22nd. On the contrary of all the premieres all around the world for the whole trilogy, every time when it comes to Japan, the thing seems to be more of a super-secret-non-secret thing. Let me explain: It has been published on the official Japanese LOTR site that on this month is going to happen the very especial premiere with the presence of Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, PJ and many others (apparently 22 people are coming), but nothing about the place, the date, the time...The site is telling 777 fans will be lucky to 'watch' the premiere live on their PC and it also says about watching it on the cell-phone.'Become the witness of this historical event!' it says...Now, when in all other places the fans wait excited to be next to the red carpet or do the craziest things to be able to get in, here in Japan all we can do is wait to see how it was on the news for a few seconds next day or buy magazines to read the interviews next month.

"The lack of information is absurd. One fan called the company that's arranging the event and the person told her that the Japanese premiere will not be for 'regular' people, which means that only famous people who call themselves artists will be there, not even for the film, but to make the news papers next morning.There are hundreds of fans waiting for this moment, the stars are coming, PJ is finally coming, why not make an event worthy of all this dedication to this movie? Why so top-secret?
All the fans wish they could go and send the cast and crew their love and show how much they care, but go where? When?"

TV Watch: McKellen Transcript from 'The View'
Xoanon @ 12:52 pm EST
A BIG thank you to Diamond_T & Mediadoc the Magnificent for sending along this transcript from Ian McKellen's appearance on 'The View'

Begins with a viewing of the clip of Ian and Billy Boyd in the stables at Edoras with Dom.

STAR: Welcome! Love those beads! You are decorated! Ian is wearing a black shirt with a white muscle tee underneath and some Crewe beads, one set particularly large and orchid in color.

IAN: I got these at Mardi Gras. I just got these gestures to the large orchid set outside. Maybe I should give it to one of you.

JOY: You have to pick one. I think it goes with my blouse. Don't cha think? Women nod approvingly

Ian: I know what to do. Turns to Star Jones You look after these for Barbara (Walters, who was not present). Everyone goes " ahh" . He gives the beads to Star

STAR: Now, that was very Gandalf. I have to tell you, I mean, in case you haven't figured that out…why are you here? I haven't figured that out. The movie has just made about a billion dollars. The whole world is going to see it. You don't need to promote it. Did you just come to visit the girls? Ian nods Fantastic! I just love it!

Ian: A little holiday spirit he hold up a glass with clear liquid in it.

STAR: It's water; it's fresh. In all honesty, you know I've seen all of the LOTR films. This is the final; the third of the trilogy, and the conclusion of the story. Did you ever have any idea how big it would become. Ian shakes his head. Unbelievable!

Ian: How could we have known? I never read the books, but the minute I said that I would play the part, suddenly my website in flooded with people saying " Now, you better play this part well. We're all depending on you." So, there was always a corale that had read the books and were waiting to see the movies, but no one could believe it would have gone through the roof as it as now. As for publicizing it, I don't mind talking about a movie I really like. I mean, sometimes you're sitting around one of these talking about films you wish you rather hadn't been in, and I want everyone to see it; on the big screen. Don't wait for the DVD; see it on the big screen. See spectacle like it's never been! Applause

Star: See the fight scenes 'cause you will really lose out if you don't see it on the big screen. I mean, there are animals over 200 feet tall. The most amazing thing I have ever seen. Peter Jackson is brilliant.

NEW HOST: And it just got nominated for two Golden Globes: Best Director and best Picture. No acting nominations though?
Ian: Ah, no. The New York Board of Review gave us the Ensemble Acting Award. I think we were all chuck about that because we're a bit of a team, and we perhaps don't want to be selected away from the others.

NEW HOST: So, do you think about your possibilities of getting an Oscar Nomination, or does it really matter?
Ian: Well, I'm tempted to say, "who needs Oscar?" I think if you're in a little movie that needs help, like "Gods and Monsters" that I was in, and got nominated for that…

STAR: That was great! Applause

Ian: But this movie doesn't need little prizes. A little cherry on the top of the Christmas cake. But, the real important thing is the audience.

JOY: yeah, right. Is the "Sir" is that really important?

IAN: It is. And it's funny I know Americans don't really understand about these titles-

JOY: We couldn't find an equivalent.

IAN: No, you don't have one. They're medals given by a grateful nation for your contribution to the life of the country. "Sir"…well, politicians get the knighthood, teachers-

JOY: Rock artists-but some people turn it down-

STAR: Vanessa Redgrave turned it down-

IAN: Yes. They do. Well, she may have turned down the "Dame" title, but I can tell you what, she is a Commander of the British Empire that she got when she was 27. She keeps quiet about that. All go 'AHHHH'!

MEREDITH: But for you, does it make you feel like you look in the mirror and say, "hello, Sir!" laughter It's got to be heady.

IAN: There are two things for me. First, to be in the same category nominally as my hero Sir Lawrence Olivier, Sir John Gill, Sir Alec Guinness-

JOY: Sir Ralph Richardson

IAN: Yeah, exactly. It makes me feel very warm. But, then, I got it just 2 years after I had come out and said I was gay. And that hadn't happened before that an openly gay person had be given a knighthood. So, I just saw that as a bit of social charge that I approved of. That was why I was so pleased.

MEREDITH: Why did you think-I was going to ask you that because you did 'come out'-you have been very vocal, and it hasn't affected your acting. You play-

IAN: Actually, my film career took off the moment I came out, so--*laughter* guys, get out of the closet! More laughter
STAR: Yes-you play one of the best characters ever!

JOY: The British don't care about things like that-

STAR: Obviously the Americans don't either! The movies have made like a billion dollars…

IAN: And they don't care on Broadway either. It's just Hollywood. They've got a few problems.

JOY: nods Issues.

IAN: Mind you, they just discovered in Hollywood a few years ago that they have Blacks there, did you notice? Uproarious laughter

JOY: …for roles other than servants, yes.

MEREDITH: I have to ask you…are you a little nervous? My son is coming out in the next segment…

IAN: A very nice young man. Extremely nice, and intelligent, and friendly.

MEREDITH: Trying to buy him, are you? Laughter

IAN: Well, crosses fingers we will hope for the best. Smiles
(Meredith's teenage son was offering reviews of the Holiday Season releases, including of course, ROTK). I have a pretty good idea of what he's going to say, so I am pleased.

MEREDITH: He will be reviewing your movie and "Cheaper by the Dozen". Do you care what the critics say?

IAN: Well, the critics are the audience. They're the people. applause

STAR: …about the confidence you have…

IAN: Well, if people come and see your movies and with LOTR , they come around the premieres by the hundreds of thousands and say, "Thank You!"…then, what the critics sat becomes less important.

STAR: Well, in this case, the fans love it, and the critics adore it. I have seen all of the best movies of the year lists. It's either number one or number two…but for me, it's number one!

Ian: Oh, thank you, Star!

STAR: LOTR: ROTK is everywhere! I know, I searched! Applause


TV Watch: Astin Transcript from 'The View'
Xoanon @ 8:42 pm EST
A BIG thank you to Diamond_T and Ringer Spy Meriadoc for this transcript of Astin on 'The View'.

OSCAR WATCH is on the screen. Shot cuts down into the studio to Star:

STAR: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is the epic adventure fantasy that fans and critics absolutely adore; count me in! Sean Astin is on our Osacar Watch and has quite an appitite for more than just adventure. Take a look: (clip of Frodo, Sam and Gollum and the lembas incident; after Smeagol's line about Sam, "He took it!" the clip ends. Star replies...)

STAR: Big liar! He did not! *laughter* Please welcome Sean Astin!

*Sean walks in, kisses all the women and sits down on the couch*

SEAN: Hello, how are you?! You guys are so much fun! I was having a ball listening to you!

STAR: Now, you've been married for 10 years--

SEAN: 11!

STAR: 11years! The romance is still in it...

SEAN: Well, thank you for the opportunity to talk about it. *laughter* You get these moments in your life when you wwe're talking about you made it through the 50 year thing; I was ssitting there thinking there thinking : we're gonna make it, too. When I do something stupid, I'm going to cop to it. So...I was quoted in 'People" magazine; they didthis little--with all the success of LOTR you talk, and people like get--put in the magazines, and so there, you have to think about what you're saying. And they did this thing that was like 'stream of consciousness' well, they'd throw out a word, and I had to throw out something else. So they said something like 'prenuptial agreement'or something, and I said 'am I still eligible?" But, *audience groans* when I said...yeah, I know *the women all groan* and I was thinking like it was a stupid question 'cause I'm like the old married guy who was...whatever, but in PRINT, it looks like...

JOY: So, what did she say, your wife?

SEAN: She was, she was, well you know what she said? She was great about it! She just read it to me, she said 'this is what your daughter brought me...*women groan LOUDLY, and go OOOHHHH* I know, and she reads it to me, and she says, this is what your friends, we actually, we were in Hawaii where our friends got married, she read it to them out loud and Michael, who is always on this sort of guy side of things, was like "you guys are stupid!"*laughter* "You guys are so stupid!" So, I want to look at my wife with the same of passion that you were talking about--

STAR: The glow?!

SEAN: Right, the glow, and when I get back to Los Angeles, the day after tomorrow, I am gonna kiss her so deep...and beg for her forgiveness! *women all sigh and go AAAHHHHH*

STAR: See, now you just did that! She's in love again!*applause*

SEAN: I told her last night, I almost couldn't sleep last night, I am really grateful to come on the show, 'cuase it gives me a chance to sort of, redeem myself-

JOY: It doesn't seem like you've been married so long, you look so young.

SEAN: I got married young.

JOY: How old were you when you got married?

SEAN: 21

JOY: Wow! That's young!

SEAN: We have two girls... Alexandra and Elizabeth.

NEW HOST: Are they 7 and 1?

SEAN: Exactly! Seven and 16 months. Yeah!

STAR: I mean I have to tell you, that seems like the perfect person to play Samwise, 'cause you know, Sam is our Man! *Sean laughs*

SEAN: Yeah.

STAR: We love him! He is like the most wonderful hobbit! He has Mr. Frodo's back all the time!

*Star starts smiling and weeping simultaneously*

STAR: In case you haven't figured it out, I have seen all three!

*Star has the largest grin ever made on TV, and she's smiling at Sean

SEAN: You are so sweet!

STAR: And now, everybody else in the world seems to have seen them also... *playing a clip of Frodo and Sam discussing Gollum after the 'pond conversation' and scuffle simultaneously* Oscar buzz! Number One Movie. That must make you feel really good!

SEAN: You know, I sort of didn't believe it for the first couple of years, but the last week has been so...it's been so much fun. People have been so nice, and the critics have been so nice, and it's just...yeah! It feels good!

STAR: There' not being really nice...it's good!

MEREDITH: It's a good movie. That's right.

SEAN: Listen, there's entertainment reporting, and there's serious
criticism and there's a lot of different opinions. People always have a reason for writing their story, and there...I'm just saying that feels really good-

MEREDITH: So you read all this stuff?

SEAN: Oh yeah.

MEREDITH: A lot of actors don't.

SEAN: Well, *laughs* Eugene Leavy won Best Supporting Actor at the New York Film Critics, and he was at the awards last night, and he was basically saying he quoted Al Franken saying that "Any actor who says he doesn't read his reviews is a lying liar!" Basically! *laughter* No, I read them, and I actually...I like when they say stuff that's critical, I mean I learn from it, I really do.

NEW HOST: Now, you gained...what... 35 pounds for this role?

SEAN: Why are you bringing that up? *laughter* "Cause it's hard, it's hard to lose.

MEREDITH: It's hard to gain and hard to lose?

SEAN: Easy to gain and hard to lose.

NEW HOST: It must have been harder to move around, and do the stunts that you had to do..and perform...really well...

SEAN: No, I wasn't a happy camper at 195, 197 pounds. I'm 5'7" and it was uncomfortable.

NEW HOST: Was it really?

SEAN: Yeah, just in your skin. You look in the mirror, and you're like, "who is that fat guy looking back at me?" You know, I remember, you know...my daughter sees a picture of me at 17 with ripples in my abs and she like," Daddy, what are those bumps on your stomach?" I'm like...naw....*laughter* It's hard to go back.

NEW HOST: How did you get it off?

SEAN: I got on the treadmill and just didn't stop. I was like Forrest Gump, I was running and running *laughter*..youknow what I mean? Water, I drank lots of water; water is the magic elixir of life. You know, and as much as you can drink.

MEREDITH: I was thinking about wine--

SEAN: Well, your body isn't 70% wine...

MEREDITH: I was kidding. You have two of the coolest parents ever. Patty Duke Astin who was in "The Miracle Worker" , and John Astin who we loved in "The Addams Family". They are great, great actors. Was there any hesitation in you getting involved in the field? Following in their footsteps?

SEAN: Um...no,I don't think there was any apprehension, I mean, there were um...my dad wanted to make sure that I was always subject to the same curriculum academically, and my mom was concerned that I would suffer some of the same disappointments that she suffered throughout her life, just in terms of the spells when you're working a lot, and when you're not working, and those kinds of things, but ah...no. They were pretty...you know: you judge based on the kid's personality, and I seemed like I really wanted to do it, and that I had a good perspective about everything else in my life. So, they were pretty proud and excited and actually kind of, you know, helped me a lot.

STAR: That's interesting so if you weren't an actor, I read that there might even be some politics in your future because you enjoy-

SEAN: You mean my talking about the debates...I was loving your talking about the debates last night, and I agreed with....well, I thought it was it was great! I thought that it was really good that Carol Mosely Braun and Rev. Sharpton...I actually loved everything that they were saying in the debate. I thought it gave it; I thought that it was a serious debate last night. I love politics!

NEW HOST: Gave it dimension.

JOY: It really did.

STAR: You're a junkie is what I'm told?"

SEAN: I am a political junkie there is no question.

JOY: What do you want to run for?

MEREDITH: This is the year for you.

SEAN: I don't know. My mom tells this story about when I was a kid, I would walk down the airplane [aisle] and say, "I'm running for Mayor, please vote for me." *laughter* When I was one. *laughter* I don't know, I just uh. I like, I like our society. I like being involved. I like thinking about it.

JOY: You're a perfect kind of candidate: you're smart, and you're
motivated, and your heart's in the right place.

SEAN: No...no, not for another like 15 or 20 years will I run for anything. But, you know....

NEW HOST: You started campaigning early... I mean

SEAN:Exactly. I got a head start.*laughter* Exactly.

STAR: Just a little bit advice: No wet t-shirt contests! *smiles*

SEAN: Yes...heeheehee. Yeah...you know what? I was listening to you guys talk about that: She's, she made a decision, she's stepped down, but her life isn't gone; she'll do something else. And maybe she'll come back...and do a movie or something.

*laughter and lots of talking over each other*

STAR: Let me get him out of this one. Our thanks to Sean Astin. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King is playing in theaters everywhere. We talk about the fight scenes, the battles, but this is a true test of friendship, and I love this film! You'll love it, too. We'll be right back.

TTT Makes an Impression at CES
Xoanon @ 8:25 pm EST
Dennis Michael writes: I just returned from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas where I was working as a consultant to DTS, the Cinema and Consumer Surround Audio company. I gave 15 presentations a day about DTS, complete with film clips and music videos, and to no one's surprize, the lead-off clip in our presentation was a 6.1 DTS-ES Discrete Surround clip from The Two Towers...Frodo, Sam and Gollum in the marshes hiding from the Black Rider on a Fell Beast. (And I had nothing to do with the selection of the clip, fyi...it was a done deal even before I was hired.) Cast members were well represented, because the other clips shown were from Pirates of the Caribbean with Orlando Bloom prominently shown, and a X-Men 2 clip with Sir Ian.

Brass from New Line dropped by at one point in the trade show to catch our 15 minute demo, and left with big smiles.

In the few moments that I was able to check out the other exhibitors in the gigantic trade show, I noticed that TTT-EE was probably the most popular programming on Monitors, Plasmas, Flatscreens and Home Theatre arrays, with only "Finding Nemo" in the same echelon. Moreover, during the entire four day trade show, we only had one opportunity to relax and watch any programming for our own entertainment, and the DTS staff went for TTT-EE. We watched the end of the battle of Helm's Deep and the destruction of Isengard on a demonstration home theatre system valued at roughly 600 thousand dollars retail, tuned up by some of the leading audio engineers in the business. (and oh my goodness, did it ever rock.) The Audio Industry clearly recognizes the incredible quality of the sound work in the trilogy, and I fully expect ROTK to be featured in a similar way next year.

Hope you guys are all doing well, look forward to seeing you in town at OscarTime.

ROTK National Geographic 'Beyond the Movie' Review
Xoanon @ 8:15 pm EST
Ringer Lisalas writes this great review from National Geographic's 'Beyond the Movie' special DVD.

I rented the National Geographic Beyond the Movie: Return of the King special on DVD. I thought I'd give y'all a run-down on what the special is about.

It is narrated by John Rhys-Davies (Gimli). There are interview clips with most of the cast (Wood, Weaving, Rhys-Davies, Astin, Boyd, McKellan, Bloom - who is wearing an odd striped knit hat!, Lee, Wenham), as well as clips of Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens.

Tons of scenes from FOTR and TT are included, which disappointed me a little, since I was hoping for more of ROTK. There were some ROTK scenes as well, which I will detail in a minute.

The premise of the special is to relate universal themes from the film to persons from history. The historical persons compared to LOTR are: William Wallace, Queen Elizabeth I and her advisors Robert Dudley and William Cecil, Theodore Roosevelt, Rasputin, Ben Franklin, Lewis & Clark, King Henry, Tolkien's own experience in WW1, George E. Pickett (Civil War battle at Cemetary Ridge), Hitler & Churchill, Hilary & Tenzing (Mt. Everest), and Hanson & Perry (North Pole). I found the comparisons to be quite interesting, even if some were a bit on the simplistic side. (Example - Queen Elizabeth is purported to have been in love with Robert Dudley and the comparison to LOTR is that Aragorn is also in love.) The Rasputin part was particularly interesting, in my opinion.

One interesting idea from Professor Michael Drout, who is identified as a Tolkien expert, is that the friendships formed in LOTR are those that can only be formed by facing death together. I thought that was interesting and perhaps this is why so many people have a hard time believing in such strong friendships, even love, between men. Very few people today have faced the kinds of situations that the characters in LOTR faced.

OK, on to the shots from ROTK. I think I noted most of them, although I may have missed one or two. There are 3 that will possibly be in the EE, since they were not in ROTK. (I put them at the end.)

2 scenes of the Rohan encampment with Aragorn, Theoden, and Legolas riding through

Aragorn and Theoden overlooking the encampment.
Aragorn: 6000 will not be enough to break the lines of Mordor.

Sam attacks Gollum.
Frodo: Leave him alone!
Sam: I heard it from his own mouth! He means to murder us!

Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli approach the entrance to the Paths of the Dead on foot. Aragorn enters.

Arwen: It is time. Give him the sword of the King.
scene of Elven swordsmiths.
Elrond presents the sword to Aragorn
Elrond: Become who you were born to be.

Pippin and Gandalf approach Theoden's seat.
Gandalf: There will be a time to grive for Boromir but it is not now.

Quick shots of Gondorian soldiers led by Faramir leaving Minas Tirith.
Orcs catapulting fiery missles.
Nazgul sweeping through the army.

Shot of Aragorn on horseback in Gondorian armor. Also shows Gondorian army.

Shows Rohirrim briefly (as in the trailer) with Aragorn's voiceover "I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me." Shot of Eowyn and Merry in armor cheering. Then a shot of Aragorn from the back raising his sword.

Frodo: I need you on my side.
Sam: I'm ON your side, Mr. Frodo.
Frodo: I know, Sam. I know. Trust me.

Gondorian soldiers enter the courtyard at Minas Tirith. Gandalf and Faramir meet.

Faramir: They've taken the bridge and the west bank.

Gandalf and Pippin on horseback, with Merry watching. (Stable at Edoras)
Gandalf: Run, Shadowfax! Show us the meaning of haste.
Pippin: MERRY!!

Miscellaneous battle scenes.

Gandalf on Shadowfax rides up on the wall at Minas Tirith overlooking the orcs attacking. (from trailer)

Quick shots:
Legolas aims.
Aragorn charges on foot.
Eomer charges on horseback.
Sam enters the Tower.
Frodo climbs up the stairs to Cirith Ungol.
Frodo crawls up Mt. Doom. (last scene in the special)

Now for the clips that appear to be from ROTK, but were not in the theatrical version. I am hoping these will be in the Extended Edition!

Snippet of Merry bowing to Theoden outside at Edoras. (We have seen this picture.)

Merry: I offer you my service.
Theoden: And gladly I accept it.

Legolas is shown wearing the blue outfit from the Coronation, surrounded by men drinking in a celebratory manner.

Legolas: So....it's...a drinking game?
Men raise mugs and growl. "arrrrr"
Legolas: And what exactly is the point of it?
Gimli: Last one standing wins!!!

Legolas then sips tentatively from the mug with his eyes looking over the rim uncertainly.(I bet this ends with Legolas drinking all the rest under the table. hee hee)

Quick shot of Gandalf and Pippin on Shadowfax facing off against the WitchKing on the fell beast at Minas Tirith.

So, that's it! It was an interesting view, although I was disappointed that there wasn't MORE from ROTK included. Go rent it!

Nazz Chats with Bernard Hill
Xoanon @ 8:02 pm EST
Ringer Spy Nazz attended the MANY press confrences during the ROTK media blitz last month. In this article he chats with Bernard Hill.

Special thanks to Rip It Up Magazine in South Australia for this transcript.

Wellington Premiere Pictures
Bernard Hill at the ROTK Wellington Premiere

"Peter Jackson? I've worked with Jim Cameron [as the captain of the Titanic] and I thought he was tough. But seriously, a similar thing I noticed with Jim Cameron but particularly Pete is that he's made a reputation of the ability to present high tech aspects of filmmaking onto the screen. Normally director like that come at it from a technical history and background and they're not very good at working with human beings. With Pete, quite the opposite is true. Because he's such an amazing guy himself and he's got his feet quite firmly planted on the ground and is very rooted to his culture and family here in New Zealand, it's a platform that he stands and operates from - and embraces everyone who comes near him on the set.

"What was remarkable about working on the whole project was that it was a very egalitarian society. Nobody would be allowed to take themselves too seriously. Everyone was just the same. There was no hierarchy at all. Even the person who went around with the water bottles had the same feeling that they belonged as much to the film family as the people in the high profile areas - it helped me enormously and I'm sure it helped other people too. That really set him apart. You can all clap now if you like."

Andy Serkis Book Tour Report
Xoanon @ 1:01 pm EST
Serkis Book Tour: New York City
Click for more images

Diana W writes: I went to the event. I arrived at Barnes & Noble at 2:30pm and I waited until 7:00. At first, there were not that many people except for more enthusiastic LOTR fans. When he came, the crowd was whooping and cheering. He briefly explained why he wrote the book, and acknowledging the fact that though many fans already know a lot about his experiences through his many interviews and the DVD extras, there is still much more to say. He then read a passage from his book (about how he came to portray Hobbit-Smeagol as he is portrayed on the film). He ended the excerpt at the point in the book about his daughter being able to see through his rather frightening Smeagol-turning-into-Gollum makeup. He then acted out the Stinker-Slinker scene from "Two Towers," to the audience's delight. Afterwards, he answered questions until he was told "two more questions." Among the questions asked was one concerning a possible role for Andy in Peter Jackson's "King Kong." He said that it is possible, since the motion capture allows any actor to manipulate or puppeteer the digital image. Another question was "a bit of trivia;" it concerned the end of ROTK, where there was a hobbit (a slightly hunched back one?) in the background near the end of the film. The audience member asked if it was he who played that small part, possibly implying Gollum is still lingering around (in a spiritual sense). Andy replied that it wasn't he who played that hobbit. One particular memorable moment was when one fan asked that since Andy had played Smeagol/Gollum for such a long time, was it ever hard for him to return to "the Andy." Andy said something that amounted to "no" but he also did a Gollum impression while he was answering (the audience laughed).

People were allowed only to bring Mr. Serkis' book to be signed (no memorabilia whatsoever). I was in the front row, and I was able to get my autographed book quickest. He was very polite, but since there were nearly a hundred or more people waiting for him, he spoke few words. I took some photos, and being in the first row, I have no obstruction. However, I used flash for half of my photos (they non-flash photos look absolutely fine, even better, than the flash ones!) but they turned out dark when I put them on the computer. Feel free to lighten the pictures. I took some pictures of his reenactment of the Stinker-Slinker scene; I think you'll be able to discern where that is!

I can't think of much more concerning today's events; my head is swimming with thoughts! I hope other fans' accounts can supplement my synopsis of a report.

Academy Announces Films in Competition for Achievement in Makeup
Xoanon @ 11:49 am EST
Beverly Hills, CA - The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced the seven films being considered for Achievement in Makeup for the 76th Academy Awards(R).

The films in consideration are listed below in alphabetical order:

"Cold Mountain"
"The Last Samurai"
"The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"
"Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World"
"Peter Pan"
"Pirates of the Carribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl"

Ten-minute clip reels from each of the seven films will be screened for the Makeup Award Nominating Committee on Saturday, January 24. The members may nominate up to three of these seven films for Oscar(R)

consideration, recommend a single film for a Special Achievement Award or elect to recommend that no award be given in this category.

Any nominated films will be announced along with nominations in 24 other categories on Tuesday, January 27, at 5:30 a.m. PST.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2003 will be presented on February 29, 2004, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland(R) and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network beginning at 5 p.m. (PST) with a half-hour arrivals segment.

More Lincoln Center Reports!
Xoanon @ 11:31 am EST
ROTK Lincoln Center Event
Click for more images

By Celebrial (Diane Rooney)

Day Two of Trilogy Weekend featured a satellite conversation with Peter Jackson in New Zealand, joined onstage in the second hour by cast members Sean Austin, Bernard Hill, Andy Serkis and Elijah Wood and hosted by the Film Society's Richard Pena.

Asked about the development of Gollum at the start of the LOTR hour, Pete explained, because the character had dialogue, it was more difficult to realize than a troll or balrog. He was excited by Andy Serkis' audition in London in April 1999, especially how Andy created the voice with movements and body language. Later, he decided to bring Andy to New Zealand for filming, figuring his film could be used to inspire the designers and he could work with Elijah and Sam, especially in dialogue. As work on the film progressed, Pete decided to render Gollum via motion capture because it brought both a sense of reality and speed.

The scene in "The Two Towers" which develops and defines Gollum's dual personality was written and directed by Fran Walsh during the pick-up shoots. Pete commented that it became one of the best-known scenes in the film.

In discussing the background of LOTR, Pete explained Tolkien's belief that England had "lost its mythology in 1066" and therefore set out to create an English mythology, taking place some 6000-7000 years before the present. He commented, "Tolkien was motivated by things that irritated him," such as the industrial revolution and the resulting destruction of the English landscape. Tolkien hated the rise of the machine age, feeling it enslaved mankind. We see his vision of this in the portrayal of Isengard.

Pete also commented on Tolkien's experience as an officer in WWI. At that time, each officer had a soldier, called a batman, to assist him. Tolkien based Frodo and Sam's relationship on this. The author lost many friends in WWI, an experience Pete believes helped inspire the importance of courage and friendship and the treatment of warfare in the books. He does not believe WWII, which was taking place when Tolkien wrote the books, was a direct influence as "Tolkien was not interested in modern politics."

The first hour focused on Pete's films pre-LOTR. He talked about how young the New Zealand film industry is: the first color feature film was "Sleeping Dogs" in 1977, which came out when Pete was 16. He said he was actually surprised to hear New Zealand accents in film. The young and relatively small industry means that it's easier to be a maverick. There's no hierarchy, no studio machine. "People make movies because they like it."

Peter Jackson began making films in Super 8 format when he was about 7. After leaving school at 17, he applied for a job at a film laboratory, his first job interview, but was turned down. He took a job as a newspaper photoengraver, which he had for seven years. He then began shooting in 16MM, but explained, because that 16MM film is more expensive, he was spending about half his weekly salary of NZ$300 on film stock and processing.

Richard Pena asked how "Bad Taste" ended up being supported by the New Zealand Film Commission. Pete laughed, agreeing the film was a bit "subversive" and not the image of New Zealand the Film Commission would like promoted. "Bad Taste" started out as a short. Pete shot every weekend while working at his photoengraver job, using coworkers as actors. After shooting for a year and a half, he took a week's vacation, rented editing equipment, and edited the film in his mother's dining room. The first cut ran about an hour - too long for a short, so he evolved it into a feature, spending a total of four years filming it.

After investing NZ$17,000 of his own money, in the last year he got funding from the New Zealand Film Commission in NZ$5000 increments. These funds were used for costumes and special effects, which at that time were largely made in the oven in Richard Taylor's apartment. After filming for another year, they asked for NZ$200,000 for post production and received it. The film was marketed at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival and made a profit in sales to distributors in two days. In fact, Pete commented, it is one of the most profitable films ever made in New Zealand.

Pete commented, "Your career is defined by the people you meet." In his case, this included meeting Fran Walsh and Steve Sinclair in 1987, and Jim Booth at the NZ Film Commission, who had worked hard to give him initial funding.

Pre-production work was well advanced on "Brain Dead," with financing from the NZ Film Commission and outside investors, when the outside investors pulled out and the film had to be shelved. Pete, Fran and their associates decided instead to make "Meet the Feebles," which they wrote in three weeks and began filming in another three weeks, again with funding from the NZ Film Commission. Pete explained that his concept of the film was based on "The Muppets," and what life was like for Kermit the Frog when he left the stage, went back to his dressing room, lit a cigarette and opened a beer.

"Meet the Feebles"was very difficult to film because of the puppet's movements, so the film went over budget and got behind schedule. The Film Commission was not happy, and threatened to remove Pete from the film if he didn't begin editing. There was still one more week to film, so Pete, Fran, and their associates pooled their own money to pay for the last week of the shoot. They filmed at night, and Pete edited the existing footage during the day. They were terrified the Film Society might find out they were still shooting, so film was sent to the lab under the code name "The Frogs of War."

Because "Meet the Feebles" sold well, they were able to go back to "Brain Dead." Pete described "Brain Dead" as an homage to the great zombie films of the early and mid-80s, such as Evil Dead, Day of the Dead, and The Reanimators," the "type of films I enjoyed seeing." He offered a tip for aspiring film makers: if you have a low budget, zombie films are a good way to make an impact rather than drama. He agreed that zombie film makers need to be fearless because each film has to be more outrageous than the last.

Another influence Pete acknowledged was Monty Python, which he watched on television as a child. "Salad Days," in which an English garden party turns to mayhem, was a particular favorite.

Peter Jackson's films moved in a different direction with "Heavenly Creatures," based on a 1954 murder in Christchurch, NZ. He explained this was a film Fran Walsh especially wanted to make. Pete described Christchurch as a town where the English class system was still present, where a murder like that portrayed in "Heavenly Creatures" was "more an embarrassment than a tragedy."

They researched contemporary newspaper accounts of the murder and made use of original locations, including the tearoom where Juliet Hume and Pauline Parker had tea with Pauline's mother before murdering her. They also interviewed people familiar with the case. Pete explained that when working on the script, they listened to Mario Lanza albums (music the film's characters loved) for inspiration. They used "The Humming Chorus" from Puccini's Madame Butterfly in the murder sequence, even changing the film rate to match the tempo of the music.

Everyone left with a deeper insight into and greater appreciation of Peter Jackson and his films.

LOTR Trilogy Weekend at Lincoln Center

Saturday, January 10: The Trilogy plus Q&A

By Celebrial (Diane Rooney)

I purchased my tickets for the Trilogy Weekend on eBay (don't ask) so I was in shock when I arrived in New York from San Francisco and learned that Peter Jackson would not be present in person but via satellite, due to editing commitments for the extended edition of "Return of the King." Saturday started with Sean Austin and Elijah Wood welcoming everyone to the screening of "Fellowship." In the afternoon, Bernard Hill and Andy Serkis introduced "The Two Towers." Bernard explained that TTT moves from the world of hobbits to that of men and their human problems. He joked that as Theoden, he was concerned with needing a shave and "that strange guy hanging around my niece." He had nothing but praise for Peter Jackson, saying "I was proud to be part of it, and proud of what Pete did for the books, the films, and the actors."

Andy Serkis described LOTR as "a fantastic experience" and Peter Jackson as "a compassionate man on an incredible scale." He also acknowledged the "computer wizards and the incredible envelopes they have pushed over the past four and a half years" to bring Gollum to the screen. All four cast members introduced ROTK, with Andy Serkis taking pictures of the audience and joking that he'd email copies to everyone.

The Q&A session with the four cast members and Peter Jackson (via satellite from New Zealand) started around midnight. On the big screen, Peter loomed over the cast, causing them to compare him to Sauron and joke they could see up his nostrils.

Pete reprised the chronology of the films' production. After three years of pre-production, principal photography took fifteen months (late 1999 through 2000). Post-production for each film took a year. He started by putting together a first edit at the beginning of the year, using this to determine what scenes would need to be to be written and filmed in pickups, which were shot in mid-year. The pick-ups, lasting five or six weeks, were built into the schedule and enabled the films to both incorporate refinements in vision and subtly emphasize parallels to contemporary events.

In commenting on the balance between character and action in the films, Pete emphasized the humanity of the films, saying it was important that the spectacle not overwhelm the story. He noted, "the story is what's important," as conveyed through character, dialogue, and performance. Pete said "we have lots of battle footage we didn't use." He noted especially that in ROTK the personal story is most intense. He commented further, "The whole point in making Fellowship and Two Towers us to get to Return. It was always our favorite when we were shooting."

He also emphasized his fidelity to the main story, Frodo's journey, saying he decided what book elements to include based on whether they assisted moving that main story forward.

Regarding future projects after "King Kong," Jackson said he was interested in directing "The Hobbit" although the story was less complex than LOTR, noting "it would be weird for somebody else to do it."

Bernard Hill's comments focused on how the films kept bumping up against world affairs, about how the film story of the battle between good and evil was playing out in real life as the films were being released. He noted "a blistering connection" between Two Towers and the events of 9/11.

Asked about the challenges of working on location for 15 months, Sean Austin said, "We loved living in New Zealand, being part of something special, bigger than ourselves." "I learned a lot about myself, my energy level and attention span," he added.

Bernard said the hardest thing for him was "leaving New Zealand," for the last time, without a return date for pickups, describing the feeling as "a hole in the middle of my soul." Now that the Trilogy is complete, the millions of fans worldwide who want more know exactly what he means.


Japan: Surprise Surpri.....!!!?Uh-oh....
Tehanu @ 6:31 pm EST
Madhatter also wrote in with this to say about the way the official Japanese site has blurted out so many spoilers that any sense of suspense must be completely destroyed.

"Yes, it's December 25. On the Japanese official site, they have just released a new preview trailer of RotK. For us Japanese LotR fans, who now have to wait for the release of RotK another two months, it could have been a wonderful Christmas present. No, it's NOT. The new trailer is FULL OF REAL SPOILERS, especially for those who have not read the original books.

"The trailer does reveal these sequences: Frodo and Sam in the Crack of Doom, in which Frodo says "The Ring is mine"; Four hobbits surronded by Gondorians bowing to them; Aragorn leading the Army of the dead.

"Many fans who have seen the new trailer are now posting their angry voices on the Internet such as "I regret seeing it", "Can't enjoy the whole movie knowing Frodo will succumb to the power of the Ring", "Ah, none of the four hobbits will die", "How dare they show us such a spoiler!"

"As we have reported before, the Japanese distributor Nippon Herald once spoiled the first movie FotR with terribly mistranslated subtitles, but now they are spoiling the third and last movie RotK itself!

"Did New Line Cinema and the director Peter Jackson officially acknowledge this trailer? If they didn't, we have to let them know and ask them to do something against such poor publicity."


AICN's WETA Rumour
Demosthenes @ 4:19 pm EST
Ringer ShelaghC has some further information that may refute AICN's rumour that New Line is pondering "farming out" the RoTK EE FX to a digital FX house other than WETA.

AICN wrote: "Word is that New Line are baulking at the price for another Extended Edition, and may be farming out the FX to El Cheapo American FX House Inc rather than the high-quality excesses of WETA ... our scooper (Toss the Dwarf) pointed out that this is strictly rumour-mill stuff, but remember who told you first."

ShelaghC writes: "I attended the December 3rd LA premiere of RotK. On the stage before the movie began, Peter Jackson stated that the folks at Weta were hard at work on the extended edition of the movie. So, unless something has intensely changed in the last 2.5 weeks, I'd say this rumor is probably false."

Reassuring, but there's nothing like ironclad confirmation.


Bruce Hopkins On Gamling's Fate
Demosthenes @ 10:50 pm EST
Bruce's words on Gamling's fate. September 14, 2003, Supernova pop-culture convention, Brisbane.

I ask if Gamling goes on to become Eomer's right-hand man after Theoden dies.

Bruce: "That would have been my dream - I was harbouring that as a little, sort of, dream end. But no. Again, a lot of the stuff had been shot before they [Peter, Philippa and Fran] realised how much they would have put Gamling into it.

And when Peter and Fran wrote in the front of my book ... they wrote in the front: 'Thanks for helping us create a character we didn't even know we needed.'

So that's kind of how it happened.

Maybe if it'd been thought through earlier, maybe Gamling could have become Eomer's right-hand man. But no ... and the other angle I thought would have been quite cool - if I hadn't gone on like that - was to have got a really nice death scene. Seeing the way Haldir's death scene came out in the Two Towers - it was just so beautiful, such a superb death scene."


Spoiler-Free ROTK Review
maegwen @ 1:48 pm EST
Ringer Spy Tinuvielas writes: Here is my absolutely spoilerfree review (unless you count simply mentioning Shelob and the Ride of the Rohirrim spoilers)!

I thought I was going to cry over "The Return of the King" a long time before finally seeing it. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was whether Jackson and crew were indeed going to succeed in making me shed tears for Frodo and the others; or whether I was going to weep over the lost chance, given the wonderful book, and the great cast of characters on their hands, and the huge effort of everyone involved. Then the first trailer went online, its pictures haunted me, and the message "no victory without suffering" gave me hope that finally Peter Jackson would deliver what I had been looking for in the first two films. Hope, not surety.

Now I have seen the film, last Thursday at a press-screening in Hamburg, Germany, and the baffling fact is: I didn't really cry at all. I like the flick, but no need for tissues, folks, and let me tell you I'm as good a victim of a tearjerker as any. There are lots of scenes that will send you the shivers down the spine, though, and I don’t think it’s a spoiler to mention the Ride of the Rohirrim here. As in the previous two films, the greatest moments are when Jackson sticks close to the book (which he luckily does in crucial passages). As soon as he tries to better Tolkien, however, what we see tends to become a bit bombastic, kitsch or even shallow. In this category fall some (fortunately not all) misty-eye-scenes, easily recognizable by Howard Shore's beautiful soundtrack soaring in melancholy heights, and at least one character on screen weeping.

On the other hand, for my taste, which is schooled on Tolkien's books, there is again too much action and too little acting. No, that's wrong: the acting is superb, but the actors are given too little room. Jackson is no Hitchcock; subtlety and suspense are not his main strengths, and often he changes the story to go for rather superficial and conventional moments of tension or special effects. A notable exception is the superb sequence of Shelob, definitely one of the highlights of the film. Talking of strengths: Battlescenes count among them, and needless to say, there are more than enough in "King".

However, the main problem of "Return of the King" is another one, and one that the film has in common with the book: It is too short. This was foreseeable and foreseen and indeed recently commented on by cutter Jamie Selkirk. It confirmed me in thinking even while viewing the film that New Line must have pushed Peter Jackson to come close to the three hours after all, his protestations notwithstanding that "Return of the King" would be as long as it needed to be: It is not. Too much is missing that has been reported filmed, and, which is worse, even the non-readers and non-internet people notice this.

I'm not (only) talking about favorite scenes like ... (but this is the non-spoiler version, keep it up!), or about superficial characterization (as in the case of the Faramir-plot in "The Two Towers"), but about entire sequences that are edited extremely tightly, shown in a couple of strong (or rather shadowy...) lit scenes and coming to an on-screen dead-end; about definitely too "hasty" transfers from one scene to the next, and especially about the missing breathing space and emotional build-up between the two decisive battle-sequences.

Just like in the middle-part of "Fellowship" and most of "The Two Towers", the pacing in approximately the last third of theatrical version of "King" does not feel quite right. Way too quickly the plot plunges from climax to climax, thereby losing its temporal and geographical depth and at the same time foregoing a lot of it's emotional potential, simply because the audience isn't given room enough to catch a breath and anticipate the next climax. Which is why tissues won't really be necessary: You don't get to pull one out, before you are whirled away from one fantastic set, from one tragic happening to the next.

But in spite of this criticism – and that is the strange quality of the Jackson-adaptations – "Kings" delivers. As soon as you leave the theatre, the opulent pictures (and sounds, for that matter...) start resounding and cause a melancholy which will take most of the viewers back to the end of the queue for at least a second showing. You want more; you want it again. It's this addictive quality, rather than any commercialized fan-industry, which is at the basis of the worldwide hype. So that the verdict of one clever analyst (I thinks it was Michael Jenkinson of the Edmonton Post) is quite true, who called "Return of the King" in advance a "Three hour-eighteen-minute (or was it 3’21?) trailer for the Extended Edition" – we keep on waiting!

One more thing: bookpeople who feel like rereading the last two pages will be rewarded!

Tinuvielas aka Anja Stürzer


Ebert and Roeper ROTK Review
Xoanon @ 1:48 pm EST
Art writes: I wrote to you last year and gave you a heads up on Ebert and Roeper’s review of Two Towers, I thought this year I would do the same again for ROTK.

I can tell you that they both gave it a thumbs up, and that they both felt that the three movies put together are a major milestone in the history of movie making. As with many other reviews I have read, they also thought ROTK was the best of the three (although there was some discussion as to whether or not they might have enjoyed the first two more if they had known more about Tolkien’s writings). They commented on how it was difficult to portray an enemy (Sauron) without a physical form, but that it was handled relatively well.

Ebert made a small complaint (one which shows that he indeed is not into “Tolkien’s writings”) that Gandalf looked too athletic for an old man (jumping up on horses and such) and that took him a bit out of the movie, but then he added that it was a fantasy after all, so maybe he was being too harsh. Roeper liked the fact that the hobbits were more central to the plot than they were in Two Towers (which I thought was a bit odd since he gave the Two Towers a thumbs up, and FOTR a thumbs down).

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