I just got back from Central Park (NYC) where the release of the DVD of LOTR was celebrated. The Creative Coalition and New Line threw the party for about 300 people who had donated the ticket price ($150) to charity. (Iím also sending this report to Harry at AICN, FYI) It was very cool. Three high points: I now own the widescreen DVD of LOTR/FOTR (given at the end of the evening in the gift bag to all guests); I had the honor of meeting and talking to Gimli/Treebeard in the person of John Rhys-Davies, and, last but not least, I now am in possession of THE ONE RING. It is MINE, I TELL YOU, my own, my precious!
Here are the details: My elf-friend Dan and I arrived at the Boat House at around 6:45 and found a hoard of press photogs. We each traded in our tickets for a small red velvet bag. Mine contained THE ONE RING, gold, heavier than expected and inscribed with Elvish letters in the Black Speech (Mordor has no letters for such subtle work). I was instantly overcome with lust for The Ring and placed it upon my forefinger. I suppose that since everyone else in the room did the same as I, we none of us became invisible.
Upon entering the pavilion we saw a large screen at one end and a small TV monitor at the other end. Dan and I claimed a table and then got wine and plates of cheese and crackers. It seemed as if it might be a good people-watching evening. We spent some time out on the deck watching the numerous turtles rise for breath in the lake and then we went back in and had some food. Pretty good Ė penne with pesto, turkey, baked ziti and good crusty bread plus salad, fruit and cheese plate. When we got back to our table we found a hideous-looking woman there who had had six-too-many face-lifts and was wearing an idiotic pink dress. She asked us four times what time it was in the space of ten minutes and finally left. Then two lawyers sat down who knew and loved LOTR so the four of us began to talk about the movie.
The TV monitor was playing a loop tape of a new game for Playstation 2 and Game Boy Advance called The Two Towers which seemed to me to incorporate scenes from both movie One and movie Two and also some really primitive-looking CGI battles based on scenes from both movies. The kids at the party (there were lots) seemed fascinated by it. I just waited for the movie scenes.
Some Creative Coalition celebrities started to arrive: Billy and Alec Baldwn. Chaz Palminteri, Marilu Henner, and the funny guy from Spin City. Also Richard Masur and Amy Carlson. It was about now that I noticed JRD. (He was the only LOTR celeb that I saw tonight). While I waited for him to do his obligatory press thing I scribbled a note to him from the Tail-End Talkbackers whom I felt I was representing this evening. I walked over and waited patiently as he spoke animatedly to two young boys and their dad about LOTR. He was very cute with them; he is tall and he stood with his legs spread apart so he was lower, closer to their head level. I thought that was sweet of him, trying to connect to these two shy boys. Then I caught his eye and smiled. I put out my hand and introduced myself and said how much I had enjoyed his work as Gimli and how I looked forward to seeing more of him in the next film. He thanked me and reminded me that he did Treebeard, too! I said yes I know, I canít wait. Then I handed him the note I had written and said this is from some friends of mine and he can read it later at his leisure. He said thanks again and I said thanks again for his great work. I was about to ask him about Treebeard when his handler whispered something to him and he moved away so I let it go and headed back to my table.
Eventually someone got on the mike and started talking but it was hard to hear. First a woman named Robin and then a New Line guy named Steve, then Billy Baldwin took the mike and said we would all be getting a DVD in our gift bags at the end. It was really hard to hear and we kept asking each other "did they really say we would get a DVD?" Then there was a lull for a while so we drank some more and ate some more and then a laser show started out over the lake which was sort of timed to music from the sound track. Actually this part was kind of lame but it didnít really matter.
Finally at about 9PM they got around to showing the preview". They kept calling for quiet and this crowd seemed more into partying than one that had come to see LOTR so I got quite belligerent. I joined in the "Down in Front" calls and also got in some well-timed instructions to "Sit" (it actually worked) and "Sit down or Iíll have to kill you". We had good seats so we could see pretty well despite the restless crowd.
The preview was cool. It was more "educational" and "behind the scenes" than I expected it to be. It started with PJ in a car, telling us what we were about to see. He was his usual charming self. It included some footage from the four-minute preview we have already seen and several exciting new shots that I havenít seen but nothing earth-shattering or spoilerific. I wouldnít be surprised to learn that it is all contained on the DVD I just got. PJ does a voice-over that explains how T2T is more about Aragorn and how he comes into his kingship and how Middle Earth needs a King to unite them. He introduces new characters, Eowyn, Theoden, Eomer, Grima Wormtongue, and Faramir. There is a section on Gollum with Andy Serkis that looks very cool and a cool shot of Elrond looking stressed. Also several shots of Frodo and Sam and Faramir, including one quite reminiscent of Boromir holding the Ring on its chain. There are short interviews with Viggo (sigh) Orlando, Elijah and Sean Astin as well as PJ and Richard Taylor.
When it was over we clapped heartily and hooted so New Line would know we are eager for the next movie. Then they started giving out the gift bags. We wasted no time getting in line. To our great delight our bags contained the wide-screen version DVD, a cool mouse-pad with a three-view hologram, a LOTR chocolate/caramel bar, a rice-crispy thing, a LOTR fan magazine, a Loewís Cineplex movie coupon, and a LOTR trading card game.
We walked west through the Park to 72nd St. to catch the subway home, talking with two lawyers we had met who are also Rings fans. Dan contemplated how he might be able to watch the movie tonight and still catch a train to Hartford in the morning. I told him I had to write this report. But I keep glancing at the One Ring as I do. It seems to be calling to me. Iíd better end now and put it on; a Ring like this needs to be worn I think.