Xoanon here,

My Contact at New Line sliped me this.

Sean Astin is in final negotiations to play Sam Gamgee in New Line’s live-action trilogy “The Lord of the Rings.”

Astin will play the servant and sidekick to Elijah Wood’s Frodo Baggins in the adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s renowned fantasy trilogy, in which Frodo inherits a magical ring and embarks on a quest to save humanity from the sinister plans of Dark Lord Sauron.

Director Peter Jackson is slated to begin shooting the first film, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” this October in New Zealand. “The Two Towers” and “The Return of the King” will shoot immediately after, with principal photography on all three movies expected to last just over a year.

Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Stephen Sinclair wrote the first film, with Jackson and Walsh co-producing under their WingNut Films banner. Miramax co-chairmen Bob and Harvey Weinstein are executive producing with Saul Zaentz.

In an unusual move, New Line issued a statement saying it “recognizes the substantial media interest in the project and will assist journalists at the appropriate time. However, the studio will no longer comment on completed deals, current negotiations, rumors or speculation about any specific role.” New Line says it expects to cast close to 100 roles in the trilogy and “will unveil the entire ensemble” when casting of the principals has concluded.

Astin is repped by the William Morris Agency and manager Robert Stein. His film credits include “Rudy,” “Courage Under Fire,” “Bulworth,” “Encino Man”and the upcoming “Deterrence.” He just wrapped “The Last Producers,” directed by and starring Burt Reynolds.