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Archive for April, 2002

Wenham Goes True West

Macedonia, Molokai, Middle Earth and Barwon Heads – all have been home to David Wenham in the past few chaotic years as his acting career has kicked into overdrive. But while leper colonies, former war zones, mythical kingdoms and seaside retreats near Geelong all have their appeal, right now Wenham has Melbourne on his mind. [More]

Posted in Old Main News

Hobbit in Houses of Healing.

There’s a report from the Waikato Times updating us on how hobbit extra Jeffery Hawkes is recovering from his accident. The article mentions the 1000 emails he’s had from LOTR fans [including many TORNadoes] from around the world. [More] Thanks to Widfara for the link.

Posted in Old Main News

“Rings” Film Empowered By Short

Much has been made of New Line founder Bob Shaye’s gutsy decision to bankroll the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, but what hasn’t gotten enough attention is how much Peter Jackson helped his own cause by paying $50,000 to make a 30-minute short film. [More]

Posted in Old Main News

“Rings” Film Empowered By Short

Much has been made of New Line founder Bob Shaye’s gutsy decision to bankroll the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, but what hasn’t gotten enough attention is how much Peter Jackson helped his own cause by paying $50,000 to make a 30-minute short film.

It was a short that, by all accounts, was the deciding factor in his getting a greenlight from Shaye on what is now on course to become one of the most profitable film franchises ever.

Dish viewed the film, which until now had been seen only by Jackson, his reps, Shaye and Fine Line president Mark Ordesky. The short was a last-ditch effort to rescue “Rings” from the Miramax turnaround scrap heap and was enough to persuade Shaye to finance three films instead of the two Jackson asked for.

It also showed convincingly why Jackson was the right director for the “Rings” job even though he was coming off the failure “The Frighteners.”

After long developing “Rings” only to fail in securing a partner to make two films, Miramax gave Jackson back the film under prohibitive terms. He had three weeks to hook another studio, which would have to repay the $12 million spent by Miramax, and give up 5 percent of first-dollar gross.

Unbowed by those arduous terms, Jackson retreated to New Zealand bent on making promotional film that would show that the ambitious “Rings” movie was possible because of the $12 million that had been spent on rights, special effects and visuals to bring Middle Earth to life.

Narrating the short himself, Jackson introduced the artwork, models and computer imagery that would convincingly shrink actors to Hobbit size, make the Orcs grotesque by enlarging their eyes and make Herculean Uruk-Hai warriors believable through computer animation.

Jackson showed the armor, the architecture of the mines of Moria and the maniacal faces on the horses that would carry the black riders who pursue Frodo Baggins throughout the trilogy.

The film then featured storyboards coupled by dialogue read by unseen actors. What is most striking is how closely Jackson’s movie stuck to his initial game plan.

“So here we are,” he said at the close of the filmed pitch, “45 years after the publication of this book where finally the technology has caught up to the incredible imagination that (J.R.R.) Tolkien injected into this story of his. This movie can be made.”

In terms of salesmanship effort, Jackson’s film is reminiscent of the short made by Robert Evans three decades ago, the one that persuaded Gulf & Western not to fold Paramount Pictures and sell the backlot.

Evans, who headed production at the time, got Mike Nichols to direct him in an appeal that promised upcoming projects like “Love Story” and “The Godfather” would right the studio’s course.

“The lot was set to become part of this Jewish cemetery right behind it, and you don’t see any dead bodies there now, only a lot of soundstages,” Evans said. “I didn’t get a bonus or anything, but I walked out of that meeting with the autonomy needed to make Paramount a power.”

Viewings of Evans’ film have been limited to visitors in his private screening room, but Evans said the footage will be in the Graydon Carter-produced documentary “The Kid Stays in the Picture.”

As for Jackson’s half-hour film, New Line hasn’t yet decided whether fans will get to see it. It would be a worthwhile addition to the DVD, at the least.

Posted in Old Special Reports

Saruman’s Technicolor Coat

john Cook writes: I’ve published a new Lord of the Rings cartoon punchline contest featuring a caricature of Saruman in his amazing technicolor coat (which appears in the book though unfortunately doesn’t make it into the movie). Reader submit Gandalf’s response and the funniest punchline will be chosen by readers in a week’s time. You can read the many hilarious punchlines already submitted or submit your own punchlines here. [More]

Posted in Old Main News

Union puts squeeze on actors

Movie sets around the world may grind to a halt today if they feature any US actors. America’s Screen Actors’ Guild has ordered its members to stop working on projects outside the US if their contracts have not been negotiated by the union. [More]

Posted in Old Main News

Age of Kings Update

Thanks to Benn for drawing my attention back to Josef Bugman’s Age of King’s LOTR Mod. Josef has been continually updating his message board, as well as adding new pictures to show the progress of his work.

-[Age of King’s LOTR Mod screenshots]

-[Josef’s Forum]

Posted in Old Special Reports

Quickbeam’s Notes

If you have already read Flinch’s notes on the LOTR TCG extravaganza this weekend, check out what Quickbeam had to say about his gaming experience. [More]

Posted in Old Main News

Quickbeam Sends His Notes

Greetings — Quickbeam here.

Our very own Flinch helped us put together a great fund-raiser down in Irivine, California this past Sunday — all of the proceeds will help get a new server (thank you players)!

If you weren’t there you missed out on a lot of fun.

It was really cool that most all of our participants were women!  Whoever said that girls don’t enjoy a good trading card game was wrong.  I had a laugh at their expense, too.  Every time one of the young ladies played a Legolas card I would start warbling “Oh, ORLI…. you’re just so dreamy….”

Actually, everyone learned the game quickly.  Just spending a couple of turns showing the flow of the game was enough.  Soon the players were speeding off, coming up with clever strategies all their own.

It was a sweet deal for the new players who attended.  For only $10 we gave them a new Starter Deck, a couple of Boosters, and a GREAT draw-string bag filled with glass counters.  That’s a lot of swag for ten bucks.  On top of all that, we sold raffle tickets for an entire box of Booster Packs.  A very surprised 7 year-old boy was one of our lucky winners.  You should have seen him jumping and racing around the tables with his new cards.   🙂

Everyone then got to see “Fellowship” in all its theatrical glory.  A fine day indeed.

We will schedule another one of these demonstrations soon.  So all you folks located in the Hollywood – Beverly Hills – metro Los Angeles area be sure to watch this space for details.  It’s a great afternoon, you will get lots of cool stuff, AND you will learn the game from well-seasoned players (patting myself on the back with a leafy branch).

Much too hasty,


Read Flinch’s notes here
E-mail quickbeam at

Posted in Old Special Reports

Bay To Breakers Fellowship?

People in the Bay Area will have heard of the Bay to Breakers race which happens on May 19th this year. Apart from the people actually trying to come first, there’s thousands of people that just walk the track dressed in tutus and playing the tuba or something. Anyone interested in making up a party of elves, hobbits and rangers can email me and we’ll see how big a TORN Fellowship we can drum up.

Posted in Old Main News

20 Questions to Mr Lee.

Not much happening this morning….don’t forget we’re asking you to submit questions for Christopher Lee. Yours might be one of the 20 questions that we ask him. [More] Meanwhile speaking of 20 Questions, anyone remember the very first interview on AICN where PJ talked about the films? Take a trip down memory lane here and here

Posted in Old Main News

C. S Lewis Conference includes Tolkien

Good news for Tolkien fans in Texas. There is a Christian conference coming up on May 11 in Austin, Texas regarding CS Lewis. One of the topics to be presented is “Wartime Wisdom: Ten Uncommon Insights about Evil in The Lord of the Rings”. [More] Thanks to Matt for the link.

Posted in Old Main News