Ringer Spy Ataahua writes that the Sunday Star-Times in New Zealand is speculating that The Lord of the Rings could be turned into a television series.

Will it become Lord of the Tube too?

First there was the book, then the movies, then the toys, Holloween costumes, mugs, T-shirts, chess sets and jewellery. Could a Lord of the Rings television series be next?

New Line Cinema, producer of the Rings trilogy, is in talks with US networks about developing television dramas based its stable of films. Speculation about a Lord of the Rings series was sparked following an interview between Hollywood Reporter and a New Line television boss, Steve Tann.

“They are automatic brand names and franchises and can successfully lend themselves to TV,” said Tann, speaking about the company’s top films.

If the project eventuates, Wellington’s Weta Workshop would probably be heavily involved. Weta has worked on the Lord of the Rings trilogy for five years, producing characters and sets, and most of director Peter Jackson’s previous movies, including Brain Dead, The Frighteners and Heavenly Creatures.

Weta also has staff experienced in fast turnaround television, having worked on Hercules for more than four years and Xena, Warrior Princess. Weta, however, will be tied up until next year finishing the third of the Rings films. Filming would probably be based in Wellington, as the Rings trilogy was, with location filming done in the South Island and Auckland. New Line Cinmea and Jackson could not be contacted for comment.

Screen Production and Development Association chief executive Jane Wrightson said New Zealand would be a perfect place to film a series. Television projects were especially welcome because they provided work for years. Hercules and Xena ran for eight years. While Rings lured more that $350m to New Zealand until March this year, Pacific Renaissance – the makers of Hercules and Xena – spent $400m, cast New Zealanders in 3000 roles and employed 7000 people a week. Rings left a legacy of experienced crew and cast, equipment, technicians, extras and knowledge of locations.

Artists and craftspeople honed their skills after starting on the Hercules and Xena series, and could turn out swords, cottages, armour and boats with flair, she said. Hercules’ and Xena’s legacies are already paying off. ABC Cable Networks will begin shooting a children’s television series, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, in Auckland starting in October, with no finish date in sight.
Spokeswoman Patti McTeague said: “There’s a trained crew and stunt crew there from Hercules and Xena, and it give us the opportunity for a diverse range of locations. And there are also cost benefits for us.”

In the series, six teenagers turn heroic black, blue, white, pink, yellow and red power rangers, complete with futuristic armour and weapons to travel through space and time fighting evil inter-galactic characters seeking to take over the earth. The six will be cast locally, as will the baddies, who in past episodes have had names such as Goaten the Lion Goat, The Crystal of Nightmares and Chunky Chicken.