You may have noticed that my esteemed colleague Maegwen and others have been posting on the front page more often that before. They all do wonderful work and I’d be lost in space without them. The reason I’ve been away from my computer is due to a few pressing situations that need to get taken care of before Christmas. Car shopping with my father is never an easy task. He wants to look at every dealership in Montreal before he signs on the dotted line, but I love him for his tenacity. Seb, Khoba and I are working on the Montreal Trilogy Screening with Alliance Atlantis and New Line, lets just say a bucket of worms has been opened and we’ve been hard pressed to seal it shut again. And the last issue is something near and dear to us all….Saruman getting axed from ROTK.

This last issue is what has really kept me away from my inbox lately…over 1000 emails are pouring in to me daily these past few weeks. November and December have always been busy months on TORN but this is week’s news has really got the net buzzing. So why am I stressed over it? Well mainly because all the emails have the same tone to them, the same general sense of anger and tension that can be really draining to read about until the late hours of the night. So I’d prefer to stay away for a while and let it die down.

The problem is it’s not going away, and there really is nothing we can do about it, really.

For me, this whole Saruman situation started as a rumor fed to me via instant messenger. ‘Hey, I heard 2 major characters are going to be cut from ROTK’, said the anonymous stranger whom I never met. I asked where he’d heard this before, he tells me Moriarty and the AICN folks are talking about it in their chatroom. He claims they are waiting for the actors to be told before they break the story. I thought ‘dubious news, at best’, and decided not to pursue it. Imagine the flack I’d get if I posted about this, and it turned out to be false? Well unfortunately it didn’t…and now we all know that the seven-minute scene with Saruman and Grima Wormtongue has been removed from ROTK.

Let’s put aside the rumors that Christopher Lee didn’t know until he read about it on AICN. Lets put aside the rumors that Peter Jackson informed Christopher Lee via email. Lets just look at the facts. The scene was cut because it destroyed the flow of the film. It was not added to the extended edition of The Two Towers because at the time of creating the EE for TTT they thought the scene would remain. So it turns out that we shall only see that scene in the ROTK:EE release, due out in another year from now.

This is what has caused the uproar, fans want to see the entire sequence in the theatres. Fans want to see the story arc complete, and the fall of Saruman (literally and figuratively).

An entire brigade of people flocked to an online petition site to sign up and voice their opinions, which is good to know. The last thing we want to see is a fan malaise effect, much like the stunned Matrix or Star Wars folks. We want LOTR fans involved…taking action, getting things done. The problem is that filmmaking is not a democracy. No matter how long a list, loud a voice, or detailed a complaint; it will not change the fact that this seven-minute scene will be cut. There is just nothing we can do about it.

Do we, as TORN, like the idea? Hell NO, I don’t see any one of the PTB’s or forum admins or writers who like it. Do we want the scene added to the film? CERTAINLY, ever since the entire spikey wheel photo was first released to the public back in 1999 I’ve been waiting for Saruman’s death scene…that is 4 years of patience!

But we as TORN also know when to let artistic vision take precedence over fan-based hype. As a large group we cannot rally around a cause that we think is none of our business to dictate, and is also rather moot. We know we’ll get the chance to see it on the DVD. We are also pretty sure that the Extended Version will be placed in theatres sometime in 2004 or 2005.

It has been a long-standing policy that we don’t post links to petitions on TORN. We like to have fun posting polls, but never a petition. The legality of an online petition is suspect at best. It is really something we don’t want to get into. We love fan-community building, not persuasion-by-numbers.

Petitions are made to raise awareness of a cause that a majority of people do not know about. The cause is usually something that affects a minority of people to some degree or another.

This is not the case here.

Here we have a large group of people trying to voice their numbers (numbers that Peter Jackson and his team know full well are HUGE) to have something changed to suit their own needs. We don’t think this shines a respectable light on LOTR fans. Quite frankly it makes us all look like a whiny bunch of babies.

Peter Jackson, an un-questionable LOTR fan, knows this isn’t fair. He’s not happy with the choice he has to make. But it must be done. We as fans of the films can voice our outcry with either posts on message boards or healthy discussions in chatrooms or with friends. The signing of a petition will not help the situation, and giving us a hard time for not linking to it won’t either.

There are a great number of horrible things happening in this world that we can pour our energy into, the editing of a motion picture is not one of them.