29 February 2012

Viggo Mortensen’s ‘Hobbit’ Interview

Viggo Mortensen was interviewed by The Boston Phoenix earlier today. Mortensen, who played Aragorn in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, will not be reprising his role in the upcoming Hobbit films.

I understand they’re doing two [Hobbit] movies. Now they may be doing two in order to be able to tell the whole story. I’ve heard the same rumors you probably have that the idea was to do some sort of bridge between “The Hobbit,” and – you know there’s a 60 odd year time span between the end of “The Hobbit” and the beginning of “The Lord of the Rings.” So they could feasibly have done that, since Aragorn lives much longer than humans do, being part Elf and all that. Sure, if it seemed like something they wanted to do, I guess I would have done it, and it would have been fun.
I really enjoyed working with New Zealanders as crew members, as teammates. They’re great, and it’s a beautiful country. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and I’ve traveled quite a bit. It just has so many things. It’s a good feeling being there. I have fun with  most of the people that work on “Lord of the Rings,” too. Like the ones that did get to go back, some were obviously central to “The Hobbit.” Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Cate Blanchett and I guess Elijah went back for a small part, and Orlando Bloom as well. I know that they had a good time and so forth.
I go back there [New Zealand] occasionally. I have friends there, and go back there when I can. It would have been nice to have work, but apart from going back to New Zealand, I don’t have a strong contact with the filmmakers, but I do see a few of the actors here and there once in a while. It’s something that was an important part of all of our lives, and I have fond memories of it. If it would have been possible I would have returned [for the new movies.] But I don’t really feel – I mean nostalgia, in a sense. I have for many experiences, for many people I’ve known and places I’ve been. But I don’t feel sad. I don’t feel like suddenly it’s over now, or something. It was over when we finished it. I look forward to seeing what they do with it. I’ll be fun to see some the way they’ve adapted that book.

Unfortunately, at this point it’s highly unlikely that Mortensen will return to New Zealand to reprise his role as Aragorn, despite the return of many other Lord of the Rings cast members, such as Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett, and even Elijah Wood, who will play only a minor role in the film.

Sony Pictures Classics Acquires Rights to 'West of Memphis'

It was just announced on Peter Jackson’s official Facebook page that worldwide rights to Amy Berg’s documentary West of Memphis have been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics.

The film, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20th, follows the investigation which led to the release of the imprisoned West Memphis Three – Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, Jr. – all of whom were convicted in 1994 of the 1993 murders of three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas.

The controversial case attracted widespread media attention and spawned three HBO documentaries. Additionally, the case caught the attention of several celebrities – notably director Peter Jackson and his partner, Fran Walsh. 

The premiere of West of Memphis, produced by Jackson, Walsh, and Echols and his wife Lorri Davis, attracted a full audience. Jackson, who introduced the film to an audience in which parents of the victims and several other people involved in the case were present, spoke again after the film, tearfully discussing the flaws in the American justice system. “It shows how fragile it is,” he said of the documentary, and “how the justice system can derail.” 

"I hope the film will serve as a platform for a broader discussion about the failures of our criminal justice system nationwide," director Amy Berg noted. "I'm very excited for this powerful story to be making its way to theaters and know that having Sony Pictures Classics as our partner is the surest way to catapult our film to the widest possible audience."

Negotiations between Sony Pictures Classics and Ken Kamins, Jackson and Walsh’s manager and the film’s executive producer, led to Sony acquiring the rights to the documentary, making it the third 2012 Sundance film to be acquired by Sony (the company also bought Celeste and Jesse Forever and Searching for Sugar Man).

Cumberbatch: 'The Hobbit' is Going to be 'Amazing'

MTV News recently spoke with Benedict Cumberbatch, who will be taking on two roles in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films. Cumberbatch spoke highly of director Jackson and friend/co-star Martin Freeman.

“I was very lucky [to work] with Pete,” he said. “As far as the experience, what an extraordinary one it was because at the time I was in my work; I was in isolation with him and this incredible tag team. And at the very cool place with that technology doing mo-cap for two characters, Smaug the dragon and another character, which will remain nameless, and it was an awful lot of fun.”

“It’s a sort of wonderful ongoing process,” he said of working on his two roles. “I spent a lot of time recording voice as well as doing movements. So, it was sort of freeing; it was fun. It was like playing a game. It’s going to be an amazing film; it’s going to be a real treat. I watched ‘The Lord of the Rings’ again before I started working, and the way those films grow in depth of craft on every level are extraordinary. Their mark is for that.”

As for working alongside friend and Sherlock co-star Martin Freeman again? The actor notes that when the two were on set together, keeping a straight face was difficult.

“It was great. I got to hang out with him, and I kept a straight face for a bit and then I started giggling because I know Martin, I don’t know Bilbo,” Cumberbatch said with a grin. “For Martin to be sitting there playing Bilbo is amazing. He’s going to be amazing, he’s going to be fantastic in this film.”

Update Adds 7 New Areas to Explore

With its latest update, Turbine will add seven new explorable areas to the Lord of the Rings Online – including Thinglad, Parth Celebrant, Eorlsmead, the Wailing Hills, the Limlight Gorge, the Brown Lands, and the Rushgore.

LOTRO's Mithril Edition

Last Monday, the anticipated Mithril Edition of Turbine’s popular MMORPG, The Lord of the Rings Online, was released exclusively in GameStop stores.

This was part of a big push to satisfy box collectors – who lost out when the previous expansions, Siege of Mirkwood and Rise of Isengard, were released as digital downloads – and to keep the game on the shelves of retailers. The game had previously vanished from most stores after LOTRO became free-to-play; Mithril Edition is the first retail edition of LOTRO in over three years.

So what exactly does this version cover, and is it worth purchasing?

When you purchase the Mithril Edition, you will receive not only a free ‘Steed of the Horse-Lords’ mount, 2000 Turbine Points, and the Path of the Fellowship quest pack (which covers the regions of the Trollshaws, Eregion, the Mines of Moria, and Lothl√≥rien), but the game also comes with a starter guide and keyboard map for new players.

The game itself – valued at $50 – is selling for just $29.99. If you’re new to LOTRO, this is definitely the way to go. This edition does not cover any subscription fees, so you would be starting out in free-play, but with a bit of a leg up on other gamers. (And of course, you can always decide to subscribe later.)

For current gamers (especially subscribers), unless you’re in the habit of collecting mounts and game boxes, then this option may not be for you. However, keep in mind that 2000 Turbine Points will set you back $25 in the LOTRO store; so for an extra $4.99, you’d also have a new mount, disc copies of the game, and a quest pack for those who are not subscribers or who are considering dropping down to free-play.

If you've purchased the Mithril Edition, I'd like to know your thoughts. Please feel free to leave a comment below!

28 February 2012

Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan

Dominic Monaghan has signed on to front a new travel series, titled Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan, which will be co-funded by C5, OLN, and BBC America.

In Wild Things, Monaghan will set out to track down a wide variety of rare and life-threatening insects – among them army ants, venomous centipedes, and scorpions. He will visit such locations as Ecuador, Venezuela, Cameroon, Namibia, Thailand, and Borneo.

"I have been obsessed and interested in nature all my life,” Monaghan said. “This show brings together years of excited preparation by finally creating a series that demonstrates my love for travel, animals, adventure and people.”

“We know Dominic will leave no stone unturned in his quest to unearth the world’s deadliest bugs on this exciting expedition, which should prove irresistible with viewers,” said Andrew O’Connell, head of factual at C5.

Perry Simon, General Manager at BBC America, added that, “Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan introduces our audience to creatures typically only seen in fantasy or science fiction. We are among the many fans of Dominic's work, and it is his genuine love and knowledge of these creatures and the production team's global ambition that inspired us to make this series an important part of our slate of new originals.”

The series, which is being produced by Cream Productions and Wildfire Television, will be distributed internationally by ITV Studios Global Entertainment and will premiere later this year on BBC America.

CAA Signs Andy Serkis

It was just announced that Andy Serkis has signed with CAA (Creative Artists Agency), a prominent sports and entertainment agency in Los Angeles. The agency, whose A-list clients include such stars as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, and Julia Roberts, will rep Serkis as an actor, writer, and director. In addition, the agency will rep his performance capture studio, The Imaginarium, which Serkis formed with producer Jonathan Cavendish last year.

Serkis will continue to be managed by Larry Taube of Principal Entertainment and Lou Coulson Associated in the UK.

22 February 2012

Miranda Otto: Murder Mysteries and Frankenstein

Lord of the Rings alum Miranda Otto has been keeping busy. Recently, she was cast as the key guest role in a new Australian TV series, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, which premieres this Friday at 8:30 PM on ABC1. The show, which is adapted from Australian author Kerry Greenwood’s novels, follows the 1920s adventures of Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis), a justice-fighting private eye who soon discovers a world of cocaine trading and illegal abortions. Otto will play the character of Lydia Andrews, a woman grieving the mysterious death of her husband.

“It's a show that has a real fun and wit about it,” she says. “The detective genre is not easy because you've got to get to a conclusion that is unexpected. The author has spent a lot of time nutting out these characters and cases.”

Next on her agenda is a role in the film adaptation of Kevin Grevioux’s graphic novel I, Frankenstein, a modern re-telling of the classic Frankenstein story, in which the hero, Adam Frankenstein (played by Aaron Eckhart), finds himself embroiled in a war between two immortal clans.

“I have started rehearsals and been on set (Melbourne's Docklands) and the cathedral sets are amazing,” Otto says.

“It's a whole mythology and world they are creating. The sets, costumes, make-up and hair - everything is non-naturalistic. I am playing the High Queen of the Gargoyles, though I'm not sure what a low queen is.”

Filming for I, Frankenstein is scheduled to be shot in Melbourne over a ten-week period beginning this Monday, February 27 and is expecting a late 2012 release. Other key cast members include Bill Nighy (Underworld), Yvonne Strahovski (Killer Elite), and Socratis Otto (X-Men Origins: Wolverine).

Otto’s career has seen a lot of ups and downs since it began 26 years ago. Now one of Australia’s most prolific actresses, she acknowledges that in order to deal with disappointments within the acting business, one has to have a thick skin.

“Acting is a freelance career ... you never stop having to prove yourself and fight for work. It's a career that's enticing because you go on stage, for example, and people clap. You get that affirmation, but you can't go into acting for that because it's really your own self-belief that's going to get you through. It's (survival) about how you get through the periods when people aren't clapping.”

Of balancing work with her family life (she married actor Peter O’Brien in 2003 and gave birth to daughter Darcey in 2005), Otto admits that it’s a bit of a struggle.

“The job has a real impact on your life (as a wife and mother). Some scripts you read and say, 'I've just got to do this' and you find a way of making it work. Some things you turn down because of the impact on family. Darcey is six now so in some ways that frees you up more, but it's more difficult travelling."

“We think about things (acting jobs) a great deal before we commit to them.”

20 February 2012

Viggo Mortensen to Receive Coolidge Award on March 5

Actor Viggo Mortensen will be awarded the 9th Annual Coolidge Award in a ceremony which will be held on Monday, March 5 at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, Massachusetts. Following the awards ceremony and the screening of his film Eastern Promises, Mortensen will participate in a Q&A session.

In anticipation of his arrival, the Theatre is showing several of his other films – A History of Violence, A Walk on the Moon, The Road, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Mortensen, who recently portrayed Sigmund Freud in A Dangerous Method, will soon be returning to the big screen in an adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, in which he will be co-starring with Kirsten Dunst and Kristen Stewart.

For tickets and more information, hop on over to the Coolidge Corner Theatre’s website.

15 February 2012

TMG Acquires ‘The Hobbit’

As part of a five-year free TV rights deal with MGM, the Tele-M√ľnchen Group has landed two major films – ‘The Hobbit’ and the newest James Bond film, ‘’Skyfall.’ In addition to these two films, TMG is also granted exclusive, free rights to more than 200 other feature films and TV series for German-speaking Europe.

Herbert Kloiber, TMG’s chief executive, stated that, “This agreement with MGM is a great start into 2012 for us.”

Adds Roma Khanna, president of MGM: “Our five-year deal with TMG marks a significant growth for MGM's business in Europe.”

11 February 2012

Rumoured Hobbit Expansion for LOTRO

Earlier this week, rumour slipped out about a potential Hobbit expansion for Turbine’s popular MMORPG, The Lord of the Rings Online.

The buzz originated on February 6 from Supererogatory’s Twitter feed, Superannuation, whose gaming reports have been deemed highly accurate by fans of the gaming industry. The initial Tweet, in reference to an upcoming Hobbit game, stated: “Unsuccessfully tried to ascertain the developer of The Hobbit game yesterday. Although rumors point to either TT Games or WB Games Seattle.”

 “And my understanding is that the first The Hobbit game coming out this holiday has been in development for a good time,” added one follow-up Tweet, with another suggesting that “If TT Games had a Hobbit game, presumably it would be LEGO Hobbit. Only have heard a rumor of a reverent, traditional Hobbit game though.”

And the final Tweet on the matter: “And a rumor of a Hobbit expansion/massive content update for Turbine's LOTRO.”

While this rumour has been neither confirmed nor denied – when asked, Turbine said they could not comment on rumours – and lacks any links or factual evidence to back the claim, one has to take this story with a grain of salt for the time being.

I’ll be following this rumour as best I can to keep my fellow gamers updated! In the meantime, leave a comment and let me know what you think about a Hobbit expansion!

Billy Connolly Joins 'Hobbit' Cast

The final character to be cast in Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Hobbit is Dain Ironfoot, who will be played by actor Billy Connolly. Connolly's late casting comes as a result of Dain having a minor role in the film, likely appearing only in the second Hobbit film.

In a statement to Deadline, who first reported on the story, Jackson said:

"We could not think of a more fitting actor to play Dain Ironfoot, the staunchest and toughest of Dwarves, than Billy Connolly, the Big Yin himself. With Billy stepping into this role, the cast of 'The Hobbit' is now complete. We can’t wait to see him on the Battlefield!"

You can catch Billy Connolly in the second Hobbit film, which will be in theatres December 13, 2013.

01 February 2012

New 'Warriors of the Westfold' Radio Show!

Mark your calendars! Friday, February 3rd, at 9 PM EST, is the premiere of the Middle-earth Network's newest radio show, 'Warriors of the Westfold,' hosted by the ladies of the Middle-earth News.

Join Arwen, Lily, Jessica, Evie, and myself as we discuss the latest Hobbit, Tolkien, and Narnia news.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and tune in to My Middle-earth Radio Friday at 9 PM EST!