August 9, 1999
New Line Lords it Over
New Line Cinemas has imposed a media blackout
over publicity for The Lord of the Rings. Ever since the Middle Earth trilogy was
announced, Peter Jackson's camp has referred all comment to New Line because of
contractual constraints on publicity discussing the project.
In what The Hollywood Reporter dubbed
"unusual", New Line last month issued its own "no comment" statement
to Hollywood media about the three-picture project, which has had its budget boosted by
$100 million to $360 million and starts shooting in October.
The release said New Line "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, rumours or speculation about any specific role."
New Line expects to cast close to 100 roles
in the trilogy and "will unveil the entire ensemble" when casting of the
principals has concluded. So far, only Eligah Wood's role as Frodo Baggins has been
announced but its been reported that Sean Astin is in final negotiations to play his
sidekick, Sam Gamgee.
"It was clear from the moment that we
met Elijah that we had found our Frodo Baggins," Jackson said in a statement.
"He has an enormous natural ability to draw an audience into a story and the dramatic
depth to hold them there."
Wood's best known for The Faculty, Deep Impact and The Ice Storm while Astin's credits
include Courage Under Fire and Bulworth.
Meanwhile, casting of the American Leads has
irked British Hobbit fans, reports the Daily Telegraph. It quoted Chris Crawshaw,
chairwoman of the Tolkien Society, as saying the author would have been
"apprehensive" about a film version that has his characters speaking with
American accents. "To me personally, Hobbits in particular are Midlands country
folk," she said.
The newspaper also cited how Jackson had said
he, too, would prefer English accents, but New Line feared an all-English cast would
alienate the US audience.
According to the Telegraph, Sean Connery was
offered the lead role of Gandalf, the wizard, but rejected the part as he was unwilling to
commit himself ot the three film project. Other contenders for the role include Sir
Anthony Hopkins and ex-Dr Who Tom Baker.