The Sunday Star Times
January 15, 2001

Te Papa Hits LA to Court Film Lords
Cameron Bates

A high-powered delegation from Te Papa, including museum chief executive Dame Cheryl Sotheran, returned from Los Angeles yesterday after discussions with New Line Films to establish a Lord of the Rings exhibition.

Sotheran confirmed that herself, the general manager of exhibitions, the commercial general manager and a Maori leader, plus former documentary maker Steven Lahood had "very cordial" discussions with senior New Line executives.

The cost of the trip was not available yesterday but Sotheran said a budget for the project and ongoing discussions had not been established.

Giving details of the proposed project, still in its infancy, would jeopardise any exhibition, she said. "This (Lord of the Rings film trilogy being filmed in Wellington) is their most risky project ever and they are very very keen on security so I wouldn't want to jeopardise something really good for Te Papa and New Zealand audiences."

She said it was not common for her to travel to negotiate exhibitions. "It is a measure of both security and confidentiality and the significance of the project . . . I would normally only travel for big shows like that."

During a trip to Europe she went to Milan to negotiate the Versace show. "Sometimes if you are talking to very senior people in organisations it makes sense to make sure the talks are at the most senior level and this seemed to be one of those occasions."

There would be no more visits of that size again, she said. "We did a lot of work while we were there and put a lot of effort into the visit to make sure we got the best value out of it."

Wellington Mayor Mark Blumsky discussed Te Papa's proposal during a trip to the US last March.