In the previous entry I was complaining about how nothing seems to be happening, then suddenly I am flooded with news, or potential news. Unfortunately, I'm so busy with tours that I haven't had a chance to do any digging but I thought I'd just report what I've heard from my spies and from what I've seen myself.
First, the biggest news item - Elijah Wood was spotted in the capital. Though heavily disguised with hats, sunglasses, and jackets, one of my most reliable spies spotted him. My spy unfortunately didn't get a chance to say "hi" to him, so I can't tell you why he was here. Could be he was on holiday, could be it wasn't him (I have no photographic proof) - but Elijah being in Wellington suggests to me that there are exciting things afoot - especially when I add his sighting to the others this week. There's no reason to assume he'd be in The Hobbit, but maybe there's another good reason why he'd be here, so close to the green light of the production?
For some reason or another I have been running in to some very cool people this week. Some of them weren't too surprising, others might have been coincidental as well. There's murmerings of lots of secret meetings taking place in the last two weeks, with big black cars parked outside, all over Miramar.
Apart from the unsubstantiated rumours from other sources, I can personally confirm that Shane Rangi is back in town, back from Australia where he's just finished filming a project. Unusually, he assured me he actually (gasp!) LIVED through an entire movie! Not like him at all, he usually dies at least once, and often more than once per movie.
I also ran into Gino Acevido. He's always pleasant and polite, and is a master at making people feel comfortable. He always appears to be very chatty, but afterwards I always realise he's not given anything away that he shouldn't have. Now, seeing him outside Weta Cave isn't that unexpected since he works in the same building a lot of the time, but I haven't met up with him for a while now. Could be just a coincidence.
I could at this point names-drop and mention that I've recently been speaking/emailing/facebooking/twittering with Richard Taylor, John Howe, Costa Botes, Ian Brodie (and sighted Jamie Selkirk), but it was all on unrelated matters, and unfortunately none of them mentioned anything related to The Hobbit.
John Howe did suggest that he may be releasing another artbook soon, and when that comes out he'll probably be autographing it down at the Weta Cave again (something the good folk at the Cave have also let slip) but I've heard nothing specific yet. John Howe has produced a number of very good books featuring his artwork in the past, and this one should be another excellent read.
While at the Weta Cave, I did notice that some of the illustrated LOTR and Hobbit books as well as a few Children of Hurin copies all had Alan Lee's autographs in them, so (a) he must be in town right now, and (b) if you want a rare Alan Lee autograph in a Tolkien book, now is the time to head to the Weta Cave.
Also, while on autographed books - the Cave still has Ian Brodie's LOTR Location Guidebook, and Paul Tobin seems to have been in recently, as the copies of his Crafting Of Narnia all had his signature on the front page. Furthermore, Scott Spencer's books on digital ZBrush techniques all had Scott's autographs in them as well! There can't be a lot of books there without autographs, surely! ((ed: Sorry Scott, I don't have an IMDB link for you - mail me?))
I've been assured that there are a ton of new items coming from the good folks at Weta, including a number of LOTR related ones. One we're all waiting on of course is the new Hobbiton miniature collectible. I've got in on good authority that they are starting to look "very nice" (I was allowed to quote that much, and no more). But they haven't been revealed yet. I'm sure they'll be on the Weta site before they're on mine!
The final bit of news from Weta - the guns of District 9 were released, and almost sold out already. I did manage to get myself photographed with the last few samples though... enjoy!
The guns are quite heavy, and the detail on them is terrific! Little bits of alien gloop and elbow grease everywhere, scratches and dents everywhere. Very realistic. Let's hope they get the "Best picture" Oscar!
- Jack M.