-Even with Peter Jackson prepared to take over the directing helm, continued delays on The Hobbit put the cast’s availability at risk. Even the film’s Gandalf, Ian McKellen, is under no contract to appear in The Hobbit, the veteran actor revealed in an interview with New Zealand’s Good Morning. He said his time is “running out,” and he is actually more interested in working the theater. “Frankly, I would like to race after doing Waiting For Godot, get on with doing another play but we’ll have to see. I don’t give the producers the impression that I’m sitting waiting.” One possible save-the-day scenario would see debt-ridden MGM selling the rights to Warner Bros./New Line (which is also a potential buyer of the studio). With the next James Bond already on hiatus, many Hollywood players are working behind the scenes to untie The Hobbit‘s Gordian knot.
– On our country’s birthday July 4, the NYT posted a story on the towns and townies keeping old school movie houses alive. From the Main Street movie theater in North Dakota, where a grassroots movement has put an old theatre at the center of the town’s cultural life, to the Great Plains where seeing a movie on a big screen means a 200-mile round trip, movies are still something special– a rare treat that encompasses a larger purpose. Newspaper editor Cecile Wehrman, of Crosby, ND, said that whereas in LA the only reason to see a movie “would be to see it,” in a small town such as her own “the theater is like a neighborhood. It’s the see-and-be-seen, bring everyone and sit together kind of place.”
– OregonLive is also following a the conversation sparked by the future of Portland’s Guild Theatre, which Opera Theatre Oregon intends to lease out for music and film events. Starting in 1927, the space had its turn as a musical performance space, a movie house, scene of the Portland International Film Festival and a one time Truffaut festival, and inevitably fell into the hands of the Northwest Film Center, which paid $1 in rent until 2006. Renovation followed, with a restaurant and bookstore moving in. A crew inhabited the space while they turned the parking lot into the piazza Director Park–possibly an ideal central hub for Portland’s ongoing cultural life.
– Meanwhile, Vulture has asked the important question – what is two-years-legal Taylor Lautner’s real star value? They point out that just the threat of his shirt coming off has resulted in $1 billion-plus grosses at the box office and countless sore throats for the shrieking ladies that love him. But long after the Twilight saga has ended and fans have come off their vampire high, will Lautner boast the right stuff to ride an upward star trajectory? Vulture argues that “Hollywood is desperate for a dependably bankable male star, and Lautner’s mix of muscles and soft, not-quite-ripe cuddliness is a combo that sparks fantasies of movies that attract both men and women.” But do we want to watch this boy turn into a man? Does his raw talent make us swoon as much as his smile? Muscles can only be movie stars for so long.