Middle Earth Meets Hollywood
by Mark Zimmer
Mark Zimmer reports back from the LOTR: The Two Towers Oscar® Party in LA Sunday night.
Things didn't, we must admit, look promising for the Academy Awards® celebration for The Two Towers. Many celebrities, including director Peter Jackson, opted to stay at home on Oscar® night, for a variety of reasons. One could hardly blame them, since the streets surrounding the Kodak Theatre where the ceremony was held were swarming with protestors both for and against the war, and even getting within blocks of the event was well-nigh impossible.
|Triumphant Oscar Winners||Dominic Monaghan (Merry), Billy Boyd (Pippin) and Sean Astin (Sam Gamgee) get ready to get down|
But dOc is nothing if not persistent, and we suited up in a swank tux and headed for the site of the party, the historic Hollywood Athletic Club at 6525 Sunset Boulevard, once a favorite spot of such cinema luminaries as Charlie Chaplin. There, three separate Lord of the Rings-themed rooms featured the broadcast event on gigantic screens, while huge spreads of food and drink sufficient to gratify the most gluttonous of hobbits were available to the attendees.
|Craig Parker (Haldir) greets the crowd||John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) at the door|
The crowd understandably went wild when The Two Towers scored an early win for Best Visual Effects, no doubt driven by the amazing effects work on the computer-generated character of Gollum, in a perfect marriage of effects and the acting of Andy Serkis underneath the CGI skin. Shortly thereafter, a second win was scored for Achievement in Sound Editing, and again this was greeted with whoops and celebrations. Unfortunately, the film was (predictably) shut out of the Best Picture award, but, unlike most films, for Lord of the Rings one can still say, "There's always next year!"
|War Protestors vs Limousines at Sunset Blvd. and Orange||Andy Serkis doing Gollum|
After the televised ceremony was over, the crowd was entertained by the Celtic stylings of the band Emerald Rose. For a while, it looked as if the cast would be no-shows, which would have been understandable, if hugely disappointing. But around 11 PM Pacific Time, John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) made an appearance and took the time to enjoy a photo opportunity with all of the willing attractive young women who were eager for the chance. He briefly addressed the crowd and perked the party up immeasurably.
Suddenly, at 11:30 a hubbub went through the group: "Sean Astin's here!" And so he was. But that wasn't all. Before long, an amazing stream of the cast and crew made an appearance and said hello to the waiting multitudes. Three of the four principal hobbits made an appearance (excepting only Elijah Wood), as did Andy Serkis. The winners of the Oscars for Visual Effects (Jim Rygiel, Joe Letteri, Randall William Cook and Alex Funke) and Sound Editing (Ethan Van der Ryn and Michael Hopkins) showed up with their statuettes in hand. Producer Barrie Osborne was warmly received, especially after he connected a long-distance phone call up to the speakerphone and allowed Peter Jackson to address the group. Jackson stated that "Return of the King is going well." Alas, there was no footage to share with us just yet.
|Producer Barrie Osborne and Sean Astin||Designer Alan Lee (center) and others|
But there was some interesting brand new information given. Sean Astin's documentary on the filming, The Long and the Short of It is tentatively planned to be included on the DVD of the theatrical edition of The Two Towers in August. The cast also announced that they're scheduled to go back to New Zealand in May and June to shoot additional pickup materials for the final film, so the content of the picture to be released is still somewhat of a moving target.
All too soon, the evening in Tinseltown came to an end, and so did this magical time away from the news of the world. Thanks to The One Ring for sponsoring the official Two Towers party and allowing dOc to attend.
|Sean Astin making a point to Peter Jackson||Dominic Monaghan (Merry), Billy Boyd (Pippin) and Sean Astin (Sam Gamgee) get ready to get down|