I've now seen advance footage of the second installment of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and all I can say is "look out." This may be another Oscar nominee for Best Picture.
Last week New Line Cinema held two sneak previews of 16 minutes of assembled footage of The Two Towers which featured a look at some new characters and a glimpse of a giant war scene. It was all very impressive, especially the new computer-generated character Gollum, who puts Jar Jar Binks to shame.
Two Towers, from what we saw, is more character driven than the first film. It feels a little amped up and that may be the result of the re-shoots this past summer. The scenes we saw had incredible energy even if you don't know a word from the book (and that would include this reader, whose only interest in J.R.R. Tolkien's books extended to The Fellowship of the Ring).
But nothing was more impressive than New Line's Mark Ordesky's knowledge of the entire Tolkien canon. When he finished explaining it to us, we were all afraid there'd be a quiz.
Later Ordesky, executive producer of the trilogy and the man who shares credit with director Peter Jackson for making it all work, admitted: "I read the books about 12 times since I was a teenager."
Bernard Hill, the British actor who plays Theoden, the king of Rohan, said that when the actors arrived in New Zealand this summer for re-shoots, Ordesky amazed them with the same speech. "We couldn't believe it," said Hill, who attended the preview with actors John Rhys-Davies and Miranda Otto.
New Line will open Towers on Dec. 18, with a built-in audience. The first installment has made about a billion dollars worldwide so far.
If you've got 300 clams and nothing better to do with them in a sinking economy, you may want to invest in the Rolling Stones.
Even though the New York dates are technically sold out, you can still find lots of tickets in most major cities. For example, as of yesterday morning I was able to reserve lots of them in Washington and Hartford. I was able to reserve seats 18 to 29 in Row 21, Section A4 for the former show, and seats 3 to 14, in Row 6, Section 204.
In Hartford it was just as easy. Seats 3 to 10, Section 102, Row J could be mine for the asking. But I won't be asking. The Stones are charging upwards of $300 for these seats, making them the highest-priced tickets probably in the history of rock 'n' roll.
I have a fondness for the group, but let's face it. Their last good album was 1981's Tattoo You, which featured "Start Me Up" and "Waiting on a Friend." All the albums that followed sounded like they were recorded by a Stones tribute band.
Quick: Can you name the Stones albums since 1989? They were Bridges to Babylon, Steel Wheels and Voodoo Lounge.
Even worse: Can you name a single track from any of them? Most embarrassingly, one single, "Anybody Seen My Baby," had to be credited to the Stones and k.d. lang when it turned out they'd appropriated it from her by accident.
So, no, I will save the $300, and wait for the live HBO show in January. For half that money I can buy a couple of great Stones reissue albums (Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out, Out of Our Heads), a decent bottle of wine and it will seem like the same thing anyway.
Just a reminder that a bevy of stars and writers will read from Laurie Colwin's writing next Wednesday as a 10th-anniversary memorial to this wonderful writer.
Matthew Modine, Peter Bogdanovich, Tama Janowitz, Francine Prose, Karen Duffy ("Duff" from MTV and Revlon fame), Linda Yablonsky, novelists Scott Spencer (Endless Love and Waking the Dead) and Meg Wolitzer (This Is Your Life) will appear for free on Sept. 25 at the GQ Lounge at 110 University Place in New York City. The reading begins at 7 p.m.
Colwin, who was my great friend and beloved by many, died in Oct. 1992, suddenly, at the age of 48.
Her many fine books include Happy All the Time, Home Cooking, The Lone Pilgrim and A Big Storm Knocked It Over. She's still so popular that HarperPerennial has all her books in print to this day -- unheard of even for living writers. So stop by and help celebrate a great artist's legacy.
This column recently broke a few stories first: that Keanu Reeves would more than likely star in Bret Rattner's Superman; that My Big Fat Greek Wedding was going to be a CBS series; that Lorraine Bracco was set to follow Kathleen Turner into The Graduate on Broadway.
What happened next?
Variety, CNN and various other outlets helped themselves to these items as if they were indeed at the buffet table at their own Greek wedding and the waiters were starting to remove the serving dishes. But then again, you know Fox News is the source of all the really good stuff.