- The Washington Times - Monday, December 9, 2002

Studio gamble
"When New Zealand director Peter Jackson spent $270 million of New Line Cinema's money to turn J.R.R. Tolkien's sprawling book series 'The Lord of the Rings' into three consecutively shot films, it was easily the biggest gamble in recent Hollywood history. Failure would have meant dire consequences for the studio.
"Having graduated from splatter movies to the critically loved art-house film 'Heavenly Creatures' and the flop 'The Frighteners,' Jackson's track record hardly inspired confidence. But his first installment, 'The Fellowship of the Ring,' proved a critical and financing triumph, garnering a slew of Oscar nominations and a worldwide gross of $860 million.
"There was little time to bask in glory. Jackson went right back to work. The result is 'The Two Towers,' the trilogy's second installment This time, Frodo and his constant companion Sam are on their own, trying to destroy a ring that will doom Middle-earth."
Michael Fleming, writing on "Rings Leader," in the December/January issue of Movieline
Anchors aweigh
"Ned [Beach] loved the Navy as a man might love his own family. For the Navy was his family, the junior officers he trained and the enlisted men who did so much of the hand-labor in the boats. He served with distinction, approaching perfection and, like his father, would then write about the things he'd seen and done.
"Ned's first book, 'Run Silent, Run Deep,' was in fact a compilation of his own experiences told as few others could have told the tale, in a way that let the reader smell the oil-scented air inside the boats, noting that the stress of combat cannot be borne indefinitely, even among the courageous. Though Ned was always gracious toward my own works of fiction, he knew the subject matter better than I could ever hope to do.
"More than once I spoke with him about the psychological aspects of combat, and every time he told me what I needed to know, always from his own rich experiences.
"But now he's gone. Or is he? It's a custom in the U.S. Navy to name its warships for those who have graced the uniform with their service. So, one can hope, in not too long a time, there will be a USS Beach carrying our battle ensign around the world, and Ned will again be at sea, looking after the nation he served so well in life. Fair winds, Skipper."
Tom Clancy, writing on "He Lived What He Wrote," Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal at www.opinionjournal.com
Faith and film
"Jonathan Bock heads Grace Hill Media. His purpose is to help studios and networks promote their projects to the religious community. But that's not to say Jonathan promotes every film or TV series that comes along. 'There's been about six films this year that I've turned down. A couple of them were just dogs. They weren't interesting films. One, however, was a terrific film. But the amount of swearing in it was just too much. The message of the film got lost amid the objectionable language.'
"'Every weekend, 43 percent of Americans attend church or synagogue. That's over 121 million people. If just 5 percent of those people went to their movie on a Friday night, the film could register a $45 million gross at the box office. That's a number that catches the eyes of studio executives,' Bock says.
"Grace Hill Media was instrumental in bringing 'A Walk To Remember' to the attention of the Christian community. 'A Walk To Remember' focuses on a teenage Baptist girl whose faith eventually has an effect on the school bad boy and others around her. Although the film was not designed to proselytize, Christian moviegoers were delighted to discover a film that presented a Christian not as a caricature, but as a fully realized person, one we'd like to know."
Phil Boatwright, writing on "A link between Christians and Hollywood," Wednesday in Baptist Press News at www.bpnews.net

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