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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: TV Discussion: The Rings of Power:
New McPayne interview with THR
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Eldy
Tol Eressea


Oct 5, 6:38pm

Post #1 of 57 (989 views)
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New McPayne interview with THR Can't Post

‘The Rings of Power’ Showrunners Break Silence on Backlash, Sauron and Season 2 - The Hollywood Reporter

A very long and thorough article about the production, containing copious quotes from the two showrunners. It includes details about the rights sale and pitch process, their creative goals and themes for the series, some of the larger dynamics within Amazon Studios, and the showrunners' take on the diversity controversy. Excerpts:


Quote
Sources say HBO pitched the estate on retelling Middle-earth’s “Third Age” — essentially remaking Peter Jackson’s beloved Lord of the Rings trilogy, which grossed $3 billion and won 17 Oscars. The estate has its gripes with Jackson’s adaptations (the late Christopher Tolkien, the author’s son, said they “eviscerated” the books) but wasn’t interested in treading the same ground. Netflix pitched doing several shows, such as a Gandalf series and an Aragorn drama. “They took the Marvel approach,” said one insider to the talks, “and that completely freaked out the estate.”

Amazon’s team (at the time led by Albert Cheng, Sharon Tal Yguado and Dan Scharf) wooed the estate not with a specific pitch, but with a pledge of a close relationship that would give the estate a creative seat at the table so it could protect Tolkien’s legacy. There was also, of course, the money. Sources say the staggering number that’s been widely reported ($250 million) was actually Netflix’s bid and that Amazon’s number was tens of millions less (albeit, still staggering). “It was our collective passion and fidelity to Tolkien that really won the day,” says Amazon Studios TV co-head Vernon Sanders.



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Criticism they can handle, and they’ve heard it all. Everything fans have debated, they say, they likewise argued among the creative team. They readily admit, for instance, that some of the first-season episodes lack the urgency fans expect from Tolkien adaptations.

“One of the big things we learned was even when it’s a small scene, it always has to tie back into the larger stakes,” Payne says.

“There are things that didn’t work as well in season one that might have worked in a smaller show,” McKay agrees. “It has to be about good and evil and the fate of the world or it doesn’t have that epic feeling you want when you’re in Tolkien.”

Which doesn’t mean the show won’t continue to embrace small moments. They point out that in The Return of the King, Sam sees a star through the clouds and says all the evil they’re facing is but a passing shadow, and there’s beauty above that it can never reach. “It’s a tiny personal moment, but it reflects the theme of the entire work,” Payne notes.



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Given that their show’s master plan is about the rings gradually corrupting the leadership of men, elves and dwarfs, I briefly wonder if the storyline risks making their saga a bit of a bummer as the whole land falls into enslavement and chaos.

“That’s the secret sauce of Tolkien right there,” Payne explains, leaning forward. “The grimmer things get, the more those pops of light have a contrast to bounce off of. That’s what’s beautiful about Tolkien. Even in points of complete despair you can have two halflings look at each other and say, ‘I’m glad you’re here with me.'”



Hopefull Harfoot
Rivendell


Oct 5, 7:47pm

Post #2 of 57 (914 views)
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Interesting how HBO and Netflix tried first [In reply to] Can't Post

As this story goes HBO and Netflix just offered money. The Estate seems to have gone with Amazon for offering money and some say in the story.

Reminds me a bit of how Lucas handled Star Wars while he retained ownership. He didn't discourge Fan artists and allowed new Star Wars novels to be written by the dozen. He only stipulated their work was not canon and could veto any ideas that strayed too far from his central concepts about certain characters or things. He also on very rare occasion would use something from the novels in his own films, though I am only aware of one example.


50th year anniversary since I first read The Lord of the Rings


Junesong
Rohan


Oct 5, 7:49pm

Post #3 of 57 (909 views)
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Great article [In reply to] Can't Post

Such a great interview. This should (but won't) put to rest the idea that Amazon is using "RACISM!" to deflect from genuine criticism of the show.

"So which story do you prefer?"
"The one with the tiger. That's the better story."
"Thank you. And so it goes with God."


Arannir
Valinor


Oct 5, 7:51pm

Post #4 of 57 (907 views)
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Very interesting interview. [In reply to] Can't Post

I have my issues with the series so far and what may come before the end of this season may increase them.

But I am genuinely irritated by some of the hate that came this show's way, long before we saw anything from it.

The tales of algorithms that told them what to do and every Tolkien content creator who doesn't destroy the show is an "Amazon shill" has even reached this shores here.

It is baffling but the article does a good job in explaining some of it without over emphasizing it and without neglecting valid criticism.

Imho one can clearly feel that it is a labor of love... And that people who care about Tolkien are involved. Which I hope will lead to even bigger efforts in the years to come. Of course there is room (and at times need) for improvement. The board seems set for four great seasons yet to come.


jlj93byu
Rivendell


Oct 5, 8:06pm

Post #5 of 57 (905 views)
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TWO YEARS?! [In reply to] Can't Post

Right near the end of the article, it jumped out at me when they said they expect to work on season 2 for "another couple years." Wait, WHAT?! Ironically, just before that sentence they talk about new episodes will be produced considerably faster than season 1, but 2 years is a very long time in between seasons. Die hard fans will watch no matter when it debuts, but that large of a gap is far too long for a majority of the general population to remain invested in the characters and the world. If Season 2 really doesn't come out for at least 2 years, by the time it does, a significant amount of current viewers will have moved on and while some may return, many will simply not feel it's worth it to re-invest so much time caring about a world that's just going to disappear again for another extended hiatus between seasons.


Junesong
Rohan


Oct 5, 8:13pm

Post #6 of 57 (897 views)
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Hopefully [In reply to] Can't Post

Hopefully this was a comment made a little while ago and they mean this year (2021-22) to write it and next year (2022-23) to film/edit and release it?

"So which story do you prefer?"
"The one with the tiger. That's the better story."
"Thank you. And so it goes with God."


jlj93byu
Rivendell


Oct 5, 8:32pm

Post #7 of 57 (887 views)
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Fingers Crossed [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Hopefully this was a comment made a little while ago and they mean this year (2021-22) to write it and next year (2022-23) to film/edit and release it?


Here's hoping, for sure. I hadn't considered that. After reading the whole article, it sounded like it was more recent, maybe even within the last month since they talked about reviews and different things, but I'm really hoping maybe that specific comment was said much earlier. Even 18 months feels like it would be almost too long.


Hopefull Harfoot
Rivendell


Oct 5, 8:41pm

Post #8 of 57 (882 views)
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ditto - but that isn't unusual these days [In reply to] Can't Post

But if their shoot starts now as planned it's feasible they could put it out next fall/winter.

Btw I think Patrick McKay and JD Payne are actually the same guy.



Wink


50th year anniversary since I first read The Lord of the Rings


Victariongreyjoy
Lorien


Oct 5, 8:43pm

Post #9 of 57 (882 views)
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War of Sauron and the Elves? [In reply to] Can't Post


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The large, windowless room’s centerpiece is a lengthy conference table, but your eyes are immediately transfixed by what’s covering the walls. You’re surrounded by concept art laying out major set pieces for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season two. Showrunners McKay and J.D. Payne give a walk-through of the sequences. They plan to introduce more iconic locations, familiar Middle-earth characters and a massive two-episode battle. This is, obviously, top-secret stuff — no media has been allowed on the fantasy drama’s set, let alone this room. But the showrunners wanted to give the world a peek behind the curtain to reveal what it’s like to manage the biggest TV series ever produced.


It must be that battle right?


dormouse
Half-elven


Oct 5, 10:22pm

Post #10 of 57 (844 views)
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Thanks for posting the link.... [In reply to] Can't Post

It's an interesting article. Tantalising (two years to wait???) but worth reading. It's good to know that they're so committed to Tolkien - I may or may not like everything they do, but I like the attitude behind it - and it's clear that they're open to reasoned criticism and willing to rethink things that don't work.

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood and every spring
there is a different green. . .


Eldy
Tol Eressea


Oct 5, 10:29pm

Post #11 of 57 (840 views)
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I doubt it [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Hopefully this was a comment made a little while ago and they mean this year (2021-22) to write it and next year (2022-23) to film/edit and release it?


The article talks about seeing art and costumes for season 2, which only just began filming two days ago. Even before this article, I felt that a 2024 release date for S2 was likely; it strikes me as highly unlikely that they could get through filming and post-production in the next 12 months, even if they move faster than with S1.* If they did take as long as S1, we'd have to wait until 2025, but S1 was beset by COVID and also had a planned gap in production after they finished the first two episodes, neither of which will be the case (hopefully!) for S2.


* A release late next fall is conceivable, but long gaps between seasons seems to be a thing for Amazon's speculative fiction series. And given the comment in this article...


(This post was edited by Eldy on Oct 5, 10:32pm)


cats16
Valinor


Oct 6, 12:52am

Post #12 of 57 (802 views)
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A caption on a photo in the article [In reply to] Can't Post

Says September 21st I believe for the photo being taken, so I'd assume the interview was conducted over some days in that timeframe (in the lead up to filming commencing this week).

Join us every weekend in the Hobbit movie forum for this week's CHOW (Chapter of the Week) discussion!




cats16
Valinor


Oct 6, 1:00am

Post #13 of 57 (799 views)
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Thanks for sharing [In reply to] Can't Post

Interesting timing on the article, in that it's a more in-depth feature article on-set (well, in the throngs of pre-production days before production, but you know what I mean) than we got basically the entirety of S1, in large part due to basically no one being able to travel to NZ to report such a story during the height of the pandemic.

So in some sense this is a do-over, so folks involved get some exciting press to put some good energy out there as S2 filming begins. A vote of confidence from Amazon to the creative team too, I'd say, even as S1 airs its remaining couple of episodes.

A separate note here, but it's interesting that there's been next to no quotes/interviews with J.A. Bayona this entire time. I haven't read any kind of suggestion that there was a falling out there, but I was a bit surprised that the person who I sort of assumed would become the co-face of the show (at least for its debut season) has more or less not taken part in any promotion or press for it. I'm curious if he's returning for S2 in a directorial role.

Join us every weekend in the Hobbit movie forum for this week's CHOW (Chapter of the Week) discussion!




Lindentree
Rivendell

Oct 6, 3:41am

Post #14 of 57 (770 views)
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hope for early release of season 2 [In reply to] Can't Post

looks a bit thin after reading the article - they are not likely to rush things to get it out early:
"McKay says the aim of season two — which quietly started filming Oct. 3 at Bray Studios — is to be “bigger and better” on “every level … by an order of magnitude.”

Many thanks for the link btw.


Arannir
Valinor


Oct 6, 5:33am

Post #15 of 57 (748 views)
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Why should there be a falling out? [In reply to] Can't Post

He is using his social media to share RoP stuff constantly. Including pictures with showrunners, cast and crew during the Premiere.

I think he was never meant to direct more than the opening. I



"I am afraid it is only too likely to be true what you say about the critics and the public. I am dreading the publication for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at." J.R.R. Tolkien

We all have our hearts and minds one way or another invested in these books and movies. So we all mind and should show the necessary respect.



InTheChair
Rohan


Oct 6, 6:46pm

Post #16 of 57 (649 views)
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Tolkien’s world has a long, unfortunate history of attracting fascist-adjacent admirers [In reply to] Can't Post

Gee! Thanks Amazon

Is that something specifically Tolkien does, or would it happen to be potentially true for any successful creative endeavour?


jpospich1
The Shire

Oct 6, 7:26pm

Post #17 of 57 (622 views)
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Revealing article [In reply to] Can't Post

From the article:


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At one point, Payne and McKay asked mentor and former boss J.J. Abrams to call Amazon to put in a good word, and he did. “We feel like that moved the needle,” says McKay.

Yet the deciding factor was their fleshed-out story and passion for, and depth of knowledge of, Tolkien’s world. Amazon’s programming team kept coming back to the same conclusion: The guys with perhaps the least experience were also the best choice.


Well, this is very telling.


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Payne looks particularly distressed by the topic. “The spirit of Tolkien is about disparate peoples who don’t trust one another and look different from one another finding common ground in friendship and accomplishing big things,” he says.


Is this really the spirit of Tolkien? Or is this the spirit of contemporary social justice activism?


(This post was edited by jpospich1 on Oct 6, 7:28pm)


Owlyross
Rohan


Oct 6, 8:42pm

Post #18 of 57 (584 views)
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It's true though [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien's works do have a history of attracting white supremacists and fascist adjacent people. Those who call themselves "odinist" and use runes and talk of "northern blood and soil". Unfortunately they have been a part of Tolkien "fabdom" as long as I can remember.

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."
Benjamin Franklin
The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.
Horace Walpole (1717 - 1797)


Owlyross
Rohan


Oct 6, 8:44pm

Post #19 of 57 (591 views)
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No it is absolutely the spirit of Tolkien. [In reply to] Can't Post

And if you read Lord of the Rkngs and don't take away the message of friendship, companionship, strength in diversity and putting aside differences for the sake of a better world, then I would question whether you've actually read the book at all.

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."
Benjamin Franklin
The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.
Horace Walpole (1717 - 1797)


Eldy
Tol Eressea


Oct 6, 9:00pm

Post #20 of 57 (578 views)
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They're not wrong [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Is that something specifically Tolkien does, or would it happen to be potentially true for any successful creative endeavour?


Tolkien's work is more susceptible to being co-opted by the far-right, fascists, and white supremacists. As Owlyross notes, such political movements are often fixated on a mythologized Nordic/Germanic past, and sometimes latch on to LOTR because of Tolkien's Germanic inspirations. Tolkien was aware of the potential for this in his lifetime. In Letter 45, he described his "burning private grudge ... against that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler" for "[r]uining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to present in its true light." In Letter 294, he tried to distance his work from the term Nordic—"A word I personally dislike; it is associated, though of French origin, with racialist theories"—and denied that North was a "sacred direction" for him, as it had been described by WH Auden, pointing out that it is in fact the cardinal direction of evil due to its association with Morgoth. However, this has not stopped a fraction of his readership from interpreting his work through precisely that lens Tolkien disliked. This has been going for longer than Payne and McKay have been alive.


Aelfwine
Rivendell

Oct 6, 9:45pm

Post #21 of 57 (571 views)
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"The spirit of Tolkien" [In reply to] Can't Post

At least in The Lord of the Rings, the central themes are 1) renunciation of power, particularly over others; 2) self-sacrifice; and 3) persevering in doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing, not because of any realistic expectation of success.

In Tolkien's legendarium as a whole, the overarching theme is the inherent evil of wishing to coerce the will or otherwise dominate the minds and actions of others, even for what might seem like good purposes. (I.e., ends do not in themselves justify means, to coin an original thought).

Friendship etc. are certainly present as themes in LotR (not so much in the broader legendarium, but they are neither central nor core to what is in fact a much more profound meditation on creation, sub-creation, and the meaning of life (mortal or immortal). These far more profound themes are the true distinctives in Tolkien, and give his work its lasting significance,

--
Carl F. Hostetter

(This post was edited by Aelfwine on Oct 6, 9:47pm)


jpospich1
The Shire

Oct 6, 9:57pm

Post #22 of 57 (555 views)
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"hobbits and hippies" [In reply to] Can't Post


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Tolkien's work is more susceptible to being co-opted by the far-right, fascists, and white supremacists.


It's strange, then, that he was "co-opted" to a much greater extent by Sixties radicals, anti-war activists and the Counterculture, cultural movements which Tolkien also heartily disapproved of.

That said, I don't entirely disagree with you. In fact, as our social justice philosophers now delight in telling us (when they are not presenting Tolkien as a social justice warrior), there is much of a "problematic" nature in the man's works.


(This post was edited by jpospich1 on Oct 6, 9:58pm)


DGHCaretaker
Lorien

Oct 6, 10:03pm

Post #23 of 57 (546 views)
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Discredit The Witness [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
And if you read Lord of the Rkngs and don't take away the message of friendship, companionship, strength in diversity and putting aside differences for the sake of a better world, then I would question whether you've actually read the book at all.


This attempt to "discredit the witness" makes me think this has become a religious argument where scripture is quoted, interpreted and used to mean anything the speaker wants, regardless of the author's intent, including the show's production.


Eldy
Tol Eressea


Oct 6, 10:14pm

Post #24 of 57 (534 views)
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Not really [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It's strange, then, that he was "co-opted" to a much greater extent by Sixties radicals, anti-war activists and the Counterculture, cultural movements which Tolkien also heartily disapproved of.


I don't find it strange. Tolkien had a great many interests and beliefs, not all of which are commonly found in a single person, so it makes sense to me that his work resonates with different readers in different ways (sometimes radically different ways). That's part of what makes him so popular.


(This post was edited by Eldy on Oct 6, 10:15pm)


Aelfwine
Rivendell

Oct 6, 10:22pm

Post #25 of 57 (536 views)
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Re: "The spirit of Tolkien" [In reply to] Can't Post

None of what I said, BTW, is either new, or original to me. Tolkien's project of reconciling Northern fatalism ("The Northern Spirit", as it used to be called) with Christian Providence* was long well-known and recognized as central to his purposes. Only since the Scholars that Be decided relatively recently that we can have no more of that has the focus shifted onto far more mundane and anodyne themes.

(* Some will instantly object that there are no Christians in Tolkien's Middle-earth. Well, there aren't any Vikings, either, but their respective world-views nonetheless inspired and deeply inform Tolkien's legendarium.)

--
Carl F. Hostetter

(This post was edited by Aelfwine on Oct 6, 10:24pm)

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