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Hobbit's Choice
Christopher Lee: Wizard or Devil?As you may know, casting announcements for Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings now include Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Ian Holm as veteran Hobbit Bilbo Baggins and Christopher Lee as the wicked wizard Saruman. The word on the street is that Lee turned down the larger role as Gandalf because he did not want to spend a protracted amount of time in New Zealand, and he is keeping himself free for the first of the much-anticipated Hammer remakes, The Devil Rides Out, which will be directed, very soon, by Joe Dante.
• See our feature on Peter Jackson's Braindead in this issue!

The Others
DreamWorks Television, Steven Spielberg’s TV off-shoot has just signed two of the writer-producers behind The X-Files and Millennium series to develop new SF TV programming for NBC. Glen Morgan and Jim Wong will serve as executive producers for the upcoming paranormal thriller series The Others. The duo also teamed on the supernatural thriller Flight 180 with Wong directing and the two men sharing screenwriting credits. The Others is an hour-long drama about a group of people from different walks of life drawn together by their powers to connect to the spirit world. NBC has ordered 13 episodes, which will begin airing early next year.

King Spielberg
Spielberg himself is also bringing Stephen King’s novel The Talisman to the ABC network as a four-hour mini-series. The novel follows a young man’s perilous journey to find a mysterious talisman that holds the key to saving his mother’s life. His travels take him into a parallel universe discovered by his father, a treacherous world where the son is forced to battle demonic forces at every turn.

King wrote the 1984 book with Peter Straub and Spielberg has owned the rights to the project since then. The Talisman project marks the second major TV mini-series Spielberg has committed to executive produce as he’s spearheading the megabucks, 20-hour alien abduction mini-series Taken for the Sci-Fi Channel.