‘The Hobbit’ finally on the roll…!

I’m currently man-down with a radical cold, and am therefore not up to much else other than a) My basic day’s work b) Drinking lots of tea and c) Playing as much Dragon Age 2 as is humanly possible before my fingers seize up. But – much excitement – production has finally started on The Hobbit! After years and years of delays, they’ve finally kicked off – and are still aiming for a December 2012 release date for part one, which is apparently subtitled There and Back Again.

The Hobbit

Peter Jackson poses on the set of 'The Hobbit'. © Warner Brothers

These cool promotional photos have been released by WB – and wow, is Peter Jackson looking a little trimmer than his Lord of the Rings days! Compare:

The Hobbit

Peter Jackson poses on the set of 'The Hobbit'. © Warner Brothers

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson in a promo image for 'The Lord of the Rings'.

 

I’ve had a bit of a Hobbit overdose today – working on a feature to accompany the news. And now, I want to reread the novel for the zillionth time. With more tea, and sympathy.

How does Charlie Sheen still have a career?

Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen in 'Two and a Half Men'

It’s a valid question.

The guy apparently snorts enough cocaine to kill the average person, trashes hotel rooms and terrorises “escorts” into hiding, threatens to murder his wife and gets drunk enough that he needs to be admitted to hospital (No, Charlie – nobody believes your hernia story).

He’s now supposedly been admitted to rehab for a three-month long treatment programme, which will disrupt the filming of eight episodes of the inexplicably popular Two and a Half Men. That means the entire cast and crew – and there are apparently 300 people working on the show – get to sit around and twiddle his thumbs while they wait for him to check back out.

This wouldn’t be a problem, I don’t think, if this was the first time it had happened. But it isn’t. In February 2010 Sheen announced that he was going to take a break from Two and a Half Men and check himself into rehab. CBS (the network) were extremely supportive of the decision – though Sheen was back to work by March.

Look, they pay the guy around $2-million per episode. But it’s apparently worth it, with the Los Angeles Times reckoning that Warner Bros. Television will earn around $600-million in syndication rights off the show over the next few years. For South African readers too lazy to do the math, that works out to over R4-billion. And with ad revenue of around $155-million (over R1-billion) during the 2009/2010 season alone, it’s completely reasonable for them to hang around until Sheen ducks out of rehab again.

But if he’s MIA, the network loses a lot of money. The show can’t work without him, and so production stops. They lose out on a reported $3-million in syndication per episode – plus crew salaries if they decide to continue paying those while Sheen’s out.

And so while it’s currently plausible for Warner Bros. to wait around for Charlie Sheen, that’s all too likely to change. I’m guessing the studios will only have so much patience for a guy who’s in the headlines for his associations with hookers, porn stars and drug-addled escorts rather than his association with the show.