News Bytes: Amazon Dates ‘Lord of the Rings,’ MacFarlane Blasts FOX, Joaquin’s Bear Necessities & More

First-Look at Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ Revealed
A sweeping, sunrise scene of Middle-earth gave fans their first look at the new Lord of the Rings series coming to Amazon Prime Video. The image was shared in a post from the project’s Twitter account, revealing a premiere date of Friday, September 2, 2022 in the wake of COVID-related production delays.

“As Bilbo says, ‘Now I think I am quite ready to go on another journey,'” showrunners J.D. Payne & Patrick McKay told The Hollywood Reporter. “Living and breathing Middle-earth these many months has been the adventure of a lifetime. We cannot wait for fans to have the chance to do so as well.”

Reportedly budgeted at $465M for the first season alone, the epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and LOTR books, and “brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history.” Cast includes Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Maxim Baldry, Nazanin Boniadi, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Charles Edwards, Trystan Gravelle, Sir Lenny Henry, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Lloyd Owen, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, Leon Wadham, Benjamin Walker, Daniel Weyman and Sara Zwangobani.

Seth MacFarlane Blasts FOX (Again)
The animated comedy hits creator is once again lamenting his connection to the network, citing objection to FOX News pundit Tucker Carlson via Twitter Sunday, saying the paleoconservative’s most recent hot take made him “wish Family Guy was on any other network.” MacFarlane also joked, “i’ve been having an affair with NBC,” referencing the overall deal he signed with NBCUniversal in early 2020.

Seth MacFarlane tweet
Seth MacFarlane tweet

Joaquin Phoenix Lends a Paw to His Brother Bears
The Oscar-winning actor has penned a letter to the owner of Bearadise Ranch, after learning from animal rights group PETA that two bears used as models for Disney’s animated feature Brother Bear were being forced to perform in a traveling show. The owner of the company, which operates a roadside zoo, was also recently cited by Florida wildlife officials after she made a bear act as a “ring bearer” in a wedding ceremony and brought a news crew into the bear’s enclosure.

The letter to owner Monica Welde opens: “I just learned that two of the bears used in your traveling show, Bambi and Bruno, served as models for Disney’s Brother Bear. I voiced the movie’s main character, Kenai, who, as a lesson in empathy, is magically transformed to be able to see the world through bears’ eyes, and now I’m asking you to see through their eyes, too. These bears deserve better than a life on the road, where they are robbed of everything that’s natural and important to them, and if you put yourself in their place, I’m sure you’d see that, too.”

Brother Bear
Brother Bear

Canadian’s Copyright Lawsuit Against Disney-Pixar over ‘Inside Out’ Gets Green Light
An Ontario court has given the go-ahead to Damon Pourshian to seek millions of dollars in compensation from several Walt Disney Co. subsidiaries over claims that the Oscar-winning animated feature lifted both the core concept and “minute and specific details” from his live-action short, also titled Inside Out, produced as a student at Sheridan College. A similar suit filed at the same time in California as the Ontario action, was voluntarily dismissed two months later in 2018.

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