Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis are officially returning to Middle Earth, and all I’ve got is this old thing…

To mark the news that both of these extremely fine actors would be reprising their roles as the wizard Gandalf and power-ring addict Gollum in the upcoming two-part epic version/expansion of Tolkien’s “The Hobbit,” I wanted to find some real cool video.

Maybe a great scene featuring both Gandalf and Gollum from the LOTR films. Except, I don’t remember any scenes like that. Do you? Anyhow, I couldn’t find anything online. Nor did I find anything with Sir Ian McKellan and Andy Serkis hanging out and exchanging funny banter or something. Nada.

So, instead I present this with great apologies to Leonard Nimoy and all of those who appreciate good music and fine production values. Spoiler alert!

Actually, I find “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” kind of catchy, even if the person who posted this video forgot to check how to spell Nimoy’s name.

  

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The Scream Awards go down the rabbit hole (updated)

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There was a time in this world when young people were frequently slightly ashamed of being bigger than average fans of horror, science fiction, fantasy, and especially comic books. I, personally, wasn’t embarrassed …and I paid a price. Those days may be over. In any case, the capacity crowd that showed up for Spike TV’s Scream awards, largely in costume and largely dramatically over- or under-dressed for a nighttime outdoor show after a very warm day, seemed more like club kids and less like the kind of uber geeks who become entertainment bloggers and film critics and stuff like that.

The Scream Awards are, in their fun/silly way, a big deal. Big enough to attract a good number of stars and even a few superstars like Tobey Maguire, Jessica Alba, Morgan Freeman, Harrison Ford, Johnny Depp and his living legend “Pirates of the Caribbean” muse, Rolling Stone Keith Richard.

I, however, am not such a big deal and was reminded of that fact when, prior to the show I found myself with the less fashionable members of the not-quite paparazzi on the “red carpet” (actually a checkered walkway) with my little digital camera and even smaller digital recorder device, wondering whether I’d really get a chance to ask a question of one of the super-famed folks, knowing that the only question I could think of at the time would be something in the nature of “What’s it like be the most notorious rock and roll star in the world, having your blood changed, and snorting your late father’s ashes?” That probably would have been inappropriate, especially if I asked it of Jessica Alba.

What actually seems to happen at events like this is that, if you’re a small-timer especially, most of the big stars either go through another entrance or walk right by you at warp speed. Meanwhile, folks who are a bit more anxious to meet the press find their way to you with the help of PR types. As an example, for about half a second, I was almost able to talk with actor Karl Urban, who did such a great job homaging DeForest Kelly while putting his own hilarious stamp on “Bones” McCoy in “Star Trek.” However, within a nanosecond he remembered he was in a big hurry and politely scurried off.

After a few odd reality show people I didn’t recognize, and the pretty young actress who assays the part of “Female Addict” in “Saw VI,” our first actual notable was statuesque model turned actress Tricia Helfer. Helfer is, make no mistake, a true superstar to TV sci-fi fans and is best known as Number Six, aka “the hot blonde cylon” on “Battlestar Galactica.” The actress appeared with her significant other, the owner of a British accent and a Giaus Baltar-style beard, but I’m sure that’s a total coincidence. I had a not terribly consequential discussion with her — lost because I apparently forgot to press the “on” button on my digital recorder. One would expect no less an effect from Number Six. UPDATE: Yeesh! As pointed out by my PH compatriot John Paulsen, the actress was actually Kate Vernon, who played the lady-MacBeth-like Ellen Tigh. It is true, all statueseque blonde women in shiny dresses look alike to me! My apologies to all concerned or unconcerned.

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TCA Tour: “Fringe”

Fox’s “Fringe” premiered last season to a ridiculous amount of buzz, thanks to the combination of J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci, a trio whose various credits (many of them shared) – “Alias,” “Lost,” “Mission: Impossible III,” “Transformers,” and the then-still-forthcoming “Star Trek” – were more than sufficient to get the sci-fi fanboys into a tizzy. Things may have started off a bit rocky, mostly due to a slight uncertainty about exactly what the hell was going on, but by the close of the season finale, when we found ourselves barely getting over that guest appearance by Leonard Nimoy before we found ourselves looking at a still-standing World Trade Center, we were already ready for Season 2 to begin.

“As we went along, I think we got a better handle on the balance of our characters and the plots and making sure that our plots were character-centric,” admitted executive producer Jeff Pinkner. “I think that we learned how to write for these actors, these characters over time, and I think we learned this in ‘Alias’ and ‘Lost.’ The shows that are really about the characters, the characters and the actors playing them start to meld a little bit more, and I think we’ve gotten better at that.”

Orci noted that one of the series’ biggest issue from the very beginning was figuring out the percentage of standalone episodes versus a larger serialization. “We’ve all read the research that says a regular viewer watches three episodes in a year, etcetera, etcetera, so you try to modulate,” he explained. “In the first season, we actually had to sort of plan around resetting the series once or twice and doing it around three- or four-week-long breaks. And that kind of exercise makes us, in Season Two, a little more flexible, a little bit more able to read the green. And I think, you know, the fact that we are closer than we were from New York is also helpful. We can all be up there a little bit more; we can communicate better with each other. I think we’re just a tighter ship this year.”

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Will Nimoy appear on “Big Bang”? Highly improbable, Captain.

Given that “The Big Bang Theory” has expanded the game of Rock Paper Scissors (the full name is now Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock) and had Penny give Sheldon a stroke for Christmas by providing him with a napkin autographed by everyone’s favorite Vulcan, can a guest appearance by Leonard Nimoy be far behind?

Unfortunately, according to creator Chuck Lorre, such an appearance doesn’t seem too likely.

“I would love that,” said Lorre, “but I think Mr. Nimoy is now in retirement. He did actually sign the napkin, though. ‘To Sheldon, Leonard Nimoy.’ He was very nice about that. He got a kick out of the idea that that was the gift that she gave him that brought Sheldon to his knees. He was really tickled by that, and our deal with him was, ‘For your efforts, maybe we can make some money for the charity of your choice.’”

The charity in question was The Beit T’Shuvah, a residential treatment center in Los Angeles for Jewish alcoholics and addicts, and the napkin went up for auction on Sunday evening during the center’s Steps to Recovery Gala at the Beverly Hilton, where it earned a final bid of $1,100.

But the big question is, is Nimoy a fan of the show?

“I don’t know,” admitted Lorre. “But I do know that he got a kick out of the storyline.”

I still say to keep your fingers crossed…and, c’mon, Chuck, it can’t hurt to ask. The new “Trek” movie will be coming out around the same general time frame as the season finale for “The Big Bang Theory,” and given that Nimoy clearly has a good sense of humor about his place in the pop culture pantheon (see his appearances on “The Simpsons” for proof), it seems like the stars are aligned perfectly for such a cameo.

  

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