Entertainment briefs – January 12

Ian McKellen is returning to Middle Earth. The 71-year-old actor will reprise his role as Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s two-part blockbuster The Hobbit. McKellen confirmed his casting on his website Tuesday.

McKellen to reprise role as Gandalf

NEW YORK — Ian McKellen is returning to Middle Earth.

The 71-year-old actor will reprise his role as Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s two-part blockbuster The Hobbit. McKellen confirmed his casting on his website Tuesday.

McKellen wrote that his “worry that I could not easily escape from Middle Earth was lifted.” Production is to begin in New Zealand in February.

Based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit, the two films follow the first adventures in Middle Earth, predating Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Also returning for The Hobbit are Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett and Andy Serkis.


Next Bond film scheduled for November 2012

LOS ANGELES — James Bond finally is getting back into action.

The new management at MGM, along with Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, announced Tuesday that the 23rd film in the spy franchise will arrive in theatres Nov. 9, 2012.

That will mark a four-year hiatus for Bond since his last adventure, 2008’s “Quantum of Solace.” The franchise had been on hold amid MGM’s financial troubles, with the company now trying to start over after filing for bankruptcy protection and restructuring last November.

Daniel Craig returns for his third outing as British super-spy Bond. Sam Mendes (“American Beauty,” ”Road to Perdition“) is directing, with production expected to start late in 2011.


Clooney to begin filming next month

CINCINNATI, Ohio — George Clooney’s new film will begin shooting next month and require “hundreds of extras.”

Kristen Erwin, the head of the regional film commission in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky, says scenes for “Ides of March” will be shot in more than two dozen locations.

Clooney directs and stars as a Democratic governor running in the presidential primaries. The film also stars Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Erwin told The Cincinnati Enquirer on Monday that no release date has been set for the film but that Clooney’s Smokehouse Pictures plans to open a production office in the area.

Clooney’s father, Nick, has worked as a TV news anchor in Cincinnati and also wrote a newspaper column there.


‘What the Hell’ lead single off album

TORONTO — Canadian pop star Avril Lavigne has released the lead single off her forthcoming album, “Goodbye Lullaby.”

The first single, “What the Hell,” was made available digitally on Tuesday in the lead up to the release of her fourth album, due March 8.

In a blog post late last year, Lavigne expressed frustration with her label and the delayed release of the new album.

She wrote it had actually been done for a year and her record company “finally decided to release it.”

Among the collaborators on the album is Deryck Whibley, her ex-husband and lead singer for Sum 41.

Lavigne has sold more than 30 million albums, won seven Juno Awards and was nominated for several Grammys.

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