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New ‘Lord of the Rings’ show to start filming in New Zealand`

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US-based streaming giant Amazon announced Wednesday its big-budget “Lord of the Rings” series will within months start filming in New Zealand, home to Peter Jackson’s movies of the fantasy epic.

Amazon is reportedly spending US$1 billion-plus on the series as it seeks to emulate the runaway success enjoyed by “Games of Thrones”.

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Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay said the South Pacific nation offered the “primordial beauty” of Middle Earth, the setting for J.R.R. Tolkien’s tales of elves, dwarf and hobbits.

“We needed to find somewhere majestic, with pristine coasts, forests, and mountains, that also is a home to world-class sets, studios, and highly skilled and experienced craftspeople,” they said in a statement.

Amazon Studios said pre-production had already begun and shooting would start in Auckland “in the coming months”.

It has already made a multi-season commitment to the series, which will explore storylines set long before the events depicted in Jackson’s films.

The Kiwi director’s Rings trilogy and the equally popular, but less critically acclaimed three-parter “The Hobbit”, sparked a tourism boom in New Zealand.

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Millions of visitors have flocked to locations used in the movies, helping tourism overtake dairy exports as the country’s biggest earner.

The movies also transformed New Zealand’s film sector from a cottage industry into a world leader, particularly in digital special effects.

“It’s great to see New Zealand’s association with Middle Earth is continuing,” Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford said.

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Invest Auckland said the Amazon production would bring an “immense economic boost and job opportunities”.

New Zealanders have also embraced Middle Earth as part of the country’s cultural identity, even now — five years after the last Hobbit movie’s release — giant models of dragons and wizards decorate Wellington airport.

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Jackson has no direct involvement in the series, although last year he wished its makers well and said he was available for consultation if needed.

Amazon has previously confirmed that “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” director J.A. Bayona will helm the first two episodes of the series.


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Former Trump administration official refers to a renowned Black scholar as ‘some criminal’

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President Donald Trump's former Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred to renowned Black Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. as "some criminal" in an interview with The New York Times Magazine.

Sessions, one of Trump's earliest supporters who was later fired after years of attacks from the president, is currently attempting to reclaim his old Senate seat in Alabama. Sessions has desperately tried to tout his Trumpist credentials on the campaign trail, even as the president has waged a campaign aimed at sabotaging his primary bid.

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Miami-Dade cop relieved of duty after punching irate woman at Florida airport

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A bad situation turned worse, after a woman missed her flight at Miami International Airport. When police were called, things got even worse.

According to the Miami Herald, body-camera footage, which surfaced Wednesday evening, showed the officer hitting the woman yelling at him.

“You acting like you white when you really Black...what you want to do?” the woman without a mask says.

She then stepped very close to the officer, putting her face against his and that's when he struck her in the face.

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Appellate Judge says Mary Trump’s tell-all book can be released

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Yesterday, a judge paused Mary Trump's tell-all book on President Donald Trump and his family, but Wednesday evening, a New York appellate judge ruled that Simon & Schuster could move forward with releasing the book.

According to the New York Times, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man will be released in four weeks, on schedule.

"Justice Alan Scheinkman’s ruling, however, put off addressing a central aspect of the bitter spat about the manuscript that has been roiling all month in the Trump family: whether, by writing the book, Ms. Trump violated a confidentiality agreement put in place nearly 20 years ago after a struggle over the will of her grandfather, Fred Trump Sr., Donald Trump’s father," the report said.

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