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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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New Jersey Governor unloads on ‘pathetic’ Blue Dog Dem switching parties: ‘He put politics over the constitution’

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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy blasted Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) for being "pathetic" after reports he would become a Republican.

Murphy, a Democrat, was interviewed by MSNBC's Yasmin Vossoughian on Sunday.

"I think it's ridiculous," Murphy said.

'He put politics over the constitution," he continued. "He's trying to be cute instead of being courageous."

"I think it's outrageous. this is a guy who is trying to find a path to get re-elected to Congress, not trying to find a path to do the right thing," Murphy said.

and we've seen it all over new jersey, all around the country, folks who stand up with conviction and courage and state their case more often than not, far more often enough folks say notwithstanding how tense and passionate this discussion is, they get credit for that, as opposed to cutting and running.

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2020 Election

Rep Ocasio-Cortez blasts complexity of health care marketplace: ‘No one should go through this’

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blasted the complexity of the health care marketplace on the day of the deadline to sign up for 2020 coverage.

Health care has been a major topic in the 2020 Democratic primary, with some moderate candidates defending the Affordable Care Act passed under President Barack Obama, while progressive candidates push for Medicare for All.

"Members of Congress also have to buy their plans off the exchange," she explained. "That means I get to 'choose' [between] 66 complex financial products."

"This is absurd. No person should go without healthcare, and no one should go through this, either," she argued.

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Hallmark Channel reverses course and apologies for caving to anti-LGBTQ group

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The Hallmark Channel reversed course after a boycott resulted from the network caving to an anti-LGBTQ group.

On Saturday, #BoycottHallmark trended on Twitter nationwide after the network refused to show ads featuring two women kissing after being married.

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