<i>Hobbit</i> Casting Happening, Director Almost Signed

Despite all the problems being thrown at it - Original director Guillermo del Toro leaving the project, MGM going bankrupt, the possible loss of Ian McKellan as Gandalf - The Hobbit is continuing to move forward towards becoming a cinematic reality.

The Hollywood Reporter's Heat Vision blog is reporting that producer Peter Jackson is close to finalizing a deal to direct the two movie adaptation of JRR Tolkien's epic novel, and is already in Los Angeles to work on casting the project. Various actors have been rumored to be involved in the movies, but as yet, none have been signed.

Once Jackson signs on as director - Presuming a deal will be worked out - expect an announcement about a shooting schedule; there are already fears that Jackson will be busy with already-announced projects like his Tintin movies with Steven Spielberg until late next year, even though he apparently would like the movies in theaters by 2012 and 2013, respectively.

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