Sunday, May 07, 2006
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Tolkien's kin says 'Rings' play OK

Sure, hateful cynics, including yours truly, might mock the very idea of plopping Frodo Baggins, Galadriel and Legolas Greenleaf into some poxy musical. And, sure, critics have given the stage version of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" frigid reviews. ("Bored of the Rings," the Toronto Star calls it.) But that don't matter a whit, as long as Tolkien loves the lavish show.

That would be Rachel Tolkien, 35, who Thursday night attended the "Rings" world premiere in Toronto. At $25 million, this is billed as the world's most expensive musical ever. J.R.R.'s granddaughter says the adaptation, by Shaun McKenna and director Matthew Warchus, stays true to the books and is not unduly influenced by Peter Jackson's mega-selling film version.

"The set is incredible, the costumes are beautiful," Tolkien said. "Everything to me that is the most important, and the most moving in the book, they've gotten on the stage."

READERS DON'T WANT TO BE TRAPPED IN THE WOODS WITH CRUISE: In a Stuff mag poll, Tom Cruise was voted the person folks would "least like to go camping with." Forty-one percent of readers think Tom would not be great company, compared with 39 percent who wouldn't want to sit around the campfire with Saddam Hussein.

Meanwhile, Star mag claims Tom and expectant hon Katie Holmes are debating baby names, with Tom -- who reportedly coos "little Hub" to Katie's tummy -- gunning for Hubbard, after Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Katie is scared the name "would make her baby a laughingstock." (A Cruise rep denies this silliness to TV Guide.)

SAVE HEMINGWAY'S BOAT: Ernest Hemingway's 40-foot, black-hulled fishing boat, the Pilar, could be getting a little restorative nip and tuck.

Watercraft preservation specialist Dana Hewson and members of the Boston-based Hemingway Preservation Foundation are heading to Finca Vigia, Hemingway's estate in Cuba, where Hewson will photograph and examine the Pilar.

"Professionally, this is a really fascinating project for me," Hewson told the Day of New London in Connecticut. He works at Mystic Seaport.

Hemingway sailed the boat when he lived in Cuba from 1939 to 1960, and is said to have conceived some of his greatest works, including "The Old Man and the Sea," while on board.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the boat on its 2005 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places even though it's not in the United States.

The Boston group is working with the Cuban government to preserve the Pilar, along with Hemingway's home and thousands of Hemingway drafts, manuscripts, letters, photographs and books stored there.

The fear is that the warm, humid conditions will eventually damage the papers, which include the never-published epilogue of "For Whom the Bell Tolls."

JUDGE SIDES WITH LENO IN SUIT: Jay Leno has won a round in court with a ruling that comedy deserves a break.

A state appeals court in Rochester, N.Y., ruled that a lower court should have dismissed a lawsuit that a woman filed against the "Tonight Show" host and NBC.

The lawsuit by Claire Walter, 40, of Irondequoit, N.Y., claimed Leno violated the state's Civil Rights Law by commercially using an unflattering photo of her in an on-air joke without her permission in 2003. The photo was taken for internal use at her former employer, Dorschel Automotive Group Inc.

According to the lawsuit, Leno said "a customer would not want to have their car serviced by someone like Ms. Walter. There were comments about (the) plaintiff being scary looking, being big."

The appeals court cited an exception to the law regarding use of photos for comedic purposes.

Walter's lawyer protested the ruling.

The People Column was compiled from wire reports by Gieson Cacho. Comments? Write to us c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099. Or call 925-943-8262, fax 925-943-8362 or e-mail