8:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Lord of the Rings' Creative Team Set at Amazon
Amazon's Lord of the Rings team is coming into focus.
On Saturday, the streamer used its time at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour to unmask the creative teams behind the big-budget fantasy drama. Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke announced that the creative team has been "working for months" on breaking the first season and a global casting search is underway. Production, she said, will begin in 2020.
The series, picked up in a huge $250 million global rights deal, will be overseen by showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay (Star Trek 4), with J.A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) set to direct the first two episodes. Bayona and producing partner Belén Atienza will also serve as exec producers.
"This team is our Fellowship — assembled from around the world, all walking the road together to try and accomplish something far greater than any of us could on our own. We feel humbled and extremely lucky to be surrounded by such inspiring and talented women and men,” McKay and Payne said in a joint statement.
Here is who's doing what on Lord of the Rings for Amazon:
• Executive producers Lindsey Weber (10 Cloverfield Lane), Bruce Richmond (Game of Thrones), Gene Kelly (Boardwalk Empire) and Amazon's former head of genre Sharon Tal Yguado
• Writers/executive producers Gennifer Hutchison (Breaking Bad), Jason Cahill (The Sopranos) and Justin Doble (Stranger Things)
• Consulting producers Bryan Cogman (Game of Thrones) and Stephany Folsom (Toy Story 4)
• Producer Ron Ames (The Aviator)
• Writer/co-producer Helen Shang (Hannibal)
• Writing consultant Glenise Mullins.
• Costume designer Kate Hawley (Suicide Squad)
• Production designer Rick Heinrichs (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
• Visual effects supervisor Jason Smith (The Revenant)
• Tolkien scholar Tom Shippe
• Illustrator/concept artist John Howe
"As our journey into middle-earth begins, we are in excellent hands with J.D. and Patrick at the helm, with this incredible team of talent that they’ve assembled,” said Salke. “The depth and breadth of the experience of this writing and production team is truly awesome, with a real respect for and knowledge of Tolkien lore. We’re so happy to have them on board and to see this exciting series start to come to life.”
And in case you missed it, here is Amazon's official logline for the series: "Set in middle-earth, the television adaptation will explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring."
Amazon has yet to formally announce any casting on the series, though sources confirmed Markella Kavenagh will play a role in it.
Amazon's Lord of the Rings commitment is believed to be for five seasons, plus a potential spinoff. Once production budgets, casting, writers, producers and visual effects are factored in, the total for the Rings series could hit $1 billion — yes, $1 billion for a TV show.