Story By: G. H. HARDING
Cate Blanchett

MIDDLE EARTH MAX --- I've now seen all six of director Peter Jackson’s Hobbit-epics – Beginning with the three The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the subsequent three Hobbit series.

I never read any of the books, but have been supremely captivated by Jackson’s visuals and narrative on the screen. I never quite got the middle earth fixation, nor the Hobbit’s lure. But, face it, whether you're a believer or not, Jackson’s work is uniquely amazing. The way he’s woven the narratives, even to the non-believers such as I, is simply amazing. And, the visuals .... off the charts.

And, the cast he’s assembled, amazing too. He basically resurrected Ian McKellen’s career (of course, his X-Men stint didn't hurt either!), and, he essentially gave Martin Freeman, as Bilbo Baggins, his career. Freeman’s recent turn in F/X’s Fargo just sensational. And, we can’t forget about Orlando Bloom; Cate Blanchett; Richard Armitage, Ian Holm; Benedict Cumberbatch; Stephen Fry and first time-out elf Evangeline Lily (who is terrific).

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies brings to an epic conclusion the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield and the Company of Dwarves.

The Dwarves of Erebor have reclaimed the vast wealth of the homeland but now are tasked to face the consequences of having unleashed the Dragon, Samug, upon the defenseless men, women and children of Lake-town.

This final installment is darker than its two predecessors, but finely wraps up the plot. McKellen is just fantastic as Gandalf, giving a proper send off to the film, as he visits Baggins some years later at the end of the film. We get to see Freeman aged, but not McKellen interestingly enough.

Jackson has gone to great lengths to say he cannot create anymore Hobbit-epics without the permission of his family. Sounds like he's just thrown down the gauntlet. I bet there will be more.

SONY HACKED --- This ongoing story about Sony Studios being hacked has been going on for about two weeks now and has turned into quite the media cautionary story.

Five movies have been prematurely leaked (including their re-boot of Annie) online; internal messages and memos have gone public; salary information and personal information; and, even a list of aliases from various stars has all been released too.

Several of the internal memos leaked spoke to the dissatisfaction from many in the company about the lackluster recent movies from Adam Sandler. Ouch!

Initial reports had the hackers demanding the recently release movie, The Interview, be barred from release as the movie plots has its two main characters attempting to retire (kill) North Korean (evil) dictator Kim Jong-un.

These early reports therefore pointed at North Korea as being the culprit. As of right now, nothing has been confirmed … or, not. Truth be told … it could by the evil dictator.

Now, I’m no expert on international-relations, but this guy sounds like one bad dude, so for the hack to have come from his dirty-hands sounds totally plausible to me.

More scandalous perhaps, might be the salaries of Sony personnel leak and certainly, the Sandler situation. Actually, the memos were right; his last few movies have indeed fizzled.

Personally, I found the list of aliases totally mesmerizing:

Tom Hanks used Harry Lauder and Johnny Madrid; Sarah Michelle Gellar used Neely O’Hara (from Valley of the Dolls); Tobey Maguire was Neil Deep; Rob Schneider is Nazzo Good; Daniel Craig was Olwyn Williams (after his grandfather); Jessica Alba is Cash Money and, Debra Messing is Ava Harper. Funny for sure!

MAGOOS RETURN --- So many years have passed, sing the Blues Magoos on the title track to Psychedelic Resurrection, their first new studio album in four decades. “But now we're back and on this journey.”

The legendary psychedelic band from the Bronx, have returned with original members, lead vocalist/keyboardist Ralph Scala and vocalist/guitarist Peppy Castro, along with drummer Geoff Daking, who joined prior to the recording of the band’s hit debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop, and, were joined by newest additions, Mike Ciliberto on guitar and Peter Stuart Kohlman on bass.

The album also features cameos by original bassist Ronnie Gilbert and lead guitarist Mike Esposito, who also became part of the band before releasing their debut album, which went to #21 on the Billboard Top 200, thanks to the massive Top 5 single, “We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet,” re-recorded for the new album.

“Being a Blues Magoo is like taping into my childhood. Rock till we Drop!” states Castro.

“This is what we do/We’ll take you in a new direction,” Scala promises on Psychedelic Resurrection, and it is both a reminder of where they came from and a bold step into reclaiming a classic garage-punk-rock sound that has been imitated by everyone from the White Stripes and the Black Keys to Ty Segall and Parquet Courts.

The Magoos’ November 1966 debut album represented a landmark of the kind of garage punk that anticipated bands like Television and the Ramones, with the band’s cover of John D. Loudermilk’s “Tobacco Road” included on Lenny Kaye’s original, influential 1972 Nuggets album, and their “We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet” as part of the 1998 re-issue.

The Blues Magoos formed in 1964 and were initially called the Trenchcoats, which quickly became an important part of the emerging Greenwich Village rock scene, securing a residency at the fabled Night Owl Club. Changing their names to the Bloos Magoos, they released several singles for Ganim and Verve Records before getting signed to Mercury Records, and breaking out with their debut album, Psychedelic Lollipop, which showed the band’s roots with its covers of songs by James Brown (“I’ll Go Crazy”) and Chicago blues man Big Maceo Merriweather (“Worried Life Blues”).

The album’s breakout single, “We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet,” written by Castro, Gilbert, Scala and Esposito, went to #5 on the Billboard charts, and became a 60’s underground anthem.

Great album … check it out.

CLOSING NOTES --- Sting's appearance in his Last Ship immediately added a million dollars to its till. Impressive. He began last night for four weeks. Get them while you can ...

Gilbert Gottfried's interview with Monkee-Micky Dolenz is must-hear radio. Dolenz also reveals some juicy career-tidbits for the first time ever. Taped at George Burns-room in the infamous Friar's Club in NYC, its terrific. Check it out here:

Sam Waterston's turn on Aaron Sorkin's HBO series The Newsroom ended this past Sunday and his character passed from a heart attack. Just a terrific, terrific performance and run on the show. Let me be the first to say Emmy. Great, great run!