WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - Wearing elf ears and wizard hats, tens of thousands of New Zealanders watched their favorite "Hobbit" actors walk the red carpet on Wednesday at the film trilogy's hometown premiere. Sam Rashidmardani, 12, said he came to see Gollum actor Andy Serkis walk the red carpet -- and he wasn't disappointed. "It was amazing," Rashidmardani said of the evening, adding his Gollum impression: "My precious."
British actor Martin Freeman, who brings comedic timing to the lead role of Bilbo Baggins, said he thought director Peter Jackson had done a fantastic job on "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." "He's done it again," Freeman said in an interview on the red carpet. "If it's possible, it's probably even better than 'The Lord of the Rings.' "
Jackson said it was strange working on the project so intimately for two years and then having it suddenly taken away as the world got to see the movie. "It spins your head a little bit," he said.
Perhaps the most well-known celebrities to walk the carpet were Cate Blanchett and Elijah Wood, who reprise their roles in the LOTR in the "Hobbit."
"Mostly I came here to see everyone. I like them all," said fan Aysu Shahin, 16, adding that Wood was her favorite. She said she wanted to see the movie "as soon as possible. I'm excited for it."
YOU HEARD IT THROUGH THIS GRAPEVINE: Lenny Kravitz has signed on for his first leading film role, playing singer Marvin Gaye in a biopic that will be shot next year. Kravitz, 48, has played supporting roles in the past, including a small part in "The Hunger Games." Rolling Stone reported that the "Are You Gonna Go My Way" singer will portray Gaye during the 1980s when he was fighting his addictions and attempting to restart his career. Gaye died in 1984 after being shot by his father.
A NEW YEAR: ABC is turning its first New Year's Eve without Dick Clark in four decades partly into a celebration of the showbiz impresario's life. Clark, who did the first annual "New Year's Rockin' Eve" special on ABC in 1972, died at age 82 in April. Fergie and Jenny McCarthy will be hosts of a two-hour tribute to Clark that will air on New Year's Eve. Ryan Seacrest will host the countdown show from Times Square, with Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, Flo Rida and Pitbull among the guests.
LOOKING FOR A NEW HOME: Laura Ingraham is off the air -- at least temporarily. She's leaving her distributor, Talk Radio Network, after more than nine years because her contract is up. Ingraham said she is in discussions with other distributors about her show, which airs on 325 radio stations nationally.