While some stars of Sir Peter Jackson's The Hobbit have enjoyed relaxing weekends, Sir Ian McKellen has toured his one-man show - Ian McKellen on Stage - around the country after working a five-day week on set.

He's been raising funds for Christchurch's earthquake-damaged Isaac Theatre Royal. The tour ended at the weekend.

On Saturday night, at Wellington's Opera House, Jackson and a collection of Hobbit stars - including Billy Connolly, James Nesbitt, Martin Freeman, Aiden Turner and Richard Armitage - were in the audience to watch McKellen's final performance.

They took to the stage at the end, joining McKellen for a spot of Shakespeare.


The invitation was extended to the crowd, too.

"It's a good opportunity if anyone wants to come on to the stage and do a little bit of Shakespeare acting with me and the cast," McKellen invited.

The audience did not need to be asked twice. Dozens raced on stage, eager to be a part of the action.

Rounding his flock like a shepherd, McKellen gathered everyone around, gave a few instructions, then faced the audience and recited from Henry V.

On cue, The Hobbit stars and the audience members, performing the role of slain French troops, fell down dead. The audience applauded wildly.

Later, carrying white buckets, The Hobbit stars collected donations in the foyer as the crowd exited the building. Like McKellen, Connolly, Freeman, Nesbitt and co were doing their bit for Christchurch.

"It must be dreadful living in Christchurch right now," McKellen told the Dominion Post. "The Isaac Theatre Royal is one of the few iconic buildings that has survived, so it's going to make it all the more precious that the sooner it's up and running, the better for locals."

Shooting on The Hobbit is expected to finish at the end of next month.


The world premiere of the first film will take place in Wellington in November, while further premieres are set for London, New York, Berlin and Tokyo.


Kim Dotcom was dubbed "Willy Wonka" when, out of the blue, he extended a golden ticket to blogger Ben Gracewood and his media friends, Jose Barbosa and Vaughn Davis, for a swim at his rented $30 million mansion on Sunday afternoon.

He opened his tightly guarded candy factory, previously off limits to media - except to a Herald reporter and John Campbell's cameras - and allowed a live Twitter commentary.

He offered temptations: giant cupcakes, cocktail canapes and corn chips with dip.

But Dotcom, who is on bail and fighting extradition to the United States on copyright charges, is arguably a master media manipulator and, says the National Business Review's Chris Keall, "a dab hand at PR".

He is all too aware of the sympathy he garners from the blogging community. The spontaneous pool party made him, as one sharp-tongued commentator suggested, "sheik of the geeks".

Dotcom offered his male pals beer in the pool and fireside chats in the loggia. Every detail was seemingly captured and tweeted about. Twitter voyeurs, like me, were enthralled.

We read that others had turned up to Dotcom's gate after following the impromptu party online. They, however, were not, allowed in.

The internet mogul knows the value of social media as a platform to a well-disposed audience.

Dotcom joined Twitter a week ago and has more than 30,000 followers. He pokes fun at the indictments he and his three Megaupload associates are facing, and yet gets serious when posting his four-month-old Campbell Live interview, instructing: "Everyone should see this".

While his new friends continued yesterday to revel in the mansion pool party on Twitter, Dotcom moved on to fronting his own agenda. Some argue he's never stopped.

"The fightback continues," Dotcom tweeted. "June 29 hearing coming. Justice delayed is justice denied."

"They are confident nothing will come of the charges, but are keen to defend themselves legally to whatever degree they need to," Gracewood said on his blog about Dotcom and his associates after the private pool party.

This week, Dotcom the aspiring pop star will release a new single Mr President, evidently targeting Barack Obama whose government wants him to face criminal charges. It's a step up from his previous musical target: John Banks.

The song, Dotcom tweets, is "coming out for free". That will please supporters. But as his newfound pool chums must see, nothing is complementary when a message needs to be liberated.


British television comedy The Inbetweeners has been given the green light for an American version on the MTV network. Kiwi filmmaker-director-writer Taika Waititi directed the pilot. The series will screen on MTV from August 20.

Spartacus star Andy Whitfield, who died last year aged 39 after an 18-month battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, is the posthumous subject of a documentary by director Lilibet Foster.

But the doco maker has run out of cash and is asking Whitfield's fans to donate to her film, Be Here Now, via funding website Kickstarter.

A statement on the fundraising page says: "It was Andy's hope that by opening his story up to a documentary, he might help or inspire others facing similar challenges, while pushing to accelerate the pace of cancer research around the world."

Foster wants to raise $200,000. At the time of going to print $50,000 was needed to reach the target.