29th December 2004
US tie-in paperback on Amazon
The cover of the US tie-in paperback of Hitchhiker's Guide is now on show, largely similar to the UK one (ie. based on the one-sheet teaser poster) but with a silver flash announcing a '64-page bonus section on the making of the movie' and without Robbie Stamp's name on the front. Rather bizarrely, the cover of this US edition is on Amazon.co.uk but not on Amazon.com yet - apart from a tiny jpeg halfway down the page in the 'buy this with...' section. No publication date is given as this apparently simply replaces the existing paperback edition, but expect to see it on sale some time in April. (Thanks to Kalle Tahkolahti for spotting this.)

29th December 2004
Trailer on widespread release
The movie trailer has now been reported in front of The Phantom of the Opera, The Life Aquatic and The Aviator, so it is fair to say that it is on general release and liable to turn up anywhere.

23nd December 2004
Casting announcement in two weeks
Reliable sources inform me that a significant casting announcement will be made on the Steve Lamacq show on BBC Radio 1 on 3rd January. Presumably this will be either the voice of Marvin or the voice of the Guide. The show will be broadcast at 9pm GMT and can be heard live or on listen-again here.

23nd December 2004
Interesting Jay Roach interview
It's a year old, but this previously un-noted interview with Jay Roach from Variety late last year, which just turned up in a Google search, sheds some interesting light on his involvement with - and dis-involvement from - the Hitchhiker's movie.

22nd December 2004
Zaphod's 'second head' described, Ford's accent confirmed
The person who posted the mini-review on AICN has added some clarification, specifically regarding the nature of Zaphod's second head, which is this (disguised as it might be considered a spoiler): "Zaphod's second head comes from underneath his already existing head." In other words, he has two faces on one head, one above the other, rather than the traditional Y-shaped spinal column.

The rather bizarre rumour circulating recently about Zaphod's second head emerging from his nostril is complete bunkum (apart from anything else: how would that work?) which has been traced to a friend of a friend of a friend working on a different movie at Cinesite. Knowing what I do about the movie, I can kind of see how such a rumour could originate when filtered through Chinese whispers. Meanwhile the AICN poster confirms that Zaphod does have a third arm and that Ford has an American accent. (Thanks again to Duke.)

21st December 2004
BBC Worldwide planning separate releases for series 4 and 5
Although they will be broadcast as a single block of eight episodes, the Quandary and Quintessential Phases will be released on cassettte and CD as separate series. Not yet listed on the Hitchhiker's section of the BBC Shop itself, blurbs have emerged elsewhere of both the Quandary Phase:

This brand-new BBC Radio 4 series of four episodes is an adaptation of Douglas Adams's novel So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. The fourth entry in Adams's celebrated 'trilogy of five' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books, it centres on Arthur Dent's return to Earth, and his meeting - and falling in love with - the other-worldly Fenchurch. What is the thing which makes Fenchurch different from her fellow Earth-dwellers, and how does it bind her and Arthur together? What has caused all of the dolphins on the planet to disappear, and what was their departing message to mankind? These and other questions are answered in the Quandary Phase...

And the Quintessential Phase:

These are the final four episodes in BBC Radio 4's brand new series of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. An adaptation of Mostly Harmless, the fifth entry in Douglas Adams's celebrated 'trilogy of five' novels, it finds Tricia McMillan stuck on Earth and wishing she had never gone back for her bag, Ford Prefect paying an eventful visit to the offices of the Guide, and Arthur Dent searching for Fenchurch in a variety of probabilities. All will be explained by the end of the Quintessential Phase... This full-cast dramatisation stars many of the cast of the original BBC Radio 4 Hitchhiker's series, including Simon Jones (Arthur Dent), Geoffrey McGivern (Ford Prefect) and Susan Sheridan (Tricia/Trillian).

Both Phases will have an RRP of £12.99 on CD, £10.99 on cassette, although the Quandary Phase CD is currently listed as £9.74 - but not anywhere that we can actually buy it! What the BBC shop does have is all three current Phases bundled together for £31.49, which is £16.48 off the RRP. What it does not have, nor anyone at the moment, is confirmation of whether, as suggested above, Susan Sheridan is taking both Trillian roles.

In related news, Amazon is now listing the American CD release of the Tertiary Phase for $39.95. This should be identical to the UK version apart from the re-recorded theme music.

20th December 2004
On-line listening figures explained
Last month it was reported that the Tertiary Phase had topped the first ever on-line audience chart with a figure of 653,656, whatever that meant. Now several sources are citing this BBC press release which says "The popularity of listening via the internet was illustrated last month when Radio 4's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy smashed all previous performances with an incredible one million 'on demand' listens." I checked with the BBC Press Office about where this 'one million' figure had come from, and received the following helpful reply from Jamie Austin at BBC Digital Radio Publicity:

"In response to your enquiry, the cumulative total of one million online requests (not one million people) was reached in October, made up from 653,636 requests in October and the remainder from two weeks in September; the programme started mid-September, but the September requests were never made public because we only started publishing our online radio figures from October."

This means that the first two episodes, broadcast in September, must have been listened to about 350,000 times. Adding in the 93,941 'listens' achieved in November over the couple of days of the final episode's availability, this gives us an average of nearly 200,000 regular on-line listeners for each episode.

20th December 2004
First movie screening report on-line
In recent weeks, a handful of screenings have taken place on both sides of the Atlantic for various production staff, who have been allowed to bring along carefully selected friends and family. Although everyone present was required to sign an agreement not to breathe a word (or lose several major organs without anaesthetic), it comes as no surprise to find a mini-review sneaking onto the net at AICN.

There are no plot details in the screening report, so it's safe to click the link even if you don't want to know too much. The only new information is that the movie starts with a song about the dolphins leaving the Earth. It's a positive review, but the anonymous writer admits to having no prior knowledge of Hitchhiker's Guide whatsoever. The acid test will come when some of the 20 million or so people who have read Hitchhiker's start making their opinions known... (Thanks to Duke for pointing me to this.)

18th December 2004
Planet Magrathea presents: the lost Hitchhiker's Guide computer game
Between 1998 and 2002, a team of artists, programmers and game developers at The Digital Village created a 3D graphical adventure game based on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Characters and locations were designed, gameplay was devised, code was written, and then... a bunch of accountants decided that it was all costing too much and pulled the plug. However, it turns out that quite a large number of images - sketches, concept art, even finished designs - escaped onto the net. But they are scattered across numerous websites, sometimes buried away among the archive pages.

With the movie effectively abandoned by May 2001, this was the last version of Hitchhiker's Guide that Douglas Adams worked on before he died. Now Planet Magrathea brings you the complete story of the lost Hitchhiker's game: a timeline charting the game's rise and fall together with no fewer than five galleries of amazing images. It's all in the 'Stuff' section: check it out here.

Update: Nicolas Botti has very kindly supplied me with a large jpeg of the group shot, of which I only had a tiny version.

16th December 2004
A voice for Jeltz?
The IMDB page for the movie now lists Mak Wilson as the voice of Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, though it should be stressed as ever that the IMDB is neither reliable nor authoritative, especially when it comes to unreleased films. Each of the voice roles has been recorded several times by different people and no official announcement has yet been made. However, Mak Wilson sounds promising as he has experience of playing slimy green fat beings, having recently provided both voice and movement for the title role in the BBC's excellent adaptation of Fungus the Bogeyman. In a 30-year career as puppeteer, director, creative consultant and CGI animation director he has worked on Spitting Image, Construction Site, Labyrinth, Babe and many other shows and films. He was also responsible for the first ever real-time computer animation in a feature film - the plesiosaur in Loch Ness. His biography confirms that he has been working on the Hitchhiker's movie, but whether or not it will feature his voice as well as his puppetry skills remains to be confirmed.

16th December 2004
First UK report of movie trailer
A poster on Roobarb's DVD Forum has reported spotting the Hitchhiker's trailer playing before The Incredibles at the Empire Leicester Square in London. This is the first reported sighting in the UK. If the trailer is released nationally with National Treasure, the rest of us will have a chance to see it from 26th December. (The Hitchhiker's trailer has also been spotted playing with The Incredibles in Israel.) In addition, the trailer is on the front of the Princess Diaries 2 DVD (thanks to Beckoner Shadowstepper for this).

15th December 2004
Tertiary Phase broadcast/CD differences
A tip of the hat to ZFC who has very kindly posted a guide on the DAC forum to the differences between the broadcast and CD versions of the Tertiary Phase. You will find Episodes 1 and 2 documented here, Episodes 3 and 4 here and Episodes 5 and 6 here.

14th December 2004
Last chance to ask Nick and Garth
Tomorrow is the deadline for me to submit your questions for director Garth Jennings and producer Nick Goldsmith. So get your questions in to me today.

Update, 15th December: Thanks for all your questions. I have sorted out duplicates and questions that have already been answered elsewhere, and forwarded the rest to Disney. Questions are coming from several other sites, so there is no guarantee that yours will be picked, but fingers crossed.

14th December 2004
Behind-the-scenes footage on Film 2004 - images on-line!
Last night's edition of Film 2004, as part of a look at next year's films, showed a brief behind-the-scenes clip from the Hitchhiker's movie. Frustratingly, I missed it, and even more frustratingly, this edition of the show will not receive the usual repeat. Did anybody tape this? Anyone got framegrabs? (Many thanks to Scott Wilkinson for alerting me to this.)

Update: Enormous thanks to Chris Bainbridge who not only taped this but who has very kindly posted a dozen framegrabs and a video file. We can clearly see Zaphod, Trillian, Ford, Arthur and Mr Prosser (and not so clearly, Marvin - but we know what he looks like anyway). There is also a great shot of the Heart of Gold set under construction. This is what we've been waiting for!

12th December 2004
Behind-the-scenes movie pictures shown in Texas
This weekend is apparently the annual Butt-Numb-a-Thon, a 24-hour film screening in Austin, Texas organised by Harry J Knowles of Aint It Complete Nonsense. According to this site, which is being constantly updated by someone via a mobile phone, one of the attractions inbetween films was "a slideshow presentation showing concept art and behind-the-scenes pics from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." No more information yet, but possibly the 'behind-the-scenes pics' are the ones that we were promised on the official movie site but which conspicuously failed to appear. (Personally I can't think of anything worse than being stuck for 24 hours in a cinema with a group of fat, sweaty film geeks...)

11th December 2004
Making of and Science of books available for pre-order
Michael Hanlon's The Science of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com at the cover price of $24.95. The book will be published in hardback by Macmillan on 15th July. There is no sign of The Science of on Amazon.co.uk yet, but the expected behind-the-scenes book on the film, The Making of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is now listed. This wil be published by Boxtree on 15th April and is reduced to £11.89 from a cover price of £16.99. Amazon credits Robbie Stamp as editor, but I understand that this is old information and the actual cover credit will be different.

10th December 2004
Radio 4 Hitchhiker's newsletter no.2
The second Radio 4 Hitchhiker's Guide e-mail newsletter arrived in the Planet Magrathea in-box today, announcing an update on the Quandary/Quintessential Phase production log which reveals that Random has now been cast and is "a terrific talent new to radio." There is also a reminder that the picture competition closes on 15th December and a chance to have a sneak preview of the second batch of game hints which won't officially go on the site for a few days yet.

10th December 2004
Steve Meretzky interviewed in Retro Gamer
Thanks to Dave Haddock for spotting that Steve Meretzky, co-author of the Hitchhiker's Guide computer game, is interviewed in the current issue of Retro Gamer magazine about his work with Douglas Adams.

10th December 2004
The Anthology at the End of the Universe
Among the flurry of Hitchhiker's related books scheduled for next year is The Anthology at the End of the Universe: Leading Science Fiction Authors on Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, due in April from Benbella Books. Editor Glenn Yeffeth is bringing together the likes of Stephen Baxter, John Shirley, Alastair Reynolds, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Jacqueline Carey and Cary Doctorow for a book in which: "Every aspect of the science fiction classic The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is analyzed in a variety of quirky ways in a collection of essays. Topics include the logistics of the restaurant at the end of the universe, how the Internet is creating the real Hitchhiker's Guide, an assessment of Vogon poetry, and an analysis of computing." (Thanks once again to the indefatigable Dave Haddock for pointing this out over on the DAC.)

9th December 2004
More exclusive concept art
Two more pieces of exclusive concept art have been added to the 'Stuff' section. (That's 'exclusive' in the sense of this art only being available on this site, the handful of other sites who get sent it at the same time as me, and the site of anybody else who knows how to cut and paste a jpeg.)

7th December 2004
BBC promo CD received
The promotional CD of Hitchhiker's Guide extracts which was offered in the Independent back in October turned up at Planet Magrathea this morning. Housed in a paper sleeve, the CD has 33 tracks and runs for an hour, starting off with a four-minute trailer for the Tertiary Phase. Another four clips from the Tertiary Phase are followed by a jumbled selection of clips from the Primary and Secondary Phases, the unabridged audiobook of the first novel and the 20th Anniversary Documentary (as featured on The Complete Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). Although Douglas Adams at the BBC is shown on the CD sleeve, there are no extracts from that. Also posted out with the CD is the new BBC Audiobooks catalogue which features the Tertiary Phase on the cover.

How long do we reckon it will take for one of these to turn up on eBay?

6th December 2004
Nick and Garth taking questions - your questions!
Over Christmas, while the rest of us are tucking into our turkey and watching the Queen, director Garth Jennings and producer Nick Goldsmith will be answering questions about the Hitchhiker's Guide movie. This is your chance to ask the guys that burning question that's been bugging you from the start. Here's how it will work. You e-mail me one or more questions that you would like answered. From these I pick 10-15 of the best and send them to the movie PR people. Each of the other favoured fan sites (Duke's, Nicolas' etc) does likewise. The PR people will then delete any duplicates and whittle the number down to something manageable, which they will forward to Nick and Garth.

This does of course mean that there will be fierce competition to make that final list but hey, it's a meritocracy: the better your question(s), the more likely they are to get through. Here's a tip: take a look at what Jim Lynn and I asked the guys back in January, and try to avoid going over the same ground. This will be Nick and Garth's first public pronouncement since filming wrapped back in August so there's plenty of new stuff to talk about. Also, note that they are unlikely to give away really big secrets like the precise details of the plot. And don't send the same questions to all the different fan sites - you'll only be competing against yourself.

Send your question(s) to me by Wednesday 15th December. Good luck!

(Oh, and watch out for some more goodies on this site in a couple of days.)

6th December 2004
Mos Def interview in Baltimore Sun
Although he doesn't refer directly to Hitchhiker's Guide, the interview with Mos Def in yesterday's Baltimore Sun is an excellent overview of his work to date and his opinions and beliefs.

"More and more rappers are taking a stab at acting, but Mos Def was an actor first," notes journalist Richard Cromelin, "and no one from the field has carved such a distinctive film and stage career, from an early Obie-winning performance off-Broadway to his eye-opening turn on Broadway in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Topdog/Underdog to his Emmy-nominated work in the HBO movie Something the Lord Made. Up next: the soon-to-open The Woodsman and then Disney's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, due next year."

Mos sums up his multifaceted career thus: "I'm just an artist. I'm not even unusual in a historical context. It used to be that if you didn't do many things, you couldn't work. People tap-danced, they sang, they acted, they played instruments. I'm just an artist, and I'm doin' what I like to do. It happened very seamlessly for me."

(You need to register to access the full interview, but it's free and you can tick the 'don't send me any crap' box.)

5th December 2004
Australians vote Hitchhiker's Guide their eighth favourite book
Since the BBC's Big Read, it seems that every national broadcaster has been finding out their country's favourite books. The latest to announce the results is ABC in Australia who called their project, with typical Aussie directness, My Favourite Book. To nobody's surprise, Lord of the Rings came top, with Pride and Prejudice second and The Bible (which was inelligible for the novels-only Big Read) taking the bronze. Hitchhiker's Guide came eighth, sandwiched inbetween 1984 and The Da Vinci Code.

Due to the time difference between Oz and Leicester, the result willenta havenbe announce on the News.com.au site, erm, tomorrow morning.

3rd December 2004
Still more updates on BBC site
The BBC's Tertiary Phase site continues to continue to develop. Latest additions are separate galleries for two artists - Andrew Wyld and Andrew Geddes - who have been particularly prolific in entering the picture competition, plus the first part of the original (but not necessarily helpful) hints list for the computer game.

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