The Wall Street Journal opened a new interview with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey director Peter Jackson using a question about the second film in his trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug.

Jackson was asked about Benedict Cumberbatch’s role as Smaug, a dragon dreamed up by author J.R.R. Tolkien who appears at the very end of An Unexpected Journey and pays a key role further in the trilogy.

“Benedict Cumberbatch has recorded the voice and done motion capture, which we’re going to use to create the emotional presence of Smaug, because Smaug does talk in the books,” Jackson explained. “He’s got dialogue and Benedict’s done a fantastic voice for us.”

Jackson and his team took care to appreciate the unique qualities of the dragon. One of his most original features is the fact that he is a “classic storybook dragon.” Smaug “made an impact on kids reading these stories,” said Jackson. “Of course since then there’s been hundreds of dragons, I mean dragons are not unusual. So the challenge with Smaug was to make him stand out as the granddaddy of all scary dragons. So we’re doing that probably with design and Benedict’s performance. The slyness, the cunning, the way that he ultimately – it’s almost like a situation the same as Andy Serkis and Gollum. It’s not just the physical appearance, the way the character’s portrayed in the movie is going to be critically important.”

Elsewhere in the WSJ interview Jackson spoke about pulling from other Tolkien material, including The Lord of the Rings, to dream up three Hobbit films. He says that in addition to appendices found with The Return of The King, he went into The Fellowship of The Ring and used the “Council of Elrond” chapter. “It’s a very long chapter and Gandalf is talking to the group who are gathered, and he talks a lot about events that were happening at the time of The Hobbit and things that were not necessarily in the book. So that material was actually quite useful too for The Hobbit.”

An Unexpected Journey opens this Friday, December 14. Desolation of Smaug hits theaters Friday, December 13, 2013. Read our review, and for fun, learn which friends you should and shouldn’t take to your Hobbit premiere party.

Note: The image of Smaug used above is fan art by Moonchild.

Starz has decided that their original programming can compete with the other hot shows airing on Sunday nights.

Network CEO Chris Albrecht has told THR that they are planning on moving all of their original shows including Outlander, Ash Vs Evil Dead, and Black Sails — which currently air on Saturdays — to Sundays. The move will begin July 17 with the Starz series Power. Outlander will likely not move to Sundays until next season.

“Sundays are a prestige night and we feel our shows are definitely going to be very competitive, not just in viewership but in the attention-getting business on Sundays,” Albrecht said to THR, “So it made sense to move.”

Outlander and Starz’s other original series will be going up against tough competition, including AMC’s The Walking Dead and HBO’s Game of Thrones. Albrecht says part of the reason he wanted to move the shows was to make sure they were part of the watercooler talk on Monday mornings.

THR notes that Showtime’s original series typically get DVR’d, “growing 214 percent [in viewership] during the course of a week.” This would suggest that a lot of people aren’t sitting in front of a TV on Saturdays and want to watch the shows on a different day of the week. So, moving their programming to Sundays may not impact overall viewership numbers much.

Starz recently overtook Showtime as the second-most subscribed to cable channel. HBO still sits at number one, though all three are facing tough competition from Netflix.

Disney has set its sights on another live-action retelling of an animated classic: The Little Mermaid.

Deadline reports that the studio “recently heard a new take and are currently evaluating whether to proceed with the idea,” and “discussions have also taken place with some major producers, including some with a strong connection to the studio.”

That’s all we know for now. A “new take” makes it sound like they could be contemplating an alternate story than the one we saw in the 1989 animated classic, but I’d personally prefer a direct adaptation. I want to see live-action Ariel sing some of the Disney classics! Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book has spoiled me.

Like Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid is one of Disney’s most beloved animated movies, so expectations for a live-action adaptation will immediately be set very high. With their recent adaptation of The Jungle Book hitting theaters to very positive reviews and the first trailer for their live-action Beauty and the Beast being very well received, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Disney start to look at other potential animated properties for source material. (But you would’ve expected to hear about a live-action Lion King before Little Mermaid after The Jungle Book’s success, wouldn’t you?)

The Little Mermaid is the latest in a long line of animated-to-live action projects in the works at Disney. Others include an Aladdin spinoff looking at the Genie’s origins, The Jungle Cruise starring Dwayne Johnson, Dumbo with director Tim Burton, Mary Poppins with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emily Blunt, and Tinker Bell with Reese Witherspoon. And then there are sequels to the adaptations like Maleficent 2 and The Jungle Book 2.

Be sure to cross The Little Mermaid off your animated-to-live-action bingo card.

Do you think Disney can pull off a live-action ‘Little Mermaid’?

With Donald Trump’s presidency looking less and less like a joke, these high-profile authors and writers believe the time for silence is over.

Over 400 authors have signed a petition to keep Donald Trump out of the White House.

The petition, titled “An open letter to the American people,” was written by Andrew Altschul and Mark Slouka. It unequivocally states that Trump must not become President of the United States, and explains why writers in particular are worried about the power of his empty words and fear-mongering rhetoric.

Signed by the likes of Stephen King, Junot Diaz, Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), Cheryl Strayed, Colm Tóibín and Jennifer Egan, the open letter lays out reasons for openly opposing Trump’s candidacy, which they believe “appeals to the basest and most violent elements in society.”

The letter states:

“Because, as writers, we are particularly aware of the many ways that language can be abused in the name of power;

Because we believe that any democracy worthy of the name rests on pluralism, welcomes principled disagreement, and achieves consensus through reasoned debate;

Because American history, despite periods of nativism and bigotry, has from the first been a grand experiment in bringing people of different backgrounds together, not pitting them against one another;

Because the history of dictatorship is the history of manipulation and division, demagoguery and lies;

Because the search for justice is predicated on a respect for the truth;

Because we believe that knowledge, experience, flexibility, and historical awareness are indispensable in a leader;

Because neither wealth nor celebrity qualifies anyone to speak for the United States, to lead its military, to maintain its alliances, or to represent its people;

Because the rise of a political candidate who deliberately appeals to the basest and most violent elements in society, who encourages aggression among his followers, shouts down opponents, intimidates dissenters, and denigrates women and minorities, demands, from each of us, an immediate and forceful response;

For all these reasons, we, the undersigned, as a matter of conscience, oppose, unequivocally, the candidacy of Donald J. Trump for the Presidency of the United States.”

While there are plenty of arguments for why Trump should not receive as much media coverage as he gets, we have to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation when some of the country’s most respected artists take such a powerful stance as this.

The petition has been signed by over 7,000 people so far, and you can add your name to the list right here.

You can find out more about the group of writers who oppose Trump on Twitter, at @WritersOnTrump.