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More about Beagle, The Last Unicorn, and Lord of the Rings, plus Star Trek

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I wrote about this a while back, but I've learned more about the situation since then, so I wanted to post again. The following paragraph is my paraphrasing of the Peter S. Beagle Fund website put up by Connor Cochran, Beagle's business manager.

Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn, is engaged in a couple of financial disputes with big media companies. One of them is over money that Cochran says Granada Media contractually owes Beagle, having to do with the 1982 Rankin-Bass animated movie of The Last Unicorn. The other is over money that Cochran says Saul Zaentz morally (and perhaps legally) owes Beagle, having to do with Beagle's significantly underpaid work on the screenplay of the 1978 Bakshi animated movie of The Lord of the Rings, and spoken promises made by Zaentz at the time.

The material now on Cochran's website is a lot more detailed and a lot more compelling than what was there last time I looked at it. In particular, there are now additional information pages ("facts and chronology," FAQ, and "how you can help") for each of the two disputes. If you have any interest in this, I strongly recommend reading those pages.

You may also be interested in the live-action Last Unicorn movie FAQ at IMDB. It contains quite a bit of information on the current status of that movie, which unfortunately is not promising. It also contains lengthy and remarkably patient posts by Cochran in response to many antagonistic questions about Beagle's situation. It sounds like Beagle is in pretty bad shape financially. Cochran and Beagle's lawyer(s?) are trying to get the abovementioned companies to give Beagle the money they owe him, but legal work doesn't come cheap. (You may be wondering about pro bono and/or contingency legal work; see the Beagle/Granada FAQ for information on why that isn't feasible.)

There are various ways you can help, if you're so inclined, as detailed on the Granada and Zaentz pages. For example, you can donate to Beagle's support fund, or you can write letters to the companies in question. Or, if you don't want to send money without getting something concrete for it, you can purchase Beagle's work from the Conlan Press site; Beagle gets a significantly larger percentage of the purchase price if you buy from there than if you buy from elsewhere.

That site's catalog features, among other things:

  • Audiobook versions of The Last Unicorn. Read by Beagle; unabridged; seven and a half hours. You can download the first two chapters in MP3 format for free. (Though you have to go through the whole ordering process to do so, and the order form is a little confusing about how it works: after you order, they send you email with links to the MP3 downloads.) You can buy the whole book as a set of downloadable MP3s, for $30. Or you can order the whole book as MP3-on-CD or ordinary audio CDs, for which you'll have to wait a little longer 'cause they're still being produced. The audio-CD set is $10 more, but includes a foldout poster by Leo and Diane Dillon and bonus disc with hour-long Beagle interview. If you want the MP3s now and the CD set later, you can get both for $55.
  • Here's the really really cool part: if you're one of the first 3000 people to buy the audiobook in any form, you get a copy of the 64-page illustrated hardcover limited edition of Two Hearts for free. Yes, free. And that's the only way to get the hardcover. You can't buy it; you can only get it by buying the audiobook. And only 3000 copies will be printed, so if you're interested, it may be a good idea to order soon. (Note that the story will also be reprinted in Beagle's next story collection, due next summer from Tachyon, and may end up in various Year's Bests. But I want the standalone hardcover.)
  • Computer wallpaper of images inspired by The Last Unicorn, by Rebekah Naomi Cox.
  • Various books by Beagle, whether published by Conlan Press or not, including the forthcoming nonfiction book Writing Sarek. I don't know if y'all knew that Beagle wrote the screenplay for the Star Trek: TNG episode "Sarek"; this book is a behind-the-scenes story of how the episode came to be, including the teleplay (annotated by Beagle) and further commentary.

So you can help Beagle and get cool stuff for yourself at the same time. Go order!

3 Comments

I'll tell you what Beagle book really got me--it wasn't Last Unicorn pleasant as that was (I really DID NOT LIKE the animated film). It was The Folk of the Air, a brilliant take-off on The Society for Creative Anachronism. No one ever says boo about it.


Yikes--the live-action movie FAQ page is gone, along with everything else about the movie. There's now an explanatory thread on the comments forum for the animated movie; turns out Connor Cochran pointed out the errors in the live-action movie info page, and the IMDB decided to delete the movie from their database, along with all the comments that had been posted about it.


It's a pitty the movie be deleted along with the comments.


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