So last night I chanced to watch TheOneRing.net's weekly YouTube live stream, which staffer Quickbeam and another person unknown to me devoted to rumor mill for the new show. And the rumors they were selling were doozies. First, rumored major A-list cast that they think are going to be in it, and their estimation of how likely they are to be correct: Russell Crowe (90%), Ken Watanabe (65%), and Ghassan Massoud (60%). And upon what do they base these guesses? Who has been seen in New Zealand lately, and who has nothing listed as an upcoming project in IMDB. I think this may be a case of putting two and two together and getting five. The one guy was also very sure that James Horner will be doing the soundtrack...until numerous fans pointed out that Horner has been dead since 2015! Then he revectored and said James Newton Howard. So take it all with a grain of salt.
Of course, they also indulged themselves in guessing the roles these lofty stars would inhabit. They were all over the place with Crowe but they both seemed quite sure that Watanabe and Massoud would be playing the Blue Wizards, basing this on the recent official series plot summary saying the series would take us to the far corners of Middle-earth. They felt Watanabe would be a wizard sent to the far east, and Massoud a wizard sent to the south, and they would take on the appearance of the peoples living there to facilitate their acceptance among the local populace. OK, that would make sense geographically and demographically, but what about the fact that the Istari came in the Third Age, not the Second, and the terms the Estate laid on this production included no contradiction of established Middle-earth lore? Quickbeam pointed out that in CJRT's final volume of the History of Middle-earth, it was mentioned that late in his life, JRRT revisited the notion of the Blue Wizards, feeling they may have come in the Second Age, and gave them new names. All well and good, except...does the production have rights to this book? Well if they're doing this, they must!
To me this confirmed two things: 1) my feeling that nowhere since this deal was announced has it been revealed exactly what books the production has rights to, and 2) people can extrapolate off the slimmest of hints to come up with all sorts of grand notions.
So, take this all with an entire box of salt. In the meantime, though I would welcome some inclusion of material from other than LOTR itself and The Hobbit, I think perhaps that should be limited to Unfinished Tales, as that would require less manipulation...and of course The Silmarillion. As for the great sprawling HOMe series, there are far too many alternative versions of things in it, and I don't necessarily think it should be viewed as canon.