Gathering of the Fellowship now Incorporated; Some City Bids In - Coming December 2003

Gathering of the Fellowship now incorporated; some city bids in
By Sean P. Dailey/spd of TORC - Gathering of the Fellowship 2003 publicity spokesman

A planned December 2003 get-together of fans of movies based on writer J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" has achieved official status - it was incorporated as a not-for-profit in the state of Texas the last week in May.

Only one step remains - it must still file 501(c)(3) forms with the Internal Revenue Service, event coordinator and Gathering vice president Paulina Gibson said.

But despite that, it's now known as The Gathering of the Fellowship 2003, Inc.

The committee planning the event made the move chiefly to protect itself from the IRS, Gibson said. But that wasn't the only reason. Besides giving the Gathering a more "professional look," incorporating allows it to donate to charity any money left over at the end of the event.

"If we end up with a net profit after all bills are paid, that is considered income, so the IRS says they have to tax it," said Gibson, who goes by the online name Parador ~J on tolkienonline.com (TORC), a Tolkien fan site to which the majority of possible attendees at the Gathering belong.

"What we are doing with incorporating as a not-for-profit is saying it's not income. But we have to do something with the extra money, so we have to find an organization to give it to and to do that we have to be non-profit ourselves. That's really what bottom line is," Gibson said.

Just who the donation goes to - assuming there's money left over to donate - has yet to be determined. Also still undetermined is where the Gathering's host city will be and a host of other details.

The planning committee is currently accepting city bids (seven, Charleston, S.C., Atlanta, Ga., Denver, Colo., Boston, Mass., Hollywood, Calif., New York City and Toronto, Canada, have been submitted so far) and the host city should be selected by mid-June.

Other Gathering officers are president Ed Rodrigues (Speaker_to_Animals on TORC) and financial manager Kelli Voth (Eledaia on TORC). Below them is the rest of the Gathering's planning committee, Flameofanor, Pilgrim_Grey, Aerin, Tarina, spd, Tuile, DaveyJoe, Elbren, Harvestar, Entwifelost and Frodotook.

The Gathering is to be a three-day extravaganza planned to coincide with the December 2003 release of "The Return of the King," the third installment of New Line Cinema's adaptation of Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings." The first installment, "The Fellowship of the Ring," was released in December 2001 and "The Two Towers" hits theaters this coming December.

New Line gave director Peter Jackson financial backing to film all three movies at once in his native New Zealand, an unprecedented undertaking in cinematic history.

According to Gibson, Rodrigues was planning a get-together of Tolkien fans in Syracuse, N.Y., for the premier of "Fellowship" and the idea for the Gathering sprang from that.

"The idea came about around November or December," she said. "Ed was gathering people in Syracuse and he pulled it off. I posted (on the TORC messageboard) and I said I wished I could have come too. Ed posted and told me to keep going with it and it sort of grew from there."

The Gathering has grown to encompass members of other Tolkien fan sites as well, including Ringbearer.org, The Lord of the Rings Official Fan Club (lotrfanclub.com) and the Minas Tirith Forums (minastirith.com). Besides showing the movies, the planned three-day event will include a costume contest, a poetry/literature contest, a fan art contest and a trivia contest.

Other tentative events are a banquet and a dance with live music. Also, some members are making a quilt incorporating Tolkien-inspired designs to be raffled off for charity.

"And we plan on serving refreshments in between the three movies," Gibson said.

As of now, there are 322 people signed up to go, not including their families, and 79 early bird reservations, at $50 each, have been sold to raise seed money.

Gibson said the money raised has been used to pay for such things as a lawyer and getting its tax exempt status, as well as other clerical expenses such as a post office box and getting a checking account. For more information, see the Gathering's Web site, tolkiengathering.com.

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