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By United Press International   |   Nov. 20, 2012 at 4:00 AM

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The latest news on today's hottest celebrities ...

'THE HOBBIT:' Director-producer Peter Jackson denies claims animals were abused and neglected on the New Zealand set of "The Hobbit" trilogy of movies.

Animal wranglers who worked on the films recently alleged up to 27 animals died and scores more were subjected to unsafe and unhealthy conditions during the making of the movies.

"The producers of 'The Hobbit' take the welfare of all animals very seriously and have always pursued the highest standard of care for animals in their charge. Any incidents that occurred that were brought to their attention as regards to this care were immediately investigated and appropriate action taken. This includes hundreds of thousands of dollars that were spent on upgrading housing and stable facilities in early 2011," Jackson and the producers said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter Monday.

"The producers completely reject the accusations that 27 animals died due to mistreatment during the making of the films," the statement said. "Extraordinary measures were taken to make sure that animals were not used during action sequences or any other sequence that might create undue stress for the animals involved. Over 55 percent of all shots using animals in 'The Hobbit' are in fact computer generated; this includes horses, ponies, rabbits, hedgehogs, birds, deer, elk, mice, wild boars and wolves.

"The American Humane Association was on hand to monitor all use of animals by the production. No animals died or were harmed on set during filming.

"We regret that some of these accusations by wranglers who were dismissed from the film over a year ago are only now being brought to our attention. We are currently investigating these new allegations and are attempting to speak with all parties involved to establish the truth."


DANIEL CRAIG: Film star Daniel Craig toured Camp Bastion in Afghanistan and watched his latest James Bond caper "Skyfall" with 800 British soldiers, officials said.

The Khaama Press reported Craig made the surprise visit to the troops stationed in Helmand Province Sunday.

Britain's Ministry of Defense told the newspaper the 44-year-old actor fired machine guns used by British troops and saw the training soldiers undergo before being deployed.

Craig also played superspy 007 in the blockbusters "Casino Royale" and "Quantum of Solace."


LINDSAY LOHAN: Lindsay Lohan is to be charged with lying to a police officer in Santa Monica, Calif., and her probation for a previous case will be revoked, TMZ reported.

The 26-year-old actress was on probation when she told police she was not driving her Porsche last June as it crashed into an 18-wheel truck on Pacific Coast Highway, but she allegedly was behind the wheel, law-enforcement sources told the celebrity news website Monday.

The "Freaky Friday" and "Mean Girls" star was placed on probation for separate incidents in which she was caught driving drunk and stealing a necklace from a boutique.

TMZ said the Santa Monica city attorney is expected to file a criminal case soon against Lohan for allegedly lying to police.

Her probation likely will be revoked since her latest brush with the law is a probation violation, the report said.


'MOST FASCINATING PEOPLE OF 2012:' U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are among Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating People of 2012, ABC said Monday.

Also making the high-profile roster are "Fifty Shades of Grey" author E.L. James, Olympic Gold medalist Gabby Douglas, Academy Award-winning actor/director/writer Ben Affleck, British boy-band sensation One Direction, and 2013 Oscars host and creator of television cult classic "Family Guy" Seth MacFarlane.

The No. 1 Most Fascinating Person of 2012 will be announced on the 90-minute special, "Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2010," which will air Dec. 12, ABC said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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