couple of weeks ago some rumor made the rounds about New Line releasing The Hobbit in 2007. Despite the obvious falseness of that rumor, there may still be hope for Bilbo Baggins and friends – a Variety article about nearly-dead MGM’s return to the big money tent pole business lists The Hobbit as one of their planned films in the 150-200 million dollar range, and chairman Harry Sloan is hoping Peter Jackson will come back to make it.

MGM has been a troubled studio for a long time, and for the last couple of years just fell into the distribution business. Now Sloan is trying to bring the studio back to its heyday, and he’s starting with some of the big money franchises MGM owns, including getting started on Terminator 4 (sure to please all the people who are mad that the Terminator TV show isn’t about the robot war) and a sequel to The Thomas Crown Affair. It’s a big move, and it’s one that appeals to old-fashioned folks like me who miss MGM’s lion logo (nothing has made me sadder in 2006 than when MGM’s screening room here in New York City became a Dolby room and all the gold lion heads were taken off the walls).

The Hobbit would be made in partnership with New Line, and the Variety article mentions the possibility of the book being adapted in two installments. Just don’t look for it next summer.