The Hobbit has yet to be officially greenlit, Peter Jackson has yet to confirm that he's directing, but it's being reported that Jackson is currently in Los Angeles meeting with actors to take on roles in the upcoming two-part Middle Earth adventure. He will also be making trips out to New York and the U.K. to meet with actors as well. He's on a good ol' fashioned actor pilgrimage. He's working with casting director Victoria Burrows on assembling what will likely be a large, international cast for the project.
THR reports that the negotiations between Warner Brs. and Jackson directing the two Hobbit films is close to being over. Of course it still currently comes down to MGM and their financial troubles.
Warners, which is acting as the lead studio on the co-production, is furiously negotiating with MGM, which is being steered by a committee of creditors and financial stakeholders. Even if Warners wanted to fund the films itself, that would require a sign-off from the somewhat rudderless MGM.
Come on MGM! Just give up your part of the rights already so we can get this damn movie made! Face it... your screwed.