'The Hobbit'It's a daunting challenge. Who should take the reins on The Hobbit, now that Guillermo Del Toro has excused himself from the director's chair? As Cinematical's Elisabeth Rappe reported yesterday, Peter Jackson will sit down this week with studio backers to talk about who they want to secure as the new director of the project. Will it be Jackson himself, or one of the second-unit Lord of the Ring directors, as Elisabeth suggested?

Jackson will not do it, according to a report by Mike Fleming at Deadline. Fleming talked with Jackson's manager, who says he's lining up something else for Jackson to do while The Hobbit is filmed (though Jackson, when asked, didn't rule out directing it himself). The second-unit directors might have the skill and the experience, but my guess is that a known commodity director is needed because of the high-dollar budget. The financial backers would obviously feel better if someone with experience in shepherding a big-budget blockbuster was on board. Creatively, it would have to be someone with an affinity for fantasy films, which require a different tone than straightforward action pictures. And it needs to be someone that has a big empty space in their calendar, since they'd need to start right away to meet the planned start of production later this year, and be committed to two films.

Who shall it be? One of our readers proposed Peter Weir, but the 65-year-old director hasn't made a movie in seven years, and I don't think this will be his comeback project. Sam Raimi really wanted to do it, could he be a viable candidate? How about one of the Davids, Fincher or Cronenberg? Anne Thompson suggests those and more, including Alfonso Cuaron (intriguing), while Hitfix compiled a list of 17 potential replacements. Who's your pick?