Apparently, even Jackson's directorial status isn't finalized. He has nearly signed, but not quite, and Warner Bros is continuing to negotiate with MGM over money and their half of the rights. All MGM decisions are being made by shareholders and creditors which makes things extra problematic. THR describes the studio as "rudderless" and notes that Warner Bros can't even fund the film themselves because it would require MGM to sign off on it. Currently, there's not really any authority or ability to do that.
Of course, Jackson has been holding cast meetings for the film for close to two years now. I remember at this very time last year, we expected the casting of Bilbo Baggins to be announced at ComicCon, only to find out the film hadn't been green-lit. Nothing has changed. For all we really know, the meetings could simply be with signed-but-not-really castmembers such as Ian McKellen. Maybe he's reassuring him it will happen. Maybe he is telling him to return to the gardens of Irmo. Who knows. But now you do ... kind of.