My precious: Amazon moves to turn Lord of the Rings into a TV show

The chances of the richest person on the planet playing a hobbit just shot through the roof, with news that Amazon is looking to produce a television series based on JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books.

Variety reports that Warner Bros. Television and the Tolkien estate are in talks with Amazon Studios, the producer of Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle, though no deal has yet been finalised.

The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is said to be "personally involved" in the negotiations.

Bezos, who founded Amazon in 1994, was named by Forbes magazine as the richest person on the planet last month, with an estimated worth of about $US90 billion (he and Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, tend to swap the first and second position on the Forbes list depending on the performance of their respective companies' share prices, as much of their wealth is tied up in stock).

Bezos was also an early and major investor in Google, putting $250,000 into the start-up in 1998; that stock was estimated to be worth $3.1 billion in February this year.

With that much wealth at his disposal, Bezos is able to indulge a few passion projects. In October 2013, for instance, he defied the general consensus that the mainstream media was dead to buy The Washington Post for $US250 million - in cash. He later claimed he had done no due diligence before buying the company.

Bezos is a self-professed geek, and clearly has no issue with playing dress-ups. In 2004, he had a fleeting cameo as a security guard in the Amazon Theatre short film Tooth Fairy.

In 2016, an unrecognisable Bezos fulfilled a childhood ambition when he appeared in a Star Trek film. And he was quite happy to use his clout to make it happen.

"For years I have been begging Paramount, which is owned by Viacom [and is a major partner in distributing Amazon Prime Video content], to let me be in a Star Trek movie," he said last year.

"I was very persistent ??? I said, 'Look, I'll put any amount of make-up on, I'll be invisible, nobody will know it's me, but I want a speaking part and I want it to be in a scene that is central to the storyline so I cannot end up on the cutting room floor'."

Bezos got what he wanted, which is probably nothing new for the world's richest man. Blink and you'll miss it, but about five minutes in to Star Trek Beyond, there he is, unrecognisable beneath a mound of latex, playing an alien Starfleet official and delivering the immortal line, "Speak normally".

"My role is very tiny but it was super fun for me," Bezos said. "It was a bucket list item so I was very glad to do it."

If the Variety report is correct, might we soon see Bezos ticking another item off that bucket list.

The trade paper reports "it is uncommon for Bezos ??? known to be a fan of high fantasy and science fiction ??? to involve himself personally in deal-making for Amazon Studios", but that's precisely what he is doing here.

One thing's for sure. If the series gets made, and if Bezos says he wants to don the oversized furry feet for a fleeting cameo, not even Sauron could stand in his way.

Facebook: karlquinnjournalist Twitter: @karlkwin Podcast: The Clappers

This story My precious: Amazon moves to turn Lord of the Rings into a TV show first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.