Gamasutra has the word that EA has the Lord of the Rings IP locked up
through the end of next year. With the additional license for the books under their wing and no competition from Vivendi, they have big plans set for their next game inside the franchise world. "The announcement follows EA's previously announced The Lord of the Rings: The White Council, an open world RPG for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. However, with EA making plans for a new The Lord Of The Rings title, the fate of this project, once referred to as the cryptic Project Gray Company, remains uncertain. EA confirmed in early February that the game, while not canceled, had been put on hold."
Relatedly, Game|Life notes that one million players
will soon be traveling through Middle Earth as the open beta for Lord of the Rings Online
gets underway. If you signed up to get in, you probably will. Update: 03/30 04:00 GMT
: The text referring to the White Council game was edited on the Gamasutra story, and here as well to reflect that.