With regards to the last comment posted, it's sad, but I'm not surprised that they've decided to rename the Authority in the movies. I just don't want people to blame Philip Pullman for accepting this.
I watched Philip Pullman speak a couple of weeks ago at the Oxford Union, and when asked about the film version, he said that he'd sold the rights to the film, and as much as he loved his story, he had given away his full control. It seemed like he was trying to be indifferent to the film, and he said he wasn't making any decisions in the making of the film because he realised it would take up too much of his time and be too difficult. It sounded as if he was adopting a policy of mildly agreeing with whatever the film makers said, if he was willing to have any input at all.
I agree with him - it must be difficult for an author to watch their book be manipulated into something that is suitable for cinema, but when you have little or no experience in film making, it's far more feasible to take the back seat. Cinema is a far costlier investment than writing a book and I guess it's inevitable that they would wish to make such a high cost project into something suitable for the mass market. I guess Philip Pullman has to make some sacrifices, especially if the studio executives had decided already, and it would only seem derogatory to the film if there was some disagreement between an author who had signed away all his rights and the studio.
Basically, I expect New Line to fuck up the books because it's all too controvertial and they need mass market approval. Philip Pullman may approve or accept whatever they're doing, but he's agreed to have no input. If the film is fucked up, then blame New Line, not Philip Pullman.
There's this interesting comment in the Times, which paints a pretty grim picture, but oh well, it's what happens to films.
On another note, I really hope it'll be filmed in Oxford. I live here so I could easily lurk around in Worcester College. Enough filmmaking occurs here already anyway so there wouldn't be too large a crowd. Jordan College is actually the Bodleian Library main building though (As illustrated on Lyra's Oxford - I'm glad he didn't choose an actually Oxford College to be Jordan College). I really wish they'd film there because that's right opposite my college. Would make all this lurking a little easier.