SAN DIEGO — When the filmmakers behind “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” settled on virtual simians rather than people in monkey suits for their lower primates, their first casting task became obvious: get Andy.

British actor Andy Serkis has emerged as a master of the art of creating characters in the digital realm of performance capture. He’s been the backbone of the great ape in “King Kong” and Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings,” creatures completed by visual-effects artists layering computer animation over his raw performance.

Serkis, a 20-year veteran of stage and live-action screen roles, has become best-known for his performance-capture characters, which now include a super-intelligent chimpanzee in the “Apes” prequel, opening Friday, along with a key part in this December’s “The Adventures of Tintin,” from Steven Spielberg and “Kong” and “Lord of the Rings” creator Peter Jackson.

He’s playing Gollum again in Jackson’s “The Hobbit,” a two-part prequel to “The Lord of the Rings.”

When he first did Gollum, the technology was called motion capture. The performance-capture tag came as the tools evolved and filmmakers sought to emphasize that their actors truly were creating characters, not simply occupying space as place-holders for digital beings painted in later.

Serkis does not see himself when he watches his performance-capture characters that were completed by Jackson’s WETA effects outfit. But he does see what he created on the set, wearing a skin-tight suit covered with reference dots for digital cameras to record his body language.

“I totally see the intentions, the facial expressions, the timing, the acting choices. You know, the performance,” Serkis, 47, said in an interview at July’s Comic-Con fan convention, where he and director Rupert Wyatt showed off footage from the “Apes” prequel. “I know the manifestation of it is eventually not going to look like me, but when the director cuts the movie, they’re cutting the footage of you in the suit, so they live for months … with the performance.

O’Neal’s son allegedly caught with heroin

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The son of Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal is in jail in Southern California after police stopped him for a traffic violation and allegedly found heroin in his car.

Santa Monica police Sgt. Richard Lewis says Redmond O’Neal was pulled over about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday after an officer saw him fail to stop for a red light. Police say a search of his car uncovered the drug.

O’Neal, who is on probation in a previous drug case, was jailed without bail.

His lawyer, Richard Pintal, declined to comment.

The 26-year-old has a history of substance abuse problems. He completed a drug diversion program last year but remains on probation for bringing drugs to a Los Angeles County jail in 2009.

Tuesday’s arrest was first reported by the website

Hair she is – Sarah Palin

WASILLA, Alaska — The Alaska hair salon made famous for Sarah Palin’s up-do is getting the reality show treatment in a two-part series to be aired in September on TLC.

That’s the same cable network that aired “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” an eight-part docu-series on the former Alaska governor, 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and possible presidential candidate.

A TLC spokesperson declined to identify the salon in “Big Hair Alaska.”