Sorry haven't been keeping too much of an eye on this forum recently. Yeah the Master of Laketown is a fairly prominent character in The Hobbit but the Alfrid part for his servant's barely there if at all (although plausible enough for a role). Stephen Fry'll make the most of the character's smarmy devious ways though so I think it's a great piece of casting.
I heard about that Barnes Wallis screenplay too - that sounds quite interesting in fact
I'm glad they've got Conan to do Azog - he's that rarity in Tolkien's world a fairly well-defined baddie although he's not in it for too long as a speaking part as such. No doubt there'll be a beefed up part for him at the end of the second film though