“The Hobbit” faces further delays due to labor unrest; Peter Jackson responds
By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: There are more complications regarding the planned adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” … which already has had its fair share of setbacks.
Over the weekend, seven unions – including U.S. Actors Equity and the Screen Actors Guild – advised their members not to work on “Hobbit” as the film’s producers “have refused to engage performers on union-negotiated agreements,” according to a release. (ComingSoon.net has it in its entirety.)
The statement goes on to say that the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance, which opened an office in New Zealand, has attempted to negotiate with the powers that be, but have made no progress. As a result, the International Federation of Actors requested that all performers refuse work as a show of support for their New Zealand colleagues until union contracts can be drawn up.
Peter Jackson, who still at this point is NOT directing “The Hobbit,” responded to the claims. Again, ComingSoon has the full document, though here is a chunk:
“The Australian Labour Union, the MEAA is using our production The Hobbit in an attempt to widen it’s membership, and power within the New Zealand film industry. As a New Zealand filmmaker, who has nothing to hide or be ashamed about, I’m not going to see this threatening behaviour continue without some form of sensible discussion about the “facts” and “truth” behind their various allegations.
It’s incredibly easy to wave the flag on behalf of workers and target the rich studios. It’s not hard to generate an emotive response, nor is it hard to sway public opinion, since nobody seems to like the facts to get in the way of a good story in these situations.
Behind the claims of exploiting actors who are cast in the “non-Union” Hobbit production, and claims that various high-profile stars will refuse to take part in the films, there are clear agendas at work. As usual with these agendas, they are based on money and power.
I am not a lawyer, nor am I an expert in unions and how they operate – but I like to think I have a degree of common sense, and that’s what I’m basing my observations on.”
It’s an ugly situation, a public airing of dirty laundry that – while important to the hands that shape the movie – shouldn’t affect the finished product. Yet “The Hobbit” has been plagued by so many issues, one has to wonder when Jackson will wave the white flag. It doesn’t look likely, though, as other reports online have suggested “Hobbit” might move out of New Zealand, and is contemplating shooting in Eastern Europe.
More details on this standoff as they emerge.
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