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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Hobbit:
From Variety: Unions to thesps:" Don't work on The Hobbit"
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Kangi Ska

Sep 29 2010, 3:53pm

Post #276 of 330 (2538 views)
Welcome to the Matrix...I mean the boards. It is good to hear from you. [In reply to] Can't Post

It is too bad it took this to bring you in from the cold.Sly

Kangi Ska

Make the Hobbit Happen Now!



Sep 29 2010, 4:27pm

Post #277 of 330 (2661 views)
Welcome, Gorgori! [In reply to] Can't Post

Glad you've joined us. Too bad we can't be discussing the thrills of the Hobbit but instead have to STILL be discussing the possibility of it not being made.

It's pointless to look backwards, I know, but when I think about how much better it would have been for all concerned if The Hobbit had been made immediately after RotK came out I just want to scream!

Permanent address: Into the West

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Sep 29 2010, 4:59pm

Post #278 of 330 (2332 views)
Rather, "welcome to the Thunderdome, bleep" [In reply to] Can't Post

the barbs are getting sharper with every passing day! Wink

We are all frustrated by the production's status. The only clear side I see is the side of keeping the production in NZ, in the hands of PJ and WETA, lovingly crafted by a satisfied workforce.


Sep 29 2010, 6:02pm

Post #279 of 330 (2246 views)
I may have mistook Campbell's meaning - [In reply to] Can't Post

It seems what he's saying is the bean counters are eyeing tax incentives around the globe -- of which NZ's are not the most attractive -- but trying to hang a possible move on so-called greedy workers.

If the production does move to Michigan, erm the Czech Republic, Campbell claims that the NZ government is culpable for not offering more attractive tax breaks to global production companies.

He also says that the rising NZ dollar (similar to what happened in Canada even after unions agreed to concessions) is exerting a great deal of pressure on the decision to move.

No, unless I completely misread the article, Campbell places very little, if any blame on this row with the NZ workers. It's not as if this is the first time employees were offered as scapegoats to cover devastating management decisions.

Workers are an easy target for many reasons, not least of which because there is a prevailing anti-union sentiment around the globe. It is also easier to blame the big bad unions -- with their unlimited PR budgets and control of global media -- because the studios are just trying to scrape a living from their leavings. On a film where the expected return on investment will be in the neighbourhood of 1000% (yes only a thousand) it is not hard to see why everyone involved needs to tighten their belts.

Finally, and this is me at my most cynical (apologies in advance), people have an easier time getting their heads around the mantra of the greedy worker than they do tax incentives to production companies, international trade agreements, and global corporate finance (of which I make no claim to understanding either).

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Sep 29 2010, 6:04pm)

Tol Eressea

Sep 29 2010, 6:15pm

Post #280 of 330 (2382 views)
Oh, just send the money to me [In reply to] Can't Post

- in whatever currency, as much as you like. I'll see it gets to the right people...



Sep 29 2010, 6:22pm

Post #281 of 330 (2219 views)
I wonder if any of that footage will be in The Hobbit EE extras? [In reply to] Can't Post


Oh and thank you for acknowledging my post about Thorin and the Arkenstone. Further to that, where is the common enemy that will unite all parties when it's needed?


Sep 29 2010, 6:52pm

Post #282 of 330 (2218 views)
Remember... [In reply to] Can't Post

what happened when New Line tried to kick Peter Jackson off the production. What did Peter do, and what was our response, and what was the outcome of that. I can't forget. Just sayin'.:)

Grey Havens

Sep 29 2010, 7:35pm

Post #283 of 330 (2262 views)
My ultimate frustration with this [In reply to] Can't Post

Is that the unions appear to be poking their fingers at Jackson and WB as if they are being uncooperative willingly, when really this whole thing is a GOVERNMENT issue. If they actually want to change things for non-union kiwi actors, the unions should be taking this up with the NZ government, instead of focusing all of their energies targeting a single production. Of course, they'd get more headlines going after The Hobbit specifically, rather than taking their case up with the right people, so I can't say I'm surprised.

I could see why Peter Jackson would take this personally. These unions are pressuring him and WB to do something that is entirely out of their hands. And when Peter and WB make that clear to them, the unions continue to push with ill-informed legal advice.

This can go one of two ways. One, the unions could actually present their argument to the NZ government (the right people), and try to make changes that could improve conditions for NZ actors in the long run. Or they could continue to go after Jackson and WB, essentially force WB to move production elsewhere, and have the NZ economy and film industry take a huge hit - leaving NZ actors exactly where they are now.

Color me ignorant, but this strikes me as the unions exploiting The Hobbit for media attention. If their intentions were strictly sincere, then they would have approached the appropriate people from the get-go, rather then coming right out of the gate accusing The Hobbit of being "non-union."

I stand here thinking that the unions are handling this both irresponsibly and unprofessionally.

NOTE: I am NOT, by any means, anti-union.

(This post was edited by duats on Sep 29 2010, 7:38pm)

Grey Havens

Sep 29 2010, 7:52pm

Post #284 of 330 (2159 views)
Also [In reply to] Can't Post

If I were Peter Jackson, I'd be careful with calling the MEAA a "bully" and making the claim that they are trying to exploit the situation for more money. Comments like that could very well land Jackson in a libel lawsuit.


Sep 29 2010, 8:22pm

Post #285 of 330 (2175 views)
Agree with many of your points [In reply to] Can't Post

Especially around the issue of the union's strategy/prime target. Though, what would prompt a move is not entirely clear; cast an eye on Gordon Campbell's article linked to in Cad Monkey's post above.


Sep 29 2010, 8:25pm

Post #286 of 330 (2101 views)
I would assume NZ has free speech [In reply to] Can't Post

In NZ it is "defamation" and P.J. is expressing his "honest opinion" of an organization (not an individual)...not sure if a NZ lawyer can answer if an "organization" can be defamed. If so, all the statements complaining about company xyz etc. would be defamation.


Forum Admin / Moderator

Sep 29 2010, 8:25pm

Post #287 of 330 (2137 views)
Perhaps, but [In reply to] Can't Post

it may be the truth. Is it really libel if it's true? Yes, I know that proving it in legal terms is another thing entirely, but....

The way I see it, the unions are seizing this as the great opportunity to apply media pressure to get what they've probably wanted for years - more territory, more control and a bigger piece of the pie. Make a big enough stink, even with unjustified claims or technically illegal demands, and maybe people who would never bend otherwise will start offering you things just to shut you up and make you go away. In the end, these things are always about who can profit most and the big guys usually come out on top when it comes to divvying up the profits. And in this case, I am including the unions in that category. So very rarely are political manipulations ever really about helping the "little guy"; it just sounds better and gets you more sympathy.

Cynical? Oh yes. But I'd love to be wrong.


"Of all faces those of our familiares are the ones both most difficult to play fantastic tricks with, and most difficult really to see with fresh attention. They have become like the things which once attracted us by their glitter, or their colour, or their shape, and we laid hands on them, and then locked them in our hoard, acquired them, and acquiring ceased to look at them.
Creative fantasy, because it is mainly trying to do something else [make something new], may open your hoard and let all the locked things fly away like cage-birds. The gems all turn into flowers or flames, and you will be warned that all you had (or knew) was dangerous and potent, not really effectively chained, free and wild; no more yours than they were you."
-On Fairy Stories


Sep 29 2010, 8:37pm

Post #288 of 330 (2067 views)
I don't think NZ is as free in speech as the U.S. [In reply to] Can't Post




There is no statute or positive rule of the common law recognising and protecting freedom of speech and expression in New Zealand.

1990 Bill of Rights -
Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.

We in the U.S. take our liberties for granted.

(This post was edited by Eruonen on Sep 29 2010, 8:44pm)

Superuser / Moderator

Sep 29 2010, 8:46pm

Post #289 of 330 (2093 views)
Possibly. [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
not sure if a NZ lawyer can answer if an "organization" can be defamed.

Not that I'm a lawyer, but here's some information about media law in NZ and defamation.

Some excerpts:

What is defamation?
The publication of a statement about someone that lowers him or her in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally, where no defence (usually truth, opinion, or qualified privilege) is available.

In English?
A rough rule of thumb: something you wouldn’t want said about you.

What are some examples?
Calling someone dishonest, corrupt, hypocritical, lazy, incompetent, criminal, unfaithful, or financially troubled.

What if a group of people is accused of misconduct?
Can each member of the group sue? It depends. The question is: will readers or viewers understand the accusation as relating to the individual (perhaps equally with the others)? This depends on the size of the group and the inclusiveness of the language.
For example, if a television report asserts that “one official” at a company took a bribe, and the company has only four officials, they could each argue that the allegation reflected on them. If it had a hundred, they couldn’t. In general, for groups bigger than about a dozen, it may be difficult for courts to find that an accusation
against one person reflects on all.
On the other hand, if the language is more inclusive, the range of people who can sue expands. For example, our station accuses “government ministers” of “having their hands in the till”, the accusations will probably be taken as reflecting on each individual minister.
Still, there are limits. If the report accuses “all doctors” of exploiting patients, the group is too wide for individual doctors to say people will think it relates to them.

What are the defences to a defamation lawsuit?
The main ones are truth, honest opinion and qualified privilege.

What is honest opinion?
This defence used to be called “fair comment”. It allows the media others to express opinions, even though they may be critical of someone and harmful to their reputation. The idea is that opinions are matters of evaluation, not truth, so readers can decide whether they agree or not. This defence can protect editorials, blog posts and comments, letters to the editor, reviews, cartoons, talkback, op-ed pieces, and the like. But there are rules. The opinions must be:
  • clearly comment, not assertions of fact
  • based on provable facts set out or referred to in the story and
  • honestly believed.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.

Ataahua's stories

(This post was edited by Ataahua on Sep 29 2010, 8:47pm)


Sep 29 2010, 9:01pm

Post #290 of 330 (2072 views)
Let us hope this evil genie does not surface! [In reply to] Can't Post


Good write up on the difference between defamation and freedom of speech.

"On the whole, tensions between the law of Defamation (libel and slander) and the right to freedom of speech do not arise where the imputation turns out to be true."

"The USA has probably gone furthest in promoting the freedom of speech over protection of the individual reputation. "

"South Africa and New Zealand have taken a similar line to that of Australia"

(This post was edited by Eruonen on Sep 29 2010, 9:04pm)

Cad Monkey
The Shire

Sep 29 2010, 9:23pm

Post #291 of 330 (2178 views)
Now Kiwi politicians are getting involved... [In reply to] Can't Post



Sep 29 2010, 9:50pm

Post #292 of 330 (2097 views)
And the New Zealand government [In reply to] Can't Post

--- reported to be entering the argument on Peter Jackson's side:



Sep 29 2010, 10:21pm

Post #293 of 330 (1998 views)
Since NZ politician know what is at stake... [In reply to] Can't Post

I am sure some kind of "deal" will be worked out that straddles the middle. My guess - the Unions won't get all that they want - recognition and a negotiated contract - but will get the guarantees in kind. All will declare victory and onward.

Kangi Ska

Sep 29 2010, 10:28pm

Post #294 of 330 (2050 views)
Let us hope... [In reply to] Can't Post

but this would depend on everyone acting like grown-ups and recognizing what would be best for all in the long run.

Kangi Ska

Make the Hobbit Happen Now!


Tol Eressea

Sep 29 2010, 10:29pm

Post #295 of 330 (2074 views)
I predict you're right [In reply to] Can't Post

All parties that need to be involved seem to be involved. Honestly though it irks me that the politicians seem to be blithely unaware of the laws impeding any Hobbit production in negotiating with a non-union collective.

Seriously unions, it's been what, seven years since LOTR? You've let the New Zealand actors suffer this long?

King Arthur: Who are you who can summon fire without flint or tinder?
Tim: There are some who call me... Tim.


Sep 29 2010, 10:45pm

Post #296 of 330 (2008 views)
Not all politicians... [In reply to] Can't Post

... according to the report I linked to (about three posts above yours), the New Zealand government has confirmed the legal position is as Peter Jackson has said...

I've just found this report, much the same, which says that the NZ Attorney General also confirms the position:


Well, he should know!

*Sigh* It's late and I'm away to bed. I'd like to wake up in the morning to find they've sorted it all out. Somehow I don't think I'm going to......


Sep 29 2010, 11:01pm

Post #297 of 330 (2032 views)
Ah yes....goodwill [In reply to] Can't Post

The law is the law and it takes two to tango. If the producers decline the union actors may not have any recourse short of a change to the Commerce Act. If NZ Parliament is anything like our Congress than forget it happening within the next year even if there was support.

The global actors guilds and unions are effectively killing the NZ film industry if this persists. If the actors boycott they will not be in this film and/or it will not be made anytime soon.

Hopefully the cooler heads will prevail and "goodwill" will surface.

Tol Eressea

Sep 29 2010, 11:04pm

Post #298 of 330 (2135 views)
Hmmm this article sheds a tad more light thanks dormouse [In reply to] Can't Post

Below keeps us up to date on the government position with regards to the legal position Sir Jackson took in his statement earlier to the unions.

Yesterday, Mr Finlayson said in a letter to the studios - which was also copied to Sir Peter and Ward-Lealand - that legal advice from the Crown Law Office confirmed the Commerce Act prevented The Hobbit's producers "from entering into a union-negotiated agreement with performers who are independent contractors". Section 30 of the act, which deals with price fixing, "effectively prohibits" such arrangements, he said.

Last night, Frances Walsh of NZ Actors Equity said the union was aware of the Commerce Act provisions referred to by Sir Peter and Mr Finlayson.

However, it had received legal advice of its own that showed there were two other provisions in the act that allowed a collective agreement to be negotiated, with actors classed as independent contractors.

This is the first opinion I've seen (and detail) on the union's legal argument (below).

However, the Herald understands both those mechanisms rely on a degree of goodwill between the parties which has been increasingly absent from recent communications.

Now this is interesting - law that requires "goodwill" between the parties? I'd like to read this.

King Arthur: Who are you who can summon fire without flint or tinder?
Tim: There are some who call me... Tim.

(This post was edited by Tim on Sep 29 2010, 11:06pm)


Sep 30 2010, 12:27am

Post #299 of 330 (2161 views)
Not to be too cruel [In reply to] Can't Post

Why should the "global actors guilds and unions" give two hoots about the New Zealand film industry? Heck, except for The Hobbit, I don't give two hoots for it, any more than I do for the Singaporean film industry or any other industry outside my own country (chauvinistic, I know, but hey I live and pay taxes here). I might give one hoot: general human sympathy for my fellow man - but not two hoots: any kind of financial outlay or sacrifice on my part. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and money doesn't jump into your lap whether pounds, francs, or dollars.

Hobbesian fantasies aside, I think cooler heads will prevail, as they almost always do when the golden goose's neck is on the block. I expect the solution will be what has already been outlined at some wise point in this thread. After a lot of posturing, weeping, and general tsuris, The Hobbit will be allowed to proceed immediately under existing arrangements, provided that future global films agree to a fully unionized labor force in NZ, on a sliding pay scale for smaller productions to reflect the NZ film industry's current small scale economics in between the blockbusters.

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Kangi Ska

Sep 30 2010, 12:37am

Post #300 of 330 (1943 views)
I hoot twice for Weta: a truly global film asset.// [In reply to] Can't Post


Kangi Ska

Make the Hobbit Happen Now!


(This post was edited by Kangi Ska on Sep 30 2010, 12:37am)

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