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Death threats and dud deals

Written By: - Date published: 9:10 am, October 29th, 2010 - 78 comments
Categories: business, film, Media - Tags: , ,

Much like the ongoing earthquake aftershocks in Canterbury, the rumblings following on from the tumultuous Hobbit wrangling are going to echo on for some time yet. Today we learn just how extreme some of the anti-union nutters in our country are:

Death threats fly over Hobbit

Actresses and unionists have received threats, including some against their lives, during the heated row over The Hobbit movie. Police have been called and private security arranged for some of those targeted.

The worst threats appear to have been aimed at Australian union boss Simon Whipp and Actors’ Equity organiser Frances Walsh, although actresses Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Robyn Malcolm have also been abused. The threats have become so bad the union has hired a guard for its Auckland office.

The people making such threats are dangerous. They need to be found, and brought before the courts. I hope we hear soon of a sustained police effort to track down the perpetrators. Or are we as a country going to effectively condone these actions by ignoring them?

In other news — I’ve been surprised at some of the media coverage of the Hobbit deal. I was expecting a one way Key love-fest, with little consideration of how the PM’s incompetence has sold us down the river. In fact there is much more balance than I was expecting. Today’s Herald editorial was particularly stinging:

Editorial: Price to keep Hobbit in NZ is extortionate

At some point during the negotiations over The Hobbit, someone should have stepped back and asked how much it was actually worth to this country to keep the filming here.

The hyperbole and hysteria of recent weeks might have led to the assumption that it was a matter of vital importance. Significant enough for Government ministers to be talking to executives of Warner Bros, the project’s financial backer.

And important enough for New Zealand to jettison part of its workplace law and compromise its economic principles. The hyperbole was misplaced. These were places the Government should not have gone in order to secure two films whose benefits are more in the realm of the imponderable than the imposing. …

There was no question of The Hobbit being shot elsewhere before an industrial boycott – lifted before the negotiations began – involving actors wanting to bargain collectively. Warner Bros simply seized the chance to apply pressure on unrelated issues. In both instances, it should have been resisted. The Prime Minister, however, always seemed relaxed about amending the law to provide “clarity” in the film sector. …

At the start of the talks, Mr Key had seemed opposed to providing bigger tax breaks. Unfortunately, his resistance went only so far. Warner Bros should not have got a cent more than was already on the table. …

In any event, the image is already ingrained, and the extra boost that The Hobbit might provide did not justify a greater outlay of taxpayer funds or a workplace law change. Warner Bros is used to playing hard ball. The allure of Hollywood goes far in most corners of the world. It should not have gone so far here. Confirmation that The Hobbit will be shot in this country is welcome. But the cost should not have been anywhere near so extortionate.

As ever, a picture (Emmerson, from The Herald) is worth a thousand words:

Emmerson has pretty much nailed it – though for the last panel I’d have gone with a different Disney character. I’d have gone with Mickey Mouse.

78 comments on “Death threats and dud deals ”

  1. The Chairman 1

    Let us not forget the Trades Hall Bombing was suspected to be aimed at a unionist.

    • Marty G 1.1

      nearly all the political violence in NZ’s history has been the right attacking left – Fredrick John Evans murdered by the police, massey’s cossacks, the special constables, Holland’s ‘state of war’ in 1951, the red squad, trade’s hall.

      violence and poverty – it’s how the elite keep the people down.

      • Daveosaurus 1.1.1

        Don’t forget the murder of Fernando Pereira in 1985 or the murder of Christine Clarke in 1999.

  2. Carol 2

    Yes, that Herald editorial was read from in the House debate this morning by a Labour Party member (Sue Moroney I think), and Hipkins and Grant Robertson. So it’s getting some mileage.

    The Labour Party has proposed an amendment for a sunset clause in the law (to expire on Nov 8). Meteria Turei has said the Greens will vote for the amendment. Turei said that ACT wants to extend the law to all workers. She also asked why the Maori Party is supporting the proposed law and spoke about the way the law will particularly hurt less well-off workers, especially Maori. She talked about how a film like Boy gave opportunities for young Maori actors who had few opportunities generally before that.

    Moroney talked about how other industries, that provide longer term employment than 2 films, could do with the money ($33mill?) . Among the examples whe gave was the racing industry. I’m not sure why she singled out this industry?

    Oh, Beaumont is saying the proposed Labour Amendment for a sunset clause on Nov 8, is appropriate because the NAct change to employment law is a Mickey Mouse one. And she read out & held up the Emerson cartoon with Key as Mickey Mouse.

    • millsy 2.1

      “..Turei said that ACT wants to extend the law to all workers..”.

      One wonders, Carol, if this could be the ultamite goal of this government – to turn every worker into an indenpendent contractor – dont have to sorry about overtime, ACC, sick pay, wages, payroll, even PAYE. Everything is outsourced to the worker. ECA on steriods. Not even Thatcher and Reagan went that far. This can totally do away with collective bargaining and unions. The Hobbit hysteria has certainly created a mood against the unions, and now this leglisation gives National an oppurtunity to smash the unions once and for all.

      The question is, would Key if he wins a second term, have the guts to extend this legislation to all workers. I think he might just have a go.

      Capcha: Bid.

  3. zimmer 3

    I am sure it will be investigated better than the Brash emails.
    I wonder in the old days were scabs threatened at all? I was in March/April 1985 while I worked in a hotel in Queenstown.

    • Gerorge 3.1

      You were probably threatened for being an arse. I see nothing’s changed.

      • zimmer 3.1.1

        no free choice in a union ah, follow the herd, [settle down — r0b].

        • NickS 3.1.1.1

          Well, you did have a choice not to break the picket line and find work elsewhere. As for the threats, definitely not acceptable, but not unexpected given that strikers are the ones putting their arses on the line for decent pay and working conditions, and are going to be fucked off to see others undoing their work.

          And personally, if I took a job off student job search etc, and found out I was going to be breaking a strike line, I’d probably tell the person hiring me to get fucked.

    • Marty G 3.2

      We all know who got the Hollow Men papers and gave them to Hager.

      He’s the Deputy PM.

      • luva 3.2.1

        Source Please……….?????????????????????

        • luva 3.2.1.1

          Your blog you can do what you like but lprent has written below

          [lprent: That is utter bullshit as far as I can see – like so many claims about the unions and unionists that I’ve seen recently.

          Provide a link to something credible (ie a quote from Kelly) where “Helen Kellys claim she was attacked by a lynch mob outside matterhorn” or withdraw it or face a ban for a unsubstantiated assertion of fact. ]

          Now where is something credible that says it was the Deputy PM….

          Over to you Marty G

      • lprent 3.2.2

        I’d have to agree with luva.

        I’ve never seen any definitive evidence that he was the culprit. He does appear to be the most likely source bearing in mind his motive and opportunity however.

        Nicky is probably the only person who could be definite about it, and he isn’t exactly willing to reveal sources.

  4. duh 4

    having seen the you tube footage of the ‘needed a police escort from the restaurant because of an angry mob’ – and it turning out to be just a couple of people politely (but repeatability) asking a simple question and no police in sight – it does make me wonder if this is just another lie trying to get sympathy for Robyn Malcom etc.

    IF its true – then I hope they catch the people – but as anything she says seems to be lies I really want to see proof first.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      but as anything she says seems to be lies I really want to see proof first.

      Oh so you’re part of the campaign of personal intimidation and abuse then.

      Shall we get her to forward the faeces mail to your home?

      • duh 4.1.1

        “Oh so you’re part of the campaign of personal intimidation and abuse then.”

        No Clare – thats a bit of a jump. IF it was true I would feel sorry for her and do not for a second support any idiot who would make death threats.

        BUT – like chicken little – you lie enough people stop believing you. And she holds very little weight about being honest.

        As for the “faeces mail” – she stirred shit – so I guess there is some irony in there somewhere.

        • Vicky32 4.1.1.1

          “As for the “faeces mail” – she stirred shit – so I guess there is some irony in there somewhere.”
          That comment makes you a completely offensive jerk. No argument.

        • Frank Macskasy 4.1.1.2

          It seems there is no bounds to the hysteria and vilification on this issue.

          Of course, “Duh”, it’s easy for you to be blase about hate mail, threats, faecal matter, etc, being sent to various people. Those people have stood up publicly to make their voices heard.

          Those who send offensive letters and material, or tacitly accept such cowardly behaviour, usually do so from the safety of anonymity.

    • Joe Bloggs 4.2

      I feel sorry for Malcolm and Jennifer Ward-Lealand in a strange way.

      Both of them have been pushed to the front where they’ve been hung out to dry by the unions.

      Naivety on their parts, maybe, although Malcolm has chosen to become more prominant of late as she eyes up a place on the Green Party list.

      But to get death threats for acting as glove-puppets for Simon Whipp and Helen Kelly? That’s over the top….

      …unless of course these death threats are yet more spin from the MEAA and CTU. The timing for turning villains into victims is awfully convenient. Who’s to know until we see the evidence.

      • Colonial Viper 4.2.1

        Honour to Malcolm and Ward-Lealand for standing tall and strong. They’ve been in the industry long enough to know the cause they are fighting for, even if the Right dismiss the concerns of workers out of hand.

        • Joe Bloggs 4.2.1.1

          You may laud Malcom and Ward-Lealand CV for standing tall and strong.

          But that’s what glove puppets do when the puppeteers have their hands in action. Take away the puppeteers and they return to being limp socks.

          • Frank Macskasy 4.2.1.1.1

            And ironically enough, those who support Warner Bros/Jackson/Key themselves seemed to have been stampeded by mass hysteria. Jackson lamented that we might lose “The Hobbit”, and a segment of society immediatly reacted with moral panic and outrage.

            As someone said, we’ve been “played like chumps”. And some New Zealanders still refuse to see the manipulation that was brought to play against us.

        • SHG 4.2.1.2

          I didn’t see Ward-Lealand standing strong and calling for a boycott on her HUSBAND’s production – the TV show Spartacus, a non-union shoot with conditions for employees far worse than those originally offered by the producers of The Hobbit.

          • Colonial Viper 4.2.1.2.1

            I give them respect for standing up to the big dollar boys from the US. They didn’t do well against them but they stood tall and firm and good on them for doing so.

          • Joe Bloggs 4.2.1.2.2

            that’s right – she didn’t… ‘nother one of those observations that have emerged about the nasty, backstabbing efforts of the unions to selectively destabilise the industry.

            OK, I call back feeling sorry for Ward-Lealand.

          • Bob Stanforth 4.2.1.2.3

            Ouch careful, those fact things really bite 😉

            • Colonial Viper 4.2.1.2.3.1

              No, just plenty of shonky Righty arguments. For starters SHG knows that most workers on both sets aren’t EMPLOYEES, which is a large part of the problem.

              Inconvenient facts huh.

              • Bob Stanforth

                And its a problem, because? Standard industry practice around the world, on any project based work – be it a film, or a large specialised IT project – lots of contract resource, some employees. And they all work side by side, quite happily.

                Well, until some idiot unionist institutes a black listing, and then claims all he wanted was to talk. Tui ad.

                And yet another very good summary of the inconvenient truths…

                http://dylanreeve.posterous.com/our-hobbit-overlords

                • Colonial Viper

                  Standard industry practice around the world, on any project based work – be it a film,

                  This is such an overgeneralisation it makes your statement untrue, BS.

                  Specifically, in successful first world film making countries (Australia, US, Canada, UK, Ireland), workers have much stronger union representation than in NZ. In those countries actors have much better access to collectively negotiated minimum terms and conditions.

                  And they don’t have producers who can simply get out of meeting and negotiating with the actors unions, SAG etc.

                  • Bob Stanforth

                    Did I say actors – you did, not me, doofus. The vast majority of people who work on films are contract resource, not union employees. Period. I see your BS, and raise you one talking arse. Which appears to be yours.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      The vast majority of people who work on films are contract resource, not union employees.

                      Ah but in those first world countries I mentioned, many are unionised even if they are not employees (don’t know where you got your figures from) and will have the protection of collectively negotiated minimum terms and conditions.

                      By the way, its not just actors who have unions in the industry – its many others including writers, film technicians; Jackson is a member of several himself.

                      I see your BS, and raise you one talking arse. Which appears to be yours.

                      Apologies I was just using your initials Bob, didn’t mean anything by it.

                      doofus.

                      I lol’d

    • Carol 4.3

      Doesn’t John Key have a hoard of minders escorting him everywhere so that no-one can get too close with a camera crew to ask him questions he doesn’t want to answer? At least Malcolm has appeared on a range of media lately to be interviewed and asked some tough questions.

      • SHG 4.3.1

        Yes, who can forget Malcolm’s awesome performance on Close Up.

        “There was never any boycott! And anyway, it was lifted over the weekend!”

    • ianmac 4.4

      I think you will find that two policemen on foot patrol happened to be walking past and walked with them to their car.

    • mcflock 4.5

      that video was the biggest load of crap I’ve seen in ages – the only audio of any level was the voice of the guy holding the camera, and it waggled between shoulders, sky and footpath.

      “No police in sight”? There could have been a gaoddamn ELEPHANT in the street and there’s only 50/50 that it would be identifiably in shot.

      • Lanthanide 4.5.1

        The guy sounded like a moron too, and it went on way too long and crossed the line from ‘making a point’ to harassment.

  5. Jim Nald 5

    hey rob

    agree that micKey would have been a better choice.

    whatta mighty mouse our Key proved to be! a chest-pounding tough-talking one.

    they played him and he danced to their looney tunes indeed.

    our shrewd wheeler dealer leader proved simply inept in the negotiations.

    failure to call their bluff and not using time that was on our side sealed the higher price we’ve paid.

    more tellingly, earlier and further upstream in the events, the government failed to keep an eagle eye on how things were unravelling, then tango-ed into the tangle, and now looks for scapegoat to distract and deflect.

  6. Colonial Viper 6

    The Herald took the piss out of John Key’s ‘relaxed’ meme. Frakkin amazing.

    Re: the death threats, abuse and intimidation. NZ is a much much nastier and red neck place in real life than many people imagine.

  7. Olwyn 7

    @Carol: I can see the sense in singling out the racing industry – there are NZers who are very good at breeding and rearing racehorses. This is an industry that involves specialist skills and attracts overseas buyers, so is well worth nurturing. Furthermore it is real, productive and ongoing.

    @ Jim Nald: while Mickey has the “key” factor, along with the pejorative “mickey mouse outfit,” etc, Mighty has the best and most apt slogan, “Here I come to save the day.”

    Overall: All this union-bashing in a low-wage, high cost country makes no sense.

    • Lanthanide 7.1

      Racing horses is a productive industry? Seems more like gambling to me and in the end doesn’t produce anything of enduring worth or value for society.

      • Olwyn 7.1.1

        It is not just gambling – non-New Zealanders buy our thoroughbred horses at yearling sales, and our horse breeders are highly regarded in Australia at least, and probably elsewhere.

      • Roflcopter 7.1.2

        Exactly, and when it can bring in $2b+ in overseas revenue, and keep 000’s gainfully employed, then they have a reason to come talking.

    • Jim Nald 7.2

      “Here I come to save the day” – out of Key’s mouth, that is false might.
      Doublespeak, double-tongue assurance.
      At best, cartoonesque.

  8. the tactics employed by the Govt, Jackson, Warners and other associated parties throughout this sorry saga have been both sobering and disgraceful.

    it’s a useful reminder to the left that our opponents are well capable of extreme tactics and willing to do whatever it takes, at any cost, to get their way.

    prepare for a vicious fight in 2011.

    • KJT 8.1

      “Why is everyone so up in arms about a, possibly, 200 mil benefit to NZ going after they happily waved goodbye to billions in employment and manufacturing over the last 30 years”.

      Where was the public outrage, to keep Skellerup, Firestone, Fisher and Paykel, boat building, coastal shipping, rail way and marine engineering, shoe making and all the other industries, as successive Governments did their best to remove employment and productive business from NZ.”

      Parnell could not have taken industrial action for an 8 hour day now, because industrial action of that kind is already illegal in NZ.

      • Colonial Viper 8.1.1

        This country is falling apart.

        Our high tech industries are worth $4.9B in exports per year and employ 24,000 people yet Cabinet spends a week on this foreign led debacle over a couple of hundred mill.

        • Jim Nald 8.1.1.1

          You raise memory of Yeat’s poem … (I’ll let others here google for it)

          Turning and turning in the widening gyre
          The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
          Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
          Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
          The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
          The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
          The best lack all conviction, while the worst
          Are full of passionate intensity.

          (harks back to Chinua Achebe’s book as well)

    • KJT 8.2

      Expecting truth and honesty from politicians is totally naive. Big business are totally unprincipled.

      Labour has now threatened the whole gravy train for the right.

      Expect the same sort of unprincipled, well financed and vicious opposition that every left leaning Government has had.

      We may not be invaded or have a forced Government change like Honduras, Guatemala, Indonesia or Chile as we are WASP’s also, but expect every sort of dirty dealing short of that.

  9. Nick C 9

    I’m sure these claims of death threats are about as credible as Helen Kellys claim she was attacked by a lynch mob outside matterhorn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RmzSlCY7_s

    [lprent: That is utter bullshit as far as I can see – like so many claims about the unions and unionists that I’ve seen recently.

    Provide a link to something credible (ie a quote from Kelly) where “Helen Kellys claim she was attacked by a lynch mob outside matterhorn” or withdraw it or face a ban for a unsubstantiated assertion of fact. ]

    • ianmac 9.1

      Nick. With such a pathetic case to present, you could get a job as fantasist in some obscure backroom. “Nick C Arrested for Drunken/drugged Raving on Blogsite.”
      It was reported that he was dragged away sobbing, “Nobody loves me!”

    • vidiot 9.2

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/4261379/We-may-as-well-not-live-in-NZ

      “Actors including Outrageous Fortune star Robyn Malcolm were accosted by film workers riled up over The Hobbit stoush as they left Wellington’s Matterhorn restaurant.

      Malcolm, an Actors’ Equity committee member, was one of several actors dining with Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly and other union members on Wednesday night.

      Technical workers who had taken part in Wednesday’s Save the Hobbit march were also at the restaurant.

      It is understood the technical workers approached Matterhorn staff and asked if they could approach the group and interview them. They were told they could do so outside and were warned against jostling or threatening the group.

      The union delegates left to take part in a TV interview, leaving the actors behind. When they emerged later in the evening, they were surrounded by the angry film workers.

      CTU president Helen Kelly said a message went up on a Facebook page encouraging people to head down to the Matterhorn to “abuse Robyn and throw eggs at her”.

      Ms Kelly said the actors were “hassled and bustled” as they left the restaurant. “

      • Joe Bloggs 9.2.1

        I see the moderators have let your evil observations slide past so let me do the dirty:

        ‘hassled and bustled’ and ‘accosted’ do not equate “attacked”. The words are even spelled differently

        [Charged with Utter Bullshit – guilty as charged – banned for a week for an unsubstantiated assertion of fact that is completely and utterly different to all of the unsubstantiated assertions of fact coming from the Left – take the prisoner down]

        [lprent: I caught this morning… (eventually). Thanks for your attempted assistance. ]

    • Nick C 9.3

      My appologies: It was in fact the technical film workers led by Sir Richard Taylor who she labeled ‘in a lynch mob mood’

      But Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said the crowd was “in a lynch-mob mood thanks to Richard Taylor, who has obviously wound them up like springs” and actors had to call the meeting off. “It was too dangerous.”: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/4255536/Jackson-hits-back

      She merely claimed that she was abused and needed a police escort outside the matterhorn, as vidiot indicates below.

      Of course, neither of her claims is true.

      [I will assume for now that this satisfies lprent and remove the moderation – of course he might have a contrary view when he gets back to this – but for now good to go. — r0b]

      [lprent: Yep. I don’t mind opinion, but assertions of fact are different. In this case it was conflating two separate incidents together to come up with something completely different to anything that happened. Sounds like Whale bullshit. ]

      • Draco T Bastard 9.3.1

        Got any proof that neither of her claims were true?

        • Nick C 9.3.1.1

          Proof that Matterhorn police escort claim is not true: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RmzSlCY7_s

          Whether or not the film technicians were a lynch mob is subjective, however here is a video of them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoqviKGAoJQ , it looks like a regular protest to me.

          Of course, it really should be up to her to prove her claims true than me to prove them false.

          • mcflock 9.3.1.1.1

            again, that clip is proof of nothing, given that most of the time it shows neither Malcolm nor Kelly.

            Heck, by your logic Hinkley never shot Reagan, and it’s doubtful Reagan was shot by anybody: it wasn’t in the footage so it didn’t happen.

          • Draco T Bastard 9.3.1.1.2

            Well, the first one proves that they were, as a matter of fact, hounded and probably proof of the lynch mob mentality as well. It doesn’t show any police but the focus was so tight it doesn’t actually show anything except the guys face so, no proof either way. I do note that there was some disturbance out of view. You can hear it briefly at one point.

            The second shows the protest march but doesn’t show the bit where they went to stand outside where the “Actors’ Equity members were to discuss their priorities for negotiations”. In other words, it doesn’t show the bit she was actually talking about.

  10. Anne 10

    When you have a govt. (and Prime Minister) who consistently panders to the lowest common denominator, then it isn’t surprising that the sick, the nasty and bigoted members of our society come out of the woodwork. I remember the Muldoon-led govt of the 1970s and the same thing happened. To give the old bastard his due, at least Muldoon didn’t present himself as ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’ like the present incumbent!

    • Tiger Mountain 10.1

      Indeed, and it was an insult to many a pig that their poor heads were carried on sticks at various marches protesting the squat gin swilling bully.

  11. Rob M 11

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10683889

    “Sequels to James Cameron’s blockbuster film Avatar look set to be shot in Wellington, with the acclaimed director in talks with Weta Digital.”

    Coincidence?

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      Jackson knew that he was going to be making a shed load of new money with Avatar coming in, but wanted to screw the NZ tax payer for another $30M anyways.

      • Lanthanide 11.1.1

        I don’t think the $30M is going to Jackson…

        • Colonial Viper 11.1.1.1

          Might not go into his pocket personally although it will definitely go into his equation for the next round of contract negotiations with the studio, so he’ll get financial acknowledgement from the studio for it one way or another.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Got a lot of time for Chris Trotter. Labour need to be faster on their feet, and more ferocious. The Battle for 2011 is real. We have to take the fight to them!

  12. gobsmacked 13

    Quick heads-up –

    TVNZ One News is running trailers saying they have a story on the death threats, at 6 pm.

    • gobsmacked 13.1

      And no surprise. Turns out abusive e-mails were sent by a couple of Pillars of Society, male and right-wing.

      But they weren’t named and shamed. Got off lightly, thanks to Helen Kelly’s generosity. She’s a lot classier than they are.

  13. BLiP 14

    Wouldn’t be too impressed with the New Zealand Fox News Herald – it waited until “game over” before saying anything. Where are the “Democracy Under Attack” banner headlines and astro-turf swast1ka carrying protesters with this one, eh?

  14. Carol 15

    So the Warners deal brokered by John Key includes an extra subsidy or tax break for actors and other Hobbit workers, if the films are successful:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/4288988/Extra-Hobbit-subsidy-will-be-staff-tax-break

    And would that have been part of the deal if there hadn’t been the internationally-supported action by AE? And …. maybe it’s a little early in the morning for me, but….why is the government paying it, not Warners?

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