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Hobbit producers caught in a lie?

Written By: - Date published: 7:03 pm, October 22nd, 2010 - 132 comments
Categories: employment - Tags: ,

The Herald is reporting that Warner brothers and SAG had settled the Hobbit dispute on Monday (US time):

…a series of emails between Warner Bros and the Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG), sighted by NZPA, showed the two parties were discussing the wording of a press release announcing the settlement of the dispute from as early as Monday, US time.

That’s two days before Peter Jackson launched a broadside attack on the union.

I figure this means one of two things:

Either the communication between Jackson and Warners is really poor (like communicating by courier pigeon poor).

Or the attack on the union was a straight up act of bad faith.

If it’s the former we have to ask how urgent the situation really is if the big players are taking days to talk to each other but if it’s the latter then we have to ask why the hell was a settled dispute reignited so aggressively by Jackson?

I think it’s the latter but, given the claims that the issue endangering the Hobbit is supposed to be stable industrial relations it seems counter-intuitive that the producers would deliberately destabilise a done deal.

Which leads me to think that the claim this whole new blow-up is about pressuring the government is quite plausible (interestingly Finance Minister Bill English is certainly not discounting this theory).

I also note that, faced with this proof, Jackson claimed that the action wasn’t lifted early enough but that begs the further question of what were Warners doing at the negotiating table and preparing a media statement if it was too late? We’re they doing it just for kicks? I don’t think so.

This isn’t a story that’s going away and I get the feeling that we’ll see a more detail come out over time. I also get the feeling that the actors’ action will turn out to be peripheral to the real story behind this fiasco.

Update: just seen on TVNZ that “Key is taking advice on New Zealand labour laws to see if they can be softened to accommodate the studio. And the government is even looking at whether there is any room to move the tax rebate for film companies from 15% to try to sweeten the deal.”

If it’s workforce instability and not tax breaks that are at issue (as Jackson claims) then the result of this advice will make that clear. My money is on a small temporary change to employment law to save face and a tax break to actually do the business.

Update 2: Fran O’Sullivan is predicting tax breaks will be the answer:

Key will try to pull off a solution. It will inevitably be a commercial one that could result in New Zealand taxpayers giving Warner Bros an even better tax break to keep The Hobbit here.

The actors would get to stay in work and New Zealand would forgo some tax revenue. Not the brightest of results, really. But Key and co can’t afford to keep on giving in to Malcolm and her fairweather friends.

Fran’s generally got the inside running on the Nat’s spin so it looks like they’ll try to pass the tax-breaks off as a solution to the (settled) dispute. I’ll be very interested to see how they try to link the two and whether the media buy it.


132 comments on “Hobbit producers caught in a lie?”

  1. Carol 1

    Well, yesterday, Peter Jackson admitted knowing that the union action was called off, but said it didn’t matter because the union had already done the damage. Today it was reported on Nat Rad in one of their bulletins, that PJ said Warners didn’t say the action was over because they were waiting for SAG to appologise for supporting the boycott. (say what?) So that seems to be an excuse for Warners saying they knew nothing about the boycott being called off, and maybe also for PJ starting scaremongering on Wednesday night/Thursday morning, about the union dispute putting the NZ location for the Hobbit under threat.

    It all just doesn’t add up, and really looks like PJ has been deliberately stirring it up by going public when he did.

    There’s been people online doing their best to bag Helen Kelly. But as far as I can see, she hasn’t tried to lie or distort the truth. She comes across as quite genuine to me. And everything she said has now been proved with the release of the emails. Before that, a load of people were trying to say she is the liar. She could have handled some things better, but she seems to have been doing her best to help resolve the dispute.

  2. KJT 2

    Betcha this does not make the news.

  3. Cnr Joe 3

    truth will out Irish,
    loving the worlds of conjecture in the mean whilst

    captcha – establishes

  4. wasi 4

    looking for this on kiwiblog…nothing yet…

  5. wtl 5

    More detail to come out? The next play is already in progress: ‘the damage has already been done’ meaning that the union was to blame as soon as they announced the boycott, regardless of what happened next. If PJ and WB manage the shift the media onto that point, the argument will move on and the truth will never come out – which would seem to be the plan at this stage.

    • Cnr Joe 5.1


    • IrishBill 5.2

      There’s too much interest in the story for the lies to be sustainable. But I figure that by the middle of next week the deal for tax breaks will be done, the film will be staying here (although film is an international product so I’m sure some of the work will be done elsewhere, even if it’s just the PR) and everyone will be wondering what the fuss was all about. The sad thing is the union will have made bugger all gains.

      But they didn’t go into this with a decent strategy and they didn’t talk to the CTU until it was too late to save so I guess that’s a lesson learned.

      A crying shame if you ask me, if anyone in this country needs an effective union it’s film workers. As we’ve seen in the last few days they’re up against a well organised and brutal bunch of employers who don’t seem to feel bound by good faith.

      • Lanthanide 5.2.1

        I think WB are used to dealing with the unions and guilds in the US, and were clearly no match for little old AE-NZ.

      • jacinda 5.2.2

        And if there are no additional tax breaks (as is 99% likely) are you willing to admit you were completely wrong on almost every detail?

        • Colonial Viper

          Well if there are tax breaks and other Government concessions, are you willing to admit that you were completely wrong on almost every other detail?

  6. bobo 6

    The movie Studio & Jackson will keep moving the goalposts what ever comes to light.

  7. Jim MacDonald 7

    Might the Kiwi Hobbits have been set up for a beat-up ?

  8. jaymam 8

    The bunch of women in charge of the NZ union seem to have no idea what they are talking about, and why is an Australian union involved at all? The Aussies are jealous as hell about NZ’s success in movie making, and will do what they can derail future NZ movies.
    The people to blame are those who threatened a boycott. They should never again be in a position of power.
    The thousands of actors in NZ should create a new union and vote for some sensible people to be in charge of it.

    • IrishBill 8.1

      The bunch of women in charge of the NZ union seem to have no idea what they are talking about,

      Everything Helen Kelly has said has turned out to be true. Jackson can’t say the same.

      and why is an Australian union involved at all? The Aussies are jealous as hell about NZ’s success in movie making, and will do what they can derail future NZ movies.

      The same reason an american production company is calling the shots? Film is an international product made by international companies. Why should unions act internationally too?

      The people to blame are those who threatened a boycott. They should never again be in a position of power.

      So the people who blew up the situation even though the boycott was off aren’t to blame at all? In a funny way the boycott was kept in place by the producers for the last half of last week.

      The thousands of actors in NZ should create a new union and vote for some sensible people to be in charge of it.

      Bloody good idea. I’ll never argue against having more union members. I’d be keen to see if they’ll get a better reaction from Jackson.

      • wasi 8.1.1

        “and why is an Australian union involved at all? The Aussies are jealous as hell about NZ’s success in movie making, and will do what they can derail future NZ movies”

        they could be acting as proxies for the yanks…whip across the ditch…crank it up and then keep your head down…the aussies stuff us and uncle sam gets what he wants…which is…all our money and the subsequent destruction of little ol` NZ`s film industry…

    • Carol 8.2

      The NZ union has been too small to be effective. They weren’t getting very far in drawing up basic job standards. It was part of the NZ distribution union (or sommat like that) for a while, but the others in that union didn’t really understand the actors’ issues. Then they asked to be affiliated to the Aussie MEA. So NZ AE is an independent branch of MEA, though I guess they get to share resources. The AE doesn’t have fulltime officials, so the head of MEA helps them out. No conspiracy, just a practical solution to being a small industry.

    • NickS 8.3

      The bunch of women in charge of the NZ union…

      The misogyny is strong with this one.

      And before you get a chance to shout ZOMG! UR bEing 2 PC!!11111!!!!11!, the problem with that opener is simply that if it was guys in charge you wouldn’t even bother mentioning they were guys, combine that with the rest of your post, and it’s easy to see you’re placing the blame firmly on them just because they’re women.

      Which is very much a definition of misogyny.

      (cue mansplaining in 5, 4, 3…)

      And this on top of your blatantly moronic failure to actually read, because otherwise you would have noticed that the work conditions and pay issues have effectively already been sorted before Jackson’s pathetic outbursts, per the dropping of SAG’s blockade on the film. Which coupled with the higher corporate welfare payments being offered by other countries, is not a problematic inference to assume that Jackson’s recent outburst and the studio’s statements are aimed at hiding getting better welfare payments out of the NZ government, while providing a handy distraction and a scape goat.

      But hey, given the state of even uni-grads abilities to critically think, your stupidity is completely expected.

      • QoT 8.3.1

        I love this comment and wish to be joined with it in an egalitarian non-heteronormative ceremony bestowing tax benefits and legal recognition.

        • NickS

          lawl, alas however, the law is yet to reach such a halcyon state of recognising the rights of a human to join with a blog comment 🙁

          It also would have been snarkier, but 40mg of Citalopram a day make Nick a much nicer person*. At least at the start…

          *and much less depressed!

          Gah, just noticed errors in that post. Oh for longer editing time windows.

  9. wasi 9

    has anyone had a really close look at peter jacksons movies?

    take king kong for instance…bad acting (jack black for gods sake)…poor production values and crappy CGI effects…all obviously done on the cheap…so where`s all the money going?

    Bones bombed and lost big at the box office…how many millions of NZ taxpayer funds went into that lemon?

    same goes for the Rings movies…i`ve heard many complaints from punters about the tacky special effects and threadbare production values…but hey, its made in little old NZ…so its gotta be good for you…and the flow of NZ tax dollars via peter jackson to overseas corporate Warner brothers can`t be bad can it?

    • Nick K 9.1

      Yes, they’re total crap.

      Fortunately he’s never received any Oscars for any of them.

      Oh hang on…………..

      • IrishBill 9.1.1

        So you’re saying they’re at least as good as “Dances with Wolves” or “Forrest Gump”?

      • wasi 9.1.2

        who knows why peter jacksons movies got so many oscars?

        perhaps the main beneficiaries of NZ taxpayer generosity at warner brothers and new line cinemas know the answer to that question….

        • Carol

          Weta is more the reason for the Oscars, than the rest of the content of the movies. Weta is the real hero here, PJ only in as much as he enables it to flourish.

          • jacinda

            Absolute pap sorry. He is responsible for organising the whole shebang. In fact he achieved something never done before in history, simultaneously shooting a trilogy, and releasing all 3 films within 2 years.

            You don’t know what you’re talking about if you claim he is not responsible for the success of them.

            • Colonial Viper

              Peter Jackson is extremely capable and talented, yes. Principled and forthright in the way he deals with ordinary workers? No.

            • M.A.B.

              Jacinda, I’m on your side, but come on. Weta has more than a bit to do with PJ’s success! Peter Jackson’s accomplished incredible things, but it’s important to acknowledge that there’s an entire extended family of highly talented and motivated creatives who came up with him, and his success is THEIR success as well.

              That’s kind of the whole point being made down here right now in NZ. We’re a community, we’re all in this together, and we want it stay that way.

    • QoT 9.2

      Oh God wasi do no start me on King Kong. I want those three hours of my life back.

  10. bobo 10

    I think Peter Jackson’s super computer is pulling the strings here. First its anti-unions next anti-people.. mark my words..

    Supercomputer for hire

  11. Tammy Gordon 11

    Certainly the union communication hasn’t done their cause any great favours; they’ve been hard put to spell out clearly exactly what the issues are and that’s made it harder for other people to come to their defense.

    And yes the email trail looks vindicating for Helen and Actors Equity, it’s a pity they waited a whole news cycle to release them. Dry facts are exactly what’s needed in such a highly charged dispute.

    Some people wondered at the timing of Richard Taylor’s ‘impromptu’ march to Parliament on Wednesday, just hours after 4000 union members held a fairness at work rally there and on the same day as around 20,000 union workers turned out around the country. Was it a coincidence? I shouldn’t think so but I also don’t think that’s worth getting worked up about. It’s called campaigning – they do it, we do it. Let’s not ascribe evil intent to basic organising. The fact is the unions have taken a whooping over this and it looks like HK and Actors Equity were seriously outplayed by some very serious players.

    With any luck though the frenzy has peaked and now we all wait to see what the Warners’ meetings generate. The only sure bet is that John Key gets a win no matter what.

    • Roflcopter 11.1

      “With any luck though the frenzy has peaked and now we all wait to see what the Warners’ meetings generate.”

      Well, with Irishbill now heading into conspiracy theory la-la land, he’s making damn sure it stays as current as possible! Not a peep out of the Labour Party… why not? They’re in it up to their necks and they know it.

      Go IB!!! Thousands of union members about to lose their jobs because of you and your mates’ greed… solidarity for the win!

      • IrishBill 11.1.1

        It’s pretty clear the deal was done last week. Warners were happy enough with it to prepare a joint release on Monday/Tuesday of this week. The threat to leave was made at the end of this week. Well after the dispute was settled. Could you please explain to me how the union is to blame because unless it involves some kind of time-travel it doesn’t seem possible.

        • Roflcopter

          Because some of your brothers-in-arms unions overseas had still not removed the “do not sign” flags even as late as this morning.

          The decision by Warners to come over was announced to the media yesterday, the actual decision to come over probably sooner, based on your union brothers not removing notices in a timely manner.

          You continually go on about PJ not bargaining on good-faith. Explain good-faith on behalf of the union, who’s very first action was to blacklist and then demand terms and conditions.

          • IrishBill

            What? From their websites? I’m sure they also had some fliers lying around their offices too. The deal was struck last week. That’s the point of contract and Warners (and quite likely Jackson) knew that.

            If you sign an unconditional contract to buy a business it’s legally binding from the moment it’s signed. If it takes you a few days to transfer the cash and take the business over you wouldn’t expect the seller to start abusing you in public for not having bought the business.

            I would have thought a rightie would understand the good faith that underpins the contracts that, in turn, underpin our capitalist society.

            • Roflcopter

              Explain good-faith on behalf of the union, who’s very first action was to blacklist and then demand terms and conditions.

              • IrishBill

                That’s business. I’ve seen enough companies using brute leverage over workers and other businesses to know that. I don’t think it was the right way to go about it but I also know from personal experience (on both sides of the table) that it’s not outside the norm in the business world.

                • Roflcopter

                  Oh I see, it’s OK when unions do it.

                  • IrishBill

                    No it’s business. In any business deal you play your game at the table as hard and as smart as you can but once the ink is on the paper it’s over. Getting the deal done and then running an attack campaign is just bad faith. And bloody unprofessional, especially if you’re claiming you want a stable business environment.

                • jacinda

                  Whoops – snap!

      • bbfloyd 11.1.2

        Rolf…do yourself a favor, and take your thumb out of there.. it’s starting to freak the neighbours out.

    • Carol 11.2

      I don’t know. There are some pluses here. Helen kelly has become a bit of a household name. In spite of her missteps, she has been shown so far, to be telling the truth, while Warners & Team Jackson have distorted, stirred and prevarricated. It hasn’t been taken on board by many. But I see some of PJ’s tinsel has warn off. Some are seeing him now as having over-egged the situation.

      And the actors now will probably go on to get a properly organised union, and maybe a better deal. Brownlee has made some suggestions of law changes, that have many people scratching their heads. And many lefties and unionists generally have become more resolute.

      John Key continues to show he has nothing much to offer as PM, except photo ops with celebrities, whatever way he manages to manufacture them into existence.

    • IrishBill 11.3

      I’m not sure Key will get a clear win from this. It’s looking increasingly clear that either the Hobbit will go and he’ll have to try to blame the union (which is looking like a thinner and thinner ploy) or the Hobbit will stay at the cost of grater tax breaks (which I don’t disagree with giving out but many voters will see as a bit sus).

      • Roflcopter 11.3.1

        Have you been advised by higher up to soften your stance? The Labour Party has been very quiet, are they issuing instructions?

        [lprent: Of all the authors here I think that Irish would be the least likely to obey anyone from the Labour hierarchy. He is pretty well known for his rather ummmmm unsympathetic stance to my favorite political party, his rather public advice to them about how disappointed he is in them, and above all for his advice to them about how to suck eggs correctly.

        But in any case suggest it again and you’ll rediscover how vindictive and nasty (by policy) I get when I ban people for attacking authors independence. ]

        • Carol

          The Labour Party don’t usually intervene in specific industrial disputes, or take sides. National is being a bit sus by doing that. It certainly breaks with protocol. Also, Nat & Key are clearly intervening to get themselves some kudos – or else why do it so publicly? Such things are often best arbitrated away from the public eye.

          So the REAL question to ask here is, why have Key et al chosen to break with protocol and, not only intervene, but more crucially, taken sides? And why do it so publicly?

          • Roflcopter

            So the REAL question to ask here is, why have Key et al chosen to break with protocol and, not only intervene, but more crucially, taken sides? And why do it so publicly

            $2.8b/year worth of reasons Carol, and the livelihood of 1000’s of unionised workers set to lose their jobs because of the actions of one of their own. For a government to do anything less would be remiss.

            [lprent: Looks like I’ll have to tone down the css on the cite tag. Too noisy.. ]

          • KJT

            They have also brought out the Muldoon era Union bashing phase book.

            That was the last time I saw politicians getting directly into private sector disputes.

            • Roflcopter

              Good, there’s some unions that need a good bashing around the ears at the moment…. 1,000’s of their members at risk of losing their jobs because of their actions.

              • KJT

                Step back and read what is coming to light Rof. It was a jack-up. The dispute was settled by the CTU and Warners 2 days before the beat up. Either bad communication between PJ and Warners or extremely bad faith.

                Now watch NACT give them another 20 million for helping them with bashing people who just wanted to discuss their terms of employment.

                • Roflcopter

                  $20 million huh?

                  Let’s conservatively spread that across 2,000 workers who have their jobs saved for the next 3 years. A better investment than the dole.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    $20 million huh?

                    Let’s conservatively spread that across 2,000 workers who

                    Are you slow on the uptake?

                    That’s exactly the point. Jackson and the US corporates aren’t spreading the wealth across anybody

                    That’s why they decided to frak the union over a few hundred grand worth of minimum terms and conditions, make them the PR scapegoats, even as they reached for the $20-30M Government payout.

                    And as I said: none of those tax breaks are going to anyone except Jackson, his inner circle, and Warner. The rich get richer and the workers get frakked.

      • Tammy Gordon 11.3.2

        yeah it’s not often you get to do Pollyanna. I hope you’re right. I guess it’ll depend on whether the MSM has got the balls to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

  12. the sprout 12

    I don’t think the question mark on the headline is necessary 😉
    Jackson and Warner Bros.’ dishonesty is unravelling nicely.

  13. I hate to sound cynical but it is clear what happened, Warners thought they would have a go at the Trade Unions and Jackson bet it up as much as he could.

    They told porkies and the left told the truth.

    And now Warners will meet with Key and demand further tax breaks to cover the “risk” that these terrible militant unions like Actors Equity pose and Key will agree and become the saviour of the Hobbit.

    And there will be the heated exchange of views from RWNJs and the left and the RWNJs will hope that by being heated enough they will win the debate no matter what the truth is.

    And the swinging voters will think that the awful left Labour Trade Unionists almost cost us Hobbitsville.

    AND the good news from the Labour Conference and the Industrial day of action has been decimated.

    Am I being cynical?

    • IrishBill 13.1

      It’s up to the union to make sure the truth comes out. That’s a hard job but they’ll have to do it.

      • Roflcopter 13.1.1

        Well with Robyn Malcolm saying “there was no boycott”, and then getting called out to explain why all the unions had been advised to “lift the boycott” if there wasn’t one, the union has lost any semblance of integrity it had…. she totally floundered for the country to see, and revealed the union’s true duplicitous nature.

        • IrishBill

          I think she revealed she’s an actor, not an industrial relations expert. That’s the reason they’ve been played so well by the producers (or rather the producers’ consultants, there’s no way this has been done by amateurs).

          • Roflcopter

            I suggest you go and watch the Close-Up interview, she specifically states it was she and others who have done all this.

            Why is she protecting Simon Whipp?

            • IrishBill

              Um because he’s not driving this,

              • Roflcopter

                hehehe, so he’s like a hit-and-run driver…. with the same results… doesn’t give a toss about the consequences.

              • Colonial Viper

                Sheeesh is this amateur hour with the unions, can they please do a proper post mortem once this is all settled and get their comms programme sorted out before the next big stoush.

                Lots of media training and no more ad lib in front of the cameras, OK?

        • jaymam

          “Well with Robyn Malcolm saying “there was no boycott”, and then getting called out to explain why all the unions had been advised to “lift the boycott” ”
          Basically that’s the most important point. Robyn Malcolm is a liar and the others in both unions are all incompetent. I want to see proof that ALL members in the NZ union were polled as to what the union should do. And the Australian union can go away forever.
          I do believe in unions, but they have to be run properly.

          • IrishBill

            To be fair to them they still managed to get a deal of sorts by the end of last week. And even the best unions would have been taken off guard by the post-settlement attack Jackson ran.

    • pollywog 13.2

      here’s my pick…

      By the time warner bros get here, the kerfuffle will be over, the films will have been unequivocally decided to be shot here in NZ and everyone will see through the charade of ‘smile and wave’ pretending to have saved the day.

      Bill English wont be bringing out the cheque book to write off more tax for warners cos it’ll cost wayyy to much to move production of shore by now and there’ll be no need to bribe them.

      If anything the whole project will get canned before it ever gets shot anywhere else and the producers will write off the loss.

      Kingdom come, kingdom go…

    • jacinda 13.3

      For once your predicted outcomes are true Micky, well done! Its just the reasoning behind it is completely wrong from where I stand 🙂

      I want to know, when Warners start filming here, and no further tax cuts have been given, will you admit that you were completely wrong, or be a bad sport?

  14. wasi 14

    this is the nub of the matter…

    “a series of emails between Warner Bros and the Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG), sighted by NZPA, showed the two parties were discussing the wording of a press release announcing the settlement of the dispute from as early as Monday, US time.

    Yet this morning, New Line Cinema said in a statement that reports the boycott of The Hobbit was lifted by unions a number of days ago and that Warner Bros asked to delay this announcement were false.”

    …the fact is helen kelly was telling the truth…peter jackson`s american backers Warner Brothers and New Line Cinemas have been caught red handed telling porkies…how can we believe anything that they say now?

  15. tea 16

    Where is the mainstream reporting on this?

    Peter Jackson- fuck you. We took the risks for LOTR with our tax base. Now we get this shit.

  16. tea 17

    And the government is even looking at whether there is any room to move the tax rebate for film companies from 15% to try to sweeten the deal.”

    This shit cracks me up Irish- fuck this is complete class and generation warfare. Really is. THe noose around the neck shit and this. Fukn unbelievable.

    Does someone want to drop Russell Brown this line? I’m confused, he makes it sound as if the unions have fucked it up.

    • IrishBill 17.1

      AE fucked up the game but they’re not in the wrong. Russell has decided that because they didn’t play their game well they don’t deserve his support. That might be a legit position to take in football but it’s pretty cold when it’s a few actors versus a powerful and well resourced employer.

      • Roflcopter 17.1.1

        It was engineered and delivered by Simon Whipp. The same guy who decimated the Australian film and advertising industry. It’s a shame your unions allowed him to potentially be responsible for the 1,000’s of unionised NZ workers losing their jobs.

        The unions have failed the NZ working class and NZ as a whole, the Labour Party know this and that’s why they aren’t saying anything.

        It will all come and haunt you next year, and UNITE will be there to keep it fresh in our memories.

        • IrishBill


        • NickS

          I guess all those safe work-places and raises in the minimum wage, let alone the idea of paid breaks, sick leave and ye olde 40hr working week sprung entirely from teh bosses and the business owners…

          Ignoring all that history jazz of course, especially recent history.

          Because otherwise it would clear that unions have played key roles in workers rights and other issues. Despite the odd fuckup.

          • IrishBill

            I think rofl should make sure he goes to work this Monday as a protest against all that union stuff.

        • The Voice of Reason

          Where are these thousands of unionised jobs, Rofl?

          • Roflcopter

            Shall I start at the film workers themselves, then move through all the outside businesses that feed into the film industry, and then the ones that supply the suppliers? How big a can of worms you want opened?

            • The Voice of Reason

              Off you go then. Where exactly are these thousands of unionised jobs?

              • Joe Bloggs

                I don’t know about the thousands of unionised jobs but here’s the voice of one of the workers who the MEAA/AE should have conasidered when they called for a global boycott as their opening gambit to good faith bargaining:

                Among the Wellington marchers was production co-ordinator Danielle Prestige, who said keeping The Hobbit in New Zealand was pivotal to the future of its film industry.

                “We’ve just had two years of recession where a lot of colleagues have lost their jobs or had jobs at risk, films have fallen over. Everyone’s on the edge.

                “[The Hobbit] is pivotal. It’s the one film that will revitalise it to the point it was like with Avatar and give people the longevity of work. That’s why we decided to march. We don’t want our livelihoods threatened.”

                As for whether the boycott was lifted on day 20 or day 21, or who told what to whom: that’s a nice sideshow for the LWNJ conspiracy theorists but it’s just that – a sideshow.

                The damage was done when the MEAA/AE called for a global boycott as their opening gambit to good faith bargaining. IB describes this as doing the business. I describe it as fucking the industry – that boycott lit up this whole fiasco and for the unions to say that the threat has been withdrawn and everything’s cool is breathtakingly naive and completely disingenuous. When will the unions learn that you can’t undo an act of vandalism.

                The unions have so overplayed their hands that they’ve effectively labelled themselves as fools and fuckwits of the first degree.

                Incidentally we are still waiting for Simon Whipp to front up to the public and to the rest of the industry. Instead we get every man and his dog speaking on Whipp’s behalf, from Hater and Wrecker Kelly through to Outrageous Malcolm.

                • IrishBill

                  Funny thing is we only heard from Jackson on Thursday and we’ve not heard from anyone from Warners at all. I take it you’re just as upset about them not fronting?

      • Carol 17.1.2

        RB also seems to have bought into the line about the nasty Aussie union pulling the strings – at least, that’s what I got from hearing him on Nat Rad Panel this arvo

        • Roflcopter

          The Aussie union were the first cab off the rank in all of this. They right royally screwed it by blacklisting, then trying to force terms and conditions in a manner illegal in this country.

          If Warners are behind this, then Simon Whipp must be a plant by them… well he is a plant, the vegetable type.

          • The Voice of Reason

            Except it’s not illegal. Other than that, you’re doing fine. Carry on …

            • Roflcopter

              Collective bargaining for a group of contractors is illegal. Attorney General’s ruling trumps your imagination any day of the week.

              • Colonial Viper

                Technicality with plenty of ways around it.

                And thats ignoring the fact that a lot of those contractors should actually be *employees* because they are expected to perform as such.

                Which by the way happens to be one of the basic issues Equity and the unions want to address.

              • IrishBill

                Nope. There are plenty of legal workarounds including the legal fiction of having the union act as an independent third party provider. That’s the thing with contract law, it’s very very flexible (unless you ask a narrow interpretive question like the AG did). Otherwise most courier, taxi and franchise agreements would be illegal. In fact if you had a look at most of the contracts Jackson’s company had with its workers I suspect you’d find they were eerily similar.

                But as tvor says, carry on, it’s certainly entertaining.

              • The Voice of Reason

                It’s not my imagination, it’s a fact of everyday life. Tens of thousands of independent contractors have contracts that are, in a legally enforceable sense, identical to those of their colleagues. Cabbies, couriers, etc etc. They can be, and often are, collectively negotiated.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Why is it that these supposed Right Wingnuts are so bad at employment and contract law? And SME development? And macroeconomics? And…

  17. bbfloyd 18

    my feeling is that NZ’ers should boycott the movie when it comes out here…. i don’t say this lightly, as i was really looking forward to seeing on film, a book that captivated my ten year old imagination as no other book did until the lord of the rings a year later, and papillon a year after that.. the papillon movie was shite compared to the book, but the lord of the rings trilogy was great.

    i couldn’t enjoy it though, knowing that pj had allowed the movie to become part of a nasty little political game designed to do no more than perpetrate the abuse of democracy that we are undergoing now… thanks peter, for sullying precious childhood memories for me… you can bugger off, and never come back as far as i’m concerned…

  18. ianmac 19

    Have you all considered that even in the Age of Rapid Communication there is just a mess of mis-communication? What Jackson said was so true. So was Robin Malcolm. So was Kelly. So was Warners. So was the Media and so on. The possibility that the right people were not hearing the right message at the right time has lead to conspiracy theories, the blame-game, mis-information, and opportunism from politicians.

    But what everyone seems to want is the Hobbit to be produced in NZ. Have the heavily biased opinions expressed here helping or hindering?

  19. Heres hoping the Hobbit wont move offshore, its going to be a huge project.

  20. wasi 21

    hellen kelly has done well against enormous pressure from the yanks and NZ`s govt and socially conservative rednecks and so-called mainstreamers…who don`t think that a woman should be doing politics any way….and she has been vindicated by the emergence of these latest emails…she is a credit to her name….she just needs to relax and hold the line….meanwhile our erstwhile PM john key is doing deals and offering bigger taxbreaks to peter jacksons barefaced liars and financial backers..this will come back to bite him in the arse. Rumour has it that peter jackson owes bigtime for the “Bones” fiasco…he looked a bit sweaty and desperate on the TV to me.

  21. Key is taking advice on New Zealand labour laws to see if they can be softened to accommodate the studio.

    Isn’t that what the actors want? A change in the laws forbidding them from collectivising while independent contractors?

    • IrishBill 22.1

      To be fair giving single employee contractors access to the ERA on the same terms as employees have would create a stable workforce. I wouldn’t be laying money on ipredict that that’s gonna be the outcome though.

      • Nick K 22.1.1

        To be fair giving single employee contractors access to the ERA on the same terms as employees…

        What’s an employee contractor?

        • IrishBill

          Hmm, perhaps I should have added a hyphen. “Single-employee contractor” as in a contractor who has just one employee (ie the contractor themselves). Otherwise you’d end up making real contractors with their own staff defacto employees.

  22. Adrian 23

    AUD= USD stuffed the Aussie industry same as NZD.75=USD does here. The funniest thing was Jackson saying “Warners have been honourable in this”. Another first for PJ, the first time in history the words “honourable” and a Hollywood studio have ever been used in the same sentence. Studio execs are the worlds greatest arseholes, when those bastards go surfing the fucking sharks get out of the water.

  23. Francisco Hernandez 24

    To be honest – this is far too late. The PR damage has been done.

    • IrishBill 24.1

      Yeah but what can you do? Jackson blindsided the union after the deal was done and the only option they have now is to fight back. Frankly I think he’s made a mistake by trying to back Helen Kelly into a corner like this as it’s a tactic you only use when you know you can completely break your opponent and the union movement has been around too long to be broken by a little film dispute – they’ll be pushing their side of this story for as long as it takes. The left can bear grudges in geological time-frames.

      There’s also about five days left in this story as headline news which is a lot of time for the story to turn. A week is a long time in politics but it can be an eternity in industrial relations.

      • Joe Bloggs 24.1.1

        The left can bear grudges in geological time-frames.

        at last! Someone on the left speaks with integrity – praise the Lord!

  24. Colonial Viper 25

    I really really wish the union would come forward with simple clear details of what they were seeking from Jackson for their members.

    One of the problem the PR has worked against them is that no one could understand in concrete terms what the union was actually asking for.

    It was therefore very easy to make the union look like they were causing a fight for frak-all of importance.

    Jeeez i hope Equity is getting some real clarity on this, and getting some good advice locally and internationally.

  25. Irascible 26

    Watch out for the crosby-textor spin that Key is the great negotiator, the svengali of brokering a deal with the saviours of the NZ economy – \”Wingnut-Warners\” and thus demonstrating that he, single-handedly, can undo the damage done by the evil, vicious, self interested communistic Unions. This spin will allow NACT the excuse to introduce legislation to attack the Unions that are now showing the public the true nature of the NACT legislative programme and how bad the Key – Dipton management of the economy is.

  26. James 27

    So wait, now you’re all FINALLY seeing this was a massive screw up that’s actually f***ed up Unions and given the Right a public mandate to screw us all royally? Are we all going to go to now go buy Russell Brown buy him a drink for making that exact same goddamn point right from the start, and every fricking step along the way?

    Or is he still an enemy of the people for daring to question whether AE was actually acting competently or not?

    I’m guessing probably still the later…

    • wtl 27.1

      I’m not sure I’m reading the same set of comments as you, because I’m not sure they can be seen to be supporting RB’s view. Most posters have always openly accepted that the union could have handled things better but the other side was acting and continues to act in bad faith. If you think that means the blame lies solely with the union, good for you.

    • Colonial Viper 27.2

      You did say that you were a very serious Lefty, correct? One which regularly sides with the big money corporates?

      Yes the unions got played by Jackson, Warner, and their millionaire PR boys. Yes the unions could have handled the situation differently and not assumed good faith on the part of the employers. Yes Equity is a new and amateur organisation who got totally run around by the big boys.

      But the bottom line remains: the corporates were flat out refusing to deal with workers getting organised around *minimum terms and conditions* and they are using the workers as leverage to get more tax payer handouts.

      And not only that, don’t forget that Jackson and co. are blatantly blackmailing the entire country to get those handouts.

    • pollywog 27.3

      Russell’s all about the free drinks.

    • KJT 27.4

      So are you going to tell unions they should no longer ask for a better deal for their members. Because what we have seen in the last few days will be standard RW OP whenever a union asks for anything between now and the election.

      They are already demonising the teachers and health workers for asking for an adequate wage which goes a little further towards paying them properly for their contribution to NZ.

  27. ak 28

    Headlines we’re liable to see:


    Thanks, sir NACTson, laughing stock again.

  28. ak 29

    (and hats off to you, sir Irish Bill, for your relentless defence of the facts – as someone once said, Truth will out. And it always does. Kia kaha son, you’re an inspiration)

    • comedy 29.1

      comedy gold

      • RedLogix 29.1.1

        A tiny union of your fellow New Zealanders is monstered by one of the biggest US studios with immensely greater clout and resource… and comedy here has been consistently barracking for the big ugly thugs.

        One of the most common features of bullying is the mob of sociopaths who’ll join in and ‘mob’ the victim when they feel it’s safe to do so.

        In a mobbing situation, the ringleader incites supporters, cohorts, copycats and unenlightened, inexperienced, immature or emotionally needy individuals with poor values to engage in adversarial interaction with the selected target.


        • comedy

          “In a mobbing situation, the ringleader incites supporters, cohorts, copycats and unenlightened, inexperienced, immature or emotionally needy individuals with poor values to engage in adversarial interaction with the selected target.”

          Straight out of the union manual wot.

          If you want sociopaths best you look at this blog and those from the right and look at those that go with the mob.

          The tiny union is so tiny it’s australian and appears to be made up of well paid luurvies such as dear jenni and robyn who are prepared to take a dump on their fellow workers who are just trying to put bread on the table. Reality is those with the cash can spend it in NZ or not and this stupid fucks have made it a shite load easier for them to take it offshore and/or secure better tax breaks.

          now fuckoff and look after your multiple properties you chardonnay swilling fuckhole

  29. Blue Boy 30

    Peter Jackson = Knighthood
    Unions = Evil

  30. Anthony C 31

    I’m still trying to find an actual timeline for this, did Peter Jackson start his media campaign against the NZEA before or after the Boycott/Do not sign memo?

    • IrishBill 31.1

      After. As I understand it the deal was done late last week, the memo and release were being worked on with Jackson’s input on Sunday/Monday (US time) and Jackson launched his media campaign on Thursday (Wednesday US time).

    • Lazy Susan 31.2

      It was after, and that timeline tells you more about what’s behind this than all the other stuff which is just distracting noise.

      (i)Agreement had been reached to lift the boycott last Monday. This has been confirmed by a series of emails between Warners and the Screen Actors Guild that have been shown to the NZPA.

      (ii) Warners requested that the announcement of the boycott be delayed to “sort out the wording of the press release”.

      (iii) 2 days later (Wednesday) a protest march by technicians condemning Actors Equity is organised in Wellington and led by Peter Taylor – manager of Weta Worshop (Jackson’s post effects/post production company)

      (iv) The following morning (Thursday) Peter Jackson and Wingnut Films go public condemning Actors Equiy and threatening that the production will move overseas. Warners execs are “on the way to make arrangements to move the production”

      (v)4 days later (Friday) Key, Brownlee and English make noises about relaxing employment law, tax breaks and meeting the Warners execs when they arrive next week.

      So by the Friday Actors Equity and Helen Kelly had been demonised and the NZ governement were talking about more favourable conditions for Warners.

      It beggars belief that Jackson and Wingnut were not aware at the beginning of the week that the boycott had been lifted. The question remains why, having been quiet for so long, did Jackson decide this was the time to go public and why did Warners need to delay the press release?

  31. James 32

    It’s lifted when the announcement happens. If AE and SAG held off the announcement it’s their own stupid faults. What, you have to get frigging PERMISSION from the studios before you make your announcement? That’s ridiculous.

    The top question by the way, is not asking what you answered. To answer: the boycott was initiated a long time before Peter Jackson went public with it. I’m not sure whether the SAG botcott was made public first or PJ went public first from SAG. The first accounts I’ve seen were in Variety and came out about the same time as PJ’s statement. Really hard to tell because of the time differences with the states. Should be easy enough to research though. Quite how long, AE expected the boycott of the Hobbit to remain out of the press is anyone’s guess. It would obviously be somewhat naive to think that it wouldn’t.

    • Colonial Viper 32.1

      It’s lifted when the announcement happens.

      Not necessarily. When an All Black gets dropped and replaced by someone else has the decision already been taken internally and in effect internally? Or is it only effective from when Henry gets in front of the cameras to announce it on the 6pm news? I would argue that the effective date of the action can have nothing to do with the timing of the press event.

      Obviously a global boycott is not going to remain outside of the entertainment press long. Yes it is a public signal and unavoidable if that step has to be taken.

      However that is still quite different from making public statements designed to sway the court of public opinion and trying to frame negotiating points and assertions in the press.

      • James 32.1.1

        “I would argue that the effective date of the action can have nothing to do with the timing of the press event.”

        I’m not talking about a press event, I’m talking about SAG actually, physically taking down their stop work order. That is: actually telling their members it was alright to work on the Hobbit now. That hadn’t happened until after the crew march. The union promising to isn’t the same as actually doing it, I’m sorry. If they got held up because the studio wanted to change the wording… well… again, since when do the SAG take orders from the studio about how they phrase their stop work orders?

        “However that is still quite different from making public statements designed to sway the court of public opinion and trying to frame negotiating points and assertions in the press.”

        There’s nothing wrong with that though. Problem is AE just did a really terrible job. PJ didn’t do an especially great job either.

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