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“Hobbit” Director Peter Jackson Claims Actor’s Union Put “Loaded Gun to His Head”

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Posted on October 28 2010 2:00 pm
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota's North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
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Peter Jackson may be one of the hardest working directors in Hollywood. There is a segment among the special features on the Superman Returns DVD where director Bryan Singer is called away from his production in Sydney to assist Jackson in directing King Kong, which was filming in New Zealand at the same time. Jackson had pushed himself so hard that he was literally falling asleep in the director’s chair. Singer was brought in to keep the production on schedule, seeing to Jackson’s intent during on-set naps.

Perhaps it is that work-‘til-you-drop ethic which underlies Jackson’s ongoing contention with a New Zealand actors’ union over the forthcoming production of The Hobbit. The long-awaited prequel and follow-up to Jackson’s hugely successful Lord of the Rings trilogy has been held up by union demands which Jackson compares to extortion.

Jackson said he was “incredibly angry” at the NZ Equity actors’ union for launching industrial action which threatened his 500 million US dollar project without properly consulting its members.

The Oscar-winning director also disputed NZ Equity’s assertion that it called for an international boycott of “The Hobbit” last month after he refused to negotiate with it on minimum conditions for actors on the set.

Jackson said the union called the ban, which has since been lifted, before contacting him about its concerns.

“They are attempting to [characterize] their actions as an innocent request for a meeting, but the truth is they kept a loaded gun to our heads the entire time,” he said in a statement.

Jackson cares about the New Zealand film industry, but has to prioritize business above sentiment. The Hollywood executives he answers to are looking at shifting the production to another country to circumvent union troubles.

Jackson said union official Simon Whipp from Australia’s Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, NZ Equity’s parent union, launched the industrial campaign without giving New Zealand members the chance to vote on the action.

“He can threaten the livelihoods of thousands of Kiwis, [jeopardize] a huge financial investment to this country and he’s not held accountable,” Jackson said.

Whipp said Tuesday he was being made a scapegoat for The Hobbit’s woes, telling TV3: “I don’t regret standing up with performers in New Zealand for their rights.”

Here we see the bizarre union mentality which transforms coercive demands into “rights.” Speaking from the purity of natural law, employees have no rights above and beyond those available to all. They may associate freely. They may enter into contract. Other than those, I’m not sure what “rights” Whipp refers to.

One thing is for sure. If Jackson’s previous work is any indication, there is little doubt he will overcome any adversity labor can throw at him, and produce a compelling piece of entertainment in The Hobbit.

Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota’s North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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