Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Hobbit Affair

I'm going to be naive here and suggest that the whole Hobbit debacle isn't as complicated and sinister as many people are suggesting Here's my timeline of events;

* National Government introduces god-awful employment law.
* Jackson and Warners announce Hobbit movie to be filmed in NZ.
* NZ actors and film workers form long queue which is mistaken for protest action.
* Actor's Equity ask to negotiate collective contract with Warners.
* Jackson and Warners decline to negotiate collective contract on the grounds that it is probably (no one is sure) illegal under NZ law. Instead offer deal that includes profit sharing for all. NZ Government wonders if Hobbit profit sharing could replace superannuation scheme.
* Actor's Equity decides to use Hobbit as leverage against god-awful NZ employment law.
* Actor's Equity places blacklist on Hobbit.
* Warners freaks out. Like most U.S. corporates they despise unions, and in particular militant ones. By default they attempt to break the union.
* Jackson surprised by fuss. Can't understand what he has done wrong. Wonders if his Golden Boy status has been revoked while he wasn't looking.
* Jackson tries to go and talk to Actor's Equity at Wellington meeting. Is refused entry.
* Actor's Equity decries Jackson for not meeting with them.
* Both sides say things they will later regret.
* Warner's gets jumpy when international stars support boycott of Hobbit. Are afraid of Gandalf's staff. Suggests filming elsewhere ... perhaps a non-union country?
* Hearing the Hobbit is up for grabs other countries offer Warners lucrative tax breaks. Warners likes lucrative tax breaks idea. Wonders why it can't get them in NZ?
* Both sides entrench.
* Warners decide the risk of filming in NZ is too great. Suggest Ireland has nice countryside and co-operative union, and they don't mind paying three times the wages they would have to in NZ if they get big tax break and security. The Harry Potter sets are available as well. Bonus.
* Jackson would prefer to make Hobbit in NZ, but wonders if a few pints of Guinness might get rid of the bad taste in his mouth.
* NZ Unions fail to realize how much Americans despise labour (labor) unrest, and still believe they are in a position of strength. Stick to hard line.
* NZ Government scrambles to find juicy treat to wave at Warners ... contemplates wrapping Gerry Brownlee up in bacon and dangling him on a rope as cat toy for corporate tigers, but Brownlee eats bacon faster than it can be applied.
* Hobbit production moves to Ireland. 2000 plus NZ actors, technicians, etc are left without work.
* Unions blames Warners, Jackson, the government, the Illuminati, NASCAR, and the alignment of the stars for losing the Hobbit.
* Everybody else blames the Unions.
* NZ Actors get great "Pink Book" deal. The 27 NZ actors still employed feel much better about life.
* Hobbits and leprechauns unite and go on strike for better working conditions for all creatures under five foot tall.

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