-By Warner Todd Huston
Unions are the scourge of Middle Earth, or at least the upcoming filmed version of Tolkien’s Hobbit set in that mythical land, anyway. Peter Jackson, heir to the Tolkien legacy on film, is trying to produce a two-part Hobbit film but the local actors union is standing athwart him Sauron-like and casting its evil union eye upon the project frustrating everyone.
Jackson accused the Media Entertainment Arts Alliance of being an “Australian bully boy” after the union spurred actors to boycott the production over unmet union demands.
In a public letter, Jackson railed against the union demands.
“I can’t see beyond the ugly spectre of an Australian bully-boy using what he perceives as his weak Kiwi cousins to gain a foothold in this country’s film industry. They want greater membership, since they get to increase their bank balance,” Jackson wrote.
“I feel growing anger at the way this tiny minority is endangering a project that hundreds of people have worked on over the last two years, and the thousands about to be employed for the next four years, (and) the hundreds of millions of Warner Brothers dollars that is about to be spent in our economy.”
What upsets Jackson most is that Warner Brothers, the studio behind the project, went so far as to set up a “separate pot of profit participation” for the non-union actors in the film. This, though, isn’t good enough for the unions.
“It sure feels like we are being attacked simply because we are a big fat juicy target – not for any wrongdoing,” Jackson wrote. “We haven’t even been greenlit yet! It feels as if we have a large Aussie cousin kicking sand in our eyes … or to put it another way, some might see this as opportunists exploiting our film for their own political gain.”
In this worldwide economic slump, these unions are preventing a multi-million dollar project from benefiting Australia. Just like a union to cut off its nose to spite its face.