Helen Kelly thinks that Sir Peter has been playing games, and that the unions have been nothing more than a pawn in those games. Sir Peter is angry at that suggestion, as the Dom-Post reports:
A furious Sir Peter Jackson will "fight as hard as he can" to keep The Hobbit in New Zealand – but is already listing key Kiwi staff to take if the two-part film goes overseas.
And the director hit back at Council of Trade Union president Helen Kelly's claims that he had set up the actors' union to take the blame if the US$500 million (NZ$667m) movie is lost.
"I couldn't believe it. It was the first time I really got very angry."
Asked if it was fingers crossed that The Hobbit would remain, Jackson said: "I don't know what to cross any more. I've just got to get some sleep. I haven't had much sleep in the past few days."
Jackson is right to be angry, in our ever-humble opinion. The behaviour of the unions, led by CTU president Kelly has been appalling - read on:
Jackson said he was at a loss as to why the CTU blamed him and Warner Bros.
Ms Kelly cited a belief Warner had already decided to move the films for bigger tax incentives and lower wages, and Jackson – a "spoilt brat" – was trying to set the union up to blame. Jackson described her as clueless. "Why do people like Helen Kelly have to be driven by rhetoric and playing some kind of role where she's always got to be the victim and everyone else is to blame?
"She has tried every possible conspiracy theory. I'm expecting to be told I was on the grassy knoll in Dallas any moment now."
And the Dom-Post story suggests that the unions and Robyn Malcolm in particular just don't get it - check this out:
Outrageous Fortune star and Actors' Equity committee member Robyn Malcolm said yesterday she could not believe a request for a discussion around conditions was enough to derail the project. "We're not even the coffee budget. Nobody wants Cate Blanchett's salary ..."
That comment from Malcom astounds us. If Actors' Equity and the MEAA wanted "a discussion around conditions", why did they blacklist The Hobbit, and why did they encourage brethren unions around the world to join with them in the blacklist? Robyn Malcolm is trying to downplay the role of the unions and the CTU is this debacle, but she'll have to come up with a more convincing argument than she has managed to date.
Sir Peter Jackson is one of the world's most respected directors and film-makers. He came from humble beginnings, making low-budget splatter flicks such as Bad Taste, Braindead and Meet the Feebles. He's paid his dues, and the recognition he earned for the LOTR trilogy was richly deserved. We find it difficult to believe that he would play the games which the CTU and actors' unions have accused him of playing.
Our take on the mess is this; the MEAA saw an opportunity to extend its reach into New Zealand, and to grow its base. The CTU welcomed the "arrival" of an Australian union. Between them, they decided that an international movie like The Hobbit gave them a platform from which to flex their united muscle. However, they have over-played their hand big-time, and there is now a strong likelihood that the movie will not be made here at all. It's a huge dent to the union movement's credibility.
Labour leapt unashamedly leftward at last week's conference, and the unions seemed poised to play a significant role in next year's election campaign. Whilst we have yet to hear from Phil Goff over The Hobbit, we wonder if he's wishing he could turn the clock back a week or so.