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Archive for September, 2010

Breaking News: Fire at Wellington Film Studios

Story developing: A studio that helped make some of Wellington’s most famous films is on fire in Wellington. A huge fire at Portsmouth Miniatures Studio broke out at 3.10pm. A pall of smoke can be seen all over the eastern suburbs, rising from the building, near Wellington Airport.

The studio’s manager said she was on her way to the scene. No-one was hurt, she said. ”And that’s the main thing.” Crews from all around the Wellington region have gone to fight the blaze. Portsmouth Miniatures Studio has had a hand in many Wellington films. Its facilities were used during the making of Peter Jackson movies including King Kong and the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

Update from It is believed to be the Rongotai studio where he films miniatures, located behind the Kilbirnie Fire Station.

Fire burns a Wellington studio owned by Sir Peter Jackson. – Source: Picture supplied by Matt Kovesdi

Posted in Events, Headlines, New Zealand Jackson barred from union Hobbit meeting

Sir Peter Jackson offered to go to an actors’ union meeting last night called over the Hobbit dispute, but was turned down. Spada had attempted to meet with the MEAA to discuss actors’ terms and conditions for over 18 months, without success, he said. The Hobbit’s producers – including Sir Peter – contacted the MEAA and NZ Actors Equity yesterday morning with an offer to attend the Wellington meeting in the hope of finding a solution to the dispute.

After sending several requests asking for a response, the producers were finally told “no” shortly before the meeting started. “It is pity we were not given the chance to have a discussion with the actors, who are the party most affected by the MEAA’s actions,” Sir Peter said. [Read More]

Posted in Director news, Hobbit Movie, Peter Jackson, The Hobbit

Winners of the ‘There and Back Again’ Giveaway

There and Back AgainTo celebrate the addition of ‘There and Back Again – The Map of Tolkien’s The Hobbit’ by Brian Sibley to the Official Tolkien Online Bookstore, and HarperCollinsPublishers teamed up to giveaway 3 copies. And without further delay, the winners are:

Jason F – USA
Izzy C – UK
Stephen W – USA

Winners will be contacted via email shortly to arrange for delivery. (We know there could be a lot of you out there that match the winners names, but please wait for the email before contacting us.) A special thanks to HarperCollinsPublishers for sponsoring this giveaway. If you did not win, please pick up your copy today! [Harper Collins UK]

Posted in Books Publications, Contests, Events, Fans, Merchandise, The Hobbit, Announcements

Media Release – Peter Jackson Speaks on Actor Boycott of “The Hobbit”

WELLINGTON – Friday, 1 October 2010 An Australian trade union, the MEAA, has generated a world wide actor boycott on The Hobbit, to bolster their demand that producers on the film enter into collective bargaining with the NZ Equity/MEAA. The MEAA has now admitted that their collective bargaining proposal is in fact, illegal, under New Zealand law. In Sir Peter Jackson’s opinion “The Hobbit is being punished with a boycott which is endangering thousands of NZ jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign income, for no good reason.”

The attack on The Hobbit by NZ Actors Equity and the MEAA has resulted in a very public dispute, between NZ Equity and the producers of The Hobbit. The actors are claiming they are underpaid and do not enjoy the same working conditons as their overseas counterparts. This accusation that has been levelled specifically at The Hobbit, but Sir Peter Jackson says it has no basis in fact. (more…)

Posted in Headlines, Hobbit Movie, Peter Jackson, Studios, The Hobbit

Shire is fit for Hobbitation again: Old Lord Of The Rings set revamped ready for latest Tolkien blockbuster

Bilbo has called in the builders as preparations for the latest JRR Tolkien blockbuster continues. Just weeks after sheep were spotted making the most of the old Lord Of The Rings’ set, the New Zealand location has been revived for the two-part Hobbit prequel. New Hobbit holes are being dug, while the old ones are being spruced up ready for the start of filming later this year. The set, which will portray the Hobbit village of Hobbiton, will remain as a permanent tourist attraction and theme park near the Waikato town of Matamata. (more…)

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Locations Sets

LOTR: War in the North Developer Interview

While in Seattle earlier this month I had the chance to attend the ‘Second Breakfast’ event held by the folks at Warner Bros and Snowbling Studios. They played another demo of their new game ‘The War in the North’, displayed some amazing concept art and had a large number of the developer team available for interviews. Here is my chat with one of the designers.

Posted in Conventions, Events, Gaming

A Long-Expected Party 2: There and Back Again, one year away!

Eowyn Rohan sends this in: Greetings Shirelings! The time has come. A Long-Expected Party II: There and Back Again, is officially one year away! Many meetings have passed between the organizers already, and a great number of things have been planned. There is still more to come, however; but the biggest thing we need is YOU!

Attendees of the first ALEP have raved many times over about the event, and we plan to make things even better – not bigger – this time around! The location will be the same: The restored Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, located southwest of Lexington, Kentucky. The dates will be from September 28th to October 2nd, 2011. Bed space at the Village is filling up quickly, so – if you have thought about coming to our little Party – please don’t hesitate any longer, register today!

Posted in Events, Fans, Meet Ups

Middle-earth Weekend in Birmingham, England

Following on from a most successful weekend in May this year (and the sun shone beautifully on Birmingham), planning for next years weekend is underway and will be held on Saturday and Sunday May 21st and 22nd. It will be at the usual venue of Sarehole Mill Recreation Ground within The Shire Country Park, in and around the area that Tolkien and his brother Hilary explored as children.

Sarehole is a lovely rural area, with more trees than in Tolkien’s day and we are basing the weekend around Tolkien’s love of trees and the forests and characters of Middle-earth. As the plans for the weekend develop we will keep you informed. In the meantime pencil in the dates shown above and we look forward to your being at this free event celebrating the life and work of J.R.R. Tolkien.

For further information about the weekend or if you live in the Birmingham, England area and would like to take part in the drama excerpts of Tolkien’s work email

Posted in Events, Fans, Meet Ups

Union criticises Nats over battling for Jackson

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) says it is furious at Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson for “taking sides” in the debate over The Hobbit. Mr Finlayson said yesterday that the Government had sought legal advice from the Crown Law Office confirming that The Hobbit producers had the law on their side in refusing to enter into a union-negotiated agreement with performers who were independent contractors. CTU president Helen Kelly said that advice was biased towards Jackson and as a lawyer, Mr Finlayson would know that. “That’s like saying, ‘I can’t talk to you because this conversation would be illegal,'” Ms Kelly said. Just because there would be contractors working on the project that did not rule out having a union contract, she said. More..

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Peter Jackson, Studios, The Hobbit

Hobbit producers urged to talk to actors’ union

Opposition politicians were today urging the producers of The Hobbit to start talks with an actors’ union to ensure the movie gets made in New Zealand. The movie’s executive producer Sir Peter Jackson has threatened to move the shooting to eastern Europe after NZ Actors Equity said it wanted a collective contract for New Zealand actors appearing in the movie. Actors Equity president Jennifer Ward-Lealand said, following a meeting last night, a delegation would seek to meet the producers of The Hobbit to hold negotiations in good faith. More..

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Peter Jackson, Studios, The Hobbit

Sahara $2B Bid Reconsidered By MGM

Last week it was reported a two billion dollar offer from Indian conglomerate Sahara India Pariwar was rejected by MGM.  But now an article in Businessweek says the offer is being reconsidered by creditors.

Additionally, Sahara has chosen an investment bank in the United States to provide representation, according to Sahara spokeswoman Marcy DePina.  She also stated that “part of the quick rejection had to do with Sahara submitting documentation of its assets in rupees”

You can read the entire article here.

Posted in Hobbit Movie, MGM, Studios, The Hobbit

Recap of Recent Hobbit Developments

Since the news broke this weekend of actor unions putting pressure on the producers of “The Hobbit” regarding wages and working conditions of non-union actors, hundreds of stories, and re-hashes of stories, have hit the internet. It’s enough to boggle the mind! So, we thought we’d provide a recap of what’s happened so far, complete with a number of useful links. Bear in mind that the ‘facts’ presented in one story may conflict with the ‘facts’ presented in other stories. Our goal here is not to take sides, to separate the fact from the fiction, nor to link to 100% of the related articles. Rather, our goal is to give our readers some basic resources as a starting point for their own research. Keep checking for the most recent updates!

(Thanks to many of our readers and message board members for their diligent work locating many of the articles linked below. Special thanks to Kristen Thompson at the Frodo Franchise blog for sharing her extra-diligent research with us. Be sure to keep sending updates as you find them to!)

(Note: dates are based on U.S. time zones)

Sep. 24 – SAG (Screen Actor’s Guild) and other actor unions worldwide (including the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance of Australia) issue statements to their members regarding non-union actors who may be hired to work on “The Hobbit.” Statements range from encouraging support for non-union actors to urging an all-out boycott of the production. NZ Actor’s Equity urges supporters to attend a meeting in Auckland on Sep 27. Links: Offical SAG Alert ; UK Equity Alert ; MEAA Hobbit Fact Sheet ; NZ Actor’s Equity Articles ; TVNZ interview

Sep. 25 – the story breaks on the internet. Links: ; Variety

Sep. 26 – Peter Jackson issues a response. Links:

Sep. 27 – official response from the studios. Links: Deadline Hollywood

Sep. 28 – statement released from NZ Actor’s Equity meeting. Links:  NZ Actor’s Equity Articles ; YouTube Video interviews of NZ Actors re: NZ Actor’s Equity Meeting

Other useful links: NZ Employment Law: Contractors vs. Employees ; NZ Dept. of Labour definition of an Employee ; Ruling on Bryson vs. Three Foot Six ; Karl Urban backs Union Stance ; Movie Studios Look at Other Options for The Hobbit ; TVNZ – The Plot Thickens ; SPADA on Hobbit Battle ; Gordon Campbell on Trade Unions vs. The Hobbit ; More from PJ on ; on Unions having No Legal Standing

Posted in Hobbit Movie, Peter Jackson, Rumors Spy News, The Hobbit