TVNZ‘s Paul Holmes interviews President of the Combined Trade Unions Helen Kelly and managing director of South Pacific Picture John Barnett about the saga surrounding filming of The Hobbit. The Q&A gets extremely heated between the two, read on! More..

Trade union council president Helen Kelly has apologised for calling Peter Jackson a “spoiled brat” but is not sorry for backing industrial action that may see filming of The Hobbit moved overseas. Her apology comes as one of the newly cast stars in the Lord Of The Rings prequel speaks out about the dispute. Scottish actor Sylvester McCoy, famous for his role as sci-fi’s Dr Who in the 1980s, was this weekend cast as wizard Radagast the Brown in the film. Speaking at the Armageddon Expo in Auckland yesterday, McCoy said he – like all of New Zealand – was still waiting to hear where and when filming would go ahead. More..

Ataahua, one of our Kiwi connections, just posted on our Hobbit discussion board that Helen Kelly, president of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) has just been interviewed on Newstalk ZB. Highlights:

The move offshore is financially-driven, not actor-driven
“The issue is that countries are offering double the tax breaks (of New Zealand). Warners are in the process of doing as much damage as they can (to the NZ film industry) to get what they want. “New Zealand can compete on films if the tax system is right. We have to have the right financial conditions to compete.” She said New Zealand competes on talent and skills and we shouldn’t have to accept lower overseas conditions to be competitive.

A resolution was close
“We’re working with SPADA. Warners is fully aware that we’re within an inch of resolving this but they’re deciding to go this way. “The union is the way to unionise the film industry, and what is the problem with this? We have manufacturing and call centres going offshore, and are you suggesting that our actors shouldn’t be unionised?”

PJ’s role in the dispute
“Peter Jackson is a spoilt brat, and saying that in this country I know is sacriligious. He organised a meeting last night through Weta Workshop and wound those technicians up with false information. The were played like a fiddle and took the bait. He shared information that we’re forbidden from sharing (and said) it’s the performers’ request to meet that has hurt The Hobbit. It is the fault of Three Foot Seven to move the movie to film The Hobbit.”