Thursday, October 5, 2023


September 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Throwing their considerable weight behind the New Zealand branch of Australia’s actors’ union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) have notified their members not to accept work on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit. Jackson quickly fired back, saying that most New Zealand actors are private contractors, not members of the union, which he claims number no more than 200, and that he is therefore barred by law from making a deal with the union, which represents “a tiny minority” of the country’s actors. (MEAA has never successfully organized actors on a film shot in New Zealand.) Jackson maintained that his company has always honored studio contracts with SAG and other Hollywood unions and that for The Hobbit he intends to create a separate profit pot so that “Kiwi” actors will be paid the same residuals that SAG actors receive. “SAG members have their pot, and non–SAG members now have theirs. We have introduced the scheme to Kiwi agents and it’s now part of all our Hobbit cast deals.” Jackson said that the MEAA demands could result in causing him to close down the production of the Hobbit movies “or more likely shifting the production to Europe.” Jackson concluded: “But it sure feels like we are being attacked simply because we are a big fat juicy target — not for any wrongdoing. 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, opportunists exploiting our film for their own political gain.”