Editorial: Delays fuelled conspiracy theories

WARWICK RASMUSSEN
Last updated 12:19 27/02/2013

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OPINION: Sir Peter Jackson certainly won't be inviting the head of the Australian actor's union to dinner at his Wairarapa mansion any time soon.

Documents released yesterday gave a fascinating background to the tense standoff between the Kiwi director and Simon Whipp, head of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) around the production of The Hobbit movies.

There was a real chance that the movies would have been taken overseas if movie company Warner Bros did not get its way with changing our employment rules.

The New Zealand Government blinked first, made the changes and, for better or worse, the movies were made here.

What the email exchanges did show was the amount of pressure Warners and Sir Peter put on ministers, such as Gerry Brownlee.

Sir Peter targeted Whipp as the major problem. He said Brownlee had "engaged with a snake who now feels quite fearless . . . He is in revenge mode, intent on inflicting as much damage as he can to our film, our film industry, to our country."

He went on to describe Whipp's actions as "toxic nonsense".

The emails showed how much pressure Sir Peter was under, too. At stake was a movie project with a half billion dollar budget and no certainty where or when it would be filmed.

A few weeks ago, Warner Bros said the release of the emails would be damaging to future projects being produced in New Zealand. That was hardly the case and their tactics of trying to scare the New Zealand film industry by making such claims were unfounded.

There was nothing scandalous in the emails that were released. They were simply an exchange of views and a reminder of what was at stake. Each side had something to lose.

For the Government it would have been a lot better if this information was in the public domain at the time, in 2010. Instead, the delay only served to fuel all kinds of conspiracy theories as to what actually was said between the parties.

Hopefully, the release of the information will put an end to it all.

Three great broadcasters, all from the same era have died in the past month. Sir Paul Holmes, Kevin "Blackie" Black and Phillip Leishman may have been quite different characters, but all played a huge role in creating the fabric of our broadcasting culture. Their deaths, so close together, have been a real body blow for the industry. Who will fill the void left, or do they leave behind an era of broadcasting that we may never see again?

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- Manawatu Standard

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