New Zealand to rewrite labor laws for Peter Jackson

Back in June, I blogged a too-good-to-check item from the Daily Mail about rapper Snoop Dogg trying to rent the entire country of Liechtenstein for a music video shoot. As absurd as that story sounded, I was reminded of it by the news that New Zealand has just agreed to rewrite its labor laws to accommodate the filming of Peter Jackson's new Hobbit movie: 

Warner Bros and New Line had considered taking the production elsewhere after acting unions threatened to boycott the films in a row over wages.

"I am delighted we have achieved this result," PM John Key said at 0720 BST. "Making the two Hobbit movies here will not only safeguard work for thousands of New Zealanders, but it will also follow the success of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy in once again promoting New Zealand on the world stage."

As part of the arrangement, the New Zealand government will introduce legislation to clarify the distinction between independent contractors and employees working in the film production industry.

Thousands took to the streets in Wellington and Auckland earlier this week carrying signs with slogans like "New Zealand is Middle Earth" and "We Love Hobbits," when Jackson suggested he might move the production elsewhere. Economists have said that losing the production could have cost New Zealand as much as  $1.5 billion -- more than 1 percent of its GDP. Precious!

Sandra Mu/Getty Images

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