We Promise: The Next Hobbit Story You Read From Us Will Be The Review

Tired of hearing about The Hobbit yet? The movie still hasn't even been greenlit, and already we've been talking about it for longer than it took J.R.R. Tolkien to write The Lord of the Rings. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much.

Look: Four years ago, I snarked about Peter Jackson getting booted off the film by New Line Cinema (which no longer even exists as the independent entity it was when it produced Jackson's LOTR trilogy). Already, in November 2006, we had been debating and anticipating and fan-swooning and doing all the things we do to make looking forward to a movie we can't wait to see more bearable. Not that it helps much, except to pass the time.

The wait is getting as least as long as Bilbo's journey with the dwarves that The Hobbit will -- eventually -- depict. Or perhaps if we start breeding a hobbity actor now, he'll be old enough to play Bilbo by the time shooting actually starts. I dunno: How about a child of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone? I bet he'd look pretty hobbity...

Anyway, the news on the film (which has not, remember, even received an official go-ahead yet) is that the entire planned New Zealand production may have to be scrapped in favor of, perhaps, a move to Eastern Europe, due to a possible strike by non-SAG actors who are demanding the protection of a contract, as Screen Actors Guild cast members would have. Jackson is reported to be furious at this move by the Australian Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, given that his massive, years-long Lord of the Rings production gave such a huge boost to the economy Down Under. So did his FX workshop, WETA. But it does sound churlish of a multimillionaire like Jackson to pooh-pooh the working conditions of his actors, most of whom will not be major stars earning big bucks. They'll be extras and bit players who deserve fair wages and working conditions. Absent outrageous union demands -- which no one is suggesting are being proffered -- what reason can there be to deny working actors a unionized set?

No one is going to budge on this, I can see this now. If we get a Jackson production of The Hobbit before 2015, I'll be amazed.

Oh, and there's this: Guillermo Del Toro, who had replaced Jackson as director, had to drop out of the project bcause of all the delays, and the film still has no replacement for him. Rumor has it, however, that Jackson himself may come back into the job. Or maybe not.

Somehow, I suspect we're gonna have to break that promise not to write about The Hobbit again before we review the film.

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MaryAnn Johanson journeys there and back again at FlickFilosopher.com. (email me)