The curse of the ring has struck again. Production on the two-film adaptation of J R R Tolkien's epic fantasy novel, The Hobbit, is once again in jeopardy, this time, amid ongoing pay rows. The latest troubles to halt filming - which has seen the Pan's Labyrinth director, Guillermo Del Toro, leave the project after MGM's financial woes caused initial delays-- stem from a disagreement with the actor's union, The Media, Entertainments and Arts Alliance (MEAA).
The union accused Jackson of refusing to allow them to lay out guidelines for wages and adequate working conditions for actors, and the resulting feud has caused New Zealand's prime minister, John Key, to step in to rectify the situation. Since 2005, when Jackson brought a lawsuit against the studio that financed The Lord of the Rings movies, New Line, The Hobbit has been besieged with one problem after another.
The fallout from the lawsuit resulted in Jackson being removed from The Hobbit for a lengthy period, finally being welcomed back at the end of 2007. But barely had Jackson been reinstated when production was halted once more, this time thanks to Tolkien's estate, which also sued New Line. Delay to filming was also caused by the fire that recently swept through Jackson's New Zealand workshop, burning it to the ground. Honestly, where's Gandalf when you need him?