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Hobbit woes

“An international group of actors’ unions, including [the Screen Actors Guild], has warned members not to work on ‘The Hobbit’ because of failed efforts to organize the film’s New Zealand production — a move Peter Jackson disparages as a ‘power grab.’

“Members were advised in an alert sent over the weekend ‘not to accept work on this non-union production’ of the MGM blockbuster-to-be, which is still awaiting the official greenlight from financially troubled MGM before shooting — tentatively scheduled for next year — can begin. … The New Zealand unit of an Australian union had made attempts to organize the film, according to the alert.”

Josh Dickey, writing on “SAG Tells Members to Avoid ‘Hobbit’; Jackson Calls it a ‘Power Grab,’” on Sept. 26 at the Wrap

Male bonding

“In the rural, agrarian, untamed United States, when there was still gold to mine, buffalo to shoot, or at least fields of sorghum to plow, the opportunities to establish one’s masculine bonafides were natural and numerous. But the urban men gravitating toward fraternal orders at the turn of the [20th] century were much like the urban men who populated Chuck Palahniuk’s ‘Fight Club’ a hundred years later.

“Undermined by comfortable bedsheets and silk-lined vests, they wanted to prove they were just as rough and ready as their less civilized forebears. Mobile, rootless, unsure of what the rapidly changing world had in store for them, they also longed for community, kinship with their fellow travelers, and traditions they could call their own. …

“The DeMoulin Bros. catalog provisioned the men of its era with danger and adventure on demand. Initiates were threatened with branding; forced to walk across seemingly spiked pathways; electrocuted by benches, razors, and teeter-totters; ambushed by devils; beaten by spanking machines. Instead of breaking wild horses on the plains of Texas, they rode ‘galloping, rearing, wobbling, kicking’ mechanical goats that made broncos look tame in comparison.”

Greg Beato, writing on “Punk’d in the Great Depression,” on Sept. 14 at the Smart Set

Bipartisanship

“The internet is abuzz with praise for the new documentary that points out the many faults of public education, ‘Waiting for Superman.’ With positive reviews from both the Huffington Post on the Left as well as the New York Post on the Right, it makes one wonder, how could this be? It appears that this film has single-handedly done what President Obama could not do to save his own life: bring the Left and Right together on a single issue.

“It is refreshing that the film’s director, Davis Guggenheim (who directed ‘An Inconvenient Truth’), is able to put politics aside to see the destructive nature of teachers unions. Guggenheim put his own kids through private school but realizes that not everyone can afford such a luxury. Here, he sets out to tackle the real problems that have long plagued public school systems: teachers unions. Though, he is careful to say that he isn’t bashing unions in general.

“Guggenheim sees that not everything has to be a political football, which is why we should applaud him for taking a bipartisan approach.”

Chris Yogerst, writing on “‘LA Times’: Liberal Embrace of ‘Waiting for Superman’ Proves Conservatives Are Intolerant,” on Sept. 29 at Big Hollywood

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