Monday, June 27, 2005

100 Percent Gross

Lord of the Pigs? - The New York Times violates its ethics code to cheap-shot director Peter Jackson. By Jack Shafer

I'm glad someone else noticed how unfair today's article in the New York Times was to Peter Jackson. In an anonymous quote, a source says, "Peter Jackson is an incredible filmmaker who did the impossible on Lord of the Rings. ... But there's a certain piggishness involved here. New Line already gave him enough money to rebuild Baghdad, but it's still not enough for him." Now, as I indicated below, I believe there are circumstances when it's important for journalists to use anonymous sources--when those sources would lose their jobs for talking to a reporter and anonymity allows them to reveal information that would otherwise remain concealed from the public. But, as Shafer notes, that's not what we get here. Instead, anonymity allows someone to get a cute little quote about Jackson into circulation without having to face the consequences of saying such a thing about one of Hollywood's power players. That's not fair.

Shafer goes on:
You could argue—on the record, of course—that Jackson suffers from piggishness. After all, his Rings deal is for 20 percent of total gross revenues, and he's collected $200 million to date, according to the Times. But why should it be piggish for Jackson to ask a court to determine whether New Line swindled him but not piggish for the well-lined pockets of New Line—which has reaped $4 billion in total revenues for the series—to lust for the disputed loot?
Why indeed? New Line took a huge risk on Jackson's trilogy--but it has paid off, and more handsomely than the company could ever have expected, with Oscars and extended editions and record-setting weekend grosses. Why isn't there a blind quote discussing how greedy New Line is for wanting to hold back money from its rainmaker?

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