21 Nov 2012

Hobbit film makers punish RNZ journalist

10:50 pm on 21 November 2012

A Radio New Zealand journalist has had her accreditation to cover next week's Hobbit premiere revoked by the film-makers, who say she was writing too many negative stories.

Cushla Norman was told on Wednesday she would not be able to cover the red carpet and press conference, but another journalist could go instead.

Radio New Zealand is refusing to replace Norman, who told Checkpoint how she found out she had been banned.

"I received an email from the publicist for Roadshow Film Distributors, Leanda Borrett, and that email says: 'Unfortunately we're no longer able to extend an invitation to you to cover the red carpet and press conference as part of the Hobbit junket. We will be looking to find another journalist'," she says.

"I gave Leanda a call: she says that it came from the filmmakers, who had been casting an eye over my stories to date and decided they didn't want me covering the red carpet and press conference.

"I asked her if they were unhappy with my coverage of the Hobbit and she said 'yes', and that I could infer that I was doing too many negative stories".

"She did say other journalists are involved also, but wouldn't say how many and whether they were from New Zealand".

Norman said she had done a dozen stories - including four on an industrial dispute two years ago - but on Tuesday she had covered allegations by wranglers on the Hobbit movies that there were animal welfare problems where the animals were held off the film sets.

Meanwhile the concerns raised about the treatment of animals by the international animal rights organisation PETA are not expected to affect ticket sales.

PETA claims 27 animals died because of mistreatment over the course of the two-year production, but the SPCA says it has found no evidence animals were mistreated.

Los Angeles Times entertainment correspondent Steve Zeitchik told Simon Mercep on Morning Report that the story has been getting a lot of attention in the United States.