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Did The Hobbit Kill 27 Animals? PETA Vs. Peter Jackson

Martin Freeman and director Peter Jackson on the set of The Hobbit

We’re just starting to get excited for the epic epicness that will be Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit movies, but the latest news about the production may just put a damper on our Middle-earth love. Yesterday, PETA released info to The Associated Press alleging that 27 horses, sheep, goats and chickens had died during the production due to dangerous conditions at the farm where they were housed. PETA’s sources described hazardous bluffs and embankments that killed two horses, overcrowded stables, worm infestations that killed sheep and goats, and the mauling of chickens by out-of-control dogs on the property.

Jackson and company immediately defended themselves, saying that PETA didn’t check their sources. “To date, the only horse wranglers whose treatment of animals fell below the production’s standard of care seem to be the two wranglers who have chosen to level this new accusation on the eve of the premiere of the first Hobbit film and who were dismissed by the production over a year ago,” Jackson wrote on Facebook late last night.

Spokespeople for the production told the AP that there were two avoidable deaths of horses but other animals died of “natural causes.” Meanwhile, the American Humane Association — the folks that authorize the “no animals were harmed” statement in the credits of movies — claim that while it made sure none were harmed on the set, it had no control over what went on at the farm, which was 186 miles away. “We do not have either the jurisdiction or funding to extend that oversight to activities or conditions off set or before animals come under our protection,” said a statement, according to Deadline. So that’s not exactly a statement of support for The Hobbit.

PETA, which demonstrated its power in Hollywood recently when protests over horse deaths led to the cancellation of HBO’s Luck, made a suggestion we find rather unrealistic. “In a movie that features CGI dragons, ogres, and hobbits, CGI animals would have fit in perfectly. Jackson could have made The Hobbit without using a single animal—and he should have.” The producers already said they used CGI for 55 percent of the animals in the movies, but we imagine using zero real animals, especially for close-ups, would look absurd. (Sorry, Twilight werewolves, you are no substitute for the real thing.)

We really hope this is just a story of disgruntled workers making use of PETA’s strong conviction that no animals should ever work for people in any setting, and not an actual tale of mistreatment. We don’t think Bilbo would approve.

[Photo: Warner Bros.]

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Taylor Lautner — Cautious Dater

Posted by Adam

Taylor Lautner

Taylor Lautner

TAYLOR Lautner is cautious when it comes to dating.

The actor — who became a household name playing werewolf Jacob Black in the Twilight movies — is more “guarded” now he famous worldwide and he gets paranoid that women are only interested in him because of his wealth and status.

“I do have to be more careful. I would be lying if I said that I don’t guard myself more than I used to, but I don’t want to be too guarded,” Taylor said.

“If you have so many walls up that you can’t even make new friends or find new relationships. That would be a bummer.”

Taylor says he is still unsure as to whether or not he believes in love at first sight but he’s sure he will understand more about romance as he gets older.

“I’m still figuring that one out. I go back and forth on that,” he added.

“Sometimes I say I do and sometimes I’m not sure. I definitely think I need a few more years under my belt to fully know if I believe that or not.

“I do enjoy romance. There’s always some sort of love story in every movie, but the roles I’m working on now aren’t super-romantic so I’m excited about that. It will be different for me, after this romance saga.”

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Reached, Crewel: Two Fearless Heroines I’m Thankful For, A VH1 Celebrity Thanksgiving

Reached by Ally Condie and Crewel by Gennifer Albin

OK, sure, I’m thankful for my (growing) family, food on the table and all that this Thanksgiving, but it ain’t my job to talk about those things here at VH1 Celebrity, so I get to skip to the lighter stuff and tell you that this year, I’m thankful for the heroines. Specifically, the heroines of a number of young adult novels I’ve been digging into this fall, and who, despite being teens in alternate universes, still manage to inspire this crusty old lady with their ability to rise above dreary circumstances with nothing but their wits. There are a whole lot of them, but I’ll narrow it down to the protagonists of two books that came out in the past month: Cassia, the heroine of Reached, the conclusion to Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy; and Adelice, the girl at the center of Gennifer Albin’s Crewel.

After saying goodbye to Twilight, and looking at a long wait for the next Hunger Games movie, I think we’re pretty lucky that there’s been a steady flow of other fantastic girls like Bella and Katniss jumping out of their pages. Not that I’d lump them all together, though. Cassia is unlike any others you’ve met: She began Matched perfectly content with the dystopian Society that dictated everything in her life from what she ate every meal to whom she’d married. And at first, it wasn’t any sort of mortal danger that woke her up from that illusion, it was a poem. As we’ve followe Cassia’s journey out of society, into the wilderness to follow her exiled love Ky (in book 2, Crossed) and back to work under cover for the rebellion in Reached, we see her grow brave and confident. We also see her become an artist in her own right, writing poems in a world finally realizing that 100 carefully selected classics aren’t enough. And then, strangely enough for such an entertaining book, it is actually Cassia’s skills as a statistician (or ”Sorter” as they’re called) that proves to be what turns her into a hero for thousands. A girl who saves the day with math and literature? Yes, I think we could use a few more of those.

And as I closed the cover on that trilogy this weekend (until we hear more about the movie, which is supposed to be directed by David Slade), I was very grateful to have the beginning of another series to turn to almost immediately. Crewel is another dystopian novel, and again its protagonist finds herself boosted from ordinary existence into one with great responsibility, whether she chooses to work within the system or to break it down. Again, though, this is not a world you’ve encountered in any other book. In Arras, women called Spinsters control everything in the world on their looms — food supplies, life and death, travel, weather, you name it. But though they control the fabric of the universe in their hands, their lives are not their own, which is why Adelice’s parents tried to get her to hide her natural weaving talent. You know what’s coming next (or there’d be no book!) — she’s discovered and whisked away to a life of caged luxury. Not that this spunky girl will let things stay that way. With every official she talks back to, every punishment she survives despite her sharp tongue, you too feel yourself standing up a little taller. We’re not gonna let the man treat us like that!

To tell you the awful truth, there was one thing that made me a little bummed when I found out I’ll be having a boy in February: I was really hoping to get to share these heroines with a daughter someday. But now that I think about it, these ladies are such badasses, I think even my son will one day enjoy reading about them as much as he’ll read about male wizards and pirates and pilots and whatever else it is boys like. In the meantime, I’m thankful I can pretend part of me is still the teenage girl dreaming about taking control of my own future, and I hope some actual teenage girls are doing that in real life too.

Stay tuned all week long as other members of the VH1 Celebrity team share the things in pop culture they’re thankful for!

[Photos: Penguin, Farrar Straus Giroux]


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