English Stars Back Southampton Pub in Row with Hollywood

Sir Ian Mckellen has joined Stephen Fry in throwing his support behind The Hobbit pub in Southampton in its recent row with some heavyweight L.A. litigators. The popular pub and music venue has been serving radioactively coloured cocktails with names like the Bilbo, Gandalf and Frodo to thirsty students for more than twenty years in a funky, Middle Earth-ish atmosphere. A few weeks back, however, lawyers representing the Saul Zaentz Company, a Californian entertainment firm, sent a letter to landlady Stella Mary Roberts demanding she cease and desist from this vicious misuse of their registered trademarks and remove all mention of Tolkien’s characters from their décor and menu. The letter asserts their “exclusive worldwide rights to motion picture, merchandising, stage and other rights in certain literary works of JRR Tolkien including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.”

This absurdly aggressive action against a small British business has sparked an internet campaign lead by local student Heather Cartwright, whose Save The Hobbit Facebook page has attracted over 50,000 “Likes. ” Now joining the ranks of dissent are the two British stars, both of whom have roles in the upcoming adaptation of Tolkien’s 1937 novel. “Sometimes I’m ashamed of the business I’m in,” tweeted Fry. “What pointless, self-defeating bullying.” Wrote McKellen on his website: “I haven’t been there but it’s clearly not a place to ill-treat hobbits, elves, dwarves and wizards, in any way. So what’s the problem?”

Meanwhile, in wood panelled offices in Burbank, studio execs scratch their heads and wonder why so many people across the globe don’t feel bad about stealing their intellectual property online….


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