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Hollywood mogul buys Kiwi mansion

; Quelle: Sunday Star Times

TOP Hollywood producer Barrie M Osborne has bought a million- dollar Wellington home from the founder of the Stefan's orange juice empire.

The executive producer on the hit film The Matrix, Osborne will make the house his Wellington base following his appointment as a co- producer on film-maker Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Osborne paid $1.1 million for the pale green, rough-cast, vaulted- ceiling mansion overlooking the entrance to Wellington Harbour from Stefan Lepionka, founder of the Stefan's fresh juice business.

The house is near Jackson's waterfront pad in Wellington's Karaka Bay and just minutes from the Camperdown Studios in Miramar, where the three-film adaptation of the JRR Tolkien epic is being developed under the strictest secrecy.

Land Information New Zealand records list Osborne and another Hollywood producer, Carol Kim, as co-owners of the 370 sq m nearly- new property, which has a government valuation of $600,000.

The Sunday Star-Times learned last week Osborne was to co-produce Lord of the Rings with Jackson and another New Zealand producer, Tom Sanders. The budget for the three-film project is believed to have been boosted by around $100 million to more than $350m, making it one of the largest productions undertaken anywhere.

As well as the top-grossing futuristic thriller The Matrix, Osborne's list of credits includes Face Off, China Moon, Dick Tracy, Peggy Sue Got Married, and The Big Chill.

Industry insiders said the appointment of a big name like Osborne and his decision to buy rather than rent a house in New Zealand, were good omens for completion of the huge project.

It also indicated the extent to which the film's American backers, New Line Cinema, were intent on maintaining control.

Shooting is expected to start next month at locations around the country, and Osborne's appointment may also reflect the logistical challenges of shooting on numerous locations simultaneously, industry observers suggested.

Meanwhile, Sanders last week appeared at Parliament's finance and expenditure select committee seeking a watering down of proposals to close tax loopholes which were becoming increasingly exploited by film financiers.

The Rings co-producer said he was appearing in a private capacity and argued Parliament should avoid "throwing out the baby with the bathwater" with tax amendments which could hurt commercially viable films while stamping out projects which clearly sought to avoid tax.

Sanders said there was no threat to the Rings project from the tax changes, but they would reduce its budget because tax write-offs would be smaller than anticipated.

"We might end up with less to spend than we would have liked," he said.

Hollywood film interests also took the unusual step of making a submission on the changes.

The vice-president of the Motion Picture Association in Los Angeles, Barbara Rosenfeld, warned tax changes could have "the unintended consequence of adversely changing New Zealand's ability to attract film and television production".

The changes could make New Zealand uncompetitive compared with other locations, and the "consequences will be even more dramatic in discouraging future production" if they affected productions already under way.

A compromise may emerge from talks between industry tax advisers and Treasury and Inland Revenue Department officials.

Committee chairman Peter Dunne said he was optimistic a compromise could be achieved.

08/01/1999
Sunday Star-Times
Page A; 4
by Pattrick Smellie

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