Belfast Telegraph

McKellen backs Hobbit pub in row

Sir Ian McKellen is supporting the Hobbit pub in its legal battle with a big Hollywood producer who is demanding it removes all references to the JRR Tolkien classic.

The actor, 72, who plays Gandalf in the Lord Of The Rings films, said the move by California-based movie producer the Saul Zaentz Company (SZC) to force the pub in Southampton to change its name and decor as "unnecessary pettiness".

Landlady Stella Roberts, 41, has claimed lawyers have written saying she has until the end of May to change the pub's theme or face legal action for copyright infringement.

SZC owns the worldwide film, stage and merchandising rights to The Lord Of The Rings trilogy and The Hobbit and has not commented on the row.

Sir Ian wrote on his website: "Gandalf's portrait hangs outside The Hobbit pub in Portswood, Southampton UK and has done for the last 20 years and more.

"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?

"I am a part-landlord of a pub called The Grapes. So far no vintners' group has objected. That would be silly of course. As is this unnecessary pettiness. More Alice's Wonderland than Tolkien's Middle-earth. Harrumph.

"I haven't yet talked to Stephen Fry about his disapproval of this Hollywood bullying but I'm with him all the way. All the way to The Hobbit pub once filming is over in July."

Stephen Fry - who also appears in new film The Hobbit - has also thrown his support behind a 40,000-strong internet campaign to save the pub's name.

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