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Black Extras In Anti-Apartheid Film Protest Dog’s Pay

May 22, 1988

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) _ A Zimbabwe newspaper said Sunday that black extras in a U.S.-produced anti- apartheid movie are angry because a dog was paid more than they were during filming.

The state-owned Sunday Mail reported that the dog was earning twice the $15 a day black extras were paid. In Zimbabwe, the minimum monthly wage is $54 dollars.

″Personally, I am shocked that animals can earn more than humans,″ said Lucas Tavaya, a Zimbabwe information department official.

But a spokeswoman for the information department said everyone in the production of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s ″A Dry White Season,″ including the extras, received fair pay.

″The allegations are a pack of mischievous lies,″ said Beverley Tilley, a Zimbabwean who coordinates film making for the information department.

″The dog was hired from a professional dog-handler and trainer, and it does earn more than extras - both black and white,″ she told The Associated Press. ″But there are some black Zimbabweans in the technical crew earning up to $4,000 a month.″

MGM representatives have refused to discuss the row over the animal.

The film stars Marlon Brando and is based on a book by South African novelist Andre Brink. It focuses on the subject of apartheid, South Africa’s system of racial segregation in which the black majority has no voice in national affairs.

Ms. Tilley told the newspaper she feared that because the movie was about apartheid, ″the South Africans could be manipulating someone who in turn was responsible for alleged problems at the shooting of ‘A Dry White Season.’ ″

The Mail, quoting a spokesman for the black extras, who were not identified, said: ″The amount the dog is earning is too much to maintain an animal. It ... has taken part in a few of the episodes. This is an ironic case of an organization seeking to expose apartheid.″

The extras also said they wanted the government to appoint more blacks to key positions in the information department, which coordinates film making in this country.

Ms. Tilley told the AP that complaints over extras’ pay rates had been raised in previous films shot in Zimbabwe, and she said similar bad publicity could hurt the country’s efforts to attract international film makers.

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