antiTainment NEWS: Michael Moore Lied About Disney Ban

05-06-04 Keavin editorial
(click here for an updated version of this article, including excerpts from a new statement from Michael Moore)
Michael Moore made a big stink earlier this week when he accused Disney of pulling the plug on his latest film, “Fahrenheit 911”. He decried Disney’s decision not to distribute the film as politically motivate censorship. However, Moore was crying wolf. He admitted in a CNN interview that he knew almost a year ago that Disney would not distribute the film, according to a report from independent.co.uk. 

Moore told CNN, "Almost a year ago, after we'd started making the film, the chairman of Disney, Michael Eisner, told my agent he was upset Miramax had made the film and he will not distribute it."

The lightning rod film producer claims that he had a contract with Disney for distribution, but according to independent.co.uk, a source close to Miramax (the subsidiary involved in the film) said that the deal was for financing, not for distribution. 

In a statement Moore made Wednesday on his website, he told his fans that he was informed on Tuesday that Disney had “officially” decided to prohibit Miramax from distributing the film. Moore then pointed to a New York Times article for a possible reason for Disney's decision, "According to today's (May 5) New York Times, it might 'endanger' millions of dollars of tax breaks Disney receives from the state of Florida because the film will 'anger' the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush." Moore however, did not disclose that New York Times source was actually his agent. The Times article reported that Moore's agent said that Eisner told him that Disney was afraid to lose tax breaks from Florida. The article then quoted a senior Disney executive that said the reason Disney did not want to distribute the film is because the company, "caters to families of all political stripes and that many of them might be alienated by the film." Moore then made the statements in the interview with CNN, where he expanded his story and admitted that Disney chairman, Michael Eisner, had informed his agent almost a year ago that Disney would not distribute the film. The real dishonesty comes from the statement ,"According to today's (May 5) New York Times," when in fact it was according to Mr. Moore's agent, who was sourced in the New York Times article. (It must be pointed out that the headline for this article was used as an example of how to spin a story to create controvery, in much the same way Mr. Moore's statement was spun.)

Some Moore supporters discount the official Disney explanation by pointing out that the company runs shows by conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh on radio stations that they control. 

Moore’s admission that he knew prior to his outcry, prompts the question, why all the outrage now? Easy answer? Publicity baby! The film is set to premier at the Cannes Film Festival later this month. The politically charged film can easily generate controversy and press on its own. It is reportedly an attack film against the Bush administration that questions the President’s handling of the War on Terror and the events surrounding the 9/11 attacks. According to some news outlets, the film links the Bush family with the family of Osama Bin Laden. 

This publicity stunt may backfire. If Moore will take a year old event and use it to drum up publicity, it might lead to questions regarding the credibility of some of the issues covered in his film and the spin Moore puts on them.  Regardless, Moore remains a polarizing figure. His supporters are not likely to jump ship and his detractors will continue to question his credibility. .



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