Controversial helmer seeks new outlet for '9/11' spec
Despite the breakdown of a deal with In Demand to carry “The Michael Moore Pre-Election Special” on pay-per-view on Nov. 1, the documaker pledged on Sunday to continue his quest to air “Fahrenheit 9/11” on television before the Nov. 2 vote.
Moore said he and Bob and Harvey Weinstein are “still looking to approach a cable outlet to still do ‘The Michael Moore Election Eve Special,’ where we may show portions of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ or updated scenes or we may have people in the film such as the mother from Flint,” Mich., who lost her soldier son in Iraq.
“We’re not just going to go away,” Moore said. “We intend to have something on TV the night before the election.”
On Friday, In Demand announced it was pulling the plug on the project due to “legitimate business and legal concerns,” according to the Associated Press, and said Moore was on the verge of suing the company.
In Demand has not offered further comment on the situation.
Moore told Daily Variety, which first reported news of the special on Oct. 7, that a contract to air the show was signed sometime in late September or early October, and production on the special has been under way since.
“We already shot more than half of the special. We were in the editing room doing some of the editing,” Moore said.
Special was to be three hours long and include “Fahrenheit” in full as well as some celebs discussing the doc and the importance of voting in the election. Among the people approached for that portion, Moore said, were Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon.
“That’s continuing,” Moore said, “because either it’s going to be on In Demand because we have a signed contract, or we’re going to get something on some other cable outlet.”
Lawsuit on the way?
In its statement Friday, In Demand alluded to an imminent lawsuit from Moore, and without saying what a potential suit might allege, that it would be “entirely baseless and groundless.”
Moore, though, said no lawsuit had been threatened, though a legal letter had been sent to In Demand on Thursday stating that the company was contractually obligated to air the program.
Moore repeated claims that In Demand had bowed to “Republican pressure” but said he could not give further details.
“All I heard was top Republicans, people connected to the Bush campaign, were making it clear that they were unhappy that this was going to air the night before the election.”
In Demand did not respond to requests for comment on those allegations.
In order to sign the original deal with In Demand, the Fellowship Adventure Group, Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s company that owns rights to “Fahrenheit,” had to first secure permission from homevid distrib Columbia TriStar because its exclusive window extends beyond the Nov. 2 election.
Sony ultimately allowed the one-time broadcast on pay-per-view but may not similarly be inclined to allow a broadcast on cable, where it would likely reach a much wider aud than if it were available on PPV for $9.95.
Sony did not respond to requests for comment.
On Friday, during an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” Moore offered Sinclair Broadcasting free rights to broadcast “Fahrenheit” as a counterbalance to the Kerry-bashing doc “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal” that it has ordered its 62 local stations to carry this week.
Moore said he has not heard back from Sinclair, whose corporate execs have given heavily to George W. Bush’s re-election campaign.
But on Sunday, he alleged that the controversy over Sinclair’s plans influenced In Demand. “Everything was fine until the Sinclair Broadcasting thing started at the beginning of the week. This was making In Demand very uncomfortable at being hooked up with us like this.”