WASHINGTON — Vexed by “Fahrenheit 9/11’s” box office success, Republicans are aiming to give Michael Moore a taste of his own medicine.
Lionel Chetwynd, Hollywood scribe and unabashed Republican, has spent the past six weeks working on a documentary response to “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
Pic is called “Celsius 41.11,” a reference to the temperature at which the human brain begins to die from exposure to heat — or, in this case, what the filmmakers regard as overheated left-wing rhetoric.
Conservative Washington org Citizens United is underwriting the project to the tune of $750,000-$1 million, according to Dave Bossie, the group’s exec director.
In June, Bossie and his org tried to prevent “9/11’s” distributors from advertising the pic on TV, arguing those commercials amounted to electioneering and thus violated campaign finance laws restricting political ads close to presidential nominating conventions and the Nov. 2 election.
The Federal Election Commission threw out the complaint, declining to decide whether the doc qualified for a press exemption.
Bossie asked the FEC whether he could qualify for an exemption so he could advertise “Celsius 41.11.”
On Friday, the FEC said Citizens United would not qualify for the press exemption and, therefore, could not buy local broadcast and cable ad time to air the anti-Kerry film.
Bossie and company are moving forward on the film, with a premiere screening skedded for Sept. 28 at Loews’ Georgetown theater in Washington.
No firm word yet on theatrical distribution, although Bossie insists it will be in at least a dozen theaters nationwide, even if he has to pay for it himself.
Chetwynd’s name carries some weight as well. He recently wrote “Ike: Countdown to D-Day,” a highly rated A&E special about Dwight Eisenhower that starred Tom Selleck, and “DC 9/11: Time of Crisis,” a positive depiction of President Bush’s response to the terrorist attacks that aired on Showtime.
“There will be a high-level of scholarship … no cheap shots,” Chetwynd told Daily Variety. “This is not a manipulative film of the sort Michael Moore would make. … We’re keeping our hands clean.”