‘Day’ debate warms up

Gore cites Fox pic in slam of White House

The tussle over Fox’s global-warming disaster pic “The Day After Tomorrow” took on more of a political tone Tuesday as Al Gore used the pic to blast President Bush’s environmental policies.

While Fox is enjoying the additional publicity environmentalists are generating for the $125 million movie, the studio is delicately trying to avoid the picture being politicized.

However, Gore is not. “The Bush administration, is in some ways, even more fictional than the movie in trying to convince people that there is no real problem, no degree of certainty from scientists about the issue,” the former vice president said during a conference call organized by MoveOn.org.

Gore is headlining a campaign put on by a group of liberal orgs that are trying to use “Tomorrow,” which will bow on May 28, to rally public support for combating global warming (Daily Variety, April 28).

Fox is not participating in the effort, but the studio has agreed to screen the pic for Gore and other environmentalists participating in the rally in Gotham a day before the preem and another screening for climate scientists.

Fox representative Flo Grace said, “First and foremost the film is entertainment, but if there are issues in it that create more interest and make it more topical, we think it’s terrific.”

In “Tomorrow,” global warming leads to the sudden onset of a new Ice Age over the course of three days, a scenario that climate scientists dismiss as science fiction.

Gore will appear at a town hall meeting May 24 in Gotham, a few blocks from the “Tomorrow” premiere at the American Museum of Natural History. Hollywood activist Laurie David, radio host Al Franken and environmental lawyer Robert Kennedy Jr. are also on the program.

Organizers said they have also invited “Tomorrow” helmer Roland Emmerich, producer Mark Gordon, stars Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal and scribe Jeffrey Nachmanoff to appear as well. Josh Baran, a PR consultant working with the groups, extended the invite to Fox execs as well. “Even Rupert Murdoch is welcome to come,” he said.

Reached Tuesday, Gordon said he had not seen an actual invitation, but when asked if he was considering appearing replied, “Absolutely.”

Gordon also said: “Anything we can do to raise consciousness about the environment is a good thing. It’s part of the reason we made this film.” He added, “I think people will want to go see this movie because it’s incredibly entertaining.”

In addition to the May 24 event, MoveOn and other groups are encouraging their members to pass out leaflets to filmgoers exiting “Tomorrow” shows over Memorial Day weekend that warn: “Global warming isn’t just a movie. It’s your future.” Leaflet also features a photo of Bush and reads: “One man stands in the way of real progress toward stopping global warming: President George W. Bush.”

Republican National Committee spokeswoman Christine Iverson commented: “Al Gore also thought that Howard Dean would be the Democratic presidential nominee. With a track record like that at picking blockbusters, it’s doubtful that the American people will be relying on his talents as a movie critic.”

Gore encouraged people to see the picture, learn more about climate change and start driving hybrid cars. “I think the new fuel-efficient vehicles represent ethical choices,” he said.

In its Wednesday editions, a New York Times story alleged that Fox was trying to distance itself from the political efforts, citing the disinviting of Kennedy and David to the preem. Both had been reinvited by the time the story was published Tuesday afternoon on the Times’ Web site.

Reached by Daily Variety on Tuesday afternoon, neither Kennedy nor David thought the invite snafu amounted to anything more than a mix-up.

Said Kennedy: “I accept their explanation that it was a misunderstanding. I’m absolutely convinced of that. I don’t think the higher echelon at Fox intended to disinvite us.”

David agreed. “I feel pretty confident about this — it was a misunderstanding,” she said. “I still believe Fox is trying to sell entertainment. They didn’t make this film to raise consciousness. But that’s not their job.”