May 05, 2004

The Walt Disney Company is blocking its Miramax division from distributing a new documentary by Michael Moore that harshly criticizes President Bush...The film, "Fahrenheit 911," links Mr. Bush and prominent Saudis including the family of Osama...

Three more US soldiers died in Iraq today...For what? MEANWHILE, here is STUNNING evidence of the "US mainstream news media" complicity...and of the dangers of corporatist media monopolies controlling the flow of information in a "free society." Yes, indeed...It's the Media, Stupid.

Jim Rutenberg, NY Times: The Walt Disney Company is
blocking its Miramax division from distributing a new
documentary by Michael Moore that harshly criticizes
President Bush, executives at both Disney and Miramax
said Tuesday. The film, "Fahrenheit 911," links Mr.
Bush and prominent Saudis including the family of
Osama bin Laden and criticizes Mr. Bush's actions
before and after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The
Walt Disney Company is blocking its Miramax division
from distributing a new documentary by Michael Moore
that harshly criticizes President Bush, executives at
both Disney and Miramax said Tuesday. Th film,
"Fahrenheit 911," links Mr. Bush and prominent Saudis
including the family of Osama bin Laden and
criticizes Mr. Bush's actions before and after the
Sept. 11 terrorist attacks...Mr. Moore's agent, Ari Emanuel, said Michael D.
Eisner, Disney's chief executive, asked him last
spring to pull out of the deal with Miramax. Mr.
Emanuel said Mr. Eisner expressed particular concern
that it would endanger tax breaks Disney receives for
its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida,
where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor.

Break the Bush Cabal Stranglehold on the "US
Mainstream News Media," Show Up for Democracy in 2004:
Defeat Bush (again!)

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/05/national/05DISN.html?hp

Disney Forbidding Distribution of Film That Criticizes
Bush
By JIM RUTENBERG

Published: May 5, 2004


WASHINGTON, May 4 The Walt Disney Company is blocking its Miramax division from distributing a new documentary by Michael Moore that harshly criticizes President Bush, executives at both Disney and Miramax said Tuesday.
The film, "Fahrenheit 911," links Mr. Bush and prominent Saudis including the family of Osama bin Laden and criticizes Mr. Bush's actions before and after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Disney, which bought Miramax more than a decade ago,
has a contractual agreement with the Miramax
principals, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, allowing it to
prevent the company from distributing films under
certain circumstances, like an excessive budget or an
NC-17 rating.

Executives at Miramax, who became principal investors
in Mr. Moore's project last spring, do not believe
that this is one of those cases, people involved in
the production of the film said. If a compromise is
not reached, these people said, the matter could go to
mediation, though neither side is said to want to
travel that route.

In a statement, Matthew Hiltzik, a spokesman for
Miramax, said: "We're discussing the issue with
Disney. We're looking at all of our options and look
forward to resolving this amicably."

But Disney executives indicated that they would not
budge from their position forbidding Miramax to be the
distributor of the film in North America. Overseas
rights have been sold to a number of companies,
executives said.

"We advised both the agent and Miramax in May of 2003
that the film would not be distributed by Miramax,"
said Zenia Mucha, a company spokeswoman, referring to
Mr. Moore's agent. "That decision stands."

Disney came under heavy criticism from conservatives
last May after the disclosure that Miramax had agreed
to finance the film when Icon Productions, Mel
Gibson's company, backed out.

Mr. Moore's agent, Ari Emanuel, said Michael D.
Eisner, Disney's chief executive, asked him last
spring to pull out of the deal with Miramax. Mr.
Emanuel said Mr. Eisner expressed particular concern
that it would endanger tax breaks Disney receives for
its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida,
where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor.

"Michael Eisner asked me not to sell this movie to
Harvey Weinstein; that doesn't mean I listened to
him," Mr. Emanuel said. "He definitely indicated there
were tax incentives he was getting for the Disney
corporation and that's why he didn't want me to sell
it to Miramax. He didn't want a Disney company
involved."

Disney executives deny that accusation, though they
said their displeasure over the deal was made clear to
Miramax and Mr. Emanuel.

A senior Disney executive elaborated that the company
had the right to quash Miramax's distribution of films
if it deemed their distribution to be against the
interests of the company. The executive said Mr.
Moore's film is deemed to be against Disney's
interests not because of the company's business
dealings with the government but because Disney caters
to families of all political stripes and believes Mr.
Moore's film, which does not have a release date,
could alienate many.

"It's not in the interest of any major corporation to
be dragged into a highly charged partisan political
battle," this executive said.

Miramax is free to seek another distributor in North
America, but such a deal would force it to share
profits and be a blow to Harvey Weinstein, a big donor
to Democrats.

Mr. Moore, who will present the film at the Cannes
film festival this month, criticized Disney's decision
in an interview on Tuesday, saying, "At some point the
question has to be asked, `Should this be happening in
a free and open society where the monied interests
essentially call the shots regarding the information
that the public is allowed to see?' "

Mr. Moore's films, like "Roger and Me" and "Bowling
for Columbine," are often a political lightning rod,
as Mr. Moore sets out to skewer what he says are the
misguided priorities of conservatives and big
business. They have also often performed well at the
box office. His most recent movie, "Bowling for
Columbine," took in about $22 million in North America
for United Artists. His books, like "Stupid White
Men," a jeremiad against the Bush administration that
has sold more than a million copies, have also been
lucrative.

Mr. Moore does not disagree that "Fahrenheit 911" is
highly charged, but he took issue with the description
of it as partisan. "If this is partisan in any way it
is partisan on the side of the poor and working people
in this country who provide fodder for this war
machine," he said.

Mr. Moore said the film describes financial
connections between the Bush family and its associates
and prominent Saudi Arabian families that go back
three decades. He said it closely explores the
government's role in the evacuation of relatives of
Mr. bin Laden from the United States immediately after
the 2001 attacks. The film includes comments from
American soldiers on the ground in Iraq expressing
disillusionment with the war, he said.

Mr. Moore once planned to produce the film with Mr.
Gibson's company, but "the project wasn't right for
Icon," said Alan Nierob, an Icon spokesman, adding
that the decision had nothing to do with politics.

Miramax stepped in immediately. The company had
distributed Mr. Moore's 1997 film, "The Big One." In
return for providing most of the new film's $6 million
budget, Miramax was positioned to distribute it.

While Disney's objections were made clear early on,
one executive said the Miramax leadership hoped it
would be able to prevail upon Disney to sign off on
distribution, which would ideally happen this summer,
before the election and when political interest is
high.


Posted by richard at May 5, 2004 10:39 PM