According to a report in today's Variety, Disney has taken steps to prevent Miramax from distributing Michael Moore's new documentary Fahrenheit 911. The film is still going to have its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in a few weeks. The film is highly critical of Bush and his actions since the September 11 attacks, and reveals ties between the Bush family and wealthy Saudis, including the family of Osama bin Laden. Disney executives say they will not budge from their position.
According to an article in the New York Times (and a letter from Moore on his website), Eisner requested that Moore pull out of the deal with Miramax, as he was afraid it would endanger tax breaks that Disney receives from the state of Florida, where Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor. Disney denies this is the reason, stating that "Disney caters to families of all political stripes and believes Mr. Moore's film, which does not have a release date, could alienate many."
Moore, in an interview yesterday, said the following: "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?' "
Apparently, Miramax can work with another distribution company, but that will result in profit sharing. Will Harvey Weinstein go for that?
Here's Filmbrain's take on it -- as a corporation, Disney has the right to protect their interests. He is even willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and consider that their decision is motivated more by fear of profit loss than by political opinion. (But deep down, he believes Disney to be in the pockets of the Christian right.) The only thing to do is to hurt Disney where it counts -- a full boycott of their products, theme parks and whatever else they have their fingers in. Anybody interested in regime change, or is at the very least a champion of free speech needs to stand up to Disney and their strong-arm tactics. We can not let them get away with this unscathed. This is a form of censorship, no matter how you look at it. The Christian right is very good at these sort of tactics -- just look at the current 'decency' hearings, the fines being dished out, and the out-and-out censorship of certain artists. The left must employ similar methods and expose Disney for what they are.
Filmbrain is curious to see how Harvey handles this one. Harv's been a long time friend of the Democrats, and there's no way he's going to go down without a fight. That said, it should also be noted that tensions between Disney and the Weinstein brothers are high, given that they are in the midst of contract renegotiations. Will Harvey take the risk and potentially give up millions of dollars of income in the interest of free speech and regime change? Stay tuned folks. . .
Related link: Google Directory of Anti-Disney Activism