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Subject: [alt.tv.tv-nation] Michael Moore FAQ (Part 1 of 3)

This article was archived around: 20 Dec 1998 23:19:15 -0000

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[ Apologies for the gap between faq postings, real-life interfered. ] The Michael Moore FAQ Version 3.0 (Updated Dec 16, 1998) Compiled by Edward Champion Updated by Richard Palmer (richard@amega.demon.co.uk) and Edward Champion (edchamp@slip.net) * * * "Political humor is a good way of providing a message -- as opposed to giving a sermon." - Michael Moore * * * All comments can be addressed to Richard Palmer (richard@amega.demon.co.uk) or Edward Champion (edchamp@slip.net) * * * DISCLAIMER: This FAQ is strictly for informational purposes only. No copyright infringement is intended. Permission is given to distribute this FAQ, provided it is distributed in its complete format and the text within the FAQ remains unaltered. Many thanks go to the following individuals. David Pautler (pautler@ils.nwu.edu) Lincoln Stewart (imp@io.org) Kathleen Glynn (krglynn@aol.com) Alan Hamilton (alanh@primenet.com) Brent Smith johnr@vnet.ibm.com Jorn Barger Peter Shafran <pwslaw@worldnet.att.net> And anybody else missed out ! * * * * - Indicates updated or new information. Contained within the FAQ: 0. The FAQ 0.1. What the hell is a FAQ? 0.2. Where can I get the latest copy of the FAQ? 0.3. Who do I send updates, revisions, corrections and error revisions in the FAQ to? 0.4. How did this FAQ come about? 1. Michael Moore 1.1. Who is Michael Moore? 1.2. What films/television has Michael Moore been involved with? 1.3. How can I contact Michael Moore? 1.4. Are there any web sites devoted to Moore? 1.5. Is Michael Moore married? 1.6. What was Michael Moore's early life like? 2. The Journalism Years 2.1. _The Flint Voice_ 2.2. The _Mother Jones_ Fiasco 3. ROGER & ME 3.0. What is ROGER & ME? 3.1. How can I order ROGER & ME? *3.2. How did ROGER & ME come about? 3.3. What was the big controversy over ROGER & ME? 3.4. Who are some of the "stars" of ROGER & ME? 3.5. Michael Moore's ROGER & ME publicity diary 3.6. After ROGER & ME 4. PETS OR MEAT: THE RETURN TO FLINT 4.0. What is PETS OR MEAT: THE RETURN TO FLINT? 4.1. How can I order PETS OR MEAT: THE RETURN TO FLINT? 4.2. PETS OR MEAT miscellany 5. TV NATION 5.0. What is TV NATION? 5.0.1. Can I order tapes of TV NATION? *5.0.2. Has TV NATION been renewed? 5.0.3. If TV NATION isn't being aired anymore, how can I see the old episodes? 5.0.4. Is there an address for TV NATION? 5.0.5. Is there a newsgroup devoted to TV NATION? 5.0.6. Is there a TV NATION mailing list? How can I get back issues of Veronica Moore's newsletters? 5.0.7. How can I contact Crackers or Yuri? 5.0.8. Are there any TV NATION web pages? 5.0.9. Can I order a TV NATION hat? 5.0.10. What's the story behind that amazing opening theme music and where can I get it? 5.1. TV NATION Episode Guide 5.1.1. The NBC 1994 Summer Replacement Series 5.1.2. The 1994 NBC End-of-the-Year Special 5.1.3. The Fox 1995 Summer Replacement Series 5.2. TV NATION BIOGRAPHIES 5.2.1. Louis Theroux, Correspondent 5.2.2. Rusty Cundieff, Correspondent 5.2.3. Janeanne Garofolo, Correspondent 5.2.4. Karen Duffy, Correspondent 5.2.5. Jeff Stillson, Correspondent 5.2.6. Merrill Markoe, Correspondent 5.2.7. Ben Hemper, Correspondent 5.2.8. Roy Sekoff, Correspondent 5.2.9. Crackers, the Corporate Crime-Fighting Chicken 5.2.10. Yuri Shvets, TV NATION Agent *5.3. ADVENTURES IN A TV NATION *5.3.1. What is ADVENTURES IN A TV NATION? 5.4. TV NATION Miscellany 5.4.1. Unaired TV NATION Segments and Censorship 5.4.2. Michael Moore's Cobb County Diary 5.4.3. How did TV NATION come about? 5.4.4. Related TV NATION addresses 6. CANADIAN BACON 6.0. What is CANADIAN BACON? 6.1. Is CANADIAN BACON available on video? 6.2. Why was CANADIAN BACON delayed from release so long? And how come I didn't see it playing at my local theater? 6.3. CANADIAN BACON miscellany 6.3.1. Were there any changes from the initial cut? 7. DOWNSIZE THIS! RANDOM THREATS FROM A UNARMED AMERICAN 7.0. What is DOWNSIZE THIS!? 7.1. How can I get it? 7.2. Some Chapter Titles 7.3. Relevant Links 8. THE BIG ONE with Michael Moore 8.0. What is THE BIG ONE? 8.1. Where can I see THE BIG ONE? 8.5. What happened with ... 8.5.1. Borders Bookstore 8.5.2. Richard Jewell 8.5.3. Detroit Newspaper Strikes *9 PILOTS 9.1. THE MICHAEL MOORE SHOW 9.1.1. What is THE MICHAEL MOORE SHOW? 9.1.2. Will THE MICHAEL MOORE SHOW have a regular time slot? 9.2. BETTER DAYS 9.2.1. What is Better Days? 10. THE AWFUL TRUTH *10.1. Where can I see it? *10.2 Lawsuits *10.2.1 Ira Renner v Michael Moore *10.2.2 Mayor Giuliani v Michael Moore *10.2.3 Michael Moore v New York *10.2.4 Michael Moore v Ira Rennert 11. Miscellaneous *11.1 Other Projects * * * 0. The FAQ 0.1. What the hell is a FAQ? A FAQ (pronounced "fack") is an acronym for Frequently Asked Questions. A FAQ contains information about a particular notion or subject. (In this case, filmmaker Michael Moore.) It is often utilized by people on the Internet to avoid people asking the same questions over and over again. In some cases, such as this one, the FAQ in question contains more than enough information than necessary. 0.2. Where can I get the latest copy of the FAQ? The faq is posted on the 16th of each month to alt.tv.tv-nation, alt.answers and news.answers. The latest version of this FAQ is available on the WWW at the following URL: http://www.amega.demon.co.uk/Moore/index.html The FAQ can also be found at Edward Champion's Self-Indulgent Home Page, located at: http://www.slip.net/~edchamp In addition copies of the faq can be retreived from the news.answers FAQ archive at ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/faqs/celebrities/michael-moore-faq/ 0.3. Who do I send submissions, updates, revisions, or error corrections in the FAQ to? Send any updates, etc, to Richard Palmer or Edward Champion ( see email addresses above ). 0.4. How did this FAQ come about? This FAQ was written by Edward Champion, who compiled most of the information in it from various interviews, reviews and articles. I have been updating the faq from 1997 after Edward left the 'net for a while in 1996. Both Edward and I are now updating the faq. 1. Michael Moore 1.1. Who is Michael Moore? Michael Moore is a filmmaker and journalist born in Flint, Michigan. Formerly the editor of an alternative newspaper called _The Michigan Voice_, his unique approach to the two crafts has won him legions of fans and critical accolade, from notables such as Alexander Cockburn and numerous other critics. He is perhaps best known for his groundbreaking satirical documentary, ROGER & ME, and his critically acclaimed television series, TV NATION. 1.2. What films/television has Michael Moore been involved with? The following list contains everything that Moore has been creatively involved in. TV specials, interviews and other sundries have been excluded due to lack of time and for the sake of brevity. ROGER & ME (1989, 87 minutes) Directed by Michael Moore. Moore's cutting-edge satirical documentary that explores Michael's pursuits of General Motors chairman Roger Smith after Moore's home town, Flint, Michigan, has been devastated by layoffs. PETS OR MEAT: THE RETURN TO FLINT (1992, 24 minutes) Directed by Michael Moore. The sequel to ROGER & ME that follows-up on many of the individuals from the first film (Ben Hamper, the Rabbit Lady, etc.). BLOOD IN THE FACE (1991, 78 minutes) Although Michael Moore didn't direct this documentary on right-wing extremist groups, he does appear halfway through the film as an interviewer. The film is distributed by First Run Features. TV NATION (1994, NBC, 8 episodes) For more details, see episode guide. TV NATION YEAR-END SPECIAL (1994, NBC, 45 minutes) For more details, see episode guide. TV NATION (1995, FOX, 8 episodes) For more details see episode guide. TV NATION YEAR-END SPECIAL (1995, FOX, 45 minutes) Unaired special, although a clip was shown on Moore's most recent appearance on LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN. CANADIAN BACON (1995, 100 minutes) Written and Directed by Michael Moore. Moore's first narrative film starring John Candy, Rhea Perlman, Kevin Pollack, Alan Alda, Rip Torn, Bill Nunn, and Kevin J. O Connor. Alda is a liberal US president who decides to invade Canada to boost his popularity in the polls. Little does he realize the effect this will have on the population. THE BIG ONE(1997,90 minutes) Written,Produced and Directed by Michael Moore. Returning to the documentary style of Roger and Me,this film follows Moore on his booksigning tour around 47 American cities. THE MICHAEL MOORE SHOW (1997) A pilot for a weekly talk-show with Michael Moore as host. BETTER DAYS (1998) A sitcom by Moore under development, about a town where everybody is unemployed. THE AWFUL TRUTH (1998) A new tv series by Moore similar in style to TV Nation 1.3 How can I contact Michael Moore? Michael Moore can be contacted via e-mail at MMFlint@aol.com. For those of you who prefer snail-mail, he can be reached via Dog Eat Dog Films at: PO Box 831 Radio City Station New York, New York 10101-0831 1.4 Are there any web sites devoted to Moore? Yes, there are many. Michael Moore's official site is located at: http://www.michaelmoore.com. In addition, there is a Dog Eat Dogs Film site at: http://www.dogeatdogfilms.com. There are many sites devoted to TV Nation. The official TV Nation site can be reached at: http://www.spe.sony.com/TVN/m_moore.html. Pete's TV Nation Page can be reached at: http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~repete/TVNation. A future version of the FAQ will attempt to chronicle all of the Internet resources currently available for Michael Moore. Feel free to e-mail the two authors if you would like to see your site listed. 1.5. Is Michael Moore married? Yes, Moore is married to Kathleen Glynn, who is the producer of TV NATION. 1.6. What was Michael Moore's early life like? In 1954, Michael Moore was born in Davison, Michigan, a suburb of Flint, to an Irish Catholic family of laborers. At 14, Moore, impressed by the Berrigans, joined a diocesan seminary. But a year later, he was asked to leave. Moore cited girls as the main proponent. He was forced to return to Davison High School, where he became a star of the school debate team, a student- government organizer and even authored a school play. "It was a religious theme and it ended when Christ comes down off the cross and is nailed back up. The people who nailed Christ back up were modeled on people in my town. They could recognize themselves." In 1970, Moore received the Eagle Scout award. His Eagle Scout project was a slide show exposing the worst polluters in Flint. After high school, Moore worked several jobs, including one at Buick, which he quit on his first day. In 1972, spurned on by Donald Priehs, his former government teacher, Moore decided to run for the school board and won; at 18, Moore became the youngest member to sit on the Flint City Council. Shortly after, Moore lobbied to get Priehs fired. Moore caused so much trouble for the town that a recall drive was attempted. Moore dropped out of the University of Michigan, Flint because he was too busy suing his town in court. Dissatisfied with urban politics, Moore resigned. But Moore was determined to get his views out to the public in some way. He organized antinuclear protests and rock concerts. While Moore got his economic training reading Alexander Cockburn, he set up a crisis intervention center. Eventually, Moore got a job as a public radio correspondent. But, one day, after a broadcast turned into a shouting match, Moore decided to abandon radio in favor of founding an alternative newspaper where he could properly get out his views. 2. The Journalism Years 2.1. _The Flint Voice_ At 22, Moore started up _The Flint Voice_ (which later expanded into_The Michigan Voice_). He served as editor of _The Michigan Voice_ for ten years, taking on issues that no other local publications would print about. He attacked Flint's police force, criticized the policies of its conservative mayor and, of course, chided General Motors at every opportunity. In the process, he brought on acrimonious attacks by _The Flint Journal_, itself a buffer for General Motors. _The Voice_ rose in paid circulation to 5,000 and Moore triumphantly continued, until he got a phone call from San Francisco. 2.2. The _Mother Jones_ Fiasco Moore was offered the editorship of _Mother Jones_ magazine, an opportunity to bring his voice to a national level. Immediately, he took the bait. He sold _The Michigan Voice_ and moved to San Francisco. His girlfriend, Kathleen Glynn, gave up her graphic design business to join him. When Moore took over the editorial rein of _Mother Jones_ magazine, he felt that the publication had taken "a slide into safe mediocrity." He wanted to evolve _Mother Jones_ from what was essentially a harmless yuppie publication into something revitalizing the magazine's old working class ties and exposing the social ills of the nation. He met with the editorial staff the first day he was hired and Moore took the liberty to bash the magazine, telling everybody that he wouldn't print anything in the last three issues and asking if anybody in the room could defend themselves against this claim. He brought in several new writers, including Ben Hamper, Hugh Drummond and Alexander Cockburn. The September 1986 issue of _Mother Jones_ featured Ben Hamper on the cover and an excerpt from his book, _Rivithead_. But, he found conflict. Richard Schaufler, an ad rep, was fired for being associated with a Marxist group, the Democratic Workers Party, and the _Mother Jones_ managers had fired him after two days, much to Moore's chagrin. The tension culminated when Moore refused to print an article written by Paul Berman against the Sandanistas in Nicaragua. It claimed that the Sandanistas were Leninist souvenirs of the New Left and that they had betrayed the promise of the revolution. Moore claimed, "Reagan could easily hold it up, saying, 'See, even _Mother Jones_ agrees with me.' The article was flatly wrong and the worst kind of patronizing bullshit. You would scarcely know from it that the United States had been at war with Nicaragua for the last five years." Needless to say, Adam Hochschild, the owner and publisher of _Mother Jones_ didn't like Moore's style and promptly fired him. Polemicist Alexander Cockburn put his reputation on the line by writing a scathing article on the affair, getting his column pulled from several major liberal weeklies. Moore filed a $2 million lawsuit against Hochschild, suing for unlawful dismissal and, after a well-publicized blowup, Hochschild agreed to settle out of court. 3. ROGER & ME 3.0. What is ROGER & ME? ROGER & ME is the top grossing documentary of all time. Released by Warner Brothers in 1992, ROGER & ME showed the devastating effect General Motors had on the Flint, Michigan community after closing several plants. Thousands of workers were laid off. The film chronicled the devastation of the Flint, Michigan community as well as focusing on Moore's attempts to meet Roger Smith, the CEO of General Motors. The film was lauded for its unique combination of Moore's acerbic editorializing and the film's exploration of the deterioration of the Flint community in such a casual, accessible and personal manner. ROGER AND ME appeared on more than 100 critics' 10 Best Films of the Year lists - including those of Vincent Canby, Janet Maslin, Caryn James (New York Times), and Gene Siskel (Chicago Tribune). A number of critics - from the New York Post, National Public Radio, and Seattle Times, to name a few - named "Roger and Me" one of the "Ten Best Films of the Decade." The film also received the following awards - Best Documentary: National Board of Review, New York Film Critics, Los Angeles Film Critics, and the National Society of Film Critics; Best Film Award: Toronto Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, and Chicago Film Festival; and the Audience Award: Berlin Film Festival. 3.1. How can I order ROGER & ME? ROGER & ME is readily available through Warner Home Video for $19.95. You can also find it at most video retail stores. 3.2. How did ROGER & ME come about? After Moore was fired from _Mother Jones_, Moore sank into a deep depression, consisting of watching a lot of films. Although he continued to write for _The Nation_ and several newspapers, Moore quickly got homesick and retreated back to Flint. When Moore arrived back in Michigan, he began to study General Motors' effect on the town more fastidiously than he had done before. He suddenly realized that he could present his vision of the world on film. He announced his plan to make the movie to his friends. "We thought he was fucking crazy," said Ben Hamper. Nevertheless, his friends agree to volunteer and Moore had his movie crew. After winning a $58,000 out-of-court settlement from _Mother Jones_ for his unfair dismissal, he put the money directly into the film. Moore sold his house, had yard sales and set up weekly Bingo games to raise the remainder of the $260,000 budget for ROGER & ME. At one point, Moore even sold his bed. When he ran out of money, he would wander the streets in search of empty cans and bottles he could recycle. "We didn't know f-stop from F TROOP." Moore hooked up with filmmakers Kevin Rafferty (ATOMIC CAFE) and Anne Bohlen (WITH BABIES AND BANNERS) for a week to learn how to use the equipment. He got old friend Wendey Stanzler to edit the film, who Moore had met at the crisis intervention center. Moore and his cadre had never had any film experience before. At one point, when filming an interview with Jesse Jackson, Jackson showed Moore how to operate the tape recorder. But, Moore had the consolation of two professional camera operators he had hired to shoot the film. After successful viewings at several film festivals and John Pierson's efficient lobbying [ See 'Spike, Mike, Slackers, and Dykes' by John Pierson ] , Moore started to draw a smell distributors followed. Eventually, after meeting with several studios, he sold the negative to Warner Brothers for $3 million. 3.3. What was the big controversy over ROGER & ME? Michael did an interview with Harlan Jacobson of _Film Comment_, in which Jacobson charged Moore with the sequential rearrangement of certain chronological events within the movie. For example, Reagan's visit and the pizza shop was in 1980, before he was president and Robert Schuller came to Flint in 1987, after the Great Gatsby party. This criticism was later reaffirmed by film critic Pauline Kael in a review in the _New Yorker_ when she declared ROGER & ME "a piece of gonzo demagoguery." In defense, Moore stated in the interview, "The movie is essentially what has happened to this town during the 1980's. I wasn't filming in 1982...so everything that happened happened. As far as I'm concerned, a period of seven or eight years...is pretty immediate and pretty devastating....I think it's a document about a town that died in the 1980's, and this is what happened....What would you rather have me do? Should I have maybe begun the movie with a Roger Smith or GM announcement of 1979 or 1980 for the first round of layoffs that devastated the town, which then led to starting these projects, after which maybe things pick up a little bit in the mid '80's, and then _boom_ in '86, there's another announcement, and then tell that whole story?....Then it's a three hour movie. It's a _movie_, you know; you can't do everything. I was true to what happened. Everything that happened in the movie happened. It happened in the same order that it happened throughout the '80's. If you want to nit-pick on some of those specific things, fine." Moore's take on this is also further evinced in the ROGER & ME publicity diary. 3.4. Who are some of the "stars" of ROGER & ME? Kay Leni Rae Rafko: Miss Michigan, who says she's "a big supporter of employment." Ben Hamper: Moore's friend and GM auto worker, who put himself in a hospital due to the ensuing stress of getting fired. Ronald Reagan: He buys a pizza for 12 unemployed locals and tells them to move to Texas. Bob Eubanks: He returns to his home town to do a county fair version of "The Newlywed Game." Pat Boone: Spokesman for General Motors, who got a free Corvette and stationwagon out of the deal. Anita Bryant: Sings "You'll Never Walk Alone" to Flint denizens. Robert Schuller: Paid $20,000 to inspire Flint locals. Fred Ross: Deputy Sheriff of Flint who evicts people from their homes. Rhonda Britton: aka The Rabbit Lady, elicits forth the film's central question, "Pets or Meat?" The Amway Woman: Working for Amway to determine people's colors. 3.5. Michael Moore's ROGER & ME publicity diary The following article was printed in the July 15, 1990 edition of _The New York Times_. It is an interesting glimpse into the life Moore led while publicizing ROGER & ME. 'ROGER' AND I, OFF TO HOLLYWOOD AND HOME TO FLINT By Michael Moore Flint, Mich. There were omens. I don't believe in omens, but they were there, nonetheless. I had made a movie called "Roger and Me," and Hollywood wanted it. I had never been in Hollywood. On the flight out, the guy next to me was reading Tom Clancy's latest thriller when he suddenly began reciting what I recognized as the Latin version of the Act of Contrition. He then keeled over into the aisle. When I arrived in L.A., I was taken to a hotel on the Sunset Strip and given the bungalow where John Belushi had bought the ranch. I asked for a new room and went off to a meeting with studio executives. Somewhere between "first look" and "net profit," the TV screen across the room went blank: the curtains mysteriously moved and someone shouted that a quake had hit San Francisco. Later, it was announced that Universal would suspend the Earthquake ride on its studio tour. It was the only thing that made sense all day. All of these events seemed to point to an obvious conclusion -- I should have stayed in Flint, Mich., my hometown and subject of my 1989 film, "Roger and Me." But four studios wanted to distribute my movie. One studio head's first commitment to me was "I'm surprised G.M. hasn't had you shot!" Another exec bragged that his studio was putting out top quality films. "C'mon," I said. "Ninety percent of the stuff you guys make is just junk." He responded, "I'm deeply offended by that remark. It's more like 80 percent." Eventually, after we made sure it would play with "Tango and Cash" in at least a hundred cities, we sold "Roger and Me" to Warner Brothers. On the Road In November 1, I began a 110-city tour to convince Americans that they should go to see a documentary that was a comedy about 30,000 people losing their jobs. Much of it is a blur to me now. I remember only St. Louis (site of the world headquarters of Tums), Fort Lauderdale (the Swimming Pool Hall of Fame) and Birmingham, Ala. (No. 1 in the country for hip and knee replacements) Twenty times a day I answered the same 30 questions. To keep myself from sinking into some catatonic state of boredom, I began to make up new answers to the questions and change them every day. I believe that on only three occasions I was asked something different. "How old were you when you lost your virginity?" (People magazine), "Do you believe in God?" (The Chicago Tribune) and "Will you sign an autograph for my poodle?" (The New Yorker) It seemed like I spent hours at a time discussing with journalists whether "Roger and Me" was a "real" documentary. Many did not want to explore the political issues raised by the movie. But there were some journalists who livened things up a bit. For instance, there was the time a film critic broke into a hotel room occupied by me and two friends who had worked on the film. When we opened the door and caught her, we asked to see if she had put anything in her bag. She became offended, ripped off her clothes and screamed, "Frisk me! Frisk me!" We didn't, but we gave her two thumbs up and called hotel security. Then there was the day Phil Donahue came in to Flint to broadcast two shows on the hometown's reaction to the movie. Ten minutes before we go on the air, the Flint police inform me there may be a sniper in the audience and, uh, would I like to wear a bulletproof vest? (Was this just their way of saying "break a leg" before going on, or does this also happen to the cross-dressers and infidels who regularly appear with Phil?) The high point of the film's release was learning that "Roger and Me" had become an answer on "Wheel of Fortune." The low point was reading that, in announcing the opening, the New York Times had changed my name to "Roger Moore" and the country was thrown into a dyslexic frenzy with two out of three people now shouting "Hey, Roger!" to me on the street. A Day in the Life If I were to pick one day that typified my experience in Hollywood with "Roger and Me," it would have to be Jan. 16 of this year. Here's how my journal read that day: 6:50 A.M. -- I hear a noise at my hotel room door. Someone has slipped a note under it. Oh, no. It's those guys from William Morris again. There are 12 separate agents from Morris trying to sign me up. I tell them repeatedly I don't want an agent, but that's like saying no to the LaRouchites at O'Hare. It only encourages them. Would I like to do lunch, brunch, nails, swim and gym or how 'bout in a spin in my Miata? Their names all begin with "B" -- Bret, Brad, Brent, Bika -- and they are all very nice-nice to me. But I want to sleep and keep the 10 percent. 9 A.M. -- TV interview. It's one of those entertainment news shows. The reporter has brought notes. She begins. "Michael," she says, and then pauses to look at her notes, "tell me....about....yourself," I hate this attention to detail. 10 A.M. -- Magazine interview. The reporter wants to know if the proceeds from my next film will go to the P.L.O. I ask him if the rumors that he's dating Qadaffi's daughter are true. He doesn't laugh. He's not the first to ask this weird question. I think it all started back at the New York Film Festival, when an audience member asked me what my next film would be, and the first thing that came to mind was "a comedy western about the Middle East called 'West Bank Story.'" Some people got a little crazy about this...which has made me think maybe it's not such a bad idea. Noon -- L.A. Film Critics Lunch, Beverly Hills. "Roger and Me" is being presented with the award for best documentary. This is the only Warner Brothers film to pick up any of the New York or Los Angeles critics' awards this year, and the winners public relations people I'm sitting with don't seem to mind. Spike Lee's film "Do the Right Thing" has been chosen as the best film of 1989, and I agree. Spike, though he doesn't know it, has been a real inspiration to me. The week after I saw "She's Gotta Have It" in October 1988 I decided to get started on "Roger and Me." I've read his books, hired his lawyer and producer's rep, used the lab he used -- and spent $10,000 less! Last week, Gene Siskel said on his show that 20 years from now, when they look back at the Reagan era, two films will stand out as the statement of our times -- "Do the Right Thing" and "Roger and Me." To be mentioned with Spike in that way...well, it was undeserved, I thought, but what a great feeling. After the lunch, Spike came up to me and suggested we get together and talk. The Warners public relations rep overheard this and went ballistic. "You can't do that," she interrupted. "You have a full afternoon of interviews, and there is no time for anything else." She had edged herself between Spike and me and was motioning to the door. Spike looked over the top of his glasses at me, and then at her and then back to me with a grin that said, "Just who's in charge here, Mike?" "Well," he said, "give me a call sometime when you're in New York" and left. I thought about this for the rest of the afternoon. 5 P.M. -- I am now at the NBC studios in Burbank, where I'm to be a guest on the "Tonight" show, with Jay Leno as the host. Jay comes into my dressing room 10 minutes before the show and tells me of the pressure G.M. has been putting on NBC regarding my appearance. He shows me a "Truth Packet" that G.M. had sent over for him to read. It includes a story from Film Comment and a review by Pauline Kael. G.M. has been very busy making copies of these and sending them to journalists around the country. Film Comment is a publication of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Lincoln Center had received a $5 million gift from G.M. just prior to its publishing of the piece trashing "Roger and Me." Coincidence? Or just five big ones well spent? (Later, I would learn that G.M. had sent a directive to their advertising agencies to pull all G.M. ads from "The Donahue Show" on which I appeared, and The New York Times reported G.M. threatening to yank their commercials from any show that has me on as a guest.) Jay Leno expresses his displeasure with receiving such literature and encourages me to let them have it on the show. 7:30 P.M. -- The "Tonight" show went well. I've escaped from the public relations department and the driver and gone over to see a friend from Flint. I'm eating a hamburger when I get a call that The New York Times is looking for me. I call the reporter and he tells me that Ralph Nader's office is speaking out against the movie and both Nader and the United Auto Workers Union have sent him some of the same materials opposing the film that G.M. sends out. All of a sudden, I feel like I'm in that "Star Trek" episode and I'm on this planet where everything is the exact opposite of th way it is on Earth. Well-off liberals seem to really be disturbed by the movie, as if it tells some dirty little secret of the yuppie era. Where was the U.A.W. leadership when thousands of jobs were being eliminated? Where was Ralph Nader? We need the union and we need Ralph Nader, so why don't they get on with their work and not G.M.'s? 10:30 PM -- I've just finished "The Larry King Show" (he drank two cans of Lipton's sugared ice tea while we talked) and stopped by a newsstand to pick up tomorrow's Los Angeles Times. This headline ran across the top of the Calendar section: "Will Controversy Cost 'Roger' an Oscar?" What was the "controversy?" Hold onto your seats: Their investigations had revealed these four points: (a) The wealthy homes in the movie were shot on a different street than stated; (b) the rats in the film were actually imported from Detroit and thus were not Flint born; (c) that the chronology was wrong, because the tourism projects to save the town were built before the factory closings (absolutely not true); and (d) the pizza parlor cash register was stolen just before Reagan's lunch with the unemployed not during it (an important distinction). The L.A. Times quoted an unnamed member of the Academy committee who said that "Roger and Me" didn't stand a chance of even being nominated because they were easily "five better films" that the committee has seen. This was the same quote given last year by a committee member, Mitchell Block, when he explained why "The Thin Blue Line" was not nominated. Mr. Block has a financial interest in who gets nominated; he owns a documentary distribution company and, in the last 10 years, nearly one quarter of all films that have won the Academy Award for best documentary have been Mitchell Block films. The Academy votes tomorrow. The L.A. Times has held this story to the last minute, so we have no chance to respond to it before the vote. A reporter at the paper phones me the next day to say that publishing this article seemed like an obvious attempt to influence the Academy's vote and violated The Time's ethics. The vote is taken, and "Roger and Me" is not nominated. The five films that get the nod -- three are distributed by Mitchell Block -- are all out of chronological order, but no articles appear in The L.A. Times pointing this out. Home Again I'm back in Flint now. On Father's Day, a plane flies over the city with a banner that reads, "NEED CASH FOR FATHER'S DAY? CALL JULIE'S PAWN." Things haven't changed much here. In fact, they've gotten worse. The day my video is released, a local video store asked me to stop by and sign some autographs. Hundreds showed up, most to tell me their own stories of being laid off, to ask me for help, for money, for something. It's all pretty depressing until a process server stops by to issue me a summons. Deputy Fred, the sheriff in the film who evicts families from their homes, has sued me because he believes his "performance" in the film should be compensated. I explain to the media, which have tagged along that I do not pay police for evicting families. Instead, for the next week, anyone who is thrown out of their house by this man, give me a call, and I'll pay your deposit so you can get a new house immediately. I am told that I am prohibited from appearing on certain radio and television stations in Flint. I was also supposed to speak to a group of Soviet teachers visiting Flint, but the school system was afraid of a backlash from G.M. A local teacher quietly approaches me at the video store and asks if I can slip him a bootleg copy of "Roger and Me" so that he can secretly show it to the Russians in a private hotel room in Flint. Maybe they can also sneak me in to talk to them also. In Flint. In America. In 1996. The irony was too much. It should have been in the movie. 3.6. After ROGER & ME The profits from "Roger and Me" enabled Moore to establish the Center for Alternative Media, a foundation that is dedicated to supporting independent filmmakers and social action groups. To date, the foundation has dispersed more than $400,000 in grants. From a January 1993 _Esquire_ interview: "I had a lot -- a _lot_ of offers to reprise ROGER & ME. Or, as the Hollywood people would say, 'Do your ROGER & ME shtick again.' I turned down a lot of money." From an excerpt in the October 12, 1992 _New Yorker_: "I came to New York City to write," says the filmmaker Michael Moore. "Too many distractions in Flint." Moore flashes his now familiar smirk, but he's only half joking. He's in New York, all right, in the dismal common room of the posh Upper West Side apartment building where he lives. Outside, sirens shriek, cabbies beep, and boom boxes thump, but no matter. Here he can work. In Flint -- well, Flint, Michigan, is not only his home town but the desolate setting of his comic 1989 documentary, ROGER & ME, which raged at General Motors for plant closings and layoffs that, according to Moore, destroyed Flint's economy. The movie achieved the largest box-office gross in documentary history (if you don't count concert films), and it made Moore famous. Too famous. "I was shopping in Flint, and one of the employees got on the phone: 'Attention, K mart shoppers. Michael Moore has entered the store.' Know what I'm saying? And I'm hiding, you know, behind the Valvoline." Moore got invited to a lot of big premieres. He sat on panels for aspiring filmmakers, spouting forth advice and several grants. At an Independent Film Project conference in New York, Moore pulled out his checkbook and started giving grants on the spot. 4. PETS OR MEAT: THE RETURN TO FLINT 4.0. What is PETS OR MEAT: THE RETURN TO FLINT? It is the 1992 follow-up to Moore's documentary ROGER & ME that explores the community of Flint two years later. Interviews with Ben Hemper, the Rabbit Lady and others are included, along with a couple of glimpses into Moore's post-ROGER AND ME success and segments from various talk shows. PETS OR MEAT was shot on Hi-8 and is 24 minutes in length. It was also featured with two other shorts edited together in a film titled TWO MIKES DON'T MAKE A WRIGHT, that had a brief theatrical run. 4.1. How can I order PETS OR MEAT: THE RETURN TO FLINT? PETS OR MEAT: THE RETURN TO FLINT can be ordered through Dog Eat Dog Films. Contact the Dog Eat Dog Films site for more information at: http://www.dogeatdog.com 4.2. PETS OR MEAT Miscellany From the October 12, 1992 _New Yorker_: Having to blend in with auto supplies is a mark of celebrity by any standard, but Moore's troubles were only beginning. PETS OR MEAT, his twenty-three-minute sequel to ROGER & ME, was shown on PBS last week, and the next day Moore's Voicemail was blitzed; he had, rather foolishly, revealed his office phone number in the film. "Three hundred and fourteen calls!" he says. "And that's just the first day. Eighty per cent were people who lost their jobs and wanted to talk to me, but there were some -- Well, one guy needed help because he said there was a conspiracy against him involving the government and Sigourney Weaver."