Edward Jay Epstein, Hollywood industry guru and author of "The Big Picture: The New Logic of Money and Power in Hollywood," explains that despite news stories claiming that Michael Moore was a victim of Disney censorship with regard to his "Fahrenheit 9/11" flick, both Moore and Disney raked in a bundle of bucks.
According to Epstein, Moore manipulated the press in Madonna-like manner, faking a censorship threat to get cheap P.R.
In May 2003, Michael Eisner, then CEO of Disney, exercised his right under an agreement with Miramax to veto Disney distribution. But Miramax, a Disney subsidiary, still held the rights to the film.
Head of Miramax Harvey Weinstein planned to sell the distribution rights to "Fahrenheit 9/11" after it was screened at the Cannes Film Festival.
On the eve of Cannes and seemingly right on cue, a front-page article appeared in the New York Times. The headline read: "Disney Is Blocking Distribution of Film That Criticizes Bush."
The piece claimed that Eisner's action in keeping Disney out of the distribution loop was motivated by concerns that Disney could potentially lose tax breaks in Florida, "where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor."
A couple of days after the Times article appeared, Moore did a Web site post that indicated Disney's board of directors had passed on the film "last week."
But the Disney board had done no such thing. The flick had been vetoed by Eisner the previous year.
Eisner retained the rights to profit on Moore's film but wanted Disney to maintain its distance. So Miramax sold the "Fahrenheit 9/11" rights to the Weinstein brothers, who then transferred the rights to another entity called Fellowship Adventure Group. In the process, the brothers were able to arrange some very favorable distribution deals.
In the end, Disney netted $78 million and paid Moore a hefty $21 million.
Moore never disclosed the amount of his profit participation. When asked about it, he told reporters, "I don't read the contracts."
The Rogue Jew heard that Moore was so mad about the news that blemished his workingman image, he punched a hole in the wall of the servants' quarters.