Michael Moore has angrily responded to DISNEY CEO MICHAEL EISNER's accusations the director is using the film company's refusal to release his new film as a "PR stunt".

The STUPID WHITE MEN author announced last week (05MAY04) that Miramax's parent company Disney had banned them from distributing Moore's documentary FAHRENHEIT 9/11.

The NEW YORK TIMES claims Eisner is concerned Disney would lose tax breaks from Florida Governor Jeb Bush, if they released the movie, which heavily criticises American President George W Bush and his political family.

Eisner slammed Moore's accusations as "a PR stunt" ahead of Fahrenheit's debut at the Cannes Film Festival this week (MAY04), and said the director knew Disney wouldn't release the film since last year (03).

However Moore claims that despite an initial negative meeting with Disney as filming began, the company continued to finance the production.

Moore says, "In April of 2003, I signed a deal with Miramax, a division of the Walt Disney Co, to finance and distribute my next movie.

"A month later, after shooting started, Michael Eisner insisted on meeting with my agent, ARI EMANUEL. Eisner was furious that Miramax signed this deal with me. According to Mr Emanuel, Eisner said he would never let my film be distributed through Disney even though Mr Eisner had not seen any footage or even read the outline of the film.

"Eisner told my agent that he did not want to anger Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida. The movie, he believed, would complicate an already complicated situation with current and future Disney projects in Florida, and that many millions of dollars of tax breaks and incentives were at stake.

"But Michael Eisner did not call Miramax and tell them to stop my film. Not only that, for the next year, $6 million of Disney money continued to flow into the production of making my movie. Miramax assured me that there were no distribution problems with my film.

"Earlier this week we got the final, official call: Disney will not put out Fahrenheit 9/11."

Moore also rejects the suggestion the controversy is positive publicity for his film: "This is a huge and unwanted distraction. I want people discussing the issues raised in my film, not some inside Hollywood fracas surrounding who is going to ship the prints to the theatres."

It is alleged Miramax owners HARVEY and Bob Weinstein will buy the documentary as individuals and find a distributor themselves.

13/05/2004 17:02