Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike's Letter

November 24th, 1998 12:00 AM

The Mayor, The Starr, and Michael Moore

It's been a bizarre two weeks here on the set of "The Awful Truth," our new television show in the spirit of "TV Nation" that will debut on BRAVO on April 14.

While I had intended to write to you by now with ideas on how we can prevent "The Evil of Two Lessers" in the 2000 election, events of a different nature overtook us at the "The Awful Truth."

On Nov. 5, two days after the election, I was shooting a segment for our show about a man named Ira Rennert. He is one of the richest men in the country and he is considered by the EPA to be the top toxic polluter in the country. Few people have ever heard of him and a search by our staff has revealed that there is no video footage of him and only two or three known photographs.

Recently, Mr. Rennert has come into the public spotlight, not because of his polluting, but because he is building the largest house in America out in the wealthy Hamptons on Long Island. The $100 million abode will have 28 bedrooms and 39 bathrooms.

So, on Nov. 5th, I went to his home and office to present him with our "Man of the Year" award. Any guy who insists on 39 bathrooms is a guy we can relate to.

Mr. Rennert was at neither location but we left our award, a statue in his likeness, with his people.

The next day, we received a call from the New York City Mayor's Office of Film and Television. They told us Mr. Rennert and his attorneys had called the Mayor's Office to file a complaint.

Three days later, Ira Rennert went to court and sued us. He got a judge to give him, unbeknownst to us, a temporary restraining order prohibiting us from coming within 150 feet of his Park Avenue home or his Rockefeller Center office. If we did, we would be arrested.

Our sources within the New York City Police Department told us that an order had come down directly from the Mayor's Office "to immediately arrest Michael Moore if he gets anywhere near Rennert's office in Rockefeller Center ."

Then, on Nov. 12, we were informed by the Mayor's Office that our show was being banned from shooting on the streets of New York City until the matter with Ira Rennert was "resolved."

I had never experienced such a blatant violation of our First Amendment rights. Over the weekend we hired one of the top First Amendment attorneys in the country, Victor Kovner, and went on the offensive. The New York media rallied to our side. Witnin 24 hours, Mayor Giuliani went in front of the TV cameras and reversed himself. No one in NYC could remember a time when Giuliani had backed down so quickly.

The following day, I headed off to Washington, DC to shoot another piece of our "Washington Witch Hunt" story that many of you may have heard of by now. In October, I approached Ken Starr and offered him a cheaper way to conduct an inquisition -- with a dozen Puritans, a couple of stockades, and a whipping post. Our Puritans chased Mr. Starr all the way down the street. I'll bet most of America wanted to run with us as we made the $40 Million Pervert tear off down the road.

So, last Thursday, as the impeachment hearings were about to begin, I was outside the doors of the of the House Judiciary Committee hearing room. I was there shooting a staff memeber of ours dressed up as Thomas Jefferson who was taunting the congressmen to impeach HIM if they wanted to hear some really salacious sex stories.

Suddenly, I saw the Congressman from Detroit, John Conyers (a real hero), duck into a side door. I followed after him with a "Hey, John." He turned and saw me and ushered me in through a maze of hallways and back rooms. Before I knew it, we walked right out into the lights and onto the dais of the Judiciary Commitee.

"Just stand here," Conyers said with a wry smile as he took his seat as the Committee's ranking Democrat 15 feet down the panel from me.

So, there I was, Michigan State ball cap and all, right beside Congresswoman Lofgren. The audience and the press gallery all started pointing at me as if something really weird was about to happen. Tom Brokaw and CNN wondered aloud on the air about how the hell I got in there and what in God's name was I going to do.

But my favorite moment was with Ken Starr. Minutes before the opening gavel, he looked up and saw me, that guy with his portable Puritan witch hunt, standing there smiling at him. He glared at me. I threw him a wink. He twitched. Hoping he was lip reader, I said, "Put a fork in yourself -- you're over." He motioned to an aide. Heads turned on the Republican side and fingers pointed. Conyers could see what was about to happen. He grabbed the "All Access" Gold Badge off his aide and sent it down the row to me.

"Put it on!" he motioned to me. I snatched it and stuck it on my coat. Whoever was being sent over by the Republicans to have me escorted out was stopped dead in his tracks. No one could touch me now. It was like I had a force field around me. We should all be so lucky as citizens who are forced to endure this semen-stained farce!

For the next three hours I stood next to Congresswomen Lofgren with the big "S" on my cap (Starr? Sex Police? See ya?).

All this ruckus - and more - will be part of "The Awful Truth" beginning in April.

Meanwhile, I head back to court tomorrow morning to face off with Rennert's attorneys. With the restraining order in effect I personally can't go over to NBC to get archival footage for our show, can't appear on Conan O'Brien, can't attend the lighting of the Christmas tree next week, can't stop by the parent company of the publisher of Kathleen Glynn's and my new book, "Adventures in a TV Nation," can't hold up a "Hi Mom!" sign in the "Today Show" window, can't go ice skating on the Rockefeller Center rink, can't go to Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, can't watch the Rockettes in the annual Christmas Show -- my God, I can barely breathe! Somebody open a window! Somebody find a copy of the U.S. Constitution! Willard Scott HELP ME THROUGH THE BARRICADES!!

Yours in temporary custody,

Michael Moore
The Awful Truth

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