Pete's response to Michael Moore's claims



gern blanston gernblanston67 at hotmail.com
Thu Jul 8 08:11:32 CDT 2004


http://www.petetownshend.co.uk/diary/display.cfm?id=89&zone=diary

Fahrenheit Moore or Less

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  Michael Moore has been making some claims – mentioning me by name - which 
I believe distort the truth.

He says – among other things – that I refused to allow him to use my song 
WON’T GET FOOLED AGAIN in his latest film, because I support the war, and 
that at the last minute I recanted, but he turned me down. I have never 
hidden the fact that at the beginning of the war in Iraq I was a supporter. 
But now, like millions of others, I am less sure we did the right thing.

When first approached I knew nothing about the content of his film 
FAHRENHEIT 911. My publisher informed me they had already refused the use of 
my song in principle because MIRAMAX the producers offered well below what 
the song normally commands for use in a movie. They asked me if I wanted to 
ask for more money, I told them no.

Nevertheless, as a result of my refusal to consider the use, Harvey 
Weinstein – a good friend of mine, and my manager Bill Curbishley – 
interceded personally, explained in more detail to Bill what the movie was 
about, and offered to raise the bid very substantially indeed. This brought 
the issue directly to me for the first time. Bill emailed me and told me how 
keen Harvey and Michael Moore were to use my song.

At this point I emailed Bill (and he may have passed the essence of what I 
said to Harvey Weinstein) that I had not really been convinced by BOWLING 
FOR COLUMBINE, and had been worried about its accuracy; it felt to me like a 
bullying film. Out of courtesy to Harvey I suggested that if he and Moore 
were determined to have me reconsider, I should at least get a chance to see 
a copy of the new film. I knew that with Cannes on the horizon, time was 
running short for them, and this might not be possible. I never received a 
copy of the film to view. At no time did I ask Moore or Miramax to 
reconsider anything. Once I had an idea what the film was about I was 90% 
certain my song was not right for them.

I believe that in the same email to my publisher and manager that contained 
this request to see the film I pointed out that WGFA is not an 
unconditionally anti-war song, or a song for or against revolution. It 
actually questions the heart of democracy: we vote heartily for leaders who 
we subsequently always seem to find wanting. (WGFA is a song sung by a 
fictional character from my 1971 script called LIFEHOUSE. The character is 
someone who is frightened by the slick way in which truth can be twisted by 
clever politicians and revolutionaries alike). I suggested in the email that 
they might use something by Neil Young, who I knew had written several songs 
of a more precise political nature, and is as accessible as I am. Moore 
himself takes credit for this idea, and I have no idea whether my suggestion 
reached him, but it was the right thing to do.

I have nothing against Michael Moore personally, and I know Roger Daltrey is 
a friend and fan of his, but I greatly resent being bullied and slurred by 
him in interviews just because he didn’t get what he wanted from me. It 
seems to me that this aspect of his nature is not unlike that of the 
powerful and wilful man at the centre of his new documentary. I wish him all 
the best with the movie, which I know is popular, and which I still haven’t 
seen. But he’ll have to work very, very hard to convince me that a man with 
a camera is going to change the world more effectively than a man with a 
guitar.

Pete

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