Harvey and Bob Weinstein have raised Michael Moore’s temperature, and the iconoclastic filmmaker is suing his “Fahrenheit 9/11” partners … for $2.7 million among allegations of "bogus accounting methods."
In a 17-page, lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court Monday, the filmmaker claims that Bob and Harvey Weinstein used such methods to cheat him out of millions of dollars.
The Weinsteins' lawyer, Bert Fields, called the case "demonstrable and absolute baloney." He said Moore has been paid more than $19.8 million, and that the filmmaker received his most recent payment within the past six months. Fields questioned the timing of the lawsuit, given that the Weinsteins' latest film, "The King's Speech," has been nominated for an Academy Award for best picture.
Michael Moore himself hasn't said a thing about the case on his usually chatty Twitter site. However, in the suit Moore's lawyers make no bones that, "This case is about classic Hollywood accounting tricks and financial deception perpetrated by The Fellowship Adventure Group (TFAG) and its owners, Harvey and Bob Weinstein."
The lawsuit claims that the TFAG and the Weinsteins hid the amounts they owed Moore.
Fields, the Weinsteins' lawyer, said that, "Mr. Moore has been paid many, many, many millions of dollars on this film. He has received every dime to which he is entitled. His lawsuit is a cheap shot designed for the media, and considering the timing, I really wonder who put him up to it."
Among his allegations, Moore accuses Bob Weinstein of using some of the movie’s profits to fly to Europe on a private jet.
In the lawsuit, Moore asks to be reimbursed what he says he is owed and for "punitive damages," or an additional sum to punish the Weinsteins for the alleged wrongdoing.
According to the lawsuit, the Weinsteins and Moore agreed that Moore would write, direct and produce the film and the Weinsteins would finance, sell and distribute it. Profits were to be shared equally.
Moore claims that although he "delivered an award-winning film that achieved major box office success, TFAG has failed and refused to share equally the fruits of the venture as the partners had agreed."
In a written statement, Moore's lawyer, Larry Stein, said, "This is the first time Michael Moore has ever sued anyone in his 20 year career as a filmmaker. That should be some indication about how serious this is."
The statement says that "Michael believes the Weinsteins have been a force for good when it comes to championing independent film — but that does not give them the right to violate a contract and take money that isn't theirs. The $2.7 million is just the floor of what we believe is owed … I wouldn't be surprised if the amount of what was taken goes much, much higher."
“Fahrenheit 9/11” is the highest-grossing documentary ever. Since its 2004 release, it has grossed about $222 million. It is the first documentary since 1956 to win the Palme d'Or, the highest award at the Cannes Film Festival.
The movie is a scathing look at President George W. Bush's first term in office, the war on terrorism and the media's coverage of it.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report