Michael Moore's lawyers took a swipe at Bob and Harvey Weinstein on Tuesday morning, saying the brothers may owe Moore $27 million, rather than the $2.7 million he sued for.
In a written statement, Moore's lawyer, Larry Stein, said that "if the lawsuit gets to the discovery phase (when, unlike dealing with the auditor, the Weinsteins will be under oath), that number of what is truly owed to Mr. Moore has the possibility of rising ten-fold."
Stein's statement says that he spent two years asking the Weinsteins to "hand over what was rightfully Mr. Moore's" before he sued, and that even while they were asking for the money, Moore hosted the New York premiere of "The Tillman Story," a Weinstein film.
Weinstein's lawyer, Bert Fields, told TheWrap Tuesday that if Moore "really thought he was entitled to $27 million, he would have sued for that and not $2.7 million. He's not entitled to a dime."
He said that language in the lawsuit and the statement are inflammatory and that the allegations are "wild," and predicted, "We will make him eat (them) in court."
On Monday, Moore sued for at least $2.7 million, claiming the Weinsteins, who were his partners on the movie "Fahrenheit 9/11," cheated him on payments. Fields said at there is no merit to the case and Moore has been paid all that he's due. He called the case "baloney."
The entire statement issued by Stein:
As you know, we issued no press release, held no press conference and declined comment when we filed suit against the Weinsteins yesterday morning on behalf of Michael Moore. We figured this was a simple matter for the court to decide and we would not "try it in the press."
The Weinsteins and their representatives weren't so quiet, so we issued a brief response yesterday. Here are our further comments today…
2/8/11 STATEMENT BY LARRY STEIN, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL MOORE:
The independent audit on "Fahrenheit 9/11" took place in 2008. That's how long the Weinsteins have known that they owe Michael Moore at least $2.7 million. We've spent nearly two years politely asking the Weinsteins to hand over what was rightfully Mr. Moore's. Instead of just marching into court to settle the matter — something Michael was loathe to do as he has never sued anyone in his 20+ years as a filmmaker — we did something we rarely do: We privately sent the Weinsteins an actual copy of the complaint we were considering filing in court so they could see how hard and fast the case against them was and thus give them the chance to make things right and spare themselves the embarrassment of having it all come out. That was EIGHT months ago. For eight months it has sat on Harvey's desk — and he ignored it. He wouldn't return phone calls. Time dragged on.
During that time, what did Michael Moore do in regards to the Weinsteins? He hosted the New York City premiere of the Weinstein film, "The Tillman Story," for them. He then participated in a benefit auction for the Weinstein Family Foundation, raising thousands of dollars for Harvey's charity.
These aren't the actions of someone who is filing a lawsuit out of anger or revenge. This matter is quite simply a black-and-white, cut-and-dried issue — the Weinsteins owe Michael Moore at least $2.7 million, and after nearly 3 years of asking for it and being ignored, he was forced to take this regrettable action. We hope the Weinsteins will come to their senses soon and settle this — because if the lawsuit gets to the discovery phase (when, unlike dealing with the auditor, the Weinsteins will be under oath) that number of what is truly owed to Mr. Moore has the possibility of rising ten-fold, depending on what the court finds in the books of a film that grossed nearly a quarter billion dollars theatrically.
At least $2.7 million? The Weinsteins should stop, consider themselves lucky, and respond to this gentle rebuke of their highly questionable accounting practices from their longtime collaborator. As Michael said to us last week, "Actually, I think Harvey's first reaction to the suit will be, 'They only found $2.7?!'"