Filmmaker Michael Moore, who says the Wall Street bailout is “the biggest swindle in American history,” is asking bankers to help him make a movie proving it.
The 55-year-old Michigan native posted an open letter on his Web site yesterday seeking volunteers to “step up as an American and do your duty of shedding some light” on the almost $1.1 trillion in losses and writedowns globally. Moore also sent the letter to people on his e-mail list.
While some bankers may be tempted to get involved with the filmmaker who pilloried former President George W. Bush’s response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the U.S., they should think before they contact Moore, said Davia Temin, chief executive officer of crisis-management firm Temin & Co.
By Pat Wechsler
“When you’re in a firestorm, you don’t stand up,” she said. “You duck. I’m sure Moore will keep names confidential, but these things have a way of boomeranging when you tell a friend because you’re excited about being on a movie set.”
Moore declined to comment, according to a spokesman for Overture Films LLC, who asked to remain unidentified because he doesn’t represent the filmmaker directly. The company is owned by Starz LLC, part of cable billionaire John Malone’s holdings, and is the movie’s distributor for North America. A release date hasn’t been announced.
The filmmaker, whose documentaries skewered General Motors Corp. and the U.S. health-care industry, is in the middle of shooting the movie, according to his Web site, http://www.michaelmoore.com. He made his name with the 1989 release of “Roger & Me,” documenting Moore’s unsuccessful efforts to confront former GM CEO Roger Smith about his management of what then was the world’s biggest automaker.
“Moore’s reputation is locked in,” said Howard Rubenstein, president of Rubenstein Associates Inc. a New York- based public-relations firms that advises hedge funds, private- equity firms and banks. “Whatever he touches gets gored. Wall Street better gird itself. The Huns are invading.”
Bankers should counter potential fallout from Moore’s venture by assembling a rescue program to buy houses going into foreclosure and give them back to their owners, Temin said.
“Popular culture has always had a love-hate relationship with Wall Street,” she said in a phone interview from her New York office. “Now that we see that much of what people were paid was based on vapor, that needle has moved to hate. Wall Street needs to figure that out and respond to it.”
While the Overture spokesman wouldn’t comment on the title of Moore’s movie, the filmmaker asked in his e-mail for responses to be sent to email@example.com.
Moore claimed on his Web site to have heard from a “few brave people” already.