Michael Moore documentary shifts to the economy

Thu Nov 13, 2008 6:58am EST
 
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By Steven Zeitchik

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Firebrand filmmaker Michael Moore has quietly changed the focus of his long-gestating follow-up to "Fahrenheit 9/11" in order to tackle the world economic crisis, sources say.

When the documentary was announced in May, the studios backing the project said Moore would be pondering international affairs and America's place in the world.

But as the political winds shifted in the months before the U.S. presidential election -- and gusted after it -- Moore subtly began reorienting his movie. Instead of foreign policy, the film's focus is now more on economic matters.

The untitled movie will contain an end-of-the-empire tone, say those familiar with the project, and Moore no doubt hopes that this will give it a more general feel that will untether it from a specific political moment.

Moore is feverishly shooting, and the movie is expected to come out as early as this spring through Paramount Vantage and Overture Films.

But some political and entertainment experts wonder how much Moore's incredulousness and occasional pessimism about the state of U.S. policy, which served the filmmaker well during the George W. Bush years, will play in the current hopeful climate brought on President-elect Barack Obama.

"If Moore offers a prescription for how to improve things, he may indeed find an audience that at this moment is eager for change," said Craig Minassian, an entertainment consultant and former Bill Clinton aide. "But it's going to be hard for him. What this election shows is what's right with America, and sometimes what Michael Moore does is highlight what's wrong with America."

In the meantime, a focus on the collapsing markets brings its own risk, Minassian said. "The problem with the financial crisis is that it's changing so quickly. I'm not sure how relevant is going to be in six months, and I'm not sure if people want to hear it; my sense is they already have a pretty good idea of a lot of the people who are to blame for it."   Continued...