Not only is the director of the 1989 GM-bashing classic Roger and Me involved in a lawsuit--Columbia Pictures filed one in Los Angeles this week against Miramax, claiming the distributor ripped off the Men in Black movie poster in its Big One advertisements--Moore is also at war with Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight.
The only corporate head who agreed to be interviewed--twice, in fact--for The Big One, Knight emerges from Moore's final edit as, well, unfeeling corporate scum.
The scene that really peeves Knight and other Nike execs is when Moore asks the CEO if it bothers him that Nike employs 12-year-old factory workers in Indonesia. Knight corrects the filmmaker, telling him they're 14, and responds with a "No" when asked whether that bothers him.
So, in an aggressive, text-book corporate public relations move, Nike has set up a Website to tell its side of the story. Seems they had their own cameras rolling during the interviews, and the shoemaker wants you to see in QuickTime what ended up on Moore's cutting-room floor.
Nike urges you to "See," "Hear" and "Listen" to the following: "You're Not the Bad Guy": Moore says to Knight, "I honestly think you're the good guy. I honestly think that Nike is the good guy here; you're not General Motors..." "Good Citizen": Knight says, "We want good labor practices in all these countries, and we try to be the best citizen that we can be." "Making a Contribution": Knight lectures Moore on trickle-down economics. "Dusty on Indonesia": Nike labor practices department director Dusty Kidd tells Moore their Indonesian factories have a minimum working age requirement of 16. "Our interest is really fairness and balance," said Nike spokesman Vada Manager to the Los Angeles Times. "Just to make sure that individuals know that they weren't getting the whole story and that there were what we consider some intellectually dishonest moments with what ended up on the screen."
Never one to dodge a fight with a big company, Moore has set up a site of his own. It mocks Nike's Web rebuttal--he even uses their "see, hear and listen" format--using Moore's own clips and transcripts to undermine most of Nike's arguments (at least, all except the portions where the documentarian sucks up to the CEO during the interview).
"I'm ready and loaded and waiting for them. It's one thing for Nike to try to manipulate the truth and mess with me on this, but in the process they are taking on [Miramax head] Harvey Weinstein, and he will not tolerate any B.S.," said Moore to the Times, with a touch of his trademark tongue-in-cheek irony.
"If you're Nike, and you are really the marketing geniuses that you seem to be, you would sit this one out."
As for the copyright suit, Columbia lawyer Ronald Guttman said it wasn't his company's policy to "comment on pending litigation." Lawyers for Miramax didn't return calls for comment Friday.