Bravo, say Moore fans -- for telling 'The Awful Truth' in the U.S.
April 27, 1999
From Bill Tush
NEW YORK (CNN) -- He rattles off the statistics of corporate America as if they were written on his sleeve. Or, more likely, tattooed on his brain.
"Bill Gates is worth $97 billion," Michael Moore says. "Ninety-seven billion, that is equal to the net worth of 120 million Americans. How did he get that rich? He ain't that smart."
Yes, Moore is back with the awful truth. He's even calling it that: "The Awful Truth" is the name of his new show on cable's Bravo channel.
"I see the show as (a cross between) the World Wrestling Federation and C-SPAN," Moore says. "If you can kind of imagine those two together, that's what we're doing."
Moore carved a niche for himself in the world of celebrity with his in-your-face confrontations in 1989. That's when he went after the head of General Motors, Roger B. Smith, in his film "Roger & Me." His goal there was to find out why automobile workers in Flint, Michigan, had been laid off -- GM's massive downsizing there had all but destroyed the small town's economy.
He took his first crack at series television with "TV Nation," which used the same tactics. The show aired to critical acclaim in 1994, but some of his subjects upset advertisers and the show never attracted a broad audience.
"'TV Nation' was on NBC, then we were on Fox, then on Comedy Central. I could see where it was going," Moore says, laughing. "I didn't want to end up on the Food Channel."
Taking his act to Britain: 'They like to laugh at us'
So instead, Moore created "The Awful Truth," and found a place where he's appreciated. "We actually left the country and went to Great Britain and got Channel Four over there to produce and finance this show," Moore says.
And things went well there, even though the show mostly dealt with subjects that take place in the United States. Why would Britons want to watch U.S.-based satire? "They like to laugh at us," Moore says.
Meanwhile, back in the United States, Bravo also found Moore's latest work interesting.
"We have a piece on the 'Sodomobile.'" That's not Saddam Hussein, Moore hastens to add in describing a recent segment, but sodom, "as in sodomy. Basically, what I do is I've got a big pink Winnebago and we load up a dozen gay guys in the back, and we visit all the states where sodomy is illegal."
As often happens in Moore's semi-documentary confrontations, officials presented with the Winnebago and Moore's rolling cameras frequently asked him to leave. But they seemed too befuddled to do much else.
Moore's persistence pays off on occasion. He once got a health maintenance organization (HMO) to reverse its decision and pay for a life-saving pancreas transplant.
"There is a lot of dark humor on this show, I have to admit, so it's not for everybody," Moore says. But he's hoping that enough people with cable will be willing to face "The Awful Truth."
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