Copyright 1998 National Broadcasting Co. Inc.
Filmmaker Michael Moore Discusses His New Film "THE BIG ONE" April 18, 1998, Saturday 10:32 AM
NBC News Transcripts

JODI APPLEGATE, co-host: Michael Moore has made a name for himself asking tough questions in support of the working people of this country. Moore is best known, of course, for "Roger & Me," his 1989 documentary inspired by the shutdown of the General Motors plant in his hometown of Flint, Michigan. (Footage shown from "Roger & Me")

APPLEGATE: His latest attack on corporate America is "The Big One," a search for answers amid the latest rounds of corporate downsizing. (Footage shown from "The Big One")

APPLEGATE: And Michael Moore joins us this morning without an oversized check to offer.
But thanks very much for showing up today.

Mr. MICHAEL MOORE ("The Big One"): I have nothing to give you here.

APPLEGATE: Now, the movie is about the book tour that you went on for the book. At what point of the book tour did you say, "Hey, this would make a good documentary"?

Mr. MOORE: Yeah--I was about 15 cities into the tour, and I kept seeing things. I thought, Somebody should, you know, shoot some of this stuff, because I keep seeing there's an economic recovery going on,' but out there what I saw were lots of people who were living from month to month on three Mastercards, paying the minimum balance, working two jobs to get by, everybody being forced to work longer hours for less pay, less benefits, people being shoved into HMOs, which stands for Hand the Money Over. And, you know, I just thought, It would be interesting to make a movie about this and--and--and maybe it could be a comedy--tragicomedy, maybe.'

APPLEGATE: Well, the Dow is over 9,000.

Mr. MOORE: I heard about that.

APPLEGATE: Which benefits--you heard about that.

Mr. MOORE: Yeah.

APPLEGATE: Which benefits a lot of people, not necessarily just your big-time Wall Street traders. And a lot of people when polled say they're happy with the economy, they're happy with the way things are. Your critics have accused you of being sort of out of touch with the fact that things really aren't so bad in the country. How do you respond to that?

Mr. 8OORE: Well, I think--I think they're right, really.

APPLEGATE: All right. Well, in that case...

Mr. MOORE: I give up.

APPLEGATE: ...what do you think about the Mets? Actually, we've got a clip from your movie, "The Big One," an example of one of your many appearances. This was was on a radio station, right?

Mr. MOORE: Yes, it was. Yes, right. Explain the name of the movie.

APPLEGATE: The name of the movie explained for you here, now. (Footage shown from "The Big One")

APPLEGATE: All right, so you're on this book tour. The book is published by a big publishing house. The movie is made by a big company. You're sort of making money for these big companies by making fun of big companies. And I don't suppose the irony of that is lost on you at all.

Mr. MOORE: No, it's not. It's very funny. It's a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, trapped into an enigma--something like that. I don't know what it is. But all--seriously, you know, what you said about the Dow, the 9,000 and everything. You know, the truth is that, you know, about a third of the country is doing well as a result of that. But the richest 1 percent in this country now own 50 percent of all the wealth.

APPLEGATE: Your critics have accused you of...

Mr. MOORE: Where are these people?

APPLEGATE: ...they were here a moment ago. Where'd they go?

Mr. MOORE: Bring them on.

APPLEGATE: Accused you of sort of opportunistically utilizing the working classes and their cause for laughs and for your own success. What do you say to that?

Mr. MOORE: Yes, that's true, too. Yeah, all--they're--all the critics are...

APPLEGATE: You do that, or you're just accused of that?

Mr. MOORE: No, it's tr--well, obviously, you know, I come from a working class. It's rare that somebody like me with a high school education gets t--may have their own movie or TV show or put out a book. You don't usually hear from us, OK? You don't usually see us on the nightly news, the people that build your cars, the people that clean your toilets. You know, we don't have a voice in the media. So, finally, somebody like me, for some weird reason, slips in under the radar. And suddenly, you know, it upsets some people, especially the people with the money, because I'm going to come out and I'm going to tell the truth about what's really going on--that people are sick and tired of what's happening. And--oh, now they're taking us off the air.

APPLEGATE: No, we're not censoring you, but we are, indeed, out of time.


APPLEGATE: We're not downsizing you, either. We're saying thank you very much.

Mr. MOORE: Well, thanks for having me.

APPLEGATE: The movie's called "The Big One."

Mr. MOORE: It's called "The Big One," and it's funny, and it makes rich people really upset.

APPLEGATE: But it makes the people who run Miramax happy because it's making money.

Mr. MOORE: No, it makes Miramax happy because they're giving 50 percent of their profits from this film to the people of Flint, Michigan, my hometown, where 68 percent of the schoolkids still live below the federal poverty line, not reported on the nightly news.

APPLEGATE: Well, now it's reported on the TODAY show, and that is true...

Mr. MOORE: Thank you for having me on and letting me say this.

APPLEGATE: ...they're giving half the money to charity.

Mr. MOORE: Half the money from this film goes to those groups and people struggling.

APPLEGATE: Michael Moore...

Mr. MOORE: Yes.

APPLEGATE: ...thank you very much for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.

Mr. MOORE: Thank you very much.

APPLEGATE: And we'll have more in a moment. This is TODAY on NBC.