Mon, Jul 02, 2007 - Page 13 News List

Planet Pop


Larry King dropped Michael Moore to interview Paris Hilton.


Michael Moore looked to his friend Borat to help find the nerve to sail into Guantanamo Bay.

Moore met Borat creator Sasha Baron Cohen at last fall's Toronto International Film Festival. Cohen was there to screen Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which went on to become a US$100 million hit, while Moore showed off footage shot for his health care documentary, Sicko, which opened last week in the US.

Cohen told Moore he had drawn inspiration from the filmmaker's documentaries, in which Moore doggedly pursues corporate and political bosses and puts himself into uncomfortable situations.

Moore said Cohen thanked him for helping to provide the courage for his own daring adventures on Borat, in which Cohen's Kazakh alter ego wrestles naked with his portly producer and draws the anger of a rodeo crowd for butchering the national anthem.

"I said to him, 'But yeah, I've never done anything like wrestle naked with another guy on the floor of an insurance-brokers or mortgage-brokers convention," Moore said. "So after I saw Borat, if he says I was an inspiration for those things, I now have to up the ante for him. So we sailed into the mined waters of Guantanamo Bay with sick 9/11 workers and a bullhorn." The scene in Sicko features Moore calling to guards at the US prison in Guantanamo, Cuba, which houses terror suspects captured in military operations.

After seeing news reports about quality medical treatment the prison provided detainees, Moore went there to seek similar care for ailing Sept. 11, 2001, rescue workers who were having trouble getting health coverage in the US.

Moore got no response from Guantanamo, so he took the workers to Cuba, where they received treatment. The US Treasury Department began an investigation in May on whether Moore's trip violated the trade embargo prohibiting travel to Cuba.

What was Moore thinking as he stood on the boat, calling through a bullhorn outside Guantanamo? "Two thoughts. I've never seen anybody sail a boat into Guantanamo Bay in a movie or on TV. I've never seen that," Moore said. "And the second thought: What the hell am I doing?"

In other Sicko news, Moore was barred from the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday for an interview on his documentary on the US health-care system, a day after he was bumped from a TV interview to make way for Paris Hilton.

Standing outside the Stock Exchange in Manhattan's financial district, Moore told reporters a planned interview with CNBC on the exchange floor was moved outside the building because the network told him the exchange would not let him inside.

On Wednesday, his appearance on CNN's Larry King Live was postponed for the first post-jail interview with Hilton, a 26-year-old hotel chain heiress, who was released on Tuesday after serving 23 days for driving with a suspended license. "The priorities in this country are seriously askew," Moore said.

At least one US newscaster would agree. Mika Brzezinski refused to lead her program with a story about Hilton, arguing she was fed up with media attention given to the celebrity ex-convict. Brezinski tore her script to pieces on the air and then put another one through a shredder Friday morning.

"Listen, I just don't believe in covering that story, especially not as the lead story in a newscast when you have a day like today," Brzezinski said on the air.

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