Last night at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, Michael Moore kicked off the 16th year of long-running non-profit literary conversation series Writers Bloc Presents with a couple of great L.A. stories. He was there, along with journalist-moderator Anne Thompson and a pair of bodyguards, to promote and sign copies of his new book Here Comes Trouble.
Moore explained how, on the weekend of his Oscar win for 2002’s Bowling for Columbine, a casual invite from Tim Robbins turned into a hotel room full of Hollywood stars, each sharing their suggestions for his possible Best Documentary acceptance speech. Sean Penn pitched the idea of 45 seconds of stone-faced silence, while Robbins—with others like George Clooney and Eddie Veder looking on–thought perhaps that Moore could announce he was giving up the Academy Award statuette in honor of Lent.
But the real L.A. humdinger occurred the following year, 2004, when Time magazine arranged for Moore and Mel Gibson to travel to Los Angeles for a photo shoot and sit-down interview in support of a shared “Person of the Year” cover:
“The night before, Mel went to his church in Malibu and had a revelation,” Moore explained. “Jesus, God, the Holy Ghost, who knows… Or as the lady in the front row here just said, St. Jack Daniels. But a voice told him, ‘You are NOT to appear on the cover of Time magazine with the Devil.’”
Despite the efforts of Gibson’s famed ICM agent Ed Limato and others, the actor, who had flown all the way from Australia for the photo shoot and interview, refused to budge from his decision to call the whole thing off. In the end, instead of Moore adorning a Blue State-Red State combo-cover celebrating Fahrenheit 9/11 and Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, Moore had to cede his coveted spot to… George W. Bush.