DISNEY ASKED TO DUMP MIRAMAX; FEUD ERUPTS WITH LAWYERS, HILLARY
Catalyst July/August Issue 1999, Front Page
The battle over “Dogma” is in full-swing. The Catholic League is in possession of the script and will soon make available a booklet that describes why the film is so offensive (it is scheduled to open in October). On June 22, at a press conference on the film, William Donohue dubbed it “Howard Stern-type humor,” filled with filthy language and irreverent situations.
The press conference, which was held at the New York Catholic Center, was very well attended by the media. It was called to formally protest “Dogma,” to reply to a threatening letter that was sent by attorneys for Bob and Harvey Weinstein (see p. 4), and to launch a petition drive asking Disney to sever all ties with the Weinsteins (see p. 9); the brothers were told by Disney in April not to release the movie under the Miramax label—it was this decision that led the duo to spend $14 million of their own money to purchase the film.
The letter from Los Angeles attorney Dan Petrocelli pledged to hold the league responsible for any violence that might occur over the movie. Donohue immediately faxed Petrocelli the following memo: “You erroneously sent your threatening letter to 101 First Avenue. Our address is 1011 First Avenue. Please make a note of it.”
In a news release on the subject, Donohue said that “Fascistic attempts to silence us will never win.”
Donohue sent a letter to Michael Eisner at Disney asking him to dump Miramax; on June 23, in a New York Times op-ed page ad, the league made public its appeal to Eisner (see p. 2). A letter was also sent to Tina Brown, the former editor of the New Yorker and now chief at Talk magazine (a new venture funded by the Weinsteins) asking her to publicly comment on the Petrocelli letter.
Finally, a letter was sent to Hillary Clinton requesting that she break her relationship with the Weinsteins, two of her best Hollywood friends that are also among the most generous donors to the Clinton Legal Expense Trust.
The First Lady was also asked to denounce “Dogma” the way she did “My Best Friend’s Wedding”; she berated the latter movie because Julia Roberts smoked too much in it. “Since anti-Catholicism is a more potent toxin than smoking,” wrote Donohue, “I ask that you now speak out against ‘Dogma.’”