Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike's Letter

March 2nd, 1999 12:00 AM

Letter From London, Remembering Gene Siskel

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you from London where, tomorrow night, our new show, "The Awful Truth," will premiere. The British network, Channel Four Television, is the main backer of the show, so the Brits get to see it first. If you live in the UK or Ireland, you can tune in at 10:30pm tomorrow (Wednesday, March 3rd) on Channel Four.

If you live in the U.S., the twelve-week run begins on BRAVO, Sunday, April 11. And, yes, my Canadian neighbors, we will air on your BRAVO channel, also beginning in April.

The response to the show over here has been incredible. You really begin to notice how lacking we are, as Americans, when it comes to an appreciation of satire. The Irish and British do not seem to be suffering from ironic illiteracy. Count the Canadians in with that group, too. It might seem a bit weird that this show by Americans about America is airing here first, but I have to say, without the vast support we receive in Britain, Ireland and Canada, our work would never be seen in America. Sad, but it's the awful truth.

Good news - the Brits still have Pinochet under arrest! How cool is that? OK, now that's two nice things I've said about the United Kingdom. I had better stop here before I'm paid a visit by the ghosts of my Irish ancestors tonight!

On a more somber note, I was deeply saddened by the death last week of Gene Siskel. He was not simply a film critic - he was a film advocate. With his equally intelligent and witty partner, Roger Ebert, he made it his main mission to support film not only as an art form but as a means to affect change in our society.

Gene was a huge champion of independent and documentary films. I have to say, quite frankly, had it not been for his (and Roger's) early and loud support of "Roger & Me," I doubt if my movie would have been seen by as many people who saw it. I owe much of what I'm able to do now (including the upcoming TV series) to Gene Siskel.

I got to know him a bit over the years and he was always there to give me an encouraging word, a piece of sage advice, or a gentle nudge to keep going. The first time I met him, he picked me up at ten at night in the dead of winter wearing what could best be described as a cross between the McKenzie Brothers and Elmer Fudd.

"C'mon, get in the car," he said, as I nervously hopped in. "We're going to a GM dealer."

Gene had convinced a Chicago GM dealer to open up his shop so we could go sit on the hood of a Cadillac and tape a piece for his local TV show in Chicago. What was funny was that the GM dealer agreed with us as we took a good poke at Generous Motors. "Hey, I'm the guy stuck with having to sell these things!" he moaned.

Ebert was the first critic to see "Roger & Me" and, once he got Gene hooked on it, they both locked into their friendly rivalry as to "who liked it more."

When it came time for their year-end "10 Best Flims" show, Roger went first with his list and placed "Roger & Me" #5 on his list. Gene went next and named it #2. Roger later told me that that was an audacious thing for Gene to do when he, Roger, had "discovered" the film. Gene told me later, "it's not my fault Roger didn't have the courage of his convictions!" These two loved to mix it up but they had tremendous respect for each other and, more often than not, were in agreement on their advocacy for filmmakers like myself, Spike Lee, and others (that some year, they both did agree that the best film of the year was "Do the Right Thing").

I will miss Gene Siskel a lot. His enthusiastic support of films like "Hoop Dreams" made sure that the public got to see those movies. Week after week, he and Roger have been the only link between the obscure independent art house and the mass, general public. Women, African-American and working class filmmakers have lost a true friend, and I have lost a mentor who, in large part, is the reason most of you know me.

Not too bad a result for lighting a single candle, eh?

Next Cadillac I see, I'll give the tires a good kick.


The Awful Truth

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this: Chris Christie's $300m pension proposal broke state anti-corruption...

Apr 18th
7:31 PM
Read More

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law Donna Smith Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? Donna Smith We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa Nick Turse Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch Donna Smith The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

More in David Sirota's continuing series on the billionaire takeover of PBS: More PBS conflict woes as activists move to eject David Koch from board of...

Mar 3rd
12:35 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles