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Bradbury Wants His Book Title Back

The angry author of 'Fahrenheit 451' seeks an apology from filmmaker Moore.

June 19, 2004|By Associated Press

Escalating a dust-up over Michael Moore's title for his new documentary, an angry Ray Bradbury is demanding an apology from the filmmaker for calling his movie "Fahrenheit 9/11."

The title is a ripoff, Bradbury says, of his classic novel "Fahrenheit 451."

"He didn't ask my permission," Bradbury, 83, told Associated Press on Friday. "That's not his novel, that's not his title, so he shouldn't have done it."

The 1953 book, widely considered Bradbury's masterpiece, portrays an ugly, futuristic society in which firefighters burn homes and libraries to destroy the books inside and keep people from thinking independently.

"Fahrenheit 451" takes its title from the temperature at which books burn. Moore has called "Fahrenheit 9/11" the "temperature at which freedom burns."

His movie, which won top honors in May at the Cannes Film Festival, charges that the Bush administration acted ineptly before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and then played on the public's fear of future terrorism to gain support for the war against Iraq. It opens nationwide next Friday.

Bradbury's anger surfaced publicly earlier this month, when the author told Daily Variety he was offended that Moore did not seek his permission for the title.

The author said he called Moore's company six months ago to protest and was promised that Moore would call.

He finally got that call last Saturday, Bradbury said, adding that Moore told him he was "embarrassed."

"He suddenly realized he's let too much time go by," the author said by phone from his home in Los Angeles' Cheviot Hills area.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" spokeswoman Joanne Doroshow said the movie's makers have "the utmost respect for Ray Bradbury."

"Mr. Bradbury's work has been an inspiration to all of us involved in this film, but when you watch this film, you will see the fact that the title reflects the facts that the movie explores: the very real-life events before, around and after 9/11," she said.

Bradbury said he hopes "to settle this as two gentlemen, if he'll shake hands with me and give me back my book and title."

The author of more than 30 books and 700 short stories said that could be done by holding a ceremony at which Moore would arrive with a "metaphorical copy of my book and give it back to me."

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