By DONALD PORTER
PASADENA, Calif. -- Professional nose-tweaker Michael Moore is a man with a mission: to inform, irritate and stimulate the American TV-viewing public.
The creator of "TV Nation," Moore met with TV writers at the Summer Press Tour here to promote the late-summer run of his show on the Fox network, which played a year ago on NBC.
"This is satire," Moore explained. "It's not a stunt, it's satire, and the purpose of it is to expose a system that somehow has drifted away from the bulk of the American people. People don't care about politics anymore and they don't vote and in some cases for good reason."
Whatever label you choose to paste on "TV Nation" -- call it advocacy journalism, documentary news with an attitude or leftist propaganda -- it probably fails to capture the essence of a show without a definable style. The whole point is to stir the mix, make people question their assumptions and have fun in the process.
Or, as Moore puts it: "We're trying to ignite a spark in an American public that is otherwise very discouraged right now."
Moore and his correspondents have, for example, set off car alarms outside the home of a car alarm manufacturer at 6 a.m. -- just for kicks. And since Mississippi only recently ratified the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, Moore sent an African-American to the state to purchase six white slaves, shackle them and make them work.
"I think there's nothing like this on TV and I think that it's good for television that there's an hour of this on every week, and I'd like to see this on the air on a permanent basis," Moore said, knowing that Fox Entertainment chief John Matoian remains unconvinced, having ordered up only eight episodes.
"After our run last year on NBC, I met with each of the four network presidents, who all wanted either the show or something like it from me. And we came to Fox because we felt that there was a chance that the show would go beyond the summer here."
"TV Nation" is owned and financed by Tri-Star Television and the British Broadcasting Corp., and Fox pays a licensing fee to air it in the United States.
"The BBC audience loves the show," Moore said. "There are a few things we have to change so that they understand certain things. They don't know who Rush Limbaugh is, for instance, things like that. So we have to spend 15 or 20 seconds explaining Rush Limbaugh."
The secret of the show's success, Moore said, is easy to explain: "Most of us who work on the show have no intention of having any career in television. So, you know, we operate each week as if we'll be kicked off the air the next week. And I think if we keep having that attitude, we'll keep doing the kind of work we should do."
Moore was previously best known for the documentary "Roger and Me," in which he dogged then-General Motors CEO Roger Smith, who had closed factories in Moore's hometown of Flint, Mich. It was a model for the kind of satiric approach he takes with "TV Nation."
With that in mind, one upcoming show will feature what Moore is calling a "Love Night."
"Throughout the show we are going to love people who hate," Moore said. "The idea there is, like, get (African-American singer) Barry White to go to a Klan rally. ... We're going to go to the Aryan Nation conference and love them.
"You know, we just feel like these people didn't get something along the way, and if we just give them a little love, serenade them with a mariachi band, whatever, you know, maybe we can tum them around."
Moore's having a good time, and it shows.
"I think it's good, you know, people see that we go into places we're not supposed to be, but yet I think that's where the media should be. And I think it's good that we don't take no for an answer."