Sometimes a news story comes along that is so layered and multifaceted that it requires an expert to sort through it all and explain it to the people. The 2008 financial crisis was like this, with all of its various stock and investment terminologies that only made sense to people familiar with the world of finance. Same with the various political and election-based controversies of the past few years, where it helps to have an actual Constitutional scholar on hand to separate fact from fiction. This next thing is… okay, actually it’s not like those other things. It’s pretty straightforward if I’m being honest about it. But it does allow me to say and type things like “Michael Bay may or may not be at the center of an international incident involving a dead Italian pigeon,” so I am going to explain it all anyway. This one is really more for me than it is for any of you.
Anyway, here are some of the things we have already in this story, all of which I will be covering below. I think you can see why I am so excited.
- A dead pigeon on the set of the Netflix movie 6 Underground
- Famed action film director Michael Bay
- The Italian courts and possibly the European Union getting involved
- Claims of defamation and slander
- An Italian lawyer named Fabrizio Sigma
It’s beautiful. I could not possibly ask for more. But I will get more. You really need to stick around to the end of this. There’s a pretty incredible twist coming. But let’s start at the top…
What is happening here?
Okay, last week The Wrap published an article titled “Michael Bay Fights Charges in Italy Over Killing a Pigeon, Denies Allegations,” which I clicked on so fast I almost knocked over a glass of iced tea. The short version goes like this: Back in 2018, on the set of 6 Underground, a pigeon may or may not have perished as a result of various crew members moving heavy machinery around. The longer version goes like this:
According to an insider with knowledge of the production, a homing pigeon was allegedly killed by a dolly in the middle of a take in Rome. An unnamed individual who happened to be on set apparently witnessed the incident, took a picture and reported it to Italian authorities, the insider added. A second individual with knowledge of the shoot said the scene involved a large group of pigeons and a wind machine.
As the person in charge of the shoot, Bay was charged with failing to supervise the crew members responsible for handling the animals, according to his Italian lawyer, Fabrizio Sigma.
Lots to digest here, starting with the thing where some unnamed person allegedly stumbled across a Michael Bay film set, saw a dead bird, snapped a picture, and then called the police. That is already fascinating to me. I need to know more about this person at once. I need them interviewed on-camera for the 8-part McMillions style docuseries I need someone to make about this. Call Agent Doug. Get him on the case.
Also of note: Michael Bay has an Italian lawyer named Fabrizio Sigma. This is… wonderful. I refuse to Google this man. The image in my head is too perfect to ruin. I picture him in a stunning white suit with a fancy hat. Do not take this from me.
Okay, but how serious can all of this be if it’s just over one pigeon?
Oh ho ho, my friend. Pretty serious! Apparently!
Pigeons are a protected species in Italy. Italy has a national law that makes it illegal to harm, kill or capture any wild bird, including pigeons. Pigeons are also protected in the E.U. under the Birds Directive.
This is why you call in Fabrizio Sigma.
Would you watch a Michael Bay movie titled The Birds Directive?
Buddy, you know I would.
What is Michael Bay saying about all of this?
A lot! Starting with this quote in which he denies killing the pigeon and reveals — in an extremely on-brand and aggressive addition — that Michael Bay is the kind of guy who would rather risk an international incident and public relations crisis than pay a small fine to make something go away.
“I was offered by the Italian authorities a chance to settle this matter by paying a small fine, but I declined to do so because I would not plead guilty to having harmed an animal,” Bay added.
Two things are worth noting here:
- Michael Bay is a man of principle
- In a 2011 GQ oral history about working with and/or being Michael Bay, Michael Bay gave the following quote about his directorial prices: “I don’t change my style for anybody. Pussies do that.”
That second thing isn’t, like, super relevant here but I just really wanted to remind you about it.
Be honest, you are loving this a little bit right now?
So… that’s about the end of the story then?
Turns out Michael Bay is not only a “loudly fight charges instead of making them go away with a small fine” guy, he’s also a “send off a legal letter demanding a correction or retraction of the pigeon murder story.” Variety obtained a letter his team sent to The Wrap after that story was published and… yeah. Michael Bay is not happy about any of this. He’s very unhappy.
Now, in a legal letter, Bay’s attorney writes that the filmmaker was “never accused, much less ‘charged,’ with ‘killing’ an animal.” Rosengart writes that ahead of publishing the story, TheWrap was made aware of “video evidence rebutting these allegations and demonstrating that at no time was any animal harmed, let alone ‘killed.’”
This is one of those situations where two things appear to be true at once. The first thing is that I have no clue if a pigeon died on the Italian set of the Netflix movie 6 Underground. I was not there and have not seen the evidence in either direction and do not especially want Michael Bay’s legal team to send me a letter about any of it. Let me be very clear about all of that.
The second thing is that I kind of want Ryan Murphy to sink his teeth into an entire season of American Crime Story about this, complete with Bobby Cannavale as Fabrizio Sigma and Nicolas Cage as Michael Bay, like… oh let’s say Justin Long or maybe Aubrey Plaza as a journalist who is sinking his or her teeth into the story.
I am available to play myself in this.
Your story is particularly harmful and malicious because, contrary to its implications, Michael Bay is an animal rights activist; he passionately loves animals, as his track record shows. As a result of your story, however, his name is now associated with “killing” or “murdering” an animal, connoting intent. He is therefore being unfairly maligned and attacked. Indeed, there are now numerous articles and countless social media images associating Mr. Bay with “killing” or “murder,” which have gone around the world.
[looks at the headline of this very article]
Is there any way we can work elephants into this somehow?
Surprisingly, yes! Also from the statement Variety got their hands on:
Your story is therefore extremely damaging to Mr. Bay personally and professionally (he has publicly discussed his love of animals and his desire to make a film about saving African elephants, another fact of which you had prior notice but ignored) and has tarnished his reputation as someone who fiercely supports animals, financially and otherwise, causing him extreme anguish.
Okay, I know that this movie they are talking about is probably a documentary or some sort of serious grown-up drama about the plight of the mighty elephant, which is fine, but…
What if it’s a regular Michael Bay action movie?
Like Bad Boys or Ambulance…
With explosions and gun fights and car chases and every cliche you’ve ever seen in your standard Michael Bay action movie…
But it’s about saving elephants.
Maybe one of the elephants has a rocket launcher in its trunk.
What if that’s the movie he’s discussing here?
Because we can’t rule that out either.
Think about this one a little or a lot over the next few days or months or for the rest of your life.
Is there some small chance that the pigeon in question faked its own death in an attempt to frame Michael Bay or maybe to escape suspicion on its own ongoing criminal case involving millions of dollars of stolen art and is now living under an assumed name on some tropical island?
I am pleased to report that there is, based on this single sentence from the original report.
But it’s not entirely clear whether a pigeon perished, or not.
What an incredible twist.
Wouldn’t this be a great plot for that movie titled The Birds Directive that we were joking about earlier?
Let’s start production immediately. Or at least after the docuseries and Ryan Murphy show and elephant movie.