Monday, May 31, 2004

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — In an unused interview shot for Michael Moore’s latest film, the American who was beheaded in Iraq said he was concerned about security there as he prepared to seek work as an independent businessman, his family said Saturday.

Mr. Moore’s crew shot the 16-minute interview with Nicholas Berg during an Iraqi business conference in Arlington on Dec. 4, said his brother, David Berg.

Nicholas Berg’s decapitated body was found in Baghdad on May 8, and a video of his killing was posted on a militant Islamic Web site several days later.

Mr. Moore confirmed Thursday that he had footage of Mr. Berg — shot for his film “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which is critical of President Bush — but said he would share it only with the family.

Mr. Moore sent copies of the footage to David Berg in New Jersey and sister Sara Berg in Virginia. Their parents will see the video after returning to their suburban home from vacation, David Berg said.

Sara Berg said her brother told Mr. Moore’s crew he was nervous about his safety in Iraq.

“He recognized it was a concern, and he kind of pointed out that he’d worked in difficult situations before,” Sara Berg said from her home in Virginia. “It’s definitely something that he didn’t shrug off.”

She said her brother seemed enthusiastic in the footage.

David Berg, speaking from his home outside Newark, N.J., said it was “weird seeing Nick talk,” but described the interview footage as dry. He said Mr. Moore handled the situation with “dignity, respect and discipline.”

“Michael Moore has really been a total class act with this whole thing,” David Berg said. “He could have sold this to the media or stuck it in his movie.”

Sara Berg said she saw the video footage as a “gift.”

The interview, which was not conducted by Mr. Moore, centered on the technical work Mr. Berg hoped to find repairing radio transmission towers for his company, Prometheus Methods Tower Service. Mr. Berg, 26 when he died, also talked about humanitarian work he did in Uganda and Kenya.

“Nick seemed to be fairly conscious of using this thing to promote his business,” David Berg said. “[The interviewer] does ask him at one point about the money and he said no one’s denying there’s money to be made. But it’s very clear when you watch it, Nick knew he wasn’t going to make a lot of money.”

Mr. Moore said he had considered using some of the footage in his film but it got edited out, David Berg said. Some of Mr. Moore’s staffers cried when they heard about Mr. Berg’s death, the filmmaker told David Berg.

“Fahrenheit 9/11,” which recently won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, accuses the Bush administration of stealing the 2000 election, overlooking terrorism warnings before September 11 and fanning fears of more attacks to secure American support for the Iraq war.

Given Mr. Moore’s political leanings, David Berg said, he was “really nervous” about what the footage of his brother might show. His brother wasn’t overtly political, he said.

“He went to Iraq because he had certain beliefs about helping people in messed-up situations, but it’s not like he was trying to help the Bush administration,” David Berg said.

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