Michael Bay, director of such action-packed, budget-busting monsters as Transformers and Armageddon, is facing a real life calamity as he squares off with entertainment site TheWrap for publishing a report that claims Bay was charged in Italy for killing a pigeon during production in 2018 on his Netflix film 6 Underground.
As pigeons are a protected species in Italy, Variety reports, any harm to one would violate national law and come at a steep cost. The allegedly ill-fated bird on Bay’s set was killed by a dolly mid-take during a scene involving multiple birds and a wind machine, TheWrap reported, citing “an insider with knowledge of the production.” The incident was also purportedy photographed and the evidence turned over to Italian authorities.
Bay, however, vehemently denies the allegations, admitting only to facing charges regarding whether or not he failed to properly supervise crew members responsible for handling animals. His legal team—led by “Free Britney” attorney Mathew Rosengart—has repeatedly tried to have the case thrown out, and Bay told TheWrap that, while he would not get into the specifics about an ongoing legal matter, he declined the option of settling for a small fine.
“I would not plead guilty to having harmed an animal,” he told the outlet, adding, “I am a well-known animal lover and major animal activist.” Bay insists that no birds were harmed on the set of 6 Underground or, for that matter, any of his other films over the past 30 years.
Rosengart, meanwhile, warned TheWrap in a letter, “Your story is particularly harmful and malicious” (malice being a key finding in any successful U.S. libel suit), and said the site was made aware of video evidence proving any allegations of onset animal harm were false. Rosengart also echoed his client’s sentiment that the article is damaging his rep as a friend to the animals.
“As a result of your story, however, his name is now associated with ‘killing’ or ‘murdering’ an animal, connoting intent,” wrote Rosengart. “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… he has publicly discussed his love of animals and his desire to make a film about saving African elephants, another fact of which [The Wrap] had prior notice but ignored.”
The attorney has demanded a retraction, and notified the author and the website, “All of this exposes you and The Wrap to significant monetary damages.”