2ND UPDATE: *More Hollywood Reaction to Mel Gibson*
UPDATE: *Newly promoted president of production for Walt Disney Pictures Oren Aviv and Endeavor agency partner Ari Emanuel have both stepped forward and publicly expressed their opinion about Mel Gibson in light of his alleged anti-Semitic slurs made during his DUI arrest in Malibu Friday. But the two Hollywood execs have very different views.*
Aviv visited the set of Mel Gibson’s in-the-works movie Apocalpto months ago and came back singing its praises and predicting Oscar consideration. So it stands to reason that he’s now telling Slate‘s Kim Masters: “I’ve worked with Mel on several films over the years and we have a great relationship. We all make mistakes and I’ve accepted his apology to what was a regrettable situation. I wish him the very best on his path to healing.” It appears that Aviv’s Disney, through its Buena Vista arm, will continue with plans to distribute Gibson’s forthcoming film, Apocalpto. Interestingly, the movie was supposed to be released August 4th but was moved to a December 8th release. Shooting on the film ended in June after what was described as mounting delays. But, in a May Entertainment Weekly article quoting Aviv, Disney was said to “remain upbeat about the project, which reportedly costs less than $50 million. ‘Mel showed us footage that blew us away,’ says Oren Aviv, Disney’s [then] chief creative officer who traveled to the set in March. ‘Apocalpto has the chance to get critical recognition.'” Which means Oscar notice. But now? Stay tuned. Still, Aviv has guts to publicly make a statement on this.
Emanuel, a top Hollywood agent, publicly urged Hollywood to shun Mel Gibson, making his statement by blogging on The Huffington Post. Before that, just one or two publicity-seeking entertainment PR consultants have spoken out publicly about Gibson’s slur scandal. But Emanuel, the Endeavor talent agency partner, is taken very seriously in Hollywood. (He writes regularly on political issues for HuffPo; his brother is U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), a former top Clinton White House politico.) Other entertainment leaders — the top executives and producers and managers and agents and talent — have expressed opinions only on condition of anonymity. Variety‘s story Monday about the scandal’s consequences to Gibson’s career didn’t name one source. Among the major showbiz players I talked to Saturday and Sunday, most were overwhelmingly angry at Gibson for his alleged slurs, several pledged never to hire him, and many others believed the drunken statements demonstrated Gibson’s unmasked feelings about Jews. One or two said they wanted to speak to Gibson first. And all expressed the opinion that he needs to seek urgent help for his self-confessed alcoholic relapse.
UPDATE: *My Interview With Rabbi Hier Of Simon Wiesenthal Center About Mel Gibson: DUI Arrest ‘Shows He Has A Problem With Jews… It’s Not Just His Father That Is A Problem’; Hier Calls On Gibson To Dump Holocaust TV Mini-Series*
Already, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham H. Foxman, issued this statement on the organization’s website: “Mel Gibson’s apology is unremorseful and insufficient. It’s not a proper apology because it does not go to the essence of his bigotry and his anti-Semitism. His tirade finally reveals his true self and shows that his protestations during the debate over his film The Passion of the Christ, that he is such a tolerant, loving person, were a sham. It may well be that the bigotry has been passed from the father to the son. It is unfortunate that it took an excess of booze and an encounter with a traffic cop to reveal what was really in his heart and mind. We would hope that Hollywood now would realize the bigot in their midst and that they will distance themselves from this anti-Semite.”
Emanuel, who is Jewish, wrote on HuffPo: “I wish Mel Gibson well in dealing with his alcoholism, but alcoholism does not excuse racism and anti-Semitism. It is one thing when marginal figures with no credibility make anti-Semitic statements. It is a completely different thing when a figure of Mel Gibson’s stature does so. Even when he sobers sobers up and apologizes. According to the handwritten report of the deputy who pulled Gibson over, published by TMZ.com, after he was arrested Gibson launched into an anti-Semitic tirade, saying: “Fucking Jews… The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Gibson then asked the deputy, “Are you a Jew?” At a time of escalating tensions in the world, the entertainment industry cannot idly stand by and allow Mel Gibson to get away with such tragically inflammatory statements. When The Passion of the Christ came out, Gibson was quoted as categorically denying any anti-Semitism attributed to him: “For me, it goes against the tenets of my faith, to be racist in any form. To be anti-Semitic is a sin. It’s been condemned by one Papal Council after another. There’s encyclicals on it, which is, you know — to be anti-Semitic is to be unchristian, and I’m not.” Now we know the truth. And no amount of publicist-approved contrition can paper it over. People in the entertainment community, whether Jew or gentile, need to demonstrate that they understand how much is at stake in this by professionally shunning Mel Gibson and refusing to work with him, even if it means a sacrifice to their bottom line. There are times in history when standing up against bigotry and racism is more important than money.”
Click here for my weekend reporting on the Gibson Scandal. The Los Angeles Times weighs in Monday with a weak next-day story “Crossing This Line Could Cost Him Deals” which fails to back up such a strong headline.