The first excerpt comes from a Mar. 11 posting by Allison Hope Weiner on Deadline.com.
It has been a decade since Mel Gibson made The Passion Of The Christ and watched it become the biggest-grossing independent film with $612 million in worldwide ticket sales. In the years that followed, Gibson made several comments that went public, made him seem anti-Semitic and racist. They made him persona non grata at major studios and agencies, the same ones that work with others who’ve committed felonies and done things far more serious than Gibson, who essentially used his tongue as a lethal weapon. As a journalist who vilified Gibson in The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly until my coverage allowed me to get to know him, I want to make the case here that it is time for those Hollywood agencies and studios to end their quiet blacklisting of Mel Gibson. Once Hollywood’s biggest movie star whose film Braveheart won five Oscars and whose collective box office totals $3.6 billion, Gibson hasn’t been directly employed by a studio since Passion Of The Christ was released in 2004.
The Gibson I’ve come to know isn’t a man who’ll shout from the rooftops that he’s not anti-Semitic, or hold a press conference to tell media those audiotapes were released as part of a shakedown, and that he never assaulted the mother of his infant daughter. He won’t explain to people that he first got himself into a career spiral because he’s a long struggling alcoholic who fell off the wagon and spewed hateful anti-Semitic remarks to an arresting officer who was Jewish. He won’t tell you that he’s still got a lot to offer Hollywood as a filmmaker.
The fact that he won’t jump to his own defense is part of his problem, but also part of why I have grown to respect him. That is why on the occasion of this 10th anniversary of Passion, a film about an innocent man’s willingness to forgive the greatest injustice, I propose to Hollywood that it’s time to forgive Mel Gibson. He has been in the doghouse long enough. It’s time to give the guy another chance.
For those who are skeptical, I understand. For the longest time, I disliked Gibson and thought he was a Holocaust-denier, homophobic, misogynistic, racist drunk. I wrote as much in articles for EW and the NY Times. And whenever I wrote about him, I would get irate calls from his representatives saying I didn’t know him.
Then something happened that I never expected. I came to rethink my harsh assessment after I got to know the man. It started when I interviewed him in 2006 for an EW cover. I could see that he was smart, expressing sincere empathy for the people he’d hurt. I had to admit to myself that I was impressed that he hadn’t shied away from answering my tough questions.
We next spoke when he was working on a script about Vikings with his Braveheart writer Randall Wallace. After that, we spoke occasionally on the phone and met for lunch at his Icon Production offices to discuss Get The Gringo. Our conversations were mostly about business, but would carry over to movies or books we liked, trips we’d taken. I liked how his mind worked. Like the movies he directs, the stories he told were incredibly visual. He never asked me for anything or tried to play me, and I’ve interviewed enough movie stars to know when they are working you. Gibson was unafraid to disagree with and challenge me. Our conversations broadened to family, our relationships, religion.
It developed into something that felt like friendship, which doesn’t often happen with investigative journalists and the subjects they cover. Odder still was that it happened with a man disdained by my colleagues, friends and my family, who, like me, are observant Jews. At this point, Gibson’s career had gone all kinds of wrong, starting with that 2006 DUI arrest, when he told that cop that “the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Four years later, he sounded positively unhinged and racist in surreptitious recordings of an angry phone exchange between Gibson and ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva — the mother of his infant daughter. The whole world heard him shout abusively at her and make racist remarks.
It was after the latter episode that my relationship with Gibson truly changed. It’s very difficult to get to know anyone in a journalistic context — one rarely gets any real insight into the person you’re interviewing. In Gibson’s case, this was particularly true. He wasn’t the kind of person to open up a vein and publicly plead for forgiveness as some do. But a conversation that came months after that changed our relationship.
I was on vacation with my family when Gibson called me. During his breakup with Grigorieva, he’d gone through a terrible emotional breakdown and struggled to get healthy, gain joint custody of his infant daughter and deal with the fallout from the publication of those awful tapes. He was in a very bad place and we talked for some time about how difficult it was for him to deal with the pain he’d inflicted on his family — his ex-wife Robyn and his seven children, his infant daughter. He got so upset talking about that period in his life that he ended our call abruptly. He’d shared some very deep, personal feelings with me and was in so much pain, that I was honestly worried about him. It wasn’t the type of conversation that one has with an interview subjects. I decided we were friends now and that I could no longer write objectively about him.
Since then, I’ve gotten to know Gibson extremely well. I thought it would be difficult for him to have a friend in the media, but he has been surprisingly honest and trusting. As a lawyer-turned-reporter, I have no problem asking tough questions, even of friends. Gibson never wavered or equivocated when I confronted him, whether the subject was his drinking, his politics, his religion or his relationships with women. It soon became clear that my early journalistic assessment of him wasn’t right.
This crystallized when we met each other’s families. It was hard to blame his family for being skeptical of a journalist, but the issues with my own family were more challenging. Gibson asked to meet them at my son’s bar mitzvah celebration. Imagine the scene: A room filled with Jews. In walks the person who, in their minds, might be the most notorious anti-Semite in America. Gibson attended alone and I can only imagine what was going through his head when he walked into the party.
Before the evening was over, he was chatting with many of my relatives, who saw a funny, kind, charming guy and not the demon they’d read about. Gutsier still, he attended our Yom Kippur break fast dinner. Anyone who has attended such a gathering knows there is nothing more imposing than making friends in a room full of Jews who haven’t eaten in 24 hours….
Hollywood has long been a town famous for loving a good comeback story. In Gibson’s case, I believe that a few powerful people have gone out of their way to prevent that.
I’m telling you, my friend Mel Gibson has pulled himself together. He is sober seven years, hitting the gym for a role in an independent film, and thinking positively about the future. It has been 11 years since he was paid by a major studio to star in a film, and he hasn’t directed a studio film since Braveheart won five Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. He wasn’t the bad person I thought he was back when I first wrote about him, and I’m telling you, he is now not the person you think he is. As one A-list star told me recently, “Mel has spent enough time in the penalty box.”
So how about it, Hollywood? To read the original Deadline story, click here.
The following comes from a Mar. 12 story on Showbiz411.com.
Mel Gibson has a defender in Allison Hope Weiner, writing for Deadline.com. Weiner says it’s time to forgive and forget Gibson’s anti-Semitic, alcoholic, homophobic history.
Weiner conveniently leaves out the issue that first brought the real Gibson to our attention.This was before The Passion of the Christ, or his DUI arrest or his interview with Diane Sawyer. This is separate from the fact that Gibson has never publicly apologized for anything.
Mel Gibson has a private charitable foundation called the A P Reilly Foundation, with $70 million in tax-free assets. The purpose of A P Reilly was to build and maintain a private church Mel Gibson owns in Agoura Hills, California called Holy Family. The church – part of a massive real estate compound – is not recognized by any archdiocese. Just as well, because Holy Family doesn’t believe in the Pope– any pope. Its main theological thrust refutes the Second Vatican Council of 1965, which denounced anti-Semitism. I doubt Allison Hope Weiner has been invited up to Gibson’s private church and met with his parishioners….
….By the way, everything about Holy Family and A P Reilly has been scrubbed clean from Gibson’s Wikipedia page. I’m surprised the ever vigilant editors and contributors have allowed that.
To read the entire Showbiz article, click here.