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EXCLUSIVE: Mel Gibson Was ‘Really On The Verge Of Suicide’ Before His DUI Arrest; ‘This Was A Death Wish’

By | Monday July 31, 2006 @ 10:04pm PDT

I’m told by a source intimate with his situation tonight that Mel Gibson “was really on the verge of suicide because he felt he was helpless to alcohol and didn’t know what to do about it.” Sure, my reaction was: sounds like spin. But the source here is someone I’ve known closely for years. Make your own judgment — here’s the rest of what he told me about Gibson (mugshot left): “No one’s really asking questions about his state of mind. That’s why he was driving around 90 miles an hour. This was a death wish. If that cop hadn’t stopped him, this guy was going to be wrapped around a pole. This is such a bigger issue than ‘Will he work again?’ This is about his not wanting to live anymore. I’ve seen what he’s gone through and what he’s going through. You have to understand the disease of alcoholism. He was back in it. There’s no doubt in my mind he was trying to kill himself that night.” As for his anti-Semitic slurs during his DUI arrest, I’m told that Gibson doesn’t remember saying them. “Why? He had alcoholic blackout syndrome. I don’t know a lot about it. I’ve not had a lot of experience with it. He has some recollection of parts of the evenings. But he’s not denying he said those things, and if anything he’s owning up to it. But nobody could verify it. Not even he or his lawyers have seen the police report yet.” The insider called Gibson’s … Read More »

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ABC Cancels Mel Gibson’s Holocaust TV Mini-Series Because Of His DUI Anti-Semitic Slurs

By | Monday July 31, 2006 @ 8:21pm PDT

I have learned that, because of his DUI anti-Semitic slurs, ABC canceled development with Mel Gibson’s television production company on a non-fiction TV mini-series about the Holocaust that was still in the early pre-script stage. The deal had been announced late last year based on the self-published 1998 memoir of Flory A. Van Beek, a Dutch Jew whose gentile neighbors hid her from the Nazis but who lost several relatives in concentration camps, titled ”Flory: Survival in the Valley of Death.” Gibson was not expected to act in the 4-hour mini-series, nor was it certain that his name would even be publicly attached to the final product. But Quinn Taylor, ABC’s senior vice president for movies for television, had said at the time the project was announced that the attention-getting value of having Gibson attached was a factor in greenlighting the Holocaust project. After the huge success of his The Passion of the Christ, networks and studios sought out Gibson and his Icon production company because they felt he’d reached a previously untapped spiritual audience for Hollywood entertainment. But the attention-getting value of having Gibson attached to the Holocaust project post-DUI arrest is what got the project killed at ABC.

(UPDATE: *In Tuesday’s New York Times and Los Angeles Times, ABC did not connect the project’s termination to Gibson’s remarks.*)

But I’m told by sources close to Gibson that the decision was totally ABC’s, that it was because of his DUI anti-Semitic tirade, and that Gibson and his people didn’t challenge it. This is the first piece of business … Read More »

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APR’s Marketplace on Mel Gibson

By | Monday July 31, 2006 @ 4:26pm PDT

Today, American Public Radio’s Marketplace business show, heard by an audience of over 8.1 million unique listeners in the course of a week, on more than 330 public radio stations nationwide, interviewed several journalists including myself and aired a piece about the Mel Gibson slur scandal. Listen to this story

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Arianna: Hollywood Must Make Mel ‘Pay The Price For His Bigotry & Intolerance’

By | Monday July 31, 2006 @ 4:08pm PDT

Arianna Huffington, political activist and friend to many Hollywood heavies, wrote on her Huffington Post today a strongly worded challenge to the entertainment business re the Mel Gibson slur scandal. Here are excerpts: “For years, social conservatives have questioned the morals and ethics of the entertainment community — tossing around the shibboleth of “Hollywood values” as an oxymoronic grenade in the culture wars. Well, now is the time for Hollywood to show what those values really are by making Gibson pay the price for his bigotry and intolerance. For starters, the town’s power players need to step up and publicly condemn Gibson’s vile comments (in effect, saying in public what they are already saying in private conversations I and many others have had). I mean, it shouldn’t be so hard to publicly denounce someone — even an Oscar-winner — for being a raging anti-Semite. But that’s not happening… Talk about lacking the courage of their convictions. Which makes Ari Emanuel’s no-holds-barred post all the more praise-worthy. But is Ari the only high-profile figure willing to publicly draw a line in the Malibu sand? How disgusting and disappointing is that? I know this is, at its heart, a very cautious town — a place that always likes to keep one eye on the bottom line — but this is no time to play it safe or to put dollars ahead of doing the … Read More »

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Disney’s Oren Aviv Supports Mel Gibson

By | Monday July 31, 2006 @ 3:22pm PDT

Aviv1.jpgHere’s an update to my Hollywood Reacts To Gibson Slur Scandal posting: newly promoted president of production for Walt Disney Pictures Oren 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.

Updated: … Read More »

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EXCLUSIVE: 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.’

By | Monday July 31, 2006 @ 10:26am PDT

Here is my exclusive interview this morning with Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center — an international Jewish human rights organization dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust by fostering tolerance and understanding through community involvement, educational outreach and social action. The rabbi was speaking by telephone from Israel, where he said his organization was distributing funds for aid and shelter to people all over Israel, including to Israeli arabs. (Click here for my UPDATED: Hollywood Reacts To Gibson.)
Q: So what are your feelings about this Mel Gibson story?
A: Look, the issue with Mel Gibson is very simple. Mel Gibson is driving under intoxication. There are no Jews in sight. He can blame his car, he can blame his liquor, he can blame the sheriff. But he can’t blame any Jews because there are none around. That’s precisely who he blames. Yet that’s the problem. That shows he has a problem with Jews. And there’s an old Yiddish saying, which loses a lot in translation, ”What someone drunk has on his tongue comes from his conscience when he is not drunk.” My point is that, even if you look at his apology itself, in the nature of the apology he knew exactly what he’d said. And though doesn’t specially address anti-Semitism, you can see that long apology he has it in mind he knows he said that.
Read More »

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UPDATED: Hollywood Reacts To Gibson

By | Sunday July 30, 2006 @ 9:26pm PDT

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.jpgAviv 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 … Read More »

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EXCLUSIVE OFFICIAL CONFIRMATION! Cover-Up Denied: LA County Sheriff’s Malibu/Lost Hills Station DUI Arrest Reports Contain Anti-Semitic Slurs Allegedly Made By Mel Gibson; He Apologizes For ‘Despicable’ ‘Out of Control’ ‘Not True’ Drunk Statements

By | Saturday July 29, 2006 @ 10:45am PDT

UPDATE: No TV Interviews ‘Anytime Soon’ For Mel

UPDATE: New Mel Gibson Statement: ‘I Am Not A Bigot’; Apologizes To Jewish Community

UPDATE: EXCLUSIVE: Mel Gibson Was ‘Really On The Verge Of Suicide’ Before His DUI Arrest

UPDATE: ABC Cancels Mel Gibson’s Holocaust TV Mini-Series Because Of His DUI Anti-Semitic Slurs

UPDATE: Hollywood Reacts To Gibson

UPDATE: EXCLUSIVE: My Interview With Rabbi Hier of Simon Wiesenthal Center About Mel Gibson

Lt. Steve Smith, in charge of the detective bureau for the Malibu/Lost Hills station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, confirmed to me just now that “the contents seem to be similar” between the official reports and the four pages posted by Read More »

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Miami Vice Mann-Handles #1 From P2 For Director’s Best Opener; Ant Can’t Bully As Warner Bros. Bombs Away This Summer

By | Friday July 28, 2006 @ 5:40pm PDT


SUNDAY: Nostalgia for Crockett and Tubbs, plus a grittier look and story, made Universal’s Miami Vice the No. 1 movie at the box office, knocking off month-long Disney blockbuster, Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest. This was Michael Mann’s biggest movie opening of his directorial career as Vice took in $8.8 mil Friday and $9.1 mil Saturday for what was a less-than-anticipated $25.2 mil finish. Then again, the pic was playing in only 3,021 theaters, so its per-screen average was a  respectable $8,340. (Mann’s last big film, Collateral, starring Tom Cruise in his first villain role, opened at $24.7 mil and went on to gross a 4x multiple of its domestic opening weekend – getting past $100 mil.) I’m told Miami Vice played to a racially and ethnically diverse audience divided almost evenly between male and female – but a whopping 62% of the moviegoers were aged 30 and older. (Must have been the lure of that familiar theme music…) But the real news was that Warner Bros. continued its “bombs away” summer with the complete collapse of its expensive kiddie fare Ant Bully despite a lavish marketing campaign. Earning only $2.6 mil on Friday and $3.1 mil on Saturday, Ant Bully ended its opening weekend with a pathetic $8 million. So chalk up another loser for that studio, along with M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water, which barely registered … Read More »

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ICM: Behind-The-Scenes of ‘Project Beta’

By | Friday July 28, 2006 @ 1:59pm PDT

Back around Christmas 2005, I was tipped that ICM’s Jeff Berg wanted to close two big deals for boutique agencies. Flush with his month-old $100 million private equity infusion from Rizvi Traverse Management, the agency chief was looking closely at Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann Agency as well as Endeavor Agency. Then, there followed a waiting game. Rumors were rampant. But the reality was that these deals aren’t done overnight: like everything in Hollywood that involves ego and money, they’re complicated because they combine different agency cultures as well as partners and personnel. (Who else remembers back to 1992 when William Morris acquired Triad? The two agencies had been talking for 17 months; and, even when those chats became very serious, the deal points took five months.) Also on Berg’s mind was the successorship issue; these days, every head of a company has to have an eye on an heir apparent, or two or three. Demonstrating just how clueless the Hollywood trades really are, Variety even ran a June 22nd hit story during the waiting period asking, “Has ICM squandered the momentum that could have come with a restructuring?” Variety didn’t know that, at that very moment the story was published, ICM and Broder already had a signed letter of intent in their hands. (More on this later…) The deal took four intensive months to get done: it was code-named, it was stealthy — and it involved Camp Allen’s Duck Pond…. Read More »

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ICM: Post-Broder Casualty List, So Far

By | Friday July 28, 2006 @ 11:52am PDT

UPDATE: ICM: Behind-The-Scenes of ‘Project Beta’

The newly freed agents:

SCOTT ARNOVITZ

NANCY ETZ

TANYA LOPEZ

STEVE SIMONS

BABBETTE PERRY

STACEY LUBLINER

JILL GILLETTE

PATTY DETROIT

NANCY JOSEPHSON

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‘World Trade Center’ Tracking OK; ‘Talladega Nights’ Tracking Bigger

By | Friday July 28, 2006 @ 11:15am PDT

There’s still plenty of summer left for the movie biz. I’m told Paramount’s World Trade Center is on track for a $25 million-to-$30 million opening weekend starting August 9th. Gotta say, that’s more than I ever expected. Sony’s Talladega Nights; The Ballad of Ricky Bobby looks like it’ll debut even bigger with $30+ million for August 4th weekend. Great summer at the box office for comedies.

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…Did I Miss Anything?

By | Thursday July 27, 2006 @ 11:22pm PDT

I’ve been out and about from midday to almost midnight today, and in the meantime ICM finally announced it’s acquired that TV powerhouse, Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann Agency. (I’d been tipped this was happening months and months ago.) It’s late, I’ve got a lot to say about the deal, so check out DHD in the AM. G’nite.

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Will Saudi Prince Turki Screen ‘WTC’?

By | Thursday July 27, 2006 @ 11:19am PDT

princeturki.jpgI’m told that the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal, left Washington D.C. on Saturday and is cocooning with his family at their Beverly Hills estate for the rest of the summer until October. It turns out the envoy’s primary pasttime while he’s here is to watch Hollywood movies in his home’s well-appointed screening room. So far, the only movie that Prince Turki has requested to see is Paramount’s Mission Impossible 3 starring Tom Cruise. I’ve learned that, when informed the prince wanted to screen MI3 and needed more movies, one Paramount executive snickered, “Yeah, I’ll give him World Trade Center.” So I asked the prince’s film guru, the Sunset Screening Room’s Walter Moshay, if that might be a movie the ambassador would see. “I would imagine so. I’ll find out,” Moshay told me today. I’ve learned that al-Faisal is no stranger to controversial Hollywood films. Moshay tells me that one of the movies he recommended and screened for the prince last summer was Lionsgate’s Lord of War, the film also starring Nicolas Cage as a globetrotting arms dealer operating in some of the deadliest war zones and arming many of the world’s most notorious dictators until his own conscience kicks in. And, according to news reports, this son of the late King Faisal weighed into the controversy surrounding Michael Moore’s documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, terming it “grossly unfair” to Saudis. The ambassador complained Moore failed to carry out proper research and dismissed the movie’s claims that … Read More »

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Kevin Smith Responds Angrily to Me

By | Wednesday July 26, 2006 @ 8:02pm PDT

I’ve edited out the jejune personal attacks. But because I’m always in favor of a dialogue based on the merits or demerits of my editorializing, I’m honored to give director Kevin Smith his say. He didn’t take kindly to my recent post Hollywood Guilds Ain’t Gonna Be Thrilled. (Or else he was looking to pick another PR fight just as he did with GMA‘s Joel Siegel.) Under the headline “Finke Makes A Stink”, Smith opines on his Internet sites:

“There’s a woman named Nikki Finke who writes for the LA Weekly, and she seems to have taken issue with the MySpace Credits Contest we did for Clerks II. ‘This could very well be the most insulting thing I’ve ever heard,’ she writes. ‘A huge diss, to anyone who’s ever legitimately earned a credit on a film.’ Yes – she’s serious… She’s presupposing an industry outrage and ire that simply doesn’t exist. No guild has said a word about the credits contest. Know why? Because there’s nothing to be upset about. The MySpace names don’t appear in the credits proper of Clerks II. The film’s credits end (with all the proper logos and copyright legalese), the screen goes to black, and then after five to ten seconds, a new crawl (although ‘crawl’ is hardly the term I’d use to describe the speed with which the names zip up the screen) begins. Why is this an Read More »

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Hollywood Guilds Ain’t Gonna Be Thrilled

By | Tuesday July 25, 2006 @ 10:24am PDT

This may set a new low in the scandal of credits gone wild in the movie biz. The Weinstein Company is boasting about creating a unique partnership between Clerks 2 and MySpace whereby the first 10,000 people who linked a designated page to their friends list would be permanently added to the ending credits of the film. This could very well be the most insulting thing I’ve ever heard, a huge diss, to anyone who’s ever legitimately earned a credit on a film. It’s the sort of shenanigan that, if the guilds in this town had spines, they should stop immediately.

Back to TWC, a recent PR release exults: “Willing to take risks, the Weinsteins have consistently been the film industry’s early adopters in their use of specialized marketing and distribution strategies, individually tailoring each film’s release to suit its particular strengths. Most recently, The Weinstein Company, embraced rich media/online video with a ground breaking presence on YouTube for the respective launches of Lucky Number Slevin, and hotly anticipated Clerks II.” Yeah, we saw what that promotion did for those movies’ bottom-line: Slevin made a pathetic $22 million, and Clerks 2 is well on its way to more failure. The Weinstein Company also has significantly invested in SmallWorld, billed as “the world’s most exclusive online social network that brings together highly influential people from all over the globe.” … Read More »

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WSJ’s Camp Allen Fashion Critique: Bad

By | Tuesday July 25, 2006 @ 7:21am PDT

How did I miss this? The venerable Wall Street Journal, which has just decided to start an official fashion and design bureau, takes a serious look at “media-mogul fashion” from Herbert Allen’s Sun Valley investment confab earlier this month. Sheesh, this is pretty thin stuff. And good thing they didn’t glimpse David Geffen who pairs his jeans with either a white T-shirt or plaid flannel shirt. We learn that the media moguls, tech executives and financiers ditch their neckties and sport jackets and go Western casual. (Like, duh.) Actually, I’d call it Greenwich, Conn., casual — lots of khakis and cashmeres. But the paper “saw some common style miscues that many executives face with business-casual clothes.” Horrors, the media big shots look — drumroll, please — disheveled! They “may be used to getting their suits tailored, they often buy casual clothes off the rack and don’t pay enough attention to style or fit.” Cited as bad examples were Barry Diller in drawstring pants with a red-and-black-striped zip-up cardigan and a “clashing” orange polo shirt. Rupert Murdoch wore his cable knit tennis sweater with an orange stripe around the neck two days in a row and the color “tones are too strong for his complexion.” Geraldine Laybourne, chief executive of Oxygen media, had on a “mismatched ensemble” and she blamed her husband for it. (“He usually checks what I wear, but he slept late that day.”) Chad Hurley, the 29-year-old hero-of-the-moment YouTube CEO, wore jeans and an untucked dress shirt with the cuffs … Read More »

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4 Murdoch Oldest To Control News Corp.

By | Monday July 24, 2006 @ 12:41pm PDT

Click here for the free Google video of Rupert Murdoch’s recent interview with Charlie Rose. It’s important because Rupe announces his final succession plan: that his four children from his first marriage — Lachlan (middle left), James (near left), Elisabeth (below), and Prudence – will assume control over the family trust that owns 30% of $55 billion News Corp. after he dies. His two daughters by wife Wendi Deng will not assume any control of the trust, nor will Deng have a voice in how News Corp is run. His assets, however, will be divided equally among all six children. Wall Street, though not Peter Chernin, can rest easier now that the dispute over his financial assets has been settled. Rose asked Murdoch: ”If something happens to you, [if you're] run over by a bus when you leave this studio, the four kids have to decide who will be the heir apparent?” Replied Murdoch: “If I go under a bus tomorrow, it will be the four of them [that] will have to decide which of the ones should lead them, … In terms of leadership, they’ll all get treated equally financially.” This squabble had led to a rift with Lachlan Murdoch, who left News Corp. last year after Dad had stated previously that he wanted Deng’s kids to have a say in control of the trust. (See this 2005 New York mag story for a refresher.)

For my money, the Murdoch offspring who should run … Read More »

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Ari-Watch In — Huh? — Watch Hill, R.I.

By | Monday July 24, 2006 @ 9:29am PDT

There goes the neighborhood. From today’s Lloyd Grove of the New York Daily News: “Hollywood superagent Ari Emanuel – the brash, crass, fast-talking model for the brash, crass, fast-talking character in the HBO hit Entourage – has been ruffling feathers this summer in the understated little beach community of Watch Hill, R.I. ‘He wears skintight, black-and-hot pink golf clothes – like really high-tech, long-sleeved black Nike tops,’ a Watch Hill denizen confided to Lowdown after observing Emanuel’s flashy West Coast ways. ‘I saw him golfing in a porkpie hat one time. This is the kind of place he would blend in if he wore madras on the course. He sticks out like a sore thumb.’ The amused Watch Hiller went on: ‘He drives around in a silver minivan. He’s also always on his phone headset. The golf course changed their cell phone rules because of him. He would always be on the headset on the driving range.’ The golfing establishment now strictly enforces a cell phone prohibition. The 45-year-old Emanuel – who reps Michael Moore, Martin Scorsese, Larry David and Entourage producer Mark Wahlberg – used to rep Entourage star Jeremy Piven, who plays the relentless 10-percenter Ari Gold in the series. Emanuel vacations in tiny Watch Hill, which dates back to the 1600s, because the family of his wife, Sarah Addington, has a summer Read More »

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