Mike Fleming

Warner Bros Cools On ‘Judah Maccabee’ Script; Will Mel Gibson Go Indie Route?

EXCLUSIVE: Mel Gibson has just responded with a letter to screenwriter Joe Eszterhas. It addresses the 9-page memo that Eszterhas delivered to Gibson alleging that the filmmaker uttered outrageous anti-Semitic comments during their collaboration on a script about heroic Jewish warrior Judah Maccabee, which Eszterhas only aired after Warner Bros rejected the scribe’s script. One question Deadline raised which Gibson also raises: If Eszterhas really heard all the hateful things he says Gibson told him, then why didn’t the brash screenwriter quit the project instead of tolerating the slurs? This is the project that shocked Hollywood because of Gibson’s past problems with the Jewish community. One question answered by Mel’s missive is that Gibson is clearly going forward with the movie — but without Eszterhas:

 Joe,

I have your letter. I am not going to respond to it line by line, but I will say that the great majority of the facts as well as the statements and actions attributed to me in your letter are utter fabrications. I would have thought that a man of principle, as you purport to be, would have withdrawn from the project regardless of the money if you truly believed me to be the person you describe in your letter. I guess you only had a problem with me after Warner Brothers rejected your script.

I will acknowledge like most creative people I am passionate and intense. I was very frustrated that when you arrived at my home at the expense of both Warner Brothers and myself you hadn’t written a single word of a script or even an outline after 15 months of research, meetings, discussions and the outpouring of my heartfelt vision for this story. I did react more strongly than I should have. I promptly sent you a written apology, the colorful words of which you apparently now find offensive. Let me now clearly apologize to you and your family in the simplest of terms.

Contrary to your assertion that I was only developing Maccabees to burnish my tarnished reputation, I have been working on this project for over 10 years and it was publicly announced 8 years ago. I absolutely want to make this movie; it’s just that neither Warner Brothers nor I want to make this movie based on your script.

Honestly, Joe, not only was the script delivered later than you promised, both Warner Brothers and I were extraordinarily disappointed with the draft. In 25 years of script development I have never seen a more substandard first draft or a more significant waste of time. The decision not to proceed with you was based on the quality of your script, not on any other factor.

I think that we can agree that this should be our last communication.

Mel

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