24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Mel Gibson

What effect will Mel Gibson's no-contest plea have on 'The Beaver' publicity campaign?

March 9, 2011 | 10:36 pm


Mel Gibson's expected no-contest plea to a misdemeanor charge in a domestic battery case involving ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva may put an end to the Gibson legal circus, at least for a little while. But for moviedom, there's a more specific question: How will the burst of publicity, coming just before the world premiere of "The Beaver" at SXSW next week, affect the film's all-important first public screening?

On Wednesday, a law enforcement official told The Times that Gibson is expected to plead no contest to a charge that he struck Grigorieva, likely resulting only in probation and counseling, but no jail time.  Gibson's attorney later told our sister blog L.A. Now that the actor would enter the plea out of concern for his children.

"Mel's priority throughout all of this has been that the best interests of his young daughter Lucia and the rest of his children be put first in any decisions made," attorney Blair Berk said in a statement. "It is with only that in mind that he asked me to approach the District Attorney with a proposal that would bring all of this to an immediate end."

A spokeswoman for "The Beaver" said Wednesday that plans for the film's premiere a week from now in Austin, Texas, remain unchanged.

Gibson has faced such a barrage of media criticism that the legal development won't necessarily cast a  much larger spotlight on the actor when Summit Entertainment unveils the Jodie Foster film.

Then again, it puts the actor back in the news for his personal life at a time when the studio is trying to keep the focus on the film. And it doesn't put the issue to rest either; prosecutors are, of course, still considering potential extortion charges against Grigorieva.

More next week from The Times and 24 Frames on the Gibson saga as it moves from the courtroom to a screening room.

-- Steven Zeitchik




L.A. Now: Mel Gibson expected to plead guilty to misdemeanor count of domestic violence

The Hollywood wagons circle Mel Gibson

The Beaver goes back into the woods

Photo: Mel Gibson in "The Beaver." Credit: Summit Entertainment

'The Beaver' goes back into the woods

February 7, 2011 |  6:00 pm

What a strange, furry situation. After finally landing a release date, "The Beaver" has been pushed back.

Nearly two months ago, Summit Entertainment set March 23 as the limited-release date for the Jodie Foster-Mel Gibson drama, with a wide release to follow on April 8.

But the studio said Monday it was moving back the release date for the movie, in which Gibson plays a man with depression, by about six weeks. The film will now come out on May 6 in limited release and expand on May 20, a date that also happens to mark the opening of Johnny Depp's "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides." After the U.S. opening, it will roll out internationally.

The film will keep its world premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival next month, festival organizers said.

After several stops and starts in development, the independent film's fate was thrown into question last summer when recordings surfaced apparently of Gibson making abusive phone calls to ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. Summit decided not to release the movie, which was completed, in the fall and waited until nearly the end of the year before announcing the March-April rollout. The movie then played for select media in Los Angeles and New York.

When Summit did announce a release date two months ago, questions arose about whether Gibson's public image would have recovered sufficiently by the time the movie hit theaters to allow for promotion of a film in which he stars; it also raised the issue of how much promotion he could or would do himself. A Summit spokesman confirmed the date change but declined to comment further.

The new date allows for more dust to settle on the Gibson affair -- and according to one person familiar with the studio's plans who asked not to be identified, might allow more buzz to build out of SXSW. But  it also pushes the movie into a period crowded with films that appeal to broad audiences. In addition to "Pirates," the superhero movie "Thor" (May 6) the female-oriented comedy "Bridesmaids (May 13), the male buddy-comedy "The Hangover 2" (May 26) as well as the art-house title "The Tree of Life" (May 27) all come out in that month.

There's also another furry creature making a play for audience affections when "Kung Fu Panda 2" comes out on May 26. Yes, it's all a bit of a zoo.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Mel Gibson in "The Beaver." Credit: Summit Entertainment


'The Beaver' is coming to SXSW--but will Mel Gibson?

Mel Gibson's 'The Beaver' will wag its tail in March



Seven intriguing movie storylines for 2011

January 3, 2011 |  5:30 am

January brings New Year's resolutions, holiday hangovers and, apparently, a lot of "The Dilemma" commercials. Although the Vince Vaughn vehicle isn't a huge storyline in moviedom, there are a number of narratives in and around the film world set to unfold in the coming months. Here are a baker's half-dozen to keep an eye on.

The "Twilight" crowd, the morning after: They've branched out into other roles before. But 2011 will bring moments of truth for all three lead actors in the "Twilight" franchise: Robert Pattinson in the period circus drama "Water for Elephants" (coming in April), Taylor Lautner in the teen fugitive thriller "Abduction" (coming in September) and Kristen Stewart in the adaptation of Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" (date TBD). The last two movies in the franchise that made them famous are shooting now. Which of the trio can fashion the most productive post-Forks career?

The Battle of the Greens: When footage of Seth Rogen's comedic "The Green Hornet" screened at Comic-Con last summer, it drew a tepid response, paling in comparison to Ryan Reynolds' more muscular "The Green Lantern." But in the last two months, the tide has turned: The Rogen movie, coming out later this month, is testing well, and the trailer for the springtime Reynolds movie elicited some perplexed reactions. Is there room for two green superheroes? Or will only one of the films take the ring?

Reboot Redux: We've seen a fair number of reboots already, but 2011 will bring a slew of them: a new "Planet of the Apes," a new "Smurfs" movie, a new "Conan the Barbarian." Some say enough with the rummage sale, but reboots like "Star Trek" and "The Karate Kid" have performed well. Can the streak continue?

"The Hangover" hangover? It was one of the biggest surprises of 2009. But the sequel has been filled with more hiccups than a Bjorn-held baby. First there was a fracas over the casting, and then non-casting, of Mel Gibson. Then came the news last month of a serious injury to a stunt man. Can Todd Phillips successfully take his endearingly ragtag group of man-children from Vegas to Thailand, or would he have better luck at the Bally's craps table?

A tree grows in Malick-ville: Rarely does a movie not based on a comic book generate this much advance hype. But more than four months ahead of the release of "The Tree of Life," the buzz is already nearing crescendo levels for Terrence Malick's long-developing autobiographical epic. Will it live up to the standards of the director's "Badlands" and "Days of Heaven?" Or will its meditative tone make even "The New World" seem like a potboiler?

How super "Super 8"? With J.J. Abrams writing and directing and Steven Spielberg producing, it's one of the most high-profile collaborations in modern commercial fimmaking. It's also one of the most secretive. The 1979-set film, scheduled for a June release, may or may not be about an alien invasion, supernatural occurrences or any of another number of phenomena. Is it the second coming of "Star Trek" or a marketing idea in search of a story?

Beavering: It was a much-ballyhooed story long before a trailer was even released. The story will only heat up as the months become weeks for the release of "The Beaver," the first Mel Gibson movie to come out since he allegedly verbally abused ex-lover Oksana Grigorieva, and one with some additional challenges given its beaver-puppet themes. Will the actor turn out to do publicity? And will the public forgive him if he does?

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Mel Gibson in "The Beaver." Credit: Summit Entertainment


Did the Green Hornet break out of movie jail?

Does the new Green Lantern trailer actually hurt the movie's advance word?

"Water for Elephants": Can Mel Gibson perform under the big top?

Mel Gibson's "The Beaver" will wag its tail in March

Dating of Mel Gibson's "The Beaver" ferrets out more questions


Winona Ryder's comments make things hairier for Mel Gibson's 'The Beaver'

December 16, 2010 |  2:53 pm


There's only 14 weeks to go before the release of Mel Gibson's "The Beaver," and the film's publicity problems keep mounting.

In the new issue of GQ magazine, “Black Swan” co-star Winona Ryder recounts a moment sure to make Gibson’s publicity team (and plenty of others) cringe.

"I remember, like, 15 years ago, I was at one of those big Hollywood parties,” Ryder tells the magazine. “And he was really drunk. I was with my friend, who's gay. He made a really horrible gay joke. And somehow it came up that I was Jewish. He said something about 'oven dodgers,' but I didn't get it. I'd never heard that before. It was just this weird, weird moment. I was like, 'He's anti-Semitic and he's homophobic.' No one believed me!”

Even if Ryder’s eye-popper doesn’t shake loose any other Gibson stories, a conventional media roll-out for the movie could prove tricky at best. Then again, Ryder’s story does indicate that Gibson was intoxicated, so maybe alcohol could again play the villain, as it did after he was stopped for driving under the influence in Malibu in 2006.

There’s always an angle.

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Mel Gibson in "Edge of Darkness." Credit: Warner Bros.


Mel Gibson's 'The Beaver' will wag its tail in March

Mel Gibson's 'The Beaver' will wag its tail in March

December 15, 2010 |  5:54 pm


"The Beaver," in which Mel Gibson plays a clinically depressed man who wears an animal puppet on his hand, has been given a release date by studio Summit Entertainment: The movie will hit select theaters March 23 before opening nationwide April 8.

Interestingly, the decision to open the movie in limited release suggests Summit believes the film is strong enough to build some positive word of mouth (or it just wants to spread out the adverse Gibson publicity). The March 23 date happens to be the second weekend of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, so we imagine Summit isn't hoping to hit a lot of older men.

There's also a possible play at the Berlin Film Festival, though no official word on that yet.

Still a lot of unanswered questions, like how much Gibson will promote the movie on U.S. television, which networks will pursue him and whether he'll try to do something Diane Sawyer-ish first. Either way, it's only about 14 weeks until Mel is back on the big screen.

-- Steven Zeitchik


 Photo: Mel Gibson in "The Beaver." Credit: Summit Entertainment

Mel Gibson's 'The Beaver:' Is it fish or fowl? [trailer video]

December 3, 2010 |  9:45 pm

In at least one theater in Los Angeles on Friday night, the trailer for Mel Gibson’s “The Beaver” played in front of “Black Swan” -- which, given that the trailer for Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” also played in front of the film, makes for one seriously weird triple bill.

The late night-jokes write themselves for the new Gibson trailer, what with lines about the character played by the actor (of course the subject of allegations of domestic violence and racial slurs) needing to put "some psychological distance between himself and the negative aspects of his personality."

But the real issue for "The Beaver," a spring release about a depressed father who wears a puppet on his hand to overcome his problems, is: Does it work as a piece of movie marketing?


Anyone worrying that the whimsy would be washed out of Kyle Killen's script doesn't have much to fear -- the very idea of a puppet who sounds like Michael Caine and speaks on Mel Gibson's behalf takes care of the quirky quotient.

But otherwise the tone for the film, directed by Jodie Foster, seems askew. Is this an uplifting family drama? A midlife-crisis comedy? A bigger budget "Lars & the Real Girl?" For a movie that's always come with questions about its delicate tonal mix, the trailer doesn't exactly answer them.

Plus there is that pesky Gibson question. We suppose the campaign could play the Gibson card for sympathy, turning him into a patient instead of an aggressor ("the successful and loving family man he used to be has gone missing," as the trailer sets out). But it won't be easy: The jokes about a man looking to a beaver puppet to save his life -- let alone a man named Mel Gibson -- write themselves.

Watch and tell us what you think.

-- Steven Zeitchik



Dating of Mel Gibson's 'The Beaver' ferrets out more questions

December 2, 2010 |  5:36 pm

Mel Gibson will be back on the big screen sooner than many of us thought. A spokesman for Summit Entertainment confirmed Thursday afternoon that the studio will be releasing his quirky dramedy "The Beaver" this spring.

There's no specific date yet, but a person familiar with release plans who spoke on condition of  anonymity because they had not been authorized to talk about those plans publicly said that an April weekend was being considered. The movie will not be a last-minute entrant into the Sundance Film Festival, according to the source, who at the same time wouldn't rule out other festivals. (The Berlin Film Festival takes place in early February and would be a logical platform, particularly given a likely late-winter and early-spring release by distributors in several international territories.)

The tentative scheduling closes one chapter for the Jodie Foster-directed film, in which Gibson plays a lonely man whose best friend  is a beaver puppet he wears on his hand (he talks to him and treats him like a real person). But the news also opens another, possibly more complicated chapter.

It's far from certain that the fallout from Gibson's rants at ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva will have blown over by spring, or somehow be less toxic than they would have been had the movie come out in its initial target season of this fall -- especially given that Gibson's custody battle rages on, as does the possibility that criminal charges could still be filed against the actor. (Certainly "Hangover 2" director Todd Phillips was not, in the final analysis, convinced, and dropped the idea of having Gibson do a cameo in that movie.) Is Summit counting on a sea change in public opinion, or is it simply dumping the movie in the U.S. shortly after it comes out in some international territories?

Also still murky -- and less talked-about in the Mel pell-mell -- is the quality of the film itself. The movie has been the subject of numerous Hollywood whispers about tension on set, and a source close to the production described intense jockeying between producer Steve Golin and Foster, as well as a number of reshoots. (Incidentally, the movie, based on a beloved script from "Lone Star" creator Kyle Killen, was troubled from the start. Numerous directors as well as stars including Steve Carell and Hugh Jackman flirted with it before Foster joined and persuaded producers that Gibson was their man even though, in his mid-50s, the actor was a good decade older than the character as he was written.)

Either way, nothing is set in stone. A trailer debuts Friday night. If it doesn't fly -- or if Mel's stock continues to sink -- don't be surprised if "The Beaver" moves again.

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Mel Gibson in "Edge of Darkness." Credit: Warner Bros.


Mel Gibson and the beaver problem

Will Mel Gibson cast a shadow over 'Hangover 2'?



Mel Gibson is still persona non grata in Hollywood

October 21, 2010 |  3:54 pm

Just three days after word leaked out that Mel Gibson would enjoy a cameo in "The Hangover 2" as a tattoo artist in Thailand, the troubled actor has been told his services will not be needed after members of the production rebelled.

In a statement released Thursday by Warner Bros. and producing partner Legendary Pictures, the backers of "Hangover 2" said that director Todd Phillips had decided that the "Braveheart" star wouldn't be appearing in the sequel to last year's comedy blockbuster.

“I thought Mel would have been great in the movie and I had the full backing of Jeff Robinov and his team," Phillips said in a statement, referring to the Warner Bros. production chief. "But I realize filmmaking is a collaborative effort and this decision ultimately did not have the full support of my entire cast and crew.”

Gibson has been missing from the movies since audio recordings apparently capturing his violent and racist rants against ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva surfaced this summer. In one of the recorded calls, Gibson apparently says, "You look like a ... pig in heat, and if you get raped by a pack of ..., it will be your fault."

Gibson also is said to have threatened her, saying "I am going to come and burn the ... house down," adding, "but you will [perform oral sex on] me first."

Four years ago, when Gibson was arrested for driving under the influence, he unleashed an anti-Semitic tirade against the police.

"Hangover 2" would have been the actor's first movie since "The Beaver," a Jodie Foster-directed comic drama that has been sitting on the shelf and has no announced release date.

-- John Horn

Photo: Mel Gibson: Credit: Charles Platiau/Reuters




Will Mel Gibson up the hilarity level in, or cast a weird shadow over, 'The Hangover 2?'

October 18, 2010 | 11:54 am


It worked with Mike Tyson in "The Hangover." But can director Todd Phillips make a celebrity cameo  uncomfortably funny with a much more, er, complicated figure?

The New York Post reported this morning that Mel Gibson will play a Bangkok tattoo artist  in "The Hangover 2." Two people close to the production confirmed to The Times that Gibson -- who's maintained radio silence since recordings apparently capturing his violent rants against ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva surfaced this summer -- will play an American expat living in Thailand. (The gang goes to Southeast Asia in the new installment for the wedding of Ed Helms' character to a Thai-American woman; the movie has begun shooting in Southern California and will head to Thailand in several weeks.)

Gibson and Phillips have not worked together before, but the director is clearly hoping that the riff on real-life events will elevate the laugh factor -- and the shock value -- of his movie. Gibson, meanwhile, is no doubt banking that a little self-referential humor could rehab a screen career that needs all the help it can get.

It's unclear if the purported tattoo artist is a totally fictional character or if Gibson will be playing himself, banished to tattoo artistry in the wake of his scandal. Either way, the casting news raises inevitable distinctions between Tyson, who was generally seen as a troubled but liked figure at the moment "Hangover" came out, and Gibson, who still rankles many. A lot can happen in seven months -- the movie is set to come out in May.

"Hangover 2" could now also have a weird ripple effect on 'The Beaver,' " the quirky dramatic comedy that stars Gibson as a man who counts a beaver puppet as his best friend. The long-ago-completed movie has not been given a release date, but Summit Entertainment, which is distributing the film, could now gauge the reaction to the Gibson presence before making their own decision. If audiences are ready to laugh about him hamming it up in Thailand, they may be ready to see him doing the same with a beaver puppet.

--John Horn and Steven Zeitchik 


Photo: Mel Gibson in 'Edge of Darkness.' Credit: Macall Polay / Warner Bros.


Mel Gibson and 'The Beaver' problem

The Hollywood wagons circle Mel Gibson



Mel Gibson's mainstream Hollywood career is over -- for real, this time

July 9, 2010 |  9:12 pm

It's interesting to try to divine the chicken-and-egg of Mel Gibson's firing by WME last week: Was it his (first-alleged, now aurally proved) misogynistic and racist comments that enabled the agency to part ways with him, or was it the death of longtime agent Ed Limato that did the trick?

Earlier today the news surfaced that William Morris Endeavor had split with Gibson last week-- as Limato lay seriously ill, and just several days after Radar Online broke the news that Gibson had verbally abused his girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva by using the N-word. (The reports were just that until today, when audio of the Gibson incident was released on Radar.)

It's a juicy thought experiment to ask what Gibson's agency status would have been had only one of those events occurred. (For what it's worth, our guess is that Limato's death without comments would have spelled the end of the relationship, while comments with Limato around probably would have kept him on the WME docket, though with dubious professional results.)

There's of course a third variable in all this -- the fact that Gibson just wasn't much of a bankable star anymore anyway. His one stab at acting in the last eight years, the cop thriller "Edge of Darkness," was a flop, and we weren't hearing his name much for new projects, despite his industrious work habits and the fact that contemporaries like Bruce Willis were regularly booking action-movie gigs. There's a reason Gibson was spending his time directing, producing and starring in movies that were self-financed through his Icon production banner (one of those, "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" -- about a criminal who, in un-Gibson-like fashion, rehabilitates himself -- is nearly in the can, though without U.S. theatrical distribution) and trying to resurrect his career with quirky indie movies like "The Beaver."

(Incidentally, we don't think we're being pessimistic in saying that, despite a deal for Summit to release that film in the fall, this movie will  sit on the shelf for a long, long time. You can try to market a Mayan adventure in which Gibson doesn't actually appear, as Disney did with "Apocalypto" not long after the Malibu anti-Semitism incident in 2006, but good luck releasing a movie in the coming months with Mel Gibson on the topline and in posters, and wearing a beaver puppet to boot. Jay Leno's writers won't have to work for weeks.)

This newest development -- the loss of one of the few power brokers loyal to Gibson, and now the loss of one of the few larger institutions that's been looking out for his professional interests -- is pretty much a fatal blow. There's little chance he'll land at another agency anytime soon -- signing would bring down a horrible avalanche of bad PR to any agency that got within smelling distance and, more to the craven point, any agent that signs him has little hope of booking him any roles anyway since there isn't a studio in town that will hire Gibson. (Some will point to a degree of international bankability, but unless Gibson makes a very niche movie exclusively with and for another continent, he'll still need someone in North America to bankroll it.)

If he works at all, Gibson will for the foreseeable future do so by financing and starring in Icon movies -- though even this seemingly safe step is perilous, since getting anyone in the U.S. to star in, distribute or see these movies will be tricky. (Well, that's not true. He should be able to lure people who aren't black, Jewish, female or have any sense of moral decency.) The fat lady hasn't just sung -- she's changed out of her gown and hit the showers.

Culturally, of course, the drama will continue to play out, as will the punditry. It is telling that it took a second round of unforgivable comments -- this time propagating the ugliest stereotypes about blacks, just as his 2006 remarks did about Jews -- for the nail to enter the coffin. Equally interesting is a  contemplation of what the reaction might have been had the sequence of these two awful incidents been flipped, what with only agency honcho Ari Emanuel and some scattered others coming out and condemning Gibson when he drunkenly told a policewoman that Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Actually, strike that, because even now the silence is deafening. This would seem like a good time to make a public statement, Jodie Foster, longtime friendship or not.

Then again, it's not like Gibson had a terribly robust career over the last four years, so in a way you could say that Emanuel's 2006 call for a boycott served it purpose. But Gibson did take meetings and did land several roles, and as sad as it is that someone with all this experience could walk the world in his own bubble of hate, it's perhaps sadder that it took so many of us this long to realize what should have been clear all along.

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Mel Gibson nearly singed by the flames in Edge of Darkness. Credit: Warner Bros.


The Mel Gibson mess: Could it get any worse?

William Morris Endeavor dumps Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson and the Beaver problem

Mel Gibson's new rant: Is it time for more anger-management therapy?

Mel Gibson isn't sorry, never was, end of story

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