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Mel Gibson and 'The Beaver' problem

July 1, 2010 |  5:06 pm

Mel Gibson appears to be in a pool of hot water after Radar and other outlets reported that he invoked the  the N-word in verbally abusing girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, and saying, "You look like a ... pig in heat," among other morally unsavory things.

Those comments, if true, pose serious image issues for a man whose career has already been bedeviled by them. And this time the stakes are higher, affecting a swath of Hollywood interests.

When the last scandal involving Gibson's alleged bigotry broke back in 2006 (the infamous incident on the Malibu highway),  Gibson had a directorial movie waiting in the wings, "Apocalypto," but was not starring in any upcoming film. This is a different instance. Gibson is the lead in a movie called "The Beaver," a quirky indie that has been the passion project for many in the Hollywood film community for a long time.

After more than a year of false starts, producer Anonymous Content had put the financing together to make the movie last year, and "Twilight" studio Summit had come aboard just before the start of production to distribute the film. The company had planned on a release later this year, with a likely rollout at a number of the fall film festivals.


If these comments prove to be true -- and again, a strong qualifier here that reporters at this paper are still, as of posting time, seeking firsthand confirmation -- then it's not only Gibson who's in trouble, but the film itself.

"The Beaver" was perceived as a risk even before Gibson came on -- this is a script, after all, in which a loner man talks to a beaver puppet on his hand as though it's a human entity. Gibson's casting was seen as a challenge in part because of his age -- the character was originally written as in his 40s (earlier iterations of the film package alternately had Steve Carell, Hugh Jackman and Jim Carrey interested or attached to the project). But Jodie Foster, who had a professional relationship with Gibson, was packaged with Gibson as the star, in an iteration that would have her directing and co-starring.

Gibson was already seen as a box-office question mark for "Beaver" after his acting comeback, "Edge of Darkness," grossed just $43 million in the U.S. earlier this year. And any project in development -- including a Viking movie he might have directed -- probably will go into deep freeze.

But it gets even, um, hairier for "The Beaver." There will always be talk about building a campaign around someone other than Gibson. But that won't work. Gibson is the star of the film. You can't hide him. And putting out any marketing material with Gibson's face and the words "The Beaver" underneath would be such a laughably bad idea that it would make the Tom Cruise "Valkyrie" eye patch seem like a smart idea.

There's a silver lining for Summit in that, at the very least, the company hasn't spent any money yet marketing the film.  But for film fans who were waiting to see "The Beaver," they may be waiting a long time.

-- Steven Zeitchik


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


Mel Gibson's outrageous new rant: Is it time for anger management?

Mel Gibson hurls the N-word and more in rants taped by Oksana Grigorieva

Mel Gibson: The shadow in his smile

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Comments () | Archives (7)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Was Jody Foster going to play The Beaver? And who plays Eddie Haskell?

He deserves this for diddling with a Russian bimbette in the first place. Team Oxy-Ana! haha

I agree with Jaslene, he is a big time mysogynist. What he said to Oksana is the worst type of verbal abuse, it's just absolutely violent and revolting. He didn't like what she wore so he feels he needs to cuss her out and threaten her? I'm glad this came out and I wish more domestic abuse like this would come out. Of course the press went with the headline grabber that he used the N word, which is indeed terrible, but I didn't expect anything else. Had he not used the N word, this probably wouldn't be big news, because domestic abuse is still not seen as a big deal. The woman did nothing to deserve what Mel said and did to her, and whether or not she was a gold-digger, is irrelevant, because Mel decided to be with her, so it's on him and if he was dumb enough to fall for a gold-digger, then he deserves the consequences. I'm glad she taped it, also because it shows the world that his disgusting hateful comments of 2006 were not an exception for him, but the rule, he really believes all the crap he spews.

I'm with Bluejeans. He married a Soviet gold digger, who recorded their "relationship"... Is she part of the Russian espionage ring? Is this what KGB does nowadays? Destroy Hollywood Icons therefore hurting American morale?

I'm with Ellen, who is very wise. I am so thankful that Hugh Jackman didn't get that Beaver movie because he is such a delightful guy who also happens to love his family. And it might have otherwise been a good movie, but I will not go to a Gibson movie ever again... never never never...

I'd release the movie NOW to cash in on the (bad) publicity. When was the last time there was this much talk about Mel Gibson?

The film is a hard sell anyway - about a crazy guy who is *possessed* by a hand puppet (he doesn't talk to it as much as the puppet does all of the talking and takes over his life). And the crazy thing might be the thing that sells the movie - come see Gibson even crazier than normal.

Looks like some people have it out for Mel Gibson. I wonder why? Could it be his criticism of Israel's aggressive invasion of Lebanon in 2006? Could it be for making The Passion of Christ which some Jews found offensive? Is Mel Gibson being put on a modern black list?

How this pans out will tell us a lot about how fair and open Hollywood really is. This may quickly develop into a first amendment free speech issue.

Slander and Libel are still crimes. Conscious and coordinated efforts to destroy a person's career will not go unnoticed.


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