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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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Comments () | Archives (117)

The comments to this entry are closed.

What do you make of Judical. org's comment ( before a hired stalker silenced the site) that Mel is a mole for the Zionist forces trying to hurt the Arab people in their occupied land over there in the Middle East? He is showing, with his Jewish wife and connections, what happens to even the biggest star if they even utter drunk to a cop any criticism of the Jewish state or rapacious religion?

If it's true there will be a way to bring him back...

No one liked his disgusting rant when arrested in 2006. But we decided to forgive and excuse it as ugly alcoholic incoherent behavior of someone who was spiraling out of control, but whom later accepted responsibility and attempted to make amends. But we didn't forget.

The man on the recent tapes is lucid and hateful and spewing venom but while totally in control of his words and actions. He believes the filth his is saying. He is a hateful SOB who can hang with the likes of Chris Brown and OJ and just go away forever, preferably as silently as possible.

If Gibson were black this wouldn't even be a story. I'm fed up with the white persecution fueled by the media while everyone else gets free passes. This story is more about hypocrisy -- not Gibson, like I believe the media is bigot-free.

I think you misspelled 'orally' as 'aurally' in the opening.

Gibson directed the highest grossing independent film in history. He also directed the highest grossing rated R film in history. That film is "Passion of the Christ" and nobody can remove that achievement no matter how much media scorn and condemnation is heaped on him. ;-)

I disagree. Mel Gibson is a fine director and actor. Who are you? Where's your Apocalypto? which was a masterpiece.

You're nothing but another wining CENSORED. I love Mel Gibson, he's made more money than anyone you haven shared a street with in their lifetimes.

Mel's an artist. He's never hurt anyone. He should be left alone.

His freedom of speech is under attack, and his privacy has been breached. I hope he sues this Russian woman into the ground and presses criminal illegal wiretapping charges against her. She deserves to be destroyed.

Long live King Mel.

It is said, when your enemy falls do not rejoyce.
Screw that. I was counting the days this a@s would slip again, and for his demise. Good riddings.

Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Mr. Zeitchik is not a Mel Gibson fan. To be honest, "Apocalypto" defied expectations by ruling the weekend box office when it opened in '06. Not bad for a film that was shot in a dead language (Yucatec Maya) with zero major actors in it. Regarding "Edge of Darkness" it made about as much as "Knight and Day" with Tom Cruise did opening weekend so your negative hyperbole does not entirely make sense. Is Tom Cruise finished as well?

I bet he could get Lindsay Lohan to appear in one of his Icon Productions :D

I have no idea how Hollywood works or if Mel Gibson's career is over. I actually don't particularly care. I never liked Mel Gibson. When he first became famous I didn't like his acting or his movies. Then I discovered I didn't like his politics either. That was years before his bigoted comments hit the media. The content of this column, however, bothers me a lot more than anything Mr. Gibson ever said. We, in the United States, have the right to say whatever we want provided it is not a terrorist threat. In our system, the onus is on the listener not the speaker. If you don't like it don't listen to it. Alternatively, you are free to become the speaker yourself. So I am not begrudging you the freedom to publicly gloat over someone's imminent professional demise but it does not reflect particulalry well on you and it is not a "moral" position to take. Of course it is self righteous. It's ironic that this column has indicted Mr. Gibson for his speech and not allegations of physical dangerousness to others.. but oh I forgot those are still allegations and no charges have even been filed. Finally I take exceptional offense at the implication that individuals with unpopoular beliefs ought to be abandoned by their friends, pilloried in public and blacklisted. Shame on Mr. Zeitchik not Jody Foster. I might even go to see Mr. Gibson's next movie despite the fact that I'll probably hate it just to support his right to make idiotic, racist comments.

I think he is a good actor, but what are people expecting from a guy who leaves his wife for a young thing, and who said questionable things to police officers several years back. Sorry, but I saw all of this years ago, and I cannot figure out why a pretty young woman would even want to marry Mel Gibson, who seems to have been flaunting this male chauvinist thing since the Passion of the Christ. What do you expect from a guy that says he does not like feminists and they do not like him. I think he wants a wife to hide at home, and he was bothered his new wife did not want to do that.

"The fat lady hasn't just sung -- she's changed out of her gown and hit the showers."

Hah that had me laughing for a couple minutes.

I agree, those who called for his boycott long ago were right all along, it wasn't a one time blip. Mel Gibson is a very hateful man

why the heck is there always audio tape of this man's conversations? regardless of the unkind things he has said, isn't it wrong (by most anyone's standards of decency & civility) to take away someone's right to privacy & therein, freedom of speech? the old adage, "two wrongs don't make a right" seems to befit this article. a lot of spit for spit being spewed about.

That you like it or not Mel Gibson is one of the best film director of all time ...
This said violence against women is unforgivable, and everyone should stand against what we bashfully name "domestic violence" . But I see some people like the author of this article were just waiting for him to fall like vultures, so it just makes me want to see an other film of Mel Gibson once this is over .

Ding dong, the witch is dead. What took so long? Ari and every other agent or studio head in Hollywood should have dropped a house on this clown back in 2006. Unless Fox News is willing to let him and Michael Richards co-host their own show, there will not be a place for Mel Gibson anywhere on television or in the movies. Personally I hope he uses his money to disappear onto a private island, Marlon Brando style, so that we never have to hear from him again.

Do not feel sorry for mel exgirlfriend. She knew he was a married man .she paying now for her sin

Mel has always been one of my favorite actors. I was even willing to look past his alcoholic rant as something stupid he did when he was drunk. But, this time, hearing the audio, he sounds like a raving nutjob. It's clear that he is an excellent actor because he fooled all of us into thinking he was a devout Catholic, a family man, and a nice goofball. he clearly has deep rooted angers and racist feeling that go way beyond normal agression. From a former fan, Mel, you let me down.

I loved mel Gibson before this incident, now I truly love him

And you're just loving it.

Oh, lighten up. It's OK for leftist idiot "entertainers" to say evil things about anybody who doesn't march in lockstep with their idiotarian ideas, and call them vile names , but violate the PC chokehold EVEN IN A PRIVATE CONVERSATION and one's career is "over".

Talk about hypocrisy...

Mel who?

Mel has taken me for an amazing ride; from fan to indifferent to loathing. All I have left to experience to complete the experience is sadness when I read that he ate a bullet. I won't be surprised, just sad.

Gibson made a film about Jesus then he lived a life that reflected badly upon Him/Christianity. So God stepped back and let his actions take their course and didn't protect him from the public exposure.

Time to sincerely turn to God, Mel.

Mel Gibson's career is over because "Steven Zeitchik" says so?

Not likely.

Mel Gibson was raised by a ranting, racist father. When questioned about his fathers holocaust denial, instead of denouncing it, gibson said "he can back it up". The man later denounced Jews himself during a drunken tirade. He said he didn't actually feel that way about Jews however. But since he never stood up to his father's about Jews and denounced his tirades for what they were, the seed was planted in him and it formed a racist character in him. He could superficaially get along with Jews, but the real attitude was never altered--uprooted because Mel never endeavored to pull that belief up by the roots and get rid of it. So now we find out he has nasty attitudes about everyone. He's obviously ok with having them as long as the general public doesnt know. But now they know.

The man needs a major character overhall.

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