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The Hollywood wagons circle Mel Gibson

July 12, 2010 |  9:10 pm

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As Mel Gibson’s troubles multiply – that new audio released Monday by Radar Online is startlingly raw (you can listen here if you haven’t already; be warned that it’s profanity-laden)-- some Hollywood types are starting to open up about the actor’s purported tirade. Barely.

Monday morning, Whoopi Goldberg spoke her mind on "The View." She, improbably, defended Gibson -- “I don’t like what he did here, but I know he’s not a racist” – but at least she offered an opinion about it.

Most of Gibson’s other peers and allies in Hollywood have remained quiet as the controversy has mushroomed. (Incidentally, the audio has not been independently verified by The Times, but no one involved in the incident, including representatives from Gibson's camp, have called its authenticity into question.)

Consider the silence. On Monday, representatives for Jodie Foster, Gibson’s longtime friend and his director and costar in new movie “The Beaver,” said that she was in post-production and unable to comment when we reached out to her. An e-mail inquiry to Graham King, the producer who worked with Gibson on “Edge of Darkness” and who has been planning a Viking epic that Gibson would direct,  yielded a reply directly from King’s publicist saying the producer was on the set of another film and  was unavailable to comment.

A spokeswoman for Danny Glover, the often vocal African American actor who costarred with Gibson in the four “Lethal Weapon” movies — the franchise that, with its biracial pairing, helped shoot Gibson to the top of the action-star A-list —  has chosen not to weigh in. “At this time, Mr. Glover does not have a comment, and there is no statement regarding Mr. Gibson.” When asked if that might change, the representative responded, “The decision is that he will not [comment].” (More on the latest developments in this print story about Gibson.)

Experts – and common sense – says that the muted reaction highlights the fickle nature of Hollywood activism. Although actors often speak out on media controversies and various injustices — Glover is a U.N. goodwill ambassador to developing countries and is outspoken on racial issues — they often close ranks when one of their own is concerned (and as Goldberg's comments about her longtime friendship with Gibson suggests, he is one of their own). “That’s what Hollywood is about, isn’t it?” says film historian David Thomson. “Everyone covers themselves.”

--Steven Zeitchik

Twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in "Lethal Weapon." Credit: Warner Bros.

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