What effect will Mel Gibson's no-contest plea have on 'The Beaver' publicity campaign?
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
Photo: Mel Gibson in "The Beaver." Credit: Summit Entertainment