Last week, actor and director Mel Gibson was once again accused of anti-Semitism, this time by screen writer Joe Eszterhas.
The allegations against Gibson came after Warner Bros. canceled a movie Mel Gibson was planning about the Maccabees, the priestly family that led a successful revolt against the Syrian-Greek Empire in 161 BCE. Jewish communities attempted to dissuade Gibson from writing and directing such a film because of fears regarding Gibson’s biases, particularly after his film “The Passion of the Christ” that was widely condemned as being anti-Semitic.
According to screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, Gibson repeatedly referred to Jews with derogatory names while writing the script for the movie during the fall of last year. Eszterhas laid out his allegations in lengthy nine-page letter that was aired around the world Sunday morning. Eszterhas also claimed the Gibson never intended to film the movie and announced it in order to redeem himself from his fall from grace in the wake of a drunken anti-Semitic rant made several years ago. Gibson apologized for that rant but has only been plagued with troubles over the last few years.
Gibson responded to Eszterhas this morning by saying that the nine pages of accusations were false and that the movie was shelved because the screenplay was not good enough and “lacked triumph”. He said that Warner Bros. had backed his decision, calling the script “substandard” and “a waste of time”. Gibson also said that he had planned the movie long before his recorded anti-Semitic rant and fall from grace. In addition, he apologized for any offensive behavior and specifically for an altercation between Eszterhas and Gibson last year.
In response to the allegations aired by Eszterhas, the Anti-Defamation League sent a letter to Warner Bros. Studio asking them to permanently shelve the project and that the movie not be worked on until Gibson dissociates himself from it. Rabbi Marvin Heir, the head of the ADL, said the American Jewish community was satisfied that the project is on hold.
Warner Bros. announced that the project is on hold and has not decided whether to proceed with the film or not.