The basic news headline is that Warner Brothers has passed on the script that long-time screenwriter Joe Eszterhas delivered for Mel Gibson's attempt to make a movie based on Jewish warrior Judah Maccabee. Then the fun began.
Eszterhas blamed Gibson and accused him of never planning to make a movie about the Maccabees because "you hate Jews." He alleged, in a letter posted yesterday by The Wrap, that Gibson only announced he would make the movie to help rehabilitate his image for anti-Semitism. Eszterhas writes that he observed numerous anti-Jewish rants while at Gibson's home. Sample:
You continually called Jews 'Hebes' and 'oven-dodgers' and 'Jewboys.' It seemed that most times when we discussed someone, you asked 'He’s a Hebe, isn’t he?' You said most 'gatekeepers' of American companies were 'Hebes' who 'controlled their bosses.'
You said the Holocaust was 'mostly a lot of horseshit.' You said the Torah made reference to the sacrifice of Christian babies and infants. When I told you that you were confusing the Torah with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, ... you insisted 'it's in the Torah -- it's in there!' (It isn't).
Gibson gets in a few choice zingers of his own in a letter posted last night by Mike Fleming at Deadline.com. Sample:
I have your letter. I am not going to respond to it line by line, but I will say that the great majority of the facts as well as the statements and actions attributed to me in your letter are utter fabrications. I would have thought that a man of principle, as you purport to be, would have withdrawn from the project regardless of the money if you truly believed me to be the person you describe in your letter. I guess you only had a problem with me after Warner Brothers rejected your script....
I was very frustrated that when you arrived at my home at the expense of both Warner Brothers and myself you hadn’t written a single word of a script or even an outline after 15 months of research, meetings, discussions and the outpouring of my heartfelt vision for this story....
Honestly, Joe, not only was the script delivered later than you promised, both Warner Brothers and I were extraordinarily disappointed with the draft. In 25 years of script development I have never seen a more substandard first draft or a more significant waste of time. The decision not to proceed with you was based on the quality of your script, not on any other factor.
Perhaps they deserve each other?
* Late afternoon update: Eszterhas tells The Wrap's Sharon Waxman that he has a tape — so Gibson should stop calling him a liar. Sample:
There were at least four other people present when he exploded in that rage. Naomi also witnessed things he said about killing Oksana, and his constant anti-Semitic remarks. He should be very careful.