Mel Gibson’s Unlikely New Ally: A Female Journalist

ShutterstockMelGisbonCannes2011There are two major strands running through Allison Hope Weiner’s plea to Hollywood to take Mel Gibson off the industry blacklist. One is the idea of forgiveness, redemption and atonement for one’s sins; the other is how journalists writing about subjects like Gibson rarely get to truly “know” their subjects.

Weiner explains that after writing damning pieces about Gibson for outlets such as The New York Times and EW, she gradually came to know him as someone very different from the 2006 PCH incident that launched TMZ. Even more unlikely is the idea that this journalist-Hollywood star friendship could be cemented after Gibson’s second major public transgression in 2010:

I was on vacation with my family when Gibson called me. During his breakup with [OksanaGrigorieva, he’d gone through a terrible emotional breakdown and struggled to get healthy, gain joint custody of his infant daughter and deal with the fallout from the publication of those awful tapes. He was in a very bad place and we talked for some time about how difficult it was for him to deal with the pain he’d inflicted on his family — his ex-wife Robyn and his seven children, his infant daughter.

He got so upset talking about that period in his life that he ended our call abruptly. He’d shared some very deep, personal feelings with me and was in so much pain, that I was honestly worried about him. It wasn’t the type of conversation that one has with an interview subjects. I decided we were friends now and that I could no longer write objectively about him.

Since then, I’ve gotten to know Gibson extremely well. I thought it would be difficult for him to have a friend in the media, but he has been surprisingly honest and trusting. As a lawyer-turned-reporter, I have no problem asking tough questions, even of friends. Gibson never wavered or equivocated when I confronted him, whether the subject was his drinking, his politics, his religion or his relationships with women. It soon became clear that my early journalistic assessment of him wasn’t right.

Hope Weiner’s essay gets immediately more dramatic as she recounts how Gibson attended her son’s Bar Mitzvah and later, a family Yom Kippur breakfast. She also touches on that contentious episode in Costa Rica involving screenwriter Joe Eszterhas and the screenwriter’s son.

The March 11 Deadline item, timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the release of The Passion of the Christ, has racked up more comments than any other item from the post-Nikki Finke era that we’ve seen. (And… at the time we viewed the article, the reaction total was a spooky “666 Comments”.) Here are just a couple of notable reader responses:

Tim: I have known Mel Gibson for almost 20 years… Mel has forgiven Hollywood. And he has learned to forgive himself. We, yes, WE need to show that we know what forgiveness IS. As an artist who has gone through so much, I know that what he has seen, felt and witnessed in the human nature of himself and the world around us that he will take a giant leap creatively and create some awesome and profound movies.

Fan: I’ve heard senior members of the Hollywood community use the most outrageously racist, sexist and insulting language and get away with it. I’ve heard Jewish producers privately admit they don’t like working with Gentiles. There’s prejudice, discrimination and hatred everywhere. Look in the mirror before making an outcast of another.

Photo of Gibson at 2011 Cannes Film Festival: Featureflash/

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.