Hollywood Speculates on Gibson's Future

By Sandy Cohen
Associated Press
Monday, July 31, 2006

LOS ANGELES, July 30 -- A stunned Hollywood debated the future of one of its biggest stars Sunday as a sheriff's watchdog launched an investigation into a possible coverup of a leaked report that quoted Mel Gibson unleashing a tirade of anti-Semitic remarks during a drunken-driving arrest.

One media expert said Gibson, 50, irreparably damaged his career with his "crazy" behavior following his arrest by Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies in Malibu early Friday. Charges of anti-Semitism were also leveled against the actor-director with the release of his 2004 blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ."

"It's a nuclear disaster for him," said publicist Michael Levine, who has represented Michael Jackson and Charlton Heston, among others. "I don't see how he can restore himself."

The entertainment Web site TMZ.com posted what it said were four pages from the original arrest report, which quoted Gibson as launching an expletive-laden "barrage of anti-Semitic remarks" after he was stopped on Pacific Coast Highway.

According to the report, in addition to threatening the arresting deputy and trying to escape, Gibson said, "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," and asked the officer, James Mee, "Are you a Jew?"

The report has not been made public, but the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that it had independently verified the report's authenticity.

Gibson's publicist, Alan Nierob, would not elaborate beyond a nonspecific apology that Gibson issued Saturday. Sheriff's sources also declined to comment on Gibson's alleged remarks.

Several studio executives who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter were divided on how Gibson's behavior would affect his career. One executive noted that people have short memories, including filmmakers who might want to profit from Gibson's star power.

The Office of Independent Review, a sheriff's department watchdog panel, has opened an investigation into whether authorities gave Gibson preferential treatment by covering up his alleged inflammatory comments, said its chief attorney, Mike Gennaco.

"Assuming that the report was excised, then the question is: Was it done for a good reason within regulations?" he said.

Gibson has filmed public service announcements for Sheriff Lee Baca's relief committee dressed in a sheriff's uniform.

"There is no coverup," Baca told the Los Angeles Times. "Our job is not to [focus] on what he said. It's to establish his blood-alcohol level when he was driving and proceed with the case. Trying someone on rumor and innuendo is no way to run an investigation, at least one with integrity."

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