NAMES & FACES

Kiss fans can't mask their support for the band outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Kiss fans can't mask their support for the band outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (By Gus Chan -- The Plain Dealer Via Associated Press)
Monday, August 7, 2006

Friends of Mel

Patrick Swayze has united with a number of Mel Gibson's industry friends in defending the actor, who in a drunken rant made anti-Semitic comments to a police officer, blaming Jews for the world's wars.

Swayze attests that Gibson is "a wonderful human being," and says "he is not anti-Semitic."

Gibson, 50, was arrested July 28 for drunken driving on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, Calif.

The "Lethal Weapon" actor and Oscar-winning director of "Braveheart" has apologized twice for his eruption and admitted to an ongoing struggle with alcoholism.

Swayze, 53, said of his friend's drunken outburst, "People say stupid things when they happen to have a few, and especially if you don't drink anymore, or have limited your drinking for a long time and all of a sudden you decide to have one too many with the boys -- you are stupid."

Movie producer Dean Devlin said he and his wife are Jewish, and he considers Gibson one of his best friends in Hollywood.

"If Mel is an anti-Semite, then he spends a lot of time with us, which makes no sense," Devlin told the Los Angeles Times. "But he is an alcoholic, and while that makes no excuse for what he said, because there is no excuse, I believe it was the disease speaking, not the man."

Jodie Foster said she does not believe that drunkenness excuses hurtful remarks, but doubts claims that Gibson is prejudiced against Jews.

"Is he an anti-Semite? Absolutely not," the Oscar-winning actress told the Times for a story in Friday's editions. "But it's no secret that he has always fought a terrible battle with alcoholism."

Though it was widely believed that Gibson has been sober since the early '90s, some people close to him say he has been on and off the wagon for years.

"I have been with Mel when he has fallen off, and he becomes a completely different person," Devlin said. "It is pretty horrifying."


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