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Mel Gibson's Alcoholism Sympathy Plea

Mel Gibson's Sympathy Plea | Judi Dench Will Skip Oscar Campaign | Rock Hall Rocked by Scandal

Mel Gibson's Sympathy Plea

Don't believe for a second the new stories that Mel Gibson was "suicidal" on Friday night because of his alcoholism.

I do believe he wishes he were dead — since his career is — but that's another story. Right now, Gibson is in a heavier spin mode than a washing machine.

Click here to read the latest on the Gibson story: Mel Gibson Admits to Making Anti-Semitic Remarks, Asks for Help.

The first move was the claim that he'd been a raging out-of-control alcoholic for years. This was news to those of us who've seen him go from movie to movie with laser-like focus. If Gibson had been a wild drinker all this time, then he really deserved an Academy Award.

In Hollywood, he's always been a hard-working — if unpopular — producer, director and actor. If he'd been hitting the bottle night and day, it would have been impossible for him to produce and direct epics like "Braveheart" and "The Passion of the Christ," build a church and real estate complex in Malibu and star in "What Women Want" over the past decade.

No, I do believe that breathless revelations now about Gibson are designed for sympathy only. But he's not going to get it.

For one thing, Gibson has not — I repeat in capital letters HAS NOT — entered into a serious rehab program for alcohol of any kind. He's going to AA meetings, but he has not checked himself into a 28-day program at a place like the Betty Ford Clinic or Hazelden.

The director of such a program was quoted yesterday by wire services commenting on Gibson's choice of rehab. This guy is right in Malibu at the Promises center.

If Gibson were serious about his drinking or his apology, he wouldn't have to travel more than a couple of miles to make it happen. The fact is he just isn't.

On the other hand, some people in Hollywood are already stepping up to the plate and criticizing Gibson for what he's done.

Ari Emanuel, the star agent at Endeavor, has already called for a boycott of working with Gibson until this entire scandal is sorted out. Bravo!

Integrity is in short supply in the film business. It takes guts for Emanuel to take this position.

ABC-TV has joined in by canceling Gibson's proposed Holocaust miniseries. The next step will be for Disney to postpone or cancel its release of Gibson's film "Apocalypto," due in December.

Judi Dench Will Skip Oscar Campaign

Multiple Oscar nominee (and one-time winner) Dame Judi Dench won't be around this winter for the annual glad-handing and politicking.

Even though Dench is said to be a likely nominee for her FOX Searchlight film "Notes on a Scandal," she told me last night her plans for December do not involve coming to America.

Indeed, Dench is scheduled to start performances in a musical version of Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor" at Stratford-upon-Avon. And once Dench is involved in a major theater production, you can forget about her turning her attention to Hollywood.

That's too bad, since "Notes on a Scandal," directed by Richard Eyre, is sure to be one of the Oscar highlights this year.

Dench is said to be excellent in a "dark" role unlike her many sympathetic characters of recent years.

Eyre, you may recall, directed Dench to a Best Actress nomination in "Iris," in which she played the beloved late novelist Iris Murdoch. She won the Best Supporting Oscar in 1999 for "Shakespeare in Love."

But after last night's performance in her hit London show, "Hay Fever," Dench said to me of the Oscar schedule: "It's all about Cate," referring to co-star Cate Blanchett. "She's going to do it."

She laughed when I suggested that she was on the inside track for this year's Best Actress nods. But of course, almost everything Dench does is applauded — and rightly so — by the Academy, with the exception of her fun appearances in the "James Bond" series as 007's boss. She'll reprise that role this Christmas as M in "Casino Royale."

Maybe Dench's reluctance to get into the Oscar fray has to do with last year's revelation that talk shows weren't inviting her onto couches because of her age.

I don't know — because I didn't ask — and I'm even sure that Dame Judi is aware of that little contretemps. In all likelihood, she doesn't even care.

But I can't believe that two smart guys like David Letterman and Conan O'Brien wouldn't want the funny and erudite Dench to come on their shows before she starts "Merry Wives."

They'd be missing lots of hilarious and juicy gossip, told in a briskly clipped English accent, about the many stars with whom she has worked over the years.

Nevertheless, her performance as actress Judith Bliss in this Peter Hall production of "Hay Fever" is a joy. The Noel Coward comedy crackles under Hall's direction, and if the producers bring the play to New York next year — the earliest would be fall 2007 — Dench and company would certainly have a hit on their hands.

Rock Hall Rocked by Scandal

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation is no place for the light of heart, that's for sure. The latest scandal involves 20-year chief Suzan Evans, the loyal administrator who despite much criticism has carried out Jann Wenner's whims without fail.

Now Evans has been rudely disposed by Wenner and replaced by an executive from Clear Channel Communications. So much for loyalty. But then again, Wenner is famous for hiring and firing magazine editors all the time. It's a wonder he took this long to dump Evans.

"Jann Wenner is a terrible person," says a foundation insider. "Suzan is very upset."

But after this past year's ceremony, Evans should be happy to get out. The Wenner-controlled Hall of Fame has routinely eschewed dozens of popular rock acts to suit the Rolling Stone publisher's tastes and feuds.

Snubbed so far in this little game are deserving would-be inductees such as Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Todd Rundgren, The Moody Blues and several R&B acts.

This year's ceremony with Lynyrd Skynyrd and a feuding Blondie was an embarrassment, to say the least.