LOS ANGELES – Developments in the Mel Gibson Story: Mel is sorry. Mel is especially sorry to members of the Jewish community.
He has now issued the official apology for his — here it comes, boys and girls, it is abuse excuse time — "moment of insanity."
And his agent is already questioning the motives of Hollywood super agent Ari Emmanuel, who has called for Gibson to be shunned, suggesting that that Emmanuel might have recently been soliciting Mr. Gibson's business even after allegations of anti-Semitism had surfaced with respect to his last movie "The Passion of the Christ."
This is a very expensive career at stake and a lot of people stand to lose a lot of money if it goes down the tubes.
For those of us following every detail of the psychodrama that is the Mel Gibson arrest, the play has now moved into the second act. After the initial shunning, Mel Gibson is making the necessary and effective moves at contrition. He has issued a formal apology. He has requested meetings with Jews. His agent has hit back. His friends are speaking out. Donna Dubrow, who happens to have a project in development with him, (and happens to be the ex-wife of convicted Pellicano big "get" Hollywood director John McTiernan ) said she believed he really was sorry: " "My experience with him in the past is when he says something, he does it."
Actually, what is somewhat reassuring in the Mel Gibson mess is to see that there is any reaction at all. According to Patrick Goldstein, the respected entertainment chronicler for the Los Angeles Times, who is articulately keeping count, the count is up to one studio head, Jewish or otherwise, Amy Pascal, who has recorded herself "disappointed" with Gibson's comments, while the head of Disney Pictures, Oren Aviv, has supported the star. Gibson has a movie coming out in December at Disney. Shocking to find him sympathetic. A number of producers, and one big agent have also weighed in. Regular people are not so reticent
The irony is that it's because Gibson was drunk when he said it that he's in any trouble at all. Ann Coulter says much worse every day about Muslims, but she's sober and witty. Hatred is everywhere. I'd hate to show you what some of the literature on local college campuses has to say about Jews, but drunken movie stars don't put that out.
The Mel Gibson case is a test on a number of levels. It's a test of anti-Semitism in one of the most sensitive communities (Hollywood) at one of the most sensitive times (a war) with a guy who was already vulnerable, using an excuse that doesn't work any more.
Does it matter that he was drunk?
Does he get off the hook because he was drunk?
Do you forgive him for what he said?
Would you go to his movies again?
Is there anything he could say or do that would make it "better" for you?
Today's apology came with an offer for one-on-one meetings.
Perhaps he will visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. — my suggestion.
But if history is any guide, they'll just test the market, see what happens. Maybe he'll take a cut for a picture or two or go with foreign financing, and then he'll be fine.
And then what?
From where I sit, it doesn't matter that he was drunk, but there's no choice but to work with the apology and make the best lemonade you can with it. Knowing that others share his views and you can't legislate them away, take a guy who got caught and see if he will turn around and turn others.
Jewish leaders would be well advised to make him a leader in the fight against anti-Semitism. Get as much from him as you can. Let him talk to people, once he faces his own views.
He still looked good in that mug shot.
I cannot thank you enough for your notes about my brother. He is home from the hospital and thanks you as well.
Susan Estrich is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California and a member of the Board of Contributors of USA Today. She writes the "Portia" column for American Lawyer Media and is a contributing editor of The Los Angeles Times. She was appointed by the president to serve on the National Holocaust Council and by the mayor of the City of Los Angeles to serve on that city's Ethics Commission.
Estrich's books include "Real Rape," "Getting Away with Murder: How Politics Is Destroying the Criminal Justice System," "Dealing with Dangerous Offenders," "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women" and "Sex & Power," currently a Los Angeles Times bestseller.
She served as campaign manager for Michael Dukakis' presidential bid, becoming the first woman to head a U.S. presidential campaign. Estrich appears regularly on the FOX News Channel.