Mel Gibson may have a problem with Jews — they’re responsible for all the wars, they’ve inflated the number of dead in the Holocaust, etc.
But Gibson likes one Jewish person a lot. His personal bodyguard for more than a decade turns out to be an Israeli.
Avi Korein, 45, is a name you don’t hear very often. That’s because Korein is famous for being nearly invisible and staying in the background.
A former nightclub bouncer, Korein worked through the '80s as Bruce Willis’ muscle. He even picked up a few minor screen credits along the way.
But sometime before 1996, Korein went to work for Gibson.
Now Korein has his own agency, Screen International Security Services, which has done private security over the years for a lot of Hollywood stars, including Will Smith, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise.
But sources tell me that it’s Korein — who did not return calls from this column — upon whom Gibson has relied over the last decade to keep him out of trouble.
It’s ironic, since Korein is Jewish. But so is Gibson’s publicist.
Korein — who is also rumored to have once been in the Mossad — or Israeli CIA — has his own inner conflicts to deal with.
In 2002 he made a $500 donation to the National Republican Congressional Committee. In 2004, however, he gave money to John Kerry’s presidential run.
Is he a Democrat or a Republican? More importantly, is he even a U.S. citizen?
Korein’s assistant would only say, “I can’t answer any questions,” when I posed that last one. She did, however, acknowledge that her boss works for Gibson.
Gibson, however odd a client for Korein, might take some of his advice. On the Web site for SISS, Korein states: “We realize that 'perception is reality.' How our clients are perceived by the public can impact corporate, diplomatic or personal objectives positively or negatively.”
Those are words Gibson might have taken to heart a while ago.
It was a toss-up last night: the premiere of Oliver Stone’s "World Trade Center" or Tony Bennett’s 80th birthday party?
The winner was Stone, whose subdued evening grabbed several A-list guests away from Bennett including Sting and Trudie Styler and Viacom prez Tom Freston.
Tony’s guests were limited to other clients of his publicist (John Travolta, Kelly Preston) or a top client of his son Danny (Elvis Costello).
Where were the rest of Bennett’s birthday greeters? Maybe staying cool. The party sponsored by Target had a resistant vibe.
But the premiere of “WTC” was a rousing success in more ways than one.
Not only were Sting and Trudie there, but so was “Crash” director Paul Haggis with actress wife Deborah Rennard and diminutive director Spike Lee.
The red carpet was busy with Stone, his mother and wife (see yesterday’s column) not to mention stars Nic Cage, Michael Pena, Maria Bello, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Steven Dorff, Frank Whaley, Patti D'Arbanville, Donna Murphy and Nicolas Turturro.
Then count in all the Paramount execs and producers — including studio chief Brad Grey — all taking bows deservedly for making a really stupendous film with “World Trade Center.”
Any trepidation they might have had was allayed when the audience gave the movie a standing ovation at its conclusion, then sat quietly and watched all the credits roll by. That was a first, I’d say.
Happiest in the crowd were the two couples upon whose recollections of 9/11 the movie was based — John and Donna McLoughlin, and Will and Allison Jimeno.
Indeed, the breakout star of “World Trade Center” turns out to be Will Jimeno himself. Now retired at age 38 with various injuries sustained from his harrowing 13 hours buried in rubble, Jimeno is a gregarious, articulate man with a good sense of humor. All he needs now is an agent because so many people have advised him to become an inspirational speaker.
Both Jimeno and McLoughlin were pleased to meet Sting and Trudie, who came to the premiere at the invitation of Stone.
“We thought we’d just have a night out at the movies,” Sting told me as we waited nearly an hour for the movie to begin at the Ziegfeld.
By the time he left the theater, the rocker was enthralled by stories of 9/11 first responders now in financial trouble and facing tremendous health problems. He walked away with many brochures, pictures and leaflets full of information.
Sting and Trudie, like Spike Lee and the rest of the people who saw “World Trade Center” last night were, I’d say, completely blown away by this movie. This reporter was not going it sit through the film for a second whole time, but I found after the first half hour that I couldn’t leave (no, the doors were not blocked or anything like that).
“World Trade Center” is a very compelling film, and the longer you stick with it the better it gets. I’ve heard not just a few people say recently that they didn’t want to “put themselves through that.”
But “WTC” is not “United 93” in the sense that you know this time it’s not going to end badly. We all know that McLoughlin and Jimeno lived.
Why the movie works is because the screenplay is so strong, the characters are vivid and the acting is superb. But it also — and this is interesting for Oliver Stone — winds up being a movie about two couples’ strong relationships. It’s, dare we say it, a romantic drama.
Remember when Regis Philbin hosted “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”? He used to joke that he saved ABC because the ratings were so high. Now Regis can say the same thing about NBC.
His “America’s Got Talent” is the biggest hit of the summer, raking in big numbers and not just because of producer Simon Cowell or those lunatics who get up to perform those terrible numbers.
And it can’t be the judges — "American Idol" stand-ins David Hasselhoff (the Paula Abdul of the show), singer Brandy (Randy Jackson) and Piers Morgan (Simon). It’s all Regis, folks. Good for him …
The word on Broadway is that Eric Bogosian’s wonderful play, "Talk Radio," is coming back with a big star, the excellent Liev Schreiber. Bogosian would direct. There’s nothing that Schreiber can’t do, so this will be must-see Broadway …
And hats off to Paris Hilton. This girl knows how to get PR. She told GQ she didn’t know who British prime minister Tony Blair was, knowing full well that the quote would get picked up everywhere. Paris is one smarty, and she knows everyone will fall for it. We should all be so “stupid”!