Mel Gibson is not losing his religion. He keeps investing his "Passion of the Christ" money into the church he built in Agoura Hills, Calif.
Last year, Gibson parked another $8.2 million in his AP Reilly Foundation, the tax-free entity that takes care of his Holy Family Catholic Church.
Gibson's church is not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church because it does not acknowledge the authority of the pope or the Vatican or the doctrine known as Vatican II. Gibson and many of his fellow congregants are Holocaust deniers, as is Gibson's father, who has been known to contribute to neo-Nazi publications.
Gibson, nevertheless, perseveres. According to a federal tax filing obtained exclusively by this column, the foundation now has $30 million in its coffers, up from $22 million last year.
The church sits on about 11 acres of land owned by the Foundation and worth around $3 million, according to public documents.
Let's put this into perspective. Los Angeles Catholic Big Brothers and Big Sisters only has $1.6 million in its till. The Malibu Roman Catholic Church, which is recognized by the archdiocese, supports 600 families. It has a fraction of Holy Family's budget. But Holy Family is said to accommodate about 70 families altogether. That's quite a difference.
Thanks to "The Passion of the Christ" and his anti-Semitic rant last year when he was arrested in Malibu, Gibson is no longer a significant Hollywood player. But he obviously has money, and he is using it as he sees fit.
What makes his activities interesting for Hollywood is whether he will continue to play a part as client of Ed Limato, the ICM agent who recently lost his job.
Limato is talking to several agencies about joining them, dangling the fates of his various clients. Denzel Washington, Richard Gere and Steve Martin are certainly desirable names. But Gibson is a liability for Limato at Endeavor, and could be elsewhere as well.
Indeed, Gibson's Icon Productions has just about ground to a standstill in the last year since his violent "Apocalypto" was released.
After several years of lots of activity, Icon now has almost nothing in production, is distributing one B-movie and doesn't look set up for anything interesting in the near future. Maybe that's because all of Gibson's attention is focused now on Holy Family.
This from the oops department: Warner Music Group passed on the chance to release the soundtrack to hit movie "Hairspray," sources said.
The CD finished at No. 2 this week, up from the week before and the week before that. Incredibly, the "Hairspray" CD has performed like a release of yesteryear. It's sold more copies each week, not less. It's actually risen from No. 16 to 4 to 2 in its three weeks of release and moved around 250,000 units.
So, here's a sad twist to the whole story: According to my sources, New Line Records has a first-look deal with WMG for its soundtracks, but the Warner folks didn't think "Hairspray" would be a big deal, so they stayed away from the making of the album.
New Line, I'm told, invested $1 million into the soundtrack. Now they have a hit on their hands, and their name is on the charts, where Warner's could have been.
Of course, WMG still gets a cut because their ADA distribution is responsible for getting the CD into stores. But after hitting their all-time low stock price of $12.39 on Tuesday, "Hairspray" must sting more than usual.
What's making everyone in the record business scratch their heads, though, is this notion that WMG can continue without hits or without the good sense to release hits that are brought to them. "Hairspray" is an excellent example.
So far, WMG just coasts on releases from names established as hits before they took over: Michael Buble, Linkin Park, Josh Groban. They can complain all they like about the dying industry, but then a "Hairspray" comes along and suddenly it's really right back to record biz savvy — or lack thereof.
It's a Clinton-o-rama this weekend in the Hamptons as several party hosts vie for the title of best host for the former and possibly future presidents.
The main action starts on Saturday night at Revlon chairman Ronald Perelman's estate called The Creeks. Celebs galore are expected — maybe Lorraine Bracco, Penny Marshall and Jessica Seinfeld, who is co-hosting — even though there's competition.
Billy Joel is playing a concert in the $3,000-a-head series produced by Social over at the Ross School, following in the footsteps of Prince and Dave Matthews.
Billy's show is proving to be a bit of a conflict, since he and Perelman are good friends. Organizers are hoping that Joel can stop by the minute he finishes his show, since the Ross School is close by in East Hampton. But curfews may be a problem, since Billy's show will undoubtedly involve many encores. It's the most anticipated one of the series.
The big finale comes on Sunday at the home of Alan and Susan Patricof, regular Clinton fundraisers among the very wealthy.
And everyone listens. Last night at Elaine's, Dominic Chianese, aka Uncle Junior from "The Sopranos," serenaded the restaurant not once but twice a cappella with an Italian song and an Irish one. (What, someone asked, no Yiddish?)
The occasion was a joint birthday party for mystery writer Carol Higgins Clark and her beau, Al Sapienza, the actor who is about to play Baby's father in the Broadway bound musical "Dirty Dancing" that previews in Toronto this fall.
And Dominic wasn't the only one who sang: Port Authority commissioner Angelo Genova — not to be outdone — gave us a rendition of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" that could make Tony Bennett weep. Marone!
It must have been moving, because famed New York Post writer Steve Dunleavy, dining with Post editor in chief Col Allan, literally fell off his chair.
Also in the house: FIFA's Chuck Blazer, singing the praises of David Beckham; and ICM super agent Esther Newberg, heading up a literary table of Phyllis Grann and author Sally Jenkins. There was talk, too, of the prior Friday's "Hairspray" dinner, featuring John Travolta and Nikki Blonsky as they waited for box office returns.
And it was only Tuesday night at Elaine's, but it felt like Thursday, if you know what I mean.