Here's hoping that Mel Gibson had a good Easter weekend, because the memory may have to last him for a while. This week began with the news that Warner Bros. was shelving his planned epic film about Judah Maccabee. Then screenwriter Joe Eszterhas dissociated himself from the project with a nine-page letter accusing Gibson of being both an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier who had cooked up the film for cynical reasons and—in an unrelated act of douchebaggery—was plotting to have his ex-girlfriend whacked. In an exclusive, Deadline is now reporting that Gibson has fired back with his own public letter to Eszterhas accusing him of spreading "utter fabrications," asking why Eszterhas stayed on the project as long as he did "if you truly believed me to be the person described in your letter. I guess you only had a problem with me after Warner Brothers rejected your script." Regarding that script, Gibson says that he has "never seen a more substandard first draft or a more significant waste of time" in his 25 years in the business.
Now that there's blood in the water, it's time for the Simon Wiesenthal Center to get in on the act. SWC head Rabbi Marvin Hier—whose public disagreements with Gibson go back to The Passion Of The Christ, and who previously likened hiring Gibson to make a movie about Maccabee to hiring Bernie Madoff "to be head of the Securities and Exchange Commission"—last night sent a message to Warner Bros., asking that the film not just be shelved but, we dunno, double-plus damn-well shelved. The statement reads, "In view of the outrageous anti-Semitic and bigoted statements recounted" in Eszterhas' letter, "it would be an insult to Jews and a desecration to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust to go forward with the Maccabee project." Gibson indicates in his letter to Eszterhas that he plans to push ahead with the movie anyway. Good luck with that.
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