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Thursday, December 08, 2005

More Gibson Fallout

The LA Times has an article up, marveling at the speed which with the mere possibility of Mel Gibson directing a miniseries about the Holocaust has become controversial.
Mel Gibson pulled off the seemingly impossible last year, turning "The Passion of the Christ," his low-budget biblical film in a dead language, into one of the year's biggest hits. Now Hollywood's in a frenzy over his newest project, a proposed ABC miniseries partly based on a little-known Holocaust memoir.

Network executives fielded calls from media organizations hoping to interpret the latest move by the actor-director, who has been criticized in the past for statements he has made about the Holocaust and whose elderly father has described some accounts of the mass murder of European Jews during World War II as "fiction."

Quinn Taylor, ABC's senior vice president of movies and miniseries, said Wednesday that he viewed Gibson's possible involvement as a potential plus in marketing the program, although he added: "We would never buy a project that didn't have merit solely for the purpose of getting publicity."

Taylor said he was a little surprised at the intense reaction to the miniseries, because "it's so early in the process."

I won't deny being concerned about the thought of someone like Mel Gibson, who has expressed a woeful ignorance about the history of the Holocaust in the past, directing a miniseries that requires the utmost of sensitivity.

That being said, it would be sad to think that the Jewish Community has learned nothing from the Passion of the Christ debacle. The endless cries of anti-Semitism from many in the Jewish Organizational world - most notably and loudest Abe Foxman, of course - did nothing for the movie except wildly increase its publicity, and directly, its box office sales.

I was happy to see, though, that some people are already coming out of the blocks with a more measured reaction, this time around:
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he remained concerned about remarks Gibson made during interviews last year. When asked whether the Holocaust happened, Gibson told one interviewer, "Of course," but added: "The Second World War killed tens of millions of people. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps." Hier and some other commentators believe those remarks downplayed and distorted the history of the Holocaust.

Still, "we should keep an open mind," Hier said of the new miniseries. "It may be an education course or eye-opener for his father, who said the Holocaust was mostly exaggerated."

An uproar may be just what ABC is looking for.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember that his goal with the passion play movie was to make it a popular annual Easter showing that raked in more money each year. While there was a 2005 showing, it brought in less than $250,000 (compared to $300million in the first release).

Controversy brings in a lot of money for the opening, but especially for TV, the real money is to be made in rereleases and syndication. Even if controversy brings more profits, ABC won't sponsor a miniseries that people will watch once and never again.

1:35 PM  
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