The Last Word | April 12, 2012
O'DONNELL: The Wrap.com broke the story last night of new and truly horrific charges of anti-semitic against Mel Gibson contained in a nine page letter to Gibson from a well know screen writer with Gibson . The screen writer , Joe Eszterhas , is best known for writing " Flash Dance ," " Basic Instinct ," "Showgirls," among many other movies, as well as two serious movies attacking anti-semitism, "Betrayed" and " Music Box ." The script Eszterhas wrote for Mel Gibson is entitled " The MacCabees '," a project Gibson initiated after facing an earlier round of anti-semitism charges. Gibson has said the movie, based on a family of Jewish freedom fighters, would be, quote, a Jewish " Braveheart ." In his letter , Joe Eszterhas says he now believes Gibson never had any intention of making the film. Joe Eszterhas quotes Gibson in writing, using truly unspeakable epithets about Jewish people . Eszterhas also describes conversations in which Gibson threatened to kill his ex- girlfriend and mother of his out of wedlock child. Eszterhas quotes Gibson saying, I'm going to kill her, I'm going to have her killed. And he says that Gibson told him that he has two friends who are FBI agents or former FBI agents , who are going to help Gibson kill her. Mel Gibson put out a public letter to Eszterhas today in reaction to the nine-page letter , saying "the great majority of the facts, as well as the statements and actions attributed to me in your letter , are utter fabrications." Gibson also said, I will acknowledge, like most creative people, I'm passionate and intense. Gibson said that he was disappointed with the delivery delay on Joe Eszterhas 's script, and admitted, quote, "I did react more strongly than I should have. I promptly sent you a written apology, the colorful words of which you apparently now find offensive." Joining me now, Sharon Waxman , the founder and managing editor of TheWrap.com , who broke this story last night, and Rabbi Marvin Hier , the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center . Sharon , I have to tell you, as soon as I read this, I forwarded it to a screenwriter friend of mine who has worked with Mel Gibson . And he read everything in the nine page letter and said, yes, this makes sense to me; this is the kind of thing I have heard. I'm just going to rattle off some of the things he told me to add to your file. He said to me that the theme in here that you constantly hear from Mel Gibson is how hard it is to be Mel Gibson . He talks about -- he quotes him. This is a quote he gave me that Gibson said to him in the first 20 minutes of knowing him and meeting with him: "whatever I say about the Jews , a thousand rabbis around the world would come after me." He says that he -- because of this pressure he is under, he has actually had a face mask made by the Hollywood experts that can make face masks. He has had a face mask made so he can go out in public in restaurants. And he says that it works perfectly. He goes out in public in restaurants with a face mask that disguises him completely, made by the people who can do that work here in Hollywood . Also, he went on to say -- this writer who met with him went on to say, he is a constant conspiracy theorist. He believes that 9/11, the World Trade Center , was brought down by drones, had nothing to do with those airplanes. It is madness just run wild. I'm just giving you an additional source not for the specifics of Eszterhas , but the spirit of it is exactly what this other writer experienced. SHARON WAXMAN , THEWRAP.COM: Yes, so there's two pieces. The first moment you read the letter , you are in shock.
O'DONNELL: You cannot believe it. There's words in there that I have never heard. There are epithets about Jews that I have never heard before. You can't believe what he is saying.
WAXMAN: Oven dodgers --
O'DONNELL: We're not going to say. It's on your website. They can read them. We didn't actually pull -- the entire letter is on our website. And we have written several stories about it, because it's hard to know where to begin, where to pull out kind of the horror show that's laid out in this letter . Now, the other -- the second reaction you have is well, it's Mel Gibson , so who can really be surprised that he would continue to act like Mel Gibson has been acting.
O'DONNELL: But I'm surprised. Look, plotting to kill his girlfriend, nobody was saying that.
WAXMAN: In the tapes that we all heard a year and a half ago, you know, he was --
O'DONNELL: Yeah, he uses --
WAXMAN: He's threatening to kill her.
O'DONNELL: Yes, but it's that thing about I'm going to kill you and you think that's figurative language. But no, no, he has an idea. He has a way.
WAXMAN: He is in the grip of something in these rages. Who knows if he means it or he doesn't mean it. But it certainly was very frightening to Joe Eszterhas , frightening to his family, frightening to the people who were there. So, at some point, you have to think that someone who is not in control of their words may not be in control of their actions.
O'DONNELL: I want to read what Abe Foxman , the head of the Anti- Defamation League , told you today at TheWrap.com today. He said " Mel Gibson never really came to grips with his bigotry. Most people who are revealed or exposed as anti-semites under stress or alcohol try to engage in some epiphany once they are revealed. Mel Gibson never rally confronted his problem, to the point where his lawyers removed from the record what he said to the police, so he could move on without confronting him." That is a reference to the drunk driving arrest where he was revealed to say anti-semitic things. Rabbi Marvin Hier , you, based on some of the things I've ready you have said in the past, are not surprised tonight?
RABBI MARVIN HIER, SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER: Not at all. I did not think that he should have been forgiven and given a role in Hollywood to do the MacCabees . Thank God he is not doing that. Jewish history is going to be much better for it. Associating Mel Gibson with Judah MacCabees would be like associating Bernie Madoff and appointing him as the head of the Securities Exchange Commission .
Let me say one thing that is missed here sometimes: before he had the incident where he was drunk, his portrayal of Jews , those Jews who did not believe in Jesus , in " The Passion of Christ " is unforgivable. Every Jew in that film that was not a Christian is portrayed as a sadist, as a buffoon and as an ignorant person. I believe that was deliberate. And I think the only lesson from this is I hope that Mel Gibson chooses another career. I hope that he will find it very difficult to find another project in Hollywood .
O'DONNELL: Rabbi, I have to tell you, I brought 12 years of Catholic education into that movie theater the day " The Passion of the Christ " came out, to watch that movie. And I sat there absolutely horrified, feeling every word of what you just said about it. I couldn't believe what I was witnesses on the screen. Sharon Waxman , is there another shoe to drop in this breaking story?
WAXMAN: Well, so we have an exclusive interview that we just posted of Joe Eszterhas giving us an interview and responding to Mel Gibson saying that this is utter fabrications. He says I have a tape, so you might want to be careful about calling me a liar.
O'DONNELL: Gibson doesn't make any specific refutations in there. He doesn't say oh, no, I'm not plotting to kill my girlfriend. That's an easy thing to say.
WAXMAN: Right, right. The great majority -- he won't be specific. So it will be interesting to see if he goes. And by the way, I should say -- and Rabbi Hier , you might be curious to know that Warner Brothers has not dropped the project. They are not going to make Joe Eszterhas ' script. But they have not said that they are not moving forward with the MacCabees .
O'DONNELL: Well, I don't think it's going to be a Mel Gibson -- Rabbi, I'm sorry. We have to go. We're out of time. I'm very sorry. That's going to have to be THE LAST WORD . Sharon Waxman , the founder and editor of TheWrap.com , and Rabbi Marvin Hier , thank you very much for joining me tonight.