Mel's Problems Get Worse
More shoes have dropped for Mel Gibson, the Oscar-winning star whose reputation, and now possibly career, are in freefall. In the last week, his longtime protector and agent Ed Limato passed away; the William Morris Endeavor Entertainment agency dumped him as a client; and his custody battle with his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva escalated into a criminal investigation.
Another question mark is what will happen to The Beaver, the Jodie Foster-directed film that stars Gibson as a depressed divorcé who finds solace in a beaver hand-puppet, whom he talks to as though it’s human.
Oh, and now the tapes that RadarOnline published transcripts from last week—featuring Gibson using the “N” word and saying Grigorieva deserves to be raped during a vicious verbal attack on her—are available in audio. It isn’t pretty.
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Just days ago, Gibson looked like he might survive this latest rash of very, very bad publicity. He is, after all, not just an actor, but a filmmaker who operates largely outside of the Hollywood machine. But with the death of Limato, who was responsible for funneling work to Gibson in recent years, things turned darker for the star. It was no surprise when WME booted Gibson, given that since 2009 the agency has been run by Ari Emanuel, who famously called for an industry-wide boycott of Gibson following his anti-Semitic tirade in 2006. In fact, according to an agency source, the separation between Gibson and WME had been in the planning stages for some time, or at least since Limato, who was 73, became very ill and was out of commission. But when Emanuel heard about Gibson’s racial slur, he fast-tracked the decision to end all ties to Gibson, who was dropped as a client the day before Limato’s death. (The story of WME cutting ties with Gibson was first reported in The Hollywood Reporter.)
The suspicion is that ICM may pick up Gibson as a client, seeing as that’s where Gibson and Limato were based before they joined William Morris in 2007. But as one source said, “I’m not sure who would want to rep him at this point.” On the other hand, Gibson doesn’t necessarily need an agent, considering he runs his own film empire, and may opt to go the route of Angelina Jolie, who operates without one.
Another question mark is what will happen to The Beaver, the Jodie Foster-directed film that stars Gibson as a depressed divorcé who finds solace in a beaver hand-puppet, whom he talks to as though it’s human. The plan was to roll the film out at fall festivals, but at this point there has been no word from Summit Entertainment, which is distributing The Beaver, as to where the movie will be screened—nor is there a release date. Summit has been quietly testing the film, and one source who attended a recent screening was not a fan, saying it was “strange” and Gibson “hard to watch.” (She also said that a woman sitting near her liked it much more.)
At any rate, the question of how to market a film around Gibson will be a challenge for Summit, the studio behind the Twilight movies.
A Summit spokesperson said "no comment," and Gibson’s publicist Alan Nierob was not available for comment. WME, however, confirmed that Gibson was no longer a client.
Nicole LaPorte is the senior West Coast reporter for The Daily Beast and the author of The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorks.