Mel Gibson ouster more about money than morals

Sun Jul 11, 2010 9:26pm EDT
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By Kim Masters

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - When William Morris Endeavor dropped Mel Gibson as a client last week, sources at the agency cited the star's misconduct as the reason.

Its revulsion may be genuine, but the decision also was based on the bottom line, a calculation that Gibson no longer has real monetary value to the agency.

"There's nothing to do for Mel Gibson at the moment," a William Morris source said. "No one will touch him with a 10-foot pole. He'll make his own movies, but you don't commission those anyway."

Hollywood has routinely overlooked reprehensible, even illegal behavior when there's money to be made. And observers -- including a studio chief and an insider at William Morris -- said the industry might even have gotten past Gibson's alleged assault on his former girlfriend. (Consider Charlie Sheen.)

But the repeated allegations of bigoted comments have left his relationship with the public in tatters, and that's a deal-breaker. With tapes surfacing in which Gibson apparently used unforgivable language when referring to African-Americans and Latinos, he has antagonized two groups that are disproportionately represented in movie audiences.

And fans who were willing to forgive Gibson's previous transgressions as drunken utterances might find it hard to make excuses for him this time around. Despite his sexist and anti-Semitic outburst after his 2006 arrest, few industry executives publicly denounced him. (The exceptions included Sony Pictures chairman Amy Pascal and agent Ari Emanuel, then at Endeavor. And Emanuel wound up accepting Gibson as a client after Endeavor merged with William Morris last year.)

Now the tough job is finding anyone to speak on Gibson's behalf. "I wouldn't make a movie with him if he were the last actor on the planet," the studio chief said. "There were five minutes when we were saying, 'Maybe we should give this guy a break,' and that's gone. No one will touch him."

A veteran producer believes Gibson will still make his own films -- and this observer said he can succeed if he stays behind the camera. "I've thought for a while that he was over as an actor no matter what because of his age," he said. "But if he were to make 'The Passion of the Christ' today, it wouldn't do a dime less business."   Continued...