Sure he drives drunk and is an arrogant lout who hates Jews and possibly gays too. While Mel has claimed repeatedly that he's not anti-Semetic, let's recall, in the interest of any new readers, that following his July 28 arrest in Malibu, Calif., the 50-year-old actor blamed the world's ills on the Jewish population. Yeah.
But while Hollywood insiders are plenty upset by Gibson's behavior, none of them are particularly surprised by it.
"[Gibson] is a misogynistic bully and anti-Semitic jerk, and we all knew it," one anonymous source said, and quickly added "his great value is that he always showed up on the set at 7 a.m. ready to work."
That's what it comes down to. Gibson always makes money for the guys who run the studios. Which is why, when the this dies down, Mel will likely be just as big a star as he was when he climbed into his 2006 Lexus for an evening of carousing at Moonshadows cafe in Malibu.
Inexcusable as his actions are, Hollywood will eventually overlook Mel's Neanderthal ideas. It's a matter of simple dollars and sense. As long as Mel makes dollars, it will make sense to have him around. Hollywood has a long history of this.
As one of the best actors working today, no one was all that concerned when Russell Crowe threw a phone at a hotel employee. Back in the days of yore, studios even hired folks specifically to keep bad news out of the press.Hollywood even looked the other way over larceny. Columbia Pictures kept David Begelman, its studio chief, on the job even after he stole actors' checks to support his gambling habit.
The moral here is that Hollywood will forgive anything but a money loser, and Gibson is anything but. He can still be a bankable actor, as the $228 million gross of his 2002 film Signs showed. But better yet, Gibson the producer bankrolls his own films.
Surely you remember 2004's The Passion of the Christ? Gibson's own Icon Productions shelled out the $30 million it cost to make it. Studios will stand in line to get a 15 percent distribution fee for a film where Gibson shoulders all of the risk.
Yes, ABC junked a miniseries about the Holocaust that Gibson was to produce (and we thought The Passion was ironic), but the network blamed the actor for not delivering a script. ABC's sister company, Walt Disney's studio, is still going ahead with its plans for a December 8 release of Apocalypto, a movie that Gibson wrote, directed, and bankrolled.
The truth is, we wander into the wrong tent when we expect Hollywood to help us police society or reinforce the basic tenets of good and evil in this country. If that were the case, would Charlie Sheen be the toast of network TV right now?
Sheen, after all, has been involved in more sex scandals than any 10 other actors combined, and is currently embroiled in a nasty divorce from his estranged wife, Denise Richards, who charged in a sworn declaration in court that Sheen was addicted to gambling and prostitutes and that he threatened her life.
None of that stopped CBS execs from mugging for the cameras with Sheen at recent TV critics' event. After all, Sheen's Two and A Half Men is TV's top-rated comedy, and Sheen is up for an Emmy for his portrayal as the fast-drinking, affair-a-night brother Charlie.
America may abhor a bad boy, but sometimes it also rewards him. Maybe that's the ultimate insult to our collective sensibilities.
Maybe the Mel who staggered across the Pacific Coast Highway is actually the one who Hollywood figures America wants to see. The guy, after all, made his name playing half-crazed lunatics like Mad Max and the wild-eyed detective Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon movies.
Hollywood doesn't see black or white, Jew or Gentile, remorse or guilt. It sees only green.