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Gibson bears flak for anti Jewish remarks

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Los Angeles (Reuters): A top film industry agent asked his colleagues to boycott working with Mel Gibson as Hollywood debated whether the Lethal Weapon superstar's career will suffer from anti-Semitic remarks he reportedly made when arrested for suspected drunk driving. But his comments surprised few in Hollywood, which two years ago wondered whether Gibson ''would ever eat lunch in this town again'' for making The Passion of the Christ, a film that triggered debate over whether it was anti-Jewish before it opened. Once in theaters, Passion became a runaway hit and Gibson was back at the top of Hollywood filmmakers. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said yesterday it sent its full file on Gibson's arrest to the District Attorney to decide if the 50-year-old actor should be charged with drunk driving. At the same time, the department denied allegations it covered up Gibson's remarks, which were revealed by the celebrity Web site TMZ.com.

Gibson, whose personal views are far to the right of traditional liberal Hollywood, was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving early on Friday and was reported to have launched into a tirade against Jews, asking the arresting officer if he was a Jew and blaming the Jews for starting all wars. The actor, who holds strong conservative Catholic religious and political views and whose father is a Holocaust denier, apologised on Saturday, saying, ''I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything said.'' He added he had battled alcoholism ''for all of my life'' and was taking action to prevent another relapse. A spokesman for Gibson, who won an Oscar for directing Braveheart, said the actor had entered ''an ongoing program of recovery,'' but declined to give specifics.

Meanwhile, top film industry agent Ari Emanuel issued a statement on HuffingtonPost.com in which he called on Hollywood to stop working with Gibson. ''At a time of escalating tensions in the world, the entertainment industry cannot idly stand by and allow Mel Gibson to get away with such tragically inflammatory statements,'' he said, adding: ''People in the entertainment community, whether Jew or Gentile, need to demonstrate that they understand how much is at stake in this by professionally shunning Mel Gibson and refusing to work with him, even if it means a sacrifice to their bottom line.''

Rabbi Marvin Heir, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group, called on ABC to reconsider its plans to air a mini-series being made by Gibson about a pair of lovers trapped in the Holocaust. ''If I were ABC I would not have Mel Gibson do a film about the Holocaust. It would be embarrassing,'' Heir said. An ABC spokeswoman said the project was at such an early stage that the studio has not even received a first script.

Many in Hollywood debated whether the incident would indeed have an ill effect on Gibson's career, with some saying that they doubted it would because the actor was a money maker for the studios. ''The rule is forgive and forget when you can bring in a film that makes 100 million dollars,'' one movie insider said. Film historian David Thomson said Gibson has ''been stepping over the line for several years. But the key thing is that he makes money for people and he will not only continue to eat lunch in this town but he will buy lunch.''

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