Barbs Fly over Maccabee Project: Mel Gibson accused of “Hating Jews”

Go big or go home.

Apparently, nobody’s going home and everybody’s going big in dueling public letters over Mel Gibson’s spectacularly failed “Maccabee” project.

Mel Gibson, who faces charges in Hollywood and elsewhere of extreme, blatant anti-Antisemitism, enhanced by a drunken, anti-Semitic rant in 2006, had planned to make a movie about the ancient Jewish heroes. The Maccabees were a group of rebel warriors led by Judas Maccabee who conquered Judea and founded the Hasmonean Dynasty starting 166 B.C.E. The festival of Hanukkah celebrates this period, recalling when a small supply of oil lit lamps for eight days.

Kind of Braveheart meets Passion of the Christ, but Jewish.

What could possibly go wrong?

Joe Esztervez

A lot, apparently. The news hit yesterday that Warner Bros. was suspending the project. Close on the heels of that announcement, screenwriter Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct, Flashdance) blasted Gibson in a nine page letter to The Wrap, charging him with things that would confirm Hollywood’s and Jewish folk’s worst fears: He hates Jews. He accuses Gibson of, among other things, persistently using racial slurs, confusing the racist and discredited “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” with the Torah, and threatening to kill then-girlfriend Osanka Gregorieva.

If you had a Mel Gibson playing card, that’s BINGO.

Faster than you can say “information superhighway,” Gibson responded with a letter of his own to Deadline. He calls the specific accusations by Eszterhas “fabrications.” He counters that Eszterhas did not write “a single word of the script or even an outline” in 15 months. To counter Eszterhas’s assertation that the project was simply a fig leaf to restore Gibson’s reputation in Hollywood and that Gibson never actually planned to complete it, Gibson says that he’s been working on it for ten years, eight publicly.

One thing seems clear in this he said-he said scenario: Neither man looks pretty. I bet Warner is glad to be out of the project, but I wonder who will want to work with either Gibson or Eszterhas again.

I wonder how the Maccabees felt about scorched earth?

About Rebecca Cusey

Rebecca is a lead critic and editor of entertainment at Patheos. Follow her on Twitter @Rebecca_Cusey


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