Mel Gibson is locked in a scandal that just keeps getting uglier.
He’s been battling his ex-girlfriend, Russian singer Oksana Grigorieva, over custody of their 8-month-old daughter. The Los Angeles Police Department has confirmed he’s under investigation for domestic violence. She claims he beat her up.
And now, an audio tape that sounds a lot like Gibson has surfaced on celebrity website RadarOnline in which a man who sounds very much like the Academy Award-winner is heard in a racist and sexist rant against Grigorieva. The two were still together at the time. In it, the man says she looks like a “whore.” He then uses the N-word.
He also lashes out at her about the way she was dressed, saying, “That green thing today was enough. That’s provocative. OK? I’m telling you. I’m just telling you the truth. I don’t like it. I don’t want that woman! I don’t want you! I don’t believe you anymore. I don’t trust you. I don’t love you. I don’t want you.”
RadarOnline says Grigorieva made the recording.
After the tapes were posted on RadarOnline, Gibson was dropped by his talent agency.
He alleges Grigorieva tried to extort money from him and that, if he didn’t pay, she’d leak recordings of him to the press.
But Howard Bragman, chairman and CEO of Fifteen Minutes, a public relations firm, notes the apparent example of Gibson’s hostility is only one of many, presenting Gibson with a serious challenge.
“Boy, this is gonna be like capping the oil spill, isn’t it?” Bragman asked “Early Show on Saturday Morning” co-anchor Chris Wragge. “You know, the problem is not just this one tape. The problem is what’s happened before and really, Mel has probably almost a two-decade history of angry outbursts.
“He’s been homophobic, he’s been racist, he’s been misogynistic, he’s been anti-Semitic. There’s almost no group left that he hasn’t offended.
“And down the road, more of these tapes are gonna get leaked. And I think we’re gonna hear more vitriol and hatred. This is in no way over for him, and he’s not ready to put it behind him. He’s in the middle of it.”
Bragman says the new tape didn’t surprise him in the least. “Ever since his homophobic outbursts in the ’90s, I’ve never been a big fan,” Bragman points out. “This is just more of the same.
“This is a man who should really be counting his blessings in life, and he’s just angry and full of hatred, and it’s just really sad and, you know, this is a wonderful country where we have the power to say we don’t like somebody, by not supporting their work, by not supporting their projects, and I personally made that decision and I think other people who are offended should make a similar decision.”
In addition to starring in the popular “Lethal Weapon” and “Mad Max” movies, Gibson won two Academy Awards for directing and producing the 1995 film “Braveheart.” His 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ” was also a major box office hit.
But, Wragge observed, Gibson’s career has sputtered since a 2006 anti-Semitic outburst.
Bragman said it’s not time to bring out the hankies.
“He’s done his own projects. I mean, you know, reportedly, Mel Gibson’s worth close to a billion dollars, so we shouldn’t be holding a bake sale for him but … really, his career is derailed at this point. He’s been fired by his talent agency, and I’m not seeing another talent agency rushing to pick him up.
“But, you know, it’s Hollywood and there’s a lot of money is at stake. Somebody will do something with him, and he’s got a movie that’s already been filmed. It’ll be interesting to see how they release this project.”
Bragman says Gibson is “on an island” at the moment. “Nobody wants to take the heat by being in business with Mel Gibson right now. He’s offended everyone, everyone in Hollywood.”
What would Bragman advise Gibson to do?
“I think right now that his potential legal problems far outweigh his p-r,” Bragman replied, “and I think he’s got a very fine publicist who I respect a great deal, who’s doing exactly the right thing, which is shutting up. There’s criminal investigations going on and that has to trump any p-r things right now.
“You know, in time, we do tend to forgive people, but we forgive them if we truly believe they apologize and are sincere. We’ll see if he’s got that in him, if that ever comes out of Mel at this point.”
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