ABC News’ Mary Plummer reports:
Mel Gibson has found himself in a flurry of criticism and jokes since news broke late Thursday that he’s partnering to write the biopic of Jewish warrior Judah Maccabee.
The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and Descendants said “holocaust survivors are aghast” about the potential film, while the Anti-Defamation League proclaimed that Gibson’s telling of Judah’s story would be a “travesty.”
Even comedian and “View” co-host Joy Behar weighed in on Twitter: “Mel Gibson is making a film about the life of Judah Maccabee. I’m smelling a Seder invite!”
Gibson is notorious for his 2006 anti-Semitic comments made during a Malibu DUI arrest that caused a world-wide uproar.
“People remember what he did and if he wants them to forget, he needs to embark on a different course,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, adding that if Gibson wants to correct his past wrongs, he should spend time taking courses on Judaism or visiting concentration camps, not creating films about the hero of the Hanukkah commemoration.
Hier said he read the news online at home this morning and was so shocked he didn’t believe it could be true. He compared Gibson’s involvement in the film to having “a white supremacist portray Martin Luther King Jr.”
Gibson will team with screenwriter Joe Eszterhas (best known for “Flashdance” and “Basic Instinct”) to write the script, which is in the early stages of a development deal with Warner Bros. Gibson’s Icon Productions will produce the film and he will have the first opportunity to direct the film if he chooses, according to Gibson publicist Alan Nierob.
Warner Bros. declined to comment, saying the film was in the early stages.
Gibson is staying quiet on the subject, but The Atlantic has dug up his comments on Maccabee from a few years ago. You can read them here.
Gibson was in the news last week when he finalized a $750,000 settlement with ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. Their relationship was known for Gibson’s disparaging rant that was leaked to a celebrity news site, in which he said Grigorieva deserved it when he hit her in the face.