Holocaust Survivor From Gibson's TV Movie 'Surprised' and 'Hurt'

ByABC News
July 31, 2006, 4:17 PM

Aug. 1, 2006 — -- The 81-year-old Holocaust survivor whose memoir Mel Gibson planned to turn into a TV miniseries said she didn't know until a few days ago that Gibson was involved in the project, but found his alleged anti-Semitic comments "hurtful."

Still, she doesn't want to see the incident blown out of proportion and hopes the project will be completed, though its fate is now in limbo.

"In this country, there is always the tendency of the press to exaggerate," said Flory Van Beek, a Dutch Jew who hid from the Nazis with the help of her Catholic boyfriend.

"Yes, I read about his supposed comments, and yes, it appears that he said very stupid and hurtful things," Van Beek said. "But as a Jew, I am much more concerned with what is going on in Israel, which is fighting for its very survival, and I wish that was more the focus of news coverage."

Van Beek's 1998 memoir, "Flory: Survival in the Valley of Death," is under development by Gibson's Con Artists Productions and two other companies.

The project, announced in December, was to run on ABC TV. ABC announced Monday it was no longer planning to run the show.

"Given that it has been nearly two years, and we have yet to see the first draft of a script, we have decided to no longer pursue this project," ABC said in a one-sentence statement.

It's now unclear whether "Flory" will still be produced, although Van Beek said she would remain hopeful.

"It's very misleading to call this a Mel Gibson project," Van Beek said. "His name is not on any of the documents that I signed, and I've had no contact with him."

Gibson was arrested Friday in Malibu, Calif., on suspicion of drunken driving, after officers pulled him over for allegedly driving at 87 mph in a 45 mph zone. According to the police report of the incident posted on the entertainment news Web site TMZ, Gibson made anti-Semitic remarks to the arresting officer.

Van Beek, who lives with her 94-year-old husband in Newport Beach, Calif., said she wasn't immediately aware that Gibson was involved with Con Artists when she sold the option to her book, but that it wouldn't have affected the deal to which she agreed.

"I wanted to keep alive the memory of the Holocaust and those who were lost," she said. "I just want the movie to accurately tell the story in my book."

Van Beek and her husband have been married for 63 years. She was 16 and he was 28 when they met and hid from the Nazis, later joining the Dutch resistance movement. They each lost family members in concentration camps.

After the war, they came to the United States and have lived in Newport Beach since 1962.

After Gibson's arrest in Los Angeles, she said she began hearing allegations that the 50-year-old star had made anti-Semitic remarks.

On Saturday, Gibson issued a lengthy statement apologizing for his behavior.