Mel Gibson, who infamously went on an anti-Semitic rant while drunk during a 2006 DUI arrest in Malibu, wants to bring the story of a Jewish hero to the big screen, Mike Fleming of Deadline.com reports.
The headline of Fleming’s story is "SHOCKER! Mel Gibson and Joe Eszterhas to Collaborate on Film Telling Jewish Hero Judah Maccabee Story for Warner Bros."
The article says, "Eszterhas will write the script, and I understand that Gibson will collaborate with him. … Gibson has the first option to direct but will definitely produce the film through his Icon Productions banner."
Fleming also reveals that Gibson "has long wanted to make this film about heroic Jews, and it was discussed even when he was under fire" for his 2006 rant.
The Hollywood Reporter carried this reaction, in a statement, from Rabbi Marvin Heir, founder and dean of Los Angeles’ Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance: "Mel Gibson has shown nothing but antagonism and disrespect to Jews. First of all there were the anti-Semitic remarks he made, his portrayal of Jews in ‘The Passion of Christ.’ I’m talking about those Jews who did not accept Christ, they were all portrayed as idiots, buffoons or people who were tyrants, with a very unfair portrayal. He’s had a long history of antagonism with Jews. Casting him as a director or perhaps as the star of Judah Maccabee is like casting Madoff to be the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, or a white supremacist as trying to portray Martin Luther King Jr. It’s simply an insult to Jews."
Heir was also unhappy that Warner Bros. is considering distributing the film, if made: "Warner Bros. is making a terrible mistake," Heir’s statement said.
Following up on Fleming’s exclusive story, the L.A. Times writes, "Eszterhas, best known for fare such as ‘Basic Instinct’ and ‘Showgirls,’ is an intriguing collaborator for Gibson. The screenwriter was awarded the Emanuel Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995 for his writings about the Holocaust in Hungary and two of his projects, ‘Betrayed’ and ‘Music Box,’ speak to Jewish themes."
About Eszterhas Fleming writes, "In recent years, Eszterhas stepped away from Hollywood, moved to Cleveland, overcame cancer, and focused on writing books instead of films. Both he and Gibson have had their share of travails, and make an unexpected and intriguing pairing on an unexpected and intriguing subject."
The film would be a historical drama. Fleming writes about the subject of the film, Judah Maccabee, that he "teamed with his father and four brothers to lead the Jewish revolt against the Greek-Syrian armies that had conquered Judea in the second century B.C."