Robert J. Elisberg

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Robert J. Elisberg

Robert J. Elisberg
Los Angeles, California,
December 31
Robert J. Elisberg has been a regular contributor to the Huffington Post since 2006. His writing has appeared in such publications as the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, and Los Angeles Magazine, and served on the editorial board for the Writers Guild of America. He has contributed political writing to the anthology, "Clued in on Politics," 3rd edition (CQ Press). Born in Chicago, he attended Northwestern University and received his MFA from UCLA, where he was twice awarded the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. Most recently, he wrote the comedy-adventure screenplay, “The Wild Roses,” for Callahan Filmworks, and had published his comic novella, "A Christmas Carol 2: The Return of Scrooge."


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FEBRUARY 5, 2010 10:35AM

The Mayor of Malibu Rides Again

Rate: 16 Flag

Apparently the sensitivity training classes didn't take.

You'd think that Mel Gibson, the self-proclaimed Mayor of Malibu, would have learned a thing or two about making himself a public spectacle.  But there he is again, showing the world how to make oneself look like a fool without really trying.

Mr. Gibson is starring in his first movie since his widely-publicized drunken, anti-Semitic and later misogynistic rant.  And so he's now making the PR rounds, doing satellite video interviews around the country.  One of those took place on Wednesday in Chicago, with long-time film critic and entertainment reporter for WGN radio and TV, Dean Richards.

I've listened to Dean Richards over the past decade or so.  He always comes across as a low-key, nice guy.  Generally positive, but a reporter at heart, not someone who just phones in a puff piece to suck up to the stars, no matter how good-natured Richards is. 

Now, let's pause a moment here.  Let's say you were a professional journalist (not a fanboy), and you were interviewing Mel Gibson.  And it was his first starring role in four years.  What question would at least be on your mind?

Okay, you and Dean Richards and me are all on the same page.

The questions Richards asked admittedly weren't puffery, yet were profoundly polite.  And reasonable.   As it turns out, though, Mel Gibson didn't think so.  Mel Gibson apparently thought that the world has tunnel vision, no memory and an obligation to suck up starry-eyed to the Mayor of Malibu.

But Dean Richards nonetheless asked "the" question.  And the thing is, he even told Mr. Gibson's representatives that he'd ask about it.  Indeed, he said it was the only condition under which he'd do the interview.  All above board.  Honest, fair.  And the PR reps agreed.  Whether they told Gibson is uncertain -- but it's hard to imagine a PR person not telling Mel Gibson that the interviewer he was about to talk to insisted on asking about the actor's drunken, anti-Semitic, misogynistic rant.  (At least it's hard to imagine if they wanted to keep their job.)  But let's even assume they unbelievably didn't tell him.  How in the world could Mel Gibson not expect that someone would??  Out of all the countless interviews he was doing.

How could Mel Gibson not be prepared with an answer?!  Prepared either because his PR representative helped him or prepared because he's an adult human being?  Any answer.  Even prepared with a polite, but blunt, "I don't want to talk about that here."  Yet what's shocking is that Mel Gibson appears completely unprepared, almost bewildered that someone would actually ask him about his drunken, anti-Semitic, misogynistic rant.  Pretending at first that he doesn't even know what Dean Richards is referring to.

When he finally acknowledges that, aha, he does understand what Dean Richards is talking about, he dismisses it as having done his "mea culpas four years ago." 

Gee, it was four years ago.  That's ages ago.  Four whole years, wow.  In base two, that's 100 years.  Who would ever think of bringing it up?  Never mind that this is his first starring movie since then, and the first chance any reporter has had a chance to ask him.  No, he did his "mea culpas."

What Mr. Gibson clearly has not realized, among his "mea culpas," is that this isn't like NY Jets coach Rex Ryan flipping the bird in public the other day, apologizing for a rude act and getting fined by his team.  This had been a drunken, anti-Semitic, misogynistic rant.  If Mel Gibson had an alcoholism problem, that's not something that goes away by doing your "mea culpas."  It's a one-day-at-a-time, lifetime thing.  If you're anti-Semitic and misogynistic, that's a character flaw, not a momentary lapse in judgment.  A mea culpa is only the first step that recognizes you've made a terrible mistake.  It doesn't correct the flaw.  For all one knows, after a passage of time, you still believe that way, or you're pissed off at others for having to humble yourself in public.  Given the life issues that arose, it's reasonable to think there are demons in your life that are continually being dealt with.  And part of contrition is recognizing that battle always -- not just for yourself, but just as importantly in addressing it for others to get over.  But even forgetting all that, even if your "mea culpas" four years ago ended the matter for you, it doesn't answer how much of the audience has accepted it all.  And that's part of what Dean Richards is reasonably asking, as well.  But Mel Gibson doesn't like that.

Should Mel Gibson still have to be apologizing for his drunken, anti-Semitic, misogynistic rant?  He should always have to apologize for it.  Why should he ever stop?  Unless he doesn't feel sorry.  That doesn't mean every apology has to be dropping to his knees and tearing at his heart.  But a basic, "Yes, it was awful.  I hope others have learned from my regret, too.  And part of that is growing from it, and moving on."  Pretty easy.  Pretty basic.

And at the very least you should be prepared to say that The First Time You've Made a Movie Since Your Drunken, Anti-Semitic, Misogynistic Rant.

I understand that Mel Gibson doesn't want to talk about it.  Who would?  (Unless you want to help others.)  I understand that he just wants to talk about his movie, and ignore the elephant in the room.  But those are the rules of life:  just because you're a Big Star and want to talk about one thing only doesn't mean all other must kow-tow to you.  If you don't want to risk talking about something others might feel is still important, even a whopping four years later, don't sit in front of a camera.  And if you do choose to sit there -- geez, prepare yourself.

But it gets even worse.  It's amazing that a PR person didn't say, "That might be a Dr. Pepper in your cup, Mel, but don't hold it on camera because everyone will think it's beer."

Maybe someone did tell him, and Mr. Gibson didn't care.  Maybe it was beer and he actually was drunk.   Maybe...whatever.  It's just stupid, though.  This is a PR appearance, and so how you come across promoting yourself is the whole point.
At the very end, Mel Gibson makes a comment that has gotten the most attention.  Later, Gibson claimed in a text message to another reporter that he wasn't referring to Dean Richards at all, but to his press rep who had been making faces at him.  Faces?  What, a junior birdman cross-eyed expression to crack his client up during a time of on-air controversy??  Or perhaps a wide-eyed, hands over his cringing face, "What in God's name are you doing, Mel?!!" look?  Or -- maybe it was meant for Dean Richards.

The thing is, last comment aside, even it wasn't said, the whole interview before that is bad enough.  It's  rambling and embarrassing for Mel Gibson, who had to have known better.  How could he not?  Ricky Gervais introduced him on live TV only weeks earlier at the Golden Globes with a joke about Gibson's drinking problem.  And out he walked with a smile on his face.  But when Dean Richards raised the issue, there was a befuddled, angry Mel Gibson.

Mr. Richards has been gracious and said he's fine with the whole thing.  But then, he's not the one hoping the public will forget his drunken, anti-Semitic, misogynistic rant.

This one isn't a rant.  It's just churlish.  And raises the question how much Mel Gibson's "mea culpas" actually meant to him.  It doesn't appear like a whole lot.

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dean richards, wgn, mel gibson

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Should Bill Clinton always have to apologize for his transgressions? I don't think so. There you have your answer, now watch the movie.
T.S - Did you actually watch the clip? Bill Clinton at least comes off as sincere, whereas Mel sounds like he's fallen off the wagon.

When someone makes a demonstrable effort and is continually hounded unfairly, then it's OK to say your unfairly persecuted. This his hardly on the same level. This wasn't even the first degree, let alone the third degree.
Bill Clinton. Geez, that old rant? Puh-leeze. I don't respect BC for being a typical man, but I'm not that surprised either. He was a very good president, even if he did stray too close to the middle those last few years.

I was bitterly disappointed in Mel Gibson after his arrest. And if it weren't for an upstanding cop back then, we wouldn't even know about it. I guess it proved to me he was a better actor than I gave him credit for, but I've boycotted him since. Can't help it. He's despicable. It's not sticking your willie where it don't belong (though he's guilty of that too), it's living breathing practicing as a racist, unholy, misogynist son of a bitch.

Nope, can't abide that. I'm surprised anyone would.

oh, and he was either drunk in the interview (I've seen him twice else in the last week - on the Globes and in a multi interview with his director and producer re: the film - and his affect was far different) or on mind-altering meds. Period.
Mel Gibson called himself an asshole. Hope the movie tanks.
Mel Gibson has always been an asshole. The only difference now is that the general public also knows it.
To quote my Aunt Judy: Mel Gibson "showed his butt"
Maybe he was drunk when they told him the question would be asked and was sober when he did the interview. After all how many people who are drunk don't remember what they were doing when they were under the influence.

Eventually, he'll become less of a box office draw. I won't see any thing he's involved with. I vote with my wallet.
The lack of preparedness is what floors me. What the hell do these highly paid PR people do these days? It's easy to say "I'd rather not talk about it" or "I'll always be sorry that happened, but that's all I want to say" Instead, the real (and apparently uncontrollable) Mel once again takes center stage.

Here's what's interesting: in various "infotainment" polls, about half the respondents blame the reporter for bringing up the issue. Now if someone like Bill Clinton, when asked about his misbehavior, responded with an epitaph, what percentage of voters would blame the reporter for provoking him? Hmm...
Mel Gibson provided a necessary distraction while Israel was bombing Christian civilian population centers in southern Lebanon, dropping upwards of one MILLION cluster bombs (in order to receive the new, improved cluster bombs the US manufactured), and firing at least one air-to-ground missile THROUGH the red cross on top of an ambulance. Oh, and wiping out a UN observation post along a likely invasion route into Syria.

So Mel Gibson drives drunk and talks a lot of stink -- who cares? That story went on for a full week. I saw it as nothing but a manufactured piffle to keep Israel's atrocities out of the headlines.

Driving drunk is stupid and selfish. Mouthing off to a cop will get you into trouble if you're not a movie star. Mel Gibson was a useful idiot. Manufactured news.
Mel Gibson's a hypocritical piece of Jew-hating shit. Unfortunately, the Lethal Weapons movies are still a hoot.

I saw this on TMZ and was furious because they made it sound like Dean Richards shouldn't be asking questions to the all-mighty asshole that is Mel Gibson. What got me even hotter was their insinuation that this is the most attention Dean Richards has ever got in his career. Please! Dean Richards is a beloved figure in the Chicagoland area!
I just can't believe that Mel Gibson didn't have something prepared for when reporters asked him about his drunken sugar-titting escapade. It just goes to show his ego is so out of control that he thinks the person asking him about being an asshole is the real asshole. It shows that he doesn't feel he needs to have anything prepared, that he can just act the jerk and the reporters should know better.

"Mel Gibson, it's a shame.You give Christianity-- a bad name, bad name." You know the tune.
Gibson doesn't listen to his PR people, never has. I agree that the reporter had an agenda, but anyone who's been in the public eye as long as Gibson has should be prepared for tough questions even though he rarely gets them. I like honest people, but to blame the interviewer for Gibson's response is questionable.
Gotta agree on this one - Gibson is, plainly said, an asshole. I mean how arrogant can one get when he's trying to get some free publicity? I'm staying away. Before reading and watching this I really didn't have an opinion becasue I don't follow the Hwood star scene. I do have an opinion now. Asshole.
What's ironically funny is that after all those years in front of the camera Mel still doesn't get it. That little red light means the camera is on and that thing attached to the front of his shirt is a microphone. In old Hollywood they use to say "any publicity is good publicity" but Mel really stepped in it this time.
When is enough enough? We all have our moments in life we would like to take back. For those in the public, the notoriety and lack of privacy heightens the pain in the middle of it all, requires far more outward expression and offers far, far less privacy for it all.

This is not some guy dealing one on one with a loved one who may have some deep seated hurts to address in the privacy of their home. This is a public figure who went through a very public humiliation for it. Was essentially deemed box office poison, and is now coming back.

I think this belief he "owes" more about his personal failing to us is rather out of line. If there are those still ticked off about his drunken outburst, then they can express that animosity by not watching his movies. He's human. He had his mug shot splashed across the vapid entertainment news shows for weeks, his words were parsed, his marriage failed, and he has picked up the pieces and moved on.

I would say he has suffered enough and doesn't owe the public a damn thing other than a solid acting performance. The rest is nobody's goddamn business anymore.
Having an "agenda" appears to be an automatic crime among common Americans (who of course imagine they have no "agenda" themselves).

Yes, the reporter had an "agenda." It was: interview the star of this upcoming feature. Ask him about one of two things he's been in the news about since the last time he did a movie. (1) His drunk driving arrest and subsequent behavior; (2) his marriage to the woman he was drinking with that night. Mel Gibson is a big baby: at least the reporter didn't ask him what a married Christian man was doing out drinking with a blonde woman who was not his wife, who he claimed at the time as just someone he had met that night, but who he later divorced his wife to marry. The reporter's "agenda" is to do his job, which he did admirably and with class.

Mel Gibson also has an agenda: clean up his name and get himself back in the star market. Because his hateful rant made him radioactive and almost untouchable, he needs a big movie hit. He needs people to forget about that radioactivity. His "agenda" will fail if reporters ask him questions about his bad behavior. Of course, as Robert notes, Gibson could have been smarter about the whole thing, but the actor is clearly just as reluctantly repentant as he was when it happened, when all he had were lies and excuses to cover his behavior.

Mel should be happy: his drunk driving arrest was expunged from the records by the celebrity-stroking sheriff of Malibu. In a few years, Americans will have forgotten all about it - and there will be no proof it ever happened, except what we see on the internet - and everyone knows you can't believe everything you see on the internet.
There will only be ONE Mayor of Malibu. R.I.P. Miki Dora. Dora presciently warned us about posers -- in 1960 at the "Pit."

I think most miss what's happened here, Gibson is now basically a billionaire and can, in theory, do anything he wants to- this while Nic Cage sites in Bankruptcy Court. Why? Simple, Mel is the ultimate flock fleecer, the one Palin, Robertson and even Rush hisself must stand back and admire. He took the Christian Right for a cool billion in receipts for his self-financed film, and in the process got his "F.U." money ... or so he thought. Too bad the interviewer wasn't that Jewish cat from Village Voice, that would have been nice.
Interviewer seems reasonable, Gibson seems like a dick.

Still, I take things people say when they're drunk with a grain of salt. I give more credence to what they do, rather than what they say.

On that basis, he shouldn't be apologizing any more for the rant, he should be apologizing for The Passion of the Christ.
Pathetic. He seemed drunk, defensive and hostile. It would seem sad too if he didn't come off as a complete jerk. I remember seeing him in The Year of Living Dangerously and other early films where he was just hauntingly beautiful. That's gone too. You look at men like Newman, Harrison Ford, Sean Connery who took care of themselves and look great into their seventies. Is he even fifty? Sad.
I'm with Mel on this one. He did what he did. He apologized, he's paid a price and now people can do what they want: patronize his movies or don't. But I personally have no interest in seeing the issue rehashed over and over and over and over and over and ...
Quick, Henry -- the Flit! (It's a very old ad campaign for bug spray).
Mel Gibson obviously needs to be hosed down.
Mel Gibson acts in, directs, produces, and markets, that which he would wish profitably to have purchased by as large an audience as possible, "entertainment," if not "art."

Art "holds a mirror to life," and "truth" is its "bottom line."

"Mad Max" and "Braveheart" showed great promise, but Mel has made it clear "this fight," he as "dog" is in, is the same "fight" Hitler's echelon was raised to fight by the same catechism's teachings: "the slaughter of one million and one hundred thousand Jews in A.D. 70 Jerusalem by noble Roman soldiers was proof of the Divine Judgment against those who murdered Our Saviour."

Financed by the cashflow of Roman Catholic collection plates in the U.S., through the Rockefeller family/Vatican bank and Prescott Bush as middle man, the author of "I Paid Hitler," papal baron Fritz "The Rockefeller of Germany" Thyssen, provided the seed money for the Holocaust on behalf of Rome's "Black Aristocracy," the descendants of caesars and popes sitting on the same hills in the same castles their families have occupied for two and three thousands of years in Europe.

Their American "Fifth Column," led by members of the Vatican-running Knights of Malta, "contained" the damage of their military's defeat in WWII by hanging a few and permitting tens of thousands to be secreted, through the Croatian Roman Catholic priesthood and the Vatican's "basement," to Latin America or into our own Central Intelligence Agency - "Operation Ratline."

It's an on-going, real "fight," even if only revealed by Mel's "slip of the tongue."

Others have spoken of it outside of the Nazi Era.

Thomas Jefferson, America's Prophet, Founder, and Author, wrote of it in a letter to Samuel Kerchival, identifying Rome - "the Wall Street of slavery" for 2,000 years - as "an engine for enslaving mankind,""the real Anti-Christ."

Mel's "dog" is fighting on the side of the Roman Anti-Christ, so let him market his life and work to sympathetic anti-Semites.

America was founded by whigs - Black, White, Jew, and Gentile. It is their ideals which are yet enshrined in the three mottoes which make up Our Creed.

Whig means "anti-Roman Catholic," from the Scottish term "whiggamore," used as a slur against those Presbyterians and Highlanders who believed it unrighteous to serve under a Roman Catholic monarch.

For thousands of years Rome has practiced ritual persecution of Jews, and others, who "disagree" with their mythology - fully debunked by America's whig Founders (see Jefferson's letter to Peter Carr: crucifixion was punishment for one specific crime under codified Roman law: the second conviction for sedition. Sedition was defined as denying that Caesar was G-d. Palastinian Maronite Roman Catholics are the descendants of Jews who capitulated to the Roman rule in their land, headed up by a Roman "palast," or "baron"). "Pontifex Maximus," then, "Pontifex Maximus" now.

The Holocaust was simply the same policy, effected haphazardly over the ages by the same ruling elite by "sword and flame," with the advantages gained by mass production and the Industrial and Chemical Revolutions. JPII, a Zyklon-B salesman for the Solvay division of I.G. Farben, was a perfect reflection of Roman Europe's guilty conscience. "A Moral Reckoning," by Goldhagen, proves beyond any doubt that "two popes and the Roman Catholic Church are morally, legally, and ethically culpable of the Holocaust."

Hitler was Rome's "catspaw" just as America was, in Vietnam, after Bush1 and Nixon, with an element of the Knight of Malta-led, Roman Catholic CIA, assassinated John Kennedy for ending Rome's bankers' unconstitutional Fed money franchise (EO11,110), and ordering our military withdrawal from Vietnam (NSAM263).

Gibson - who knows full well and good just which "side" of this historic "fight" he's on - American Exceptionalism or Fascism - wants his public to "graciously accept him back" when he demonstrates no grace, honor, humility or American truth?

I think not.

The Anti-Christ's minions, Bush and Cheney, have yet to be brought to justice for having committed 9/11, nor for assassinating King and Kennedy to send us to die for the pope in Indochina, and while it's true one should "know thine enemy," I'd rather patronize artists I can reasonably believe are on the side of whig America and G-d...and not the Roman Anti-Christ, like Mel Gibson.

Be gone Mel, you are not American.
I expected something far more dramatic from the buildup.
If you want to get Mel really mad, ask him about his holocaust-denying father, the person probably responsible for Mel's anti-jewish beliefs.
t.s.'s comments are so revealing of just who he is.

post is rated; t.s. NOT
"That's almost four years ago, dude, I've moved on" - these are actually the first words I've heard from Mel Gibson since his little "ode to daddy" Anti-Semitic rant - I have not watched a movie of his since that date, nor an interview with him, and, having watched the above clip, I feel quite comfortable saying that my life will continue to be Mel-free. What an asshole.
Soon, hopefully, all the hate and rage inside Mel Gibson will give him a fast-acting, fatal cancer.
Thanks, but I really didn't need to read another screed about Mel Gibson. That said, I have felt forced to write a commentary about this new incident and how it fits into the overall Gibson perspective.

Of course, now I have the problem of a choice between two churlish behaviors....posting my rant on Robert's post or posting a link to my post on Robert's blog....neither of which are agreeable.

Of the two, however, I think the latter is less of an imposition. I justify my intrusion by remembering that witnessing is the only tool we have to address gross violations of polite behavior.

I have written about Gibson in various places before....this is the last time I will bedevil myself with him. The man's a very rich idiot. Enough said?
Haven't we all said or done something that we wish we could take back. We're all supposedly human even though only a few are celebrities and politicians. He's done his time and wants to move forward as an actor. Give the guy a break. You may need one some day. Cheers!
mel gibson is an actor and movie producer not a politicol or moral icon. his purpose is to entertain not inform. the problems in his personal life are commonplace and forgivable even if he is in the public eye.

to look to any entertainer as a ethical representative is misguided.

as an actor he should be judged by his portaral of someone elses ideas nothing more. he is simply the story teller not the story writer.
to expect perfection from any entertainer or sports person isn't reasonable you should expect that from politicians, the legal profession, and spirtual leaders.
Man, did he go to pot. He was so stunningly beautiful and charming in" the year of living dangerously," now he's a seedy old anti semite.

Should he keep apologizing? Ah, it wouldn't change his real feeling .
Yes he should keep apologizing. It would take up all the time he expends making shitty movies.
Let's get a little perspective here. I don't boycott other actors whose behavior or political activism I disagree with. There are some kinds of behavior that are so distasteful that I find it impossible to enjoy their work, I mean, who can watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off without that ewwww factor when Jeffrey Jones comes onscreen? I don't understand what happens to folks when they are drunk. Are they other than themselves? Do they do things that they would ordinarily restrain themselves from doing? Is it their inner selves coming out?

I have never been drunk, in part because I wonder what inner person would come out. I know that I am not sweet to my core. What I am is largely a person who carefully thinks through the worst of my thoughts and impulses and has determined that things I previously did not think were true are, that some of my biases are unworthy.

I am willing to watch Robert Downey Jr. although I am sad that he has such difficulties with drugs. I will likely watch Mel Gibson, though his drunken rants and his philandering make me sad.

These guys aren't on pedestals. They are poor dumb schmucks like the rest of us.
Gibson could have sounded fine with a standard, one-line, 'Yeah, I regret it, but I've changed' script and left the impression that the incident was in the past. With a little more politeness, he could have made the interviewer seem tiresome for bringing it up.

But, no, Mel came off sounding like the jerk that's he's probably always been.
Yeah Mel was kind of an asshole, but honestly Jon Harris--is cancer necessary? I mean he did give us The Year of Living Dangerously.... and Mad Max..... Hmm sounds like you are a tad angry yourself. (I'm Jewish by the way)..... cancer? Really?
This post could have made its point in a lot less space...we know about the "drunken, anti-Semitic and later misogynistic rant", you didn't have to repeat that line eight hundred times...if you must, DASALMR would be the way to go. Gibson is a pompous fool and another thing his publicist should mention to him is that he is not Owen Wilson and "Dude" doesn't work for him.

I guess what Gibson is trying to say by "Dude, I've moved on" is "I meant it all, still do, and fuck you very much."

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