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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mel Gibson and Joe Eszterhas

When I first read this story, I was amazed by Mel Gibson's behavior. Not just amazed: Shocked. Dumbfounded. Even angered.

He hired Joe Ezterhas to write a screenplay? Joe Freakin' Ezterhas, the guy who gave us Showgirls and Burn, Hollywood, Burn?

(To be fair, I've seen Showgirls about a dozen times; it's the most entertaining bad movie ever. BHB lost me at about the 15 minute mark.)

Many years ago, an old college chum -- let's call him James Beam -- wrote a script about a film director named Alan Smithee. The script got some attention, then died; my friend Jim went on to other work. One day, he heard that Joe Ezterhas -- all by himself, allegedly -- had written a film with exactly the same premise. My old chum considered raising a legal stink, but when the reviewers described Burn, Hollywood, Burn as the kind of movie that even the MST3K crew would find unendurable, Jim decided to not to utter a single word about the matter to anyone.

Except to me. In confidence. Which I have broken.

(Not that it matters. Jim left Hollywood to become a respected expert in a very different field. Dorothy Parker once said: "Although many have tried, no-one has figured out a way to drink for a living." Jim figured out a way!)

Back to Gibson. When he first announced the Judah Maccabee project (shortly after Passion of the Christ came out), I was intrigued. When I first read First and Second Maccabbees (in a wonderful old 17th century copy of the KJV stored in the UCLA library), I though it would make a marvelous film. But in my version, Judah would have been a savage tribal leader seeking to subvert Hellenic civilization. Think Rambo destroys Camelot.

Mel, if you want to go in that direction, send me a message at the email address above. I don't do Facebook or Twitter.
Is Jim hiring?? :p
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