Liz Smith: How Hollywood (Still) Wants to Save Mel Gibson

Can Hollywood save Mel Gibson?

And more from our Liz: How Debbie Reynolds saved Hollywood (literally!) … “Falling Skies” lands with a thud … and which great actress asked, “Who the hell is Kim Kardashian?”

“HE IS one of the most talented filmmakers on earth. As a human being — I’m not here to judge. He’s had a rough period in his life.”

That is producer Richard Rionda Del Castro on Mel Gibson, whom Richard hopes to lure into a movie titled “Sleight of Hand” with Gerard Depardieu.

Despite the (almost inevitable) failure of “The Beaver” — in which Mel delivers a wonderful performance —Hollywood “is still eager to do business with Mel Gibson.”  This according to The Hollywood Reporter. Mel is even being wooed to star in the film version of Randall Wallace’s historical novel, “Love and Honor,” which would place Mr. Gibson smack in the middle of a lot of intrigue about the court of Russia’s Catherine the Great.

Mel, the man, needs work. Mel, the actor, needs to work. Not for money, but for the pleasure he has given audiences. As offended and outraged as so many of his former fans are — or claim to be — Mel Gibson is too talented to be shelved. Period.

* * *

SEVERAL YEARS back, the beaded Jean Louis evening gown Marilyn Monroe wore to serenade President John F. Kennedy on his birthday, sold for a whopping $1.3 million dollars. That was impressive. But the late star’s iconic “subway grate” summer frock from “The Seven Year Itch,” designed by William Travilla, just sold for $4.6 million! Obviously, interest in Miss Monroe never slackens.

But I’m writing here not about MM, but a salute to the great movie star Debbie Reynolds. Marilyn’s dress, and lots of other fabulous Hollywood memorabilia were part of Debbie’s private collection.

Debbie made it a mission and labor of love to preserve costumes and props and furniture from the great eras of show biz — including gowns worn by Grace Kelly, and the gingham dress that idealized Judy Garland as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.”

Debbie loved her collection, often put it on display, and kept it through financial hardships. But she says now that maintaining the treasures is too much for her and money is tight. She just hopes those who buy the various items respect them, as she always has.

Debbie Reynolds never won an Oscar. She was nominated for her vigorous performance in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” which was not even the best of her work. She was a triple-threat who could sing, dance and act her heart out. She is a real survivor — almost every one of her husbands ripped her off in one way or another. But she kept on keeping on.

For the body of her work, and the time and care she has put into preserving Hollywood history, I say Miss Reynolds deserves an honorary Oscar. Maybe I’ll have more luck with this suggestion than my yearly bid for Doris Day. (The movie industry itself should have bought and cared for Debbie’s collection. It’s Hollywood itself that failed history!)

P.S.  The entire auction, which happened at the Paley Center for Media in L.A., took almost $23 million dollars. Debbie unloads more memories in December, including Marilyn’s “chanteuse” outfit from “Bus Stop.”

* * *

BAD TV: Steven Spielberg’s new TV series, “Falling Skies” is rather aptly titled, I think.

The long and short? It is the old, old, old bad aliens attacking Earth plot. With plucky humans battling back. Alas, it appears there is no new way to tell this story. “Falling Skies” is not nearly as compelling as the various incarnations of “V” or “War of the Worlds,” or anything else in the genre.

The aliens are huge, they build even bigger killer robots, they have death ray guns, they construct huge towers. They’ve traveled millions of miles to conquer Earth, but they still can’t figure out when humans are right around the corner, with their little guns. These particular aliens attach “harnesses” to captured humans, to use them for slave labor. Only instead of harnessing big strapping men, these aliens capture children to do all this heavy work. I guess Spielberg thought it was more heart-hugging that way.

There’s flag-waving, a very religious girl, a godless, soulless convict recruited as one of the resistance fighters. The stock characters.

All the actors, including handsome Noah Wylie, do as well as they can with what they are given.

* * *

AND STILL MORE: Fran Drescher’s “The Nanny” was a very amusing little sitcom, especially in its last few seasons where the star was obviously winking at her audience and having a hell of a good time.

Fran’s latest, “Happily Divorced,” which is based on her own real-life experience with a husband coming out of the closet as gay, is lame-brained even on the generally witless level of most sitcoms. It is an insult to gays, straights and all plant and mineral life. This makes “Hot In Cleveland” look like Noel Coward. And, at least, there is a terrific chemistry between the ladies in “Cleveland” (including the fabulous Betty White.) Better luck next time, Fran.

* * *

THE ALWAYS star-studded and packed-to-the-rafters Primola restaurant in Manhattan celebrates its 25th anniversary on Sunday. I have a feeling there will be even more than the usual luminaries and power people to gape at over the I Chicci Della Nonna (spinach with dumplings.)

* * *

ENDQUOTE: “Who the hell is Kim Kardashian? Like, who are these people, and why are they famous and why are they advertising things and being asked their opinions?”

That is “The Sopranos” and “Nurse Jackie” Emmy-winner and recent Tony nominee Edie Falco, asking the question that all intelligent humans ask. But we shout into the wind in vain. The reality TV tsunami, with its vulgarity and stupidity continues unabated.


25 Responses so far.

  1. avatar rick gould says:

    Usually, I hold back and let some of our more colorful commentators take the first shot, but what the hell 😉

    Mel Gibson “has had a rough period in his life.” Yes, because HE made it rough. Let’s NOT shift blame to the hyena-like media and scandal-hungry public. Despite his clout, fame and fortune AND the ability to do whatever he wants in life…he chose to be a drunken, abusive, bigoted asshole.

    Debbie Reynolds has certainly given back to the Hollywood community, but alas, Hollywood has very little sense of history, so her good deeds may have to be their own reward. As a performer, I always thought Reynolds was multi-talented too, but that she trapped herself by playing to her “wholesome” image… not Hollywood, but Debbie.

    Right on, Edie! I say that to myself just about everyday looking at the headline news on Google… which is why I rarely look beyond the headlines! Who are these people? I don’t want to know!

  2. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    It’s sad to see the collection auctioned off but I think as she said she was just tired of dealing with it and didn’t want to leave it to her children to deal with.  I think the one chance for the museum was the hotel in Las Vegas but she never married well as they say. She worked all those years to pay off the debts Harry Karl left her and then turned around and married him all over again. She lost the hotel and the dream, really, of the museum. But she kept trying. And that is all that matters.  A labor of love, a costly one, but in the end at least she got her money back so to speak. And then some.

    The role she deserves the Oscar for is The Unsinkable Debbie Reynolds! 

  3. avatar Bonnie O says:

    Good idea about Debbie Reynolds receiving an honorary Oscar.  I also think Robert Osborne of TCM movies should be recognized in some fashion.   Doubtful if either will happen.  Too bad. 

    • avatar Bonnie O says:

      Best movie role for Debbie was in the Richard Brooks production of The Catered Affair with Bette Davis and Rod Taylor.  Ernest Borgnine was also wonderful in the film.

  4. avatar Richard Bassett says:

    Yes, Mel was an idiot who brought all of this on himself but is to be crucified for the rest of his natural life? I have enjoyed everything that he has appeared in and maybe he was emotionally unbalanced…unbalanced for the world to see and judge. But that is what people do. If they would dig a little deeper than their superficial exteriors instead of black balling someone who has made a few mistakes, they may see a good person who is well aware of his rights and wrongs. He ain’t no “Jersey Shore” material. He is a seasoned pro and we are the ones who are missing out when he goes into seclusion after an outburst.
    Debbie’s auction was not what she had envisioned. As we all know, she wanted that museum…that could have been so historical regarding Hollywood. Without the museum, she had to do something with everything she had accumulated. I think it hurt her to auction it away…but I had no idea that one would pay so much for a costume. I was amazed and she deserves a night of recognition.
    I watched ten minutes of “Falling Skies” and it looked too apoplectic. The giant bugs had no personality and I was feeling no empathy for them. I’ll stick with “V”. Noah Wylie is a good actor. His trauma, PTSD and addiction episodes were heart wrenching on ER. This bug series will come and go. I returned to watching the “Daytime Emmy Awards”.
    Haven’t seen Fran’s new show but having ended a marriage as I was coming out gay was pretty serious. A lot of emotion. Not very funny. Actually, it is sad after spending ten years with someone. If they can make a comedy out of that, more power to them. Even in films, it hasn’t been depicted as material for a sit-com.
    I can never remember the times and days of “Hot in Cleveland. I guess that I still think of that station as reruns of shows I did or didn’t like (my GOD, all those Andy Griffith shows!) so the series passes me by. If it were on a major network, I think that I would tune in more.
    Edie Falco (who I love as a comedy and dramatic actress) is so correct. Watching the TV shows, like “The Insider” or “TMZ”, they follow and name people that I’ve never heard of…only to learn they are reality TV show people. For years, I had no idea who these Kardashian’s were; I still don’t. Maybe the Gabor’s of the 21st century? They don’t work in the industry, or seem to be offered acting roles. They can truly ask, “What is my purpose in life?” literally instead of philosophically.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Richard…

      The sad thing is, the Kardashians actually know their purpose in life—to be on TV, to be “famous” or infamous.  The Gabors were charming.  Well, Eva was charming and Zsa Zsa was an evil bitch, but they still had style.  (Eva even had a hit TV series and that wig line!)

      The Kardashians?  That’s piss-poor  entertainment, 21st century-style.

      • avatar Linda Myers says:

        I agree Mr. Wow, the Kardashians always create a huge WHY? They are not talented, really not good looking and listening to them for more than two minutes resonates in the mind like nails on a chalkboard. Though they “like a” laugh all the way to the bank. Mama seems to be a mastermind of promoting nothing into something?

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Zsa Zsa was not an evil bitch. Well, maybe a little wicked. And a bitch at times. 

  5. avatar Lila says:

    Re: Mel Gibson, pffft. As an audience member, I am done with him. His antics are too public, and too distracting. He can no longer be anyone other than abusive, drunk, anti-Semitic Mel Gibson in my mind, and that takes away his power to play a character and suspend my disbelief for an hour or two.

    The reason I intentionally DON’T try to find out everything about the personalities behind the faces, is that knowing too much about the person can really distract me from their performances. And I know waaaaay too much negative stuff about Mel Gibson just by accidentally seeing headlines.

  6. avatar Rho says:

    I don’t even want to hear MG’s name.

  7. avatar Jay Gentile says:

    I went to both the pre-auction show and the auction of the Debbie Reynolds collection. The auction itself was electric — a 12 hour marathon of Hollywood history. It should have been aTCM documentary. When Marilyn’s subway dress passed the $2 million mark, the audience gaspend, then $3 million and finally $4 million, and it kept going. With the bidder’s premium and tax, the dress went for more than $5.5 million. Then when it was time for Audrey Hepburn’s magnifence Ascot dress (very late in the day), it woke a sleepy audience as it too climbed to 1, 2, 3, and then over $4 million. Liz is right, Hollywood should be ashamed that it has no hall of fame. Baseball has one. Rock and roll has one. But Hollywood is forever fixated on next weekend’s grosses and couldn’t care less about all that old junk. I feel honored to have seen the collection “together” before it was scattered to the wind. Thank you, Miss Reynolds.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      Be sure to save your catalog – it will probably be worth quite a bit at some point as well! 

      • avatar Jay Gentile says:

        Mine is autographed. It reads “Enjoy! Debbie Reynolds.” And I sure did enjoy the show and the auction.

  8. avatar Joe Albanese says:

    Speaking of Fran Drescher, what on earth did she do to herself?  I realize that being in the public eye means taking care of yourself but I was shocked to see that one of the most naturally attractive women (her NANNY days) was replaced by a “too tight” face lift.  All I could think of was how much better the show would have been if Joan Rivers could have been doing a commentary on that plastic surgeon’s work on Ms. D.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Joe…

      It’s called blowing your face up with Botox and other various fillers.  Forget the lift, it’s the plumping up that is really scary.

      Fran is still a very attractive woman—from twenty feet away.

  9. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    I liked Debbie in “The Rat Race” circa 1960 with Tony Curtis.

    She is a marvelous, underrated actress (robbed of an Osvar nom for “Mother”)

    And, she had an incredible body.

    I must say, she had it all over Miss Taylor in that department.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Geez…robbed of an Oscar nom….

      Although, perhaps, she was robbed of an Osvar nom, too. 

      Spell check!  Bring it back!

    • avatar Judy S says:

      Glad someone said this – about DR deserving an Oscar for her role in “Mother.” I concur, Mr. Wow. Completely. Wonderful performance….She may not be everyone’s cuppa tea, but she’s “movies” – and movies of a certain era – and that makes her special to my way of thinking….I can also recall seeing her in Vegas when I was about 12 and laughing myself sick at her shtick….And, too, I thought she was pretty wonderful on B’way in “Irene” and even when she did Bacall’s role in “Woman of the Year” (how’s THAT for a different type?)…And finally, I once had a close encounter with Miss Reynolds in LAX when I was retuning home to NYC…The waiting area at the gate was packed and I got what seemed like the last seat. It was right at the end near a wall as I recall, with a hall or passageway to my left. As I sat down, I noticed a woman lying flat on her back on the floor of the passageway, lifting her knees up and putting them down over and over. I’m from NY. It didn’t phase me. Then the synapses fired and I realized the lady doing leg lifts was, in fact, Debbie Reynolds. When she was through, she got up and leaned against the wall next to where I was sitting. Her less than impressive stature put us almost at eye level, I smiled at her and she smiled back. “Miss Reynolds,” I said offering my chair, “would you like to sit down?” She thanked me and declined, and sensing a question mark in my look, she gazed back at the spot on the floor from where she had just risen said,” All those years of dancing have ruined my back.” Then she offered me a mint and we chatted a bit. The place was so packed she was concerned that she’d have difficulty boarding – she was alone – with her carry-ons. I told her that I was certain that the gate staff would assist her, so I went and asked the person at the desk, and they did. She was sweet. Unpretentious and sweet….Oh, and she was hilarious on “Will & Grace”…That she could no longer hold on to these costumes nor achieve her dream of a museum is sad, but I applaud her for trying – and for the way she LOVES those movies….

  10. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Liz, I am so surprised you are defending and supporting Mel Gibson. “Gibson is too talented to be shelved.” Period. Indeed.

    I fully recognize that even the scummiest people on  the planet still need to make a living. With all his millions, I understand that he doesn’t want to retire and sit at home the rest of his life and contemplate all the emotional damage he has caused others. However, I also know that countless celebrities have side business ventures to occupy their time and make money in the process.

    True, acting was/is his passion. However what good is having an acting talent if no one wants to see it? He has shown himself to be a racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, baby making, misogynistic, drunken woman abuser. He “use” to be attractive, but his looks are long gone. I know I am not the only one that now sees beyond the role he is playing on screen to the real Mel Gibson. He is so reprehensible that his true soul shines through.

    I have made a vow and I will stand by it, I will never contribute to him making money by way of me paying to see any movie he is featured in. And I take comfort in knowing as I said, I’m not alone. Millions agree with me and have made the same vow.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Hear, hear Belinda!

      As for “baby-making,” see also: “illegitimate product of adulterous affair.” Certainly not the child’s fault, but I have a big problem with someone who says his long-suffering wife is going to hell, while he – the womanizer, the abuser, the adulterer, the prejudiced, the drunk driver – is, of course, destined for Heaven. How could he not be, I mean… he SO much better than and superior to everyone else.

      Well, one can fantasize: I picture St. Peter showing Mel the door marked “Heaven: Mel’s private entrance only.” After Mel struts through, St. Peter will slam the door shut and pull the sign off to reveal: “Hell: Service Entrance.”

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Dear Lila…

        Really?!  Mel Gibson had one wife for many years.  He had many children with her.  It was always rumored he had issues with drink and wandering.  Not once was he ever accused of abusing his wife or his kids.  And so far, none of his children have come out to denounce him as a bad father. (The wife, Robyn, went on record to say that his behavior with Oksana was not at all typical.) He has not—to my knowledge–murdered anybody or stolen from helpless poor people. 

        But he’s going to Hell because he’s a hopeless alkie who had a miserable, bigoted father, and while drunk–or enraged and in the midst of a argument with his mistress- says hateful things?  (Which we never would have known about unless she had taped them and released them to the world.) 

        The Mel Gibson everybody now “hates” has emerged since 2006–just around the time his marriage was ending.

        If a stone lesbian like Jodie Foster and a very proud black woman like Whoopi Goldberg insist that there is much more to Gibson than his ugly drunken blurtings, I think I’ll pass on consigning him to Hell right now. 

        I might  pass on dinner with him, however.

        • avatar Richard Bassett says:

          I meet men as clients every single day of my life…though they are not famous film stars. Their characters ‘most’ ascend to a heavenly realm because they have given a film role. Acting abilities aside, the public determines who the Devine are. But, they are given a lot of money and, in return, deal with the paparazzi. It’s like a trade off. Streep has the right idea, go live in the forests of Connectut to prevent her door being crashed into. And her prize? Privacy on her terms. We have hundreds of performers having to find a place where ‘they belong’. A year after my arrival from Boston in Hollywood, my personal life took precedence. I lived for love, fun and beauty (in no particular order). A year after coming home (to Boston) a dozen years later, I had wished that I had tried harder (or tried at all) but, luckily, concentrated on a new profession. I was one of the lucky ones. I have a million Hollywood story opposed to one hundred as a mental health therapist. Seldom do I look back, until I am in need of good laugh. In the past ten years, there have been many challenges And I find myself looking back (over the years in Hollywood) to apply to my current situations. I wouldn’t change a thing. Not looking like a warthog didn’t hurt either. So Mel is a regular guy (in my world), I know what makes him tick, and I know all about his fearful defense mechanisms. Until clients want to open up (which doesn’t take much), I can only listen. Getting back to Mel, it helps having a man talking to another man (once he feels safe). They are some transference levels to deal with. Mel hasn’t been approached to, yet, and appreciated by someone who can provide a reality check. He’s skeptical. He hasn’t approached anyone either. But to pass him off for the next forty years, my God, even inmates in prison are eventually released, most of the time. The women (and some men) on WoW are hearing Mel’s anger and not supporting the needs for a solution. No what he has/ had done or thinks, we can all still live in harmony. It takes a lot of work.

        • avatar Lila says:

          Mr. Wow, I do not literally wish to consign Mel to Hell, since I don’t believe in either Heaven or Hell and probably not even an afterlife. It was meant to be a jab at his hypocrisy relating to his own sad opinion of his wife’s Heaven-unworthiness (the 2004 interview with the Herald Sun).

          Of course there is more to Mel than drunken, bigoted rants; he’s a 3-D person. There are many examples of people who have done pretty bad things, but have good and endearing qualities. This doesn’t make me want to be around them, and does not excuse them from the horrible aspects of their behavior. I won’t name any famous examples here lest I be accused of comparing Mel to [insert famous-for-something-horrible person here].

          Some see Mel as “tortured” or “struggling.” I see a bunch of bad choices revealing some serious, and very unpleasant, character flaws. I am no longer interested in seeing any of his work.

          • avatar Richard Bassett says:

            Mr. WoW,
            Remember that there are no bad people, simply bad behavior which comes from genetics, society, environment, lifestyles, personal history and a multitude of other factors, both biological and psychological. We don’t suddenly kill our next door neighbor without a disturbing emotion prompting us to do it, we do not suddenly find ourselves in the midst of those emotions without a range of thoughts…igniting those emotion. That is human behavior. If there is any interruption in that process, it usually comes from a psychological unbalance or a deep repression at some point. But we have people (an entire science) to assistance us with that. No one, not even a murderer, can be written off. You are only depriving yourself of growth in a learning experience. No one says the experience has to be a good or bad one but hiding your head in the sand does more harm to you than processing your thoughts and emotions. Thank God we have a therapeutic field to provide those issues. It separates us from the Zebra’s. Psychology is a science; not rocket science. Our more informed population learn how to ride these waves more proficiently than those who stay stuck in negative behavior…that doesn’t do anyone any good. I wouldn’t want them at my dinner parties. Pass the peas, please…but don’t speak.

  11. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    I am thrilled that the Reynold’s auction was so successful.  The woman has made and her husbands have lost at least 2 fortunes and as of a year or so ago she was still on the road performing 300 plus days a year because she needed the money.  I’m glad this auction will giver her a nest egg and I don’t think she should even THINK about donating anything to charity because of it.  No one can think of her without also thinking of Taylor.  I do not pretend to know if Reynold’s was truly hurt by the Fisher desertion or relieved to unload a loser but I would think that no matter what she felt privately, the public humiliation was painful.  Bless her heart, she had a bad *picker* when it came to men and married 2 more who used her and left her bankrupt.  So..good for her that she has made some money. 

    As for Mel Gibson…he is a bad alkie.  It is interesting to me that his fall from grace came when he was drunk and insulted Jews as it appears to be the trend today among those of the fashionable left to hate the Jews and their homeland and blame them for all the ills of the world (*if it wasn’t for Israel we wouldn’t have a terrorist problem at all*).   You would think he would fit right in with the anti-semitic left!  Look at Helen Thomas!  Her comments were equally offensive and she was sober when she said them!  But she was defended and is still widely admired for *speaking truth to power* or some such nonsense.

    I have no clue what really went on between him and his Russian mistress and suspect that she is not Mother Teresa.  Addicted people  who are using do self-destructive things including choosing partners who will help them self-destruct.

    Two movies he made I love:  Braveheart and The Patriot.  Jodie Foster is not a fool.  She evidently gave hime a lifeline.  She knows him.  I don’t.  Hope he gets and stays sober.