Celebrity management experts say that Mel Gibson’s apology over his anti-Semitic remarks following a DUI arrest was too little, too late. The arrest took place early Friday morning by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy James Mee, and damage control didn’t fully take place until Tuesday.
When the actor finally made an official statement acknowledging his hateful words, it was 5 days later; 5 days in which all people had to go on were internet websites, entertainment programs, and speculation of what really happened. Experts say that people start to form opinions within 24 hours, and Mel’s delay in responding gives off the presumption that he is indeed anti-Semitic.
Some critics have previously attacked the Australian for being anti-Jewish since the controversial film “The Passion of the Christ”. Jewish communities felt the 2004 movie unfairly portrayed Jews as the prominent factor in the death of Jesus Christ. The sentiment deepened after Gibson’s father gave several interviews, calling the Holocaust a fictitious event.
In spite of the controversy, or because of it, “The Passion of the Christ” was a huge success. There was a respect towards Gibson for making a film such as this in the first place; a respect that has now faltered. Gibson’s latest film, “Apocalypto,” was set to be released this December, a project he and Disney invested millions of dollars into. With his character already in doubt, Mel’s drunken slurs could jeopardize his career.
Tuesday’s released statement was handled by Gibson’s publicist, Alan Nierob, a vice president at publicity firm Rogers & Cowan. “I want to apologize to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge.” The Aussie also said he had started a recovery program to kick his alcoholism and planned to meet with Jewish leaders to “to discern the appropriate path for healing.”
Several Jewish leaders offered support for Gibson, but wonder why he hasn’t made good on his promise. National director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham H. Foxman, said of Gibson’s statement, “I have two caveats. One, it’s another publicist statement and makes me a little bit uncomfortable because the publicist issued the statement earlier in the week. To what extent is it a true reflection of Mel Gibson’s true feeling? The other issue is two years ago when we dealt with the issue of `The Passion of the Christ,’ the same publicist reached out to me and told me how much Mel Gibson respects me and what kind of good guy he is, and (that) Mel Gibson wants to meet. Well, did I meet you? We never met.”
Given the length of time before giving a response, the actor’s character has become blemished, leaving people to question his sincerity. Michael Sitrick, whose Los Angeles firm puts out the fires of Rush Limbaugh, R. Kelly and Tommy Lee, commented on how it should have been handled in a timely manner by Mel’s camp. “From the outside looking in, I would’ve recommended that he say, `These remarks that were attributed to me do not represent my beliefs and I am embarrassed and humiliated and upset at myself if those words came out of my mouth when I was drinking.”
While the public still tries to hash out their opinions of the incident, media image consultant, Michael Sands, says that the press release blaming his anti-Semitic words on alcohol is a bad one. Says Sands, “By Mel coming out with this latest statement, he is grasping for straws. It seems to me he sat around with his publicist and said, `Hey, what do you think of this?'”
Publicist Michael Levine calls Gibson’s PR representatives “the best team money can buy.” Levine praised Nierob, who said Tuesday he was the only public relations professional assisting Gibson in the matter. Levine said. “The best defense is a good offense and the only offense is a relentless one.” Levine explained the four basic concepts when dealing with a cleaning up a celebrity meltdown, which include timeliness, humility, remorse and personal responsibility. “If you go with those four things, you generally do pretty well in America,” Levine said.