While BP is hogging all of the mainstream news, celebrity segments are caught between “The Outlaw Lindsay Lohan” and, as I like to call it, “The Passion of Mel Gibson.”
Did Oksana have a black eye? Is Mel a baby basher? Is the kilt-wearing, Vatican II-denying, man who knows What Women Want really a racist or does he just have anger management problems?
More importantly, will Mel Gibson ever have a career in Hollywood again, and will his very successful Icon Productions (Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ, Apocalypto) ever produce another blockbuster?
Celebrity crisis counselor Howard Bragman seems to think the answer (to the last two questions) is no: see MTV’s interview. But it’s a difficult question. Celebrities can sometimes be their own worst enemies. But other times, controversy can help inject a bit of much-needed interest in a flagging Hollywood personality’s career. Just look at the Prince of Pop: he was just as popular for his Neverland antics as for his moonwalking.
Even more interesting is whether Mel, perhaps doomed as an A-list actor, can still work behind the scenes to write, direct, and/or produce the sort of wildly successful films he has been involved with before through his production company, Icon. In other words, can Americans separate Mel from his brand? It would be like Apple continuing on in the wake of some insidious Steve Jobs scandal. Or Polo if Ralph skipped bail. Or Star Wars if George Lucas became a bank robber.
Only time can tell with things like this. But, for some reason, Hollywood brands seem to be fairly resilient. If Mel apologizes directly (to everyone), takes some time off, goes on a spiritual retreat, and then makes a movie about the Civil Rights movement, maybe we’ll go see it. And maybe, if Mel Gibson doesn’t wear a kilt, we’ll like it too.