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Behind the Mel Gibson Extortion Case: Will Gibson Follow The Beaver to SXSW?

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 17, 2011 at 8:51AM

In the breathless viral tabloid culture we live in, there is much to be said for the not-yet-lost art of the carefully reported story-of-record. Mel Gibson's lawyers cooperated with the LATimes on this exhaustively researched front-page story about how his lengthy negotiations with model Oksana Grigorieva, his ex-girlfriend and mother of his youngest child, broke down and led to the release of the rant tapes that dealt further setbacks to Gibson's standing in Hollywood.
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Thompson on Hollywood

In the breathless viral tabloid culture we live in, there is much to be said for the not-yet-lost art of the carefully reported story-of-record. Mel Gibson's lawyers cooperated with the LATimes on this exhaustively researched front-page story about how his lengthy negotiations with model Oksana Grigorieva, his ex-girlfriend and mother of his youngest child, broke down and led to the release of the rant tapes that dealt further setbacks to Gibson's standing in Hollywood.

While Gibson clearly has issues related to alcohol abuse, not to mention his extreme behavior when he is angry, the back-and-forth between the estranged couple and their lawyers, also involving texting, is fascinating. It reveals how far out of the realm of reasonable reality some people will go when millions are involved. Here's a snippet:

The attorney Gibson's side consulted agreed that the actor was being extorted but warned that if he pressed charges, the tapes would become public — probably within days, the source said. From a public-relations standpoint, the timing couldn't have been worse. Gibson was trying to reclaim a place in Hollywood. He had a movie — "Edge of Darkness" — in theaters, had just finished a film with Jodie Foster and was in talks to direct Leonardo DiCaprio in a Viking epic. Tapes of him enraged and hurling racial epithets would ruin any chance of a comeback. His camp decided to pay, the source said.

Gibson's old friend, director Jodie Foster, who has loyally stood by him, will unveil their long-shelved drama The Beaver at the SXSW Film Fest in Austin, Texas this March. Will Gibson show? His rep says he does not yet know.

Along similar lines of unbelievable tales of Hollywood, check out this Vanity Fair story about high-living Tonight Show producer Freddy DeCordova, his spendthrift wife and devoted housekeeper.

This article is related to: Headliners, Celebs, Mel Gibson


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.