Gibson's Anti-Semitic Tirade -- Alleged Cover Up
TMZ has learned that Mel Gibson went on a rampage when he was arrested Friday on suspicion of drunk driving, hurling religious epithets. TMZ has also learned that the Los Angeles County Sheriff's department had the initial report doctored to keep the real story under wraps.
TMZ has four pages of the original report prepared by the arresting officer in the case, L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy James Mee. According to the report, Gibson became agitated after he was stopped on Pacific Coast Highway and told he was to be detained for drunk driving Friday morning in Malibu. The actor began swearing uncontrollably. Gibson repeatedly said, "My life is f****d." Law enforcement sources say the deputy, worried that Gibson might become violent, told the actor that he was supposed to cuff him but would not, as long as Gibson cooperated. As the two stood next to the hood of the patrol car, the deputy asked Gibson to get inside. Deputy Mee then walked over to the passenger door and opened it. The report says Gibson then said, "I'm not going to get in your car," and bolted to his car. The deputy quickly subdued Gibson, cuffed him and put him inside the patrol car.
TMZ has learned that Deputy Mee audiotaped the entire exchange between himself and Gibson, from the time of the traffic stop to the time Gibson was put in the patrol car, and that the tape fully corroborates the written report.
Once inside the car, a source directly connected with the case says Gibson began banging himself against the seat. The report says Gibson told the deputy, "You mother f****r. I'm going to f*** you." The report also says "Gibson almost continually [sic] threatened me saying he 'owns Malibu' and will spend all of his money to 'get even' with me."
The report says Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: "F*****g Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Gibson then asked the deputy, "Are you a Jew?"
The deputy became alarmed as Gibson's tirade escalated, and called ahead for a sergeant to meet them when they arrived at the station. When they arrived, a sergeant began videotaping Gibson, who noticed the camera and then said, "What the f*** do you think you're doing?"
A law enforcement source says Gibson then noticed another female sergeant and yelled, "What do you think you're looking at, sugar tits?"
We're told Gibson took two blood alcohol tests, which were videotaped, and continued saying how "f****d" he was and how he was going to "f***" Deputy Mee.
Gibson was put in a cell with handcuffs on. He said he needed to urinate, and after a few minutes tried manipulating his hands to unzip his pants. Sources say Deputy Mee thought Gibson was going to urinate on the floor of the booking cell and asked someone to take Gibson to the bathroom.
After leaving the bathroom, Gibson then demanded to make a phone call. He was taken to a pay phone and, when he didn't get a dial tone, we're told Gibson threw the receiver against the phone. Deputy Mee then warned Gibson that if he damaged the phone he could be charged with felony vandalism. We're told Gibson was then asked, and refused, to sign the necessary paperwork and was thrown in a detox cell.
Deputy Mee then wrote an eight-page report detailing Gibson's rampage and comments. Sources say the sergeant on duty felt it was too "inflammatory." A lieutenant and captain then got involved and calls were made to Sheriff's headquarters. Sources say Mee was told Gibson's comments would incite a lot of "Jewish hatred," that the situation in Israel was "way too inflammatory." It was mentioned several times that Gibson, who wrote, directed, and produced 2004's "The Passion of the Christ," had incited "anti-Jewish sentiment" and "For a drunk driving arrest, is this really worth all that?"
We're told Deputy Mee was then ordered to write another report, leaving out the incendiary comments and conduct. Sources say Deputy Mee was told the sanitized report would eventually end up in the media and that he could write a supplemental report that contained the redacted information -- a report that would be locked in the watch commander's safe.
Initially, a Sheriff's official told TMZ the arrest occurred "without incident." On Friday night, Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore told TMZ: "The L.A. County Sheriff's Department investigation into the arrest of Mr. Gibson on suspicion of driving under the influence will be complete and will contain every factual piece of evidence. Nothing will be sanitized. There was absolutely no favoritism shown to this suspect or any other. When this file is presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney, it will contain everything. Nothing will be left out."
On Saturday, Gibson released the following statement:
"After drinking alcohol on Thursday night, I did a number of things that were very wrong and for which I am ashamed. I drove a car when I should not have, and was stopped by the LA County Sheriffs. The arresting officer was just doing his job and I feel fortunate that I was apprehended before I caused injury to any other person. I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said. Also, I take this opportunity to apologize to the deputies involved for my belligerent behavior. They have always been there for me in my community and indeed probably saved me from myself. I disgraced myself and my family with my behavior and for that I am truly sorry. I have battled with the disease of alcoholism for all of my adult life and profoundly regret my horrific relapse. I apologize for any behavior unbecoming of me in my inebriated state and have already taken necessary steps to ensure my return to health."
A few words from Mel Gibson:
"I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested. I disgraced myself and my family with my behavior and for that I am truly sorry. I have battled with the disease of alcoholism for all of my adult life and profoundly regret my horrific relapse. [I am taking the] necessary steps to ensure my return to health. The arresting officer was just doing his job and I feel fortunate that I was apprehended before I caused injury to any other person. I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable."
Did Gibson Get a Break After Arrest?
By Andrew Blankstein, Stuart Pfeifer and Jeffrey L. Rabin
Times Staff Writers
July 30, 2006
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's civilian oversight office said Saturday that it will investigate whether authorities gave Mel Gibson preferential treatment when he was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and tried to cover up alleged offensive comments and behavior by one of Hollywood's most powerful figures.
The probe was begun after a celebrity news website, TMZ.com, published portions of the arresting deputy's handwritten report, saying the star was abusive, shouted anti-Jewish slurs, attempted to escape from custody and boasted that he "owned Malibu." A source close to the investigation confirmed Saturday that the pages posted by the website were authentic.
On Friday, a Sheriff's Department spokesman told reporters that Gibson had been arrested that day in Malibu "without incident." But the website alleged that evening that supervisors at the Malibu-Lost Hills sheriff's station tried to downplay the actor's behavior by omitting his most offensive actions in an abridged version of the arresting deputy's report, which has yet to be made public.
"All that stuff about favorable treatment is something that needs to be looked at," said Mike Gennaco, who heads the Office of Independent Review, which investigates allegations of officer misconduct and monitors the department.
"I'd like to see if there was a legitimate law enforcement reason for asking that the report be altered," Gennaco said. He said his investigation will be wide-reaching, looking at Gibson's ties to the department. In the past, Gibson has actively participated in a charity created by Sheriff Lee Baca.
Baca on Saturday defended the way his department handled the case and said the actor's behavior after his arrest is not relevant to the criminal charges.
"There is no cover-up," he said. "Our job is not to [focus] on what he said. It's to establish his blood-alcohol level when he was driving and proceed with the case. Trying someone on rumor and innuendo is no way to run an investigation, at least one with integrity."
Gibson issued a statement Saturday apologizing for his "despicable" behavior.
"I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested," the statement reads, "and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said."
Gibson said he has battled alcoholism as an adult, adding, "I … profoundly regret my horrific relapse. I apologize for any behavior unbecoming of me in my inebriated state and have already taken necessary steps to ensure my return to health."
Baca said he has not seen the official arrest report and would not comment on what it contained.
"People say stupid things when they are drunk, and they later regret it," Baca said. "You don't convict him on what he said. People aren't convicted for saying stupid things."
In the written pages posted on http://www.tmz.com , the arresting deputy — identified as James Mee — wrote that after cooperating at first, Gibson became "increasingly belligerent as he took stock of his predicament."
The deputy said he told Gibson "that if he remained cooperative, I would transport him without handcuffing."
Instead, he said, Gibson tried to flee back to his car. After he was subdued and handcuffed, the actor told the deputy: "You're going to regret you ever did this to me."
Gibson, the report continued, then said he "owned Malibu" and launched a "barrage of anti-Semitic remarks."
Those remarks included Gibson's statement that "the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," the report said. After that, Gibson allegedly asked the deputy: "Are you a Jew?"
Gibson has had a close relationship with the Sheriff's Department. He served in 2002 as a "celebrity representative" for the L.A. Sheriff's Department's Star Organization, a group that provides scholarships and aid for the children of slain sheriff's deputies.
Gibson donated $10,000 to the stepdaughter of a deputy shot and killed in the line of duty and filmed public service announcements for Baca's relief committee dressed in a sheriff's uniform.
"My heart goes out to the people … the families of the men who are killed while actually doing their job," the actor said at the time. "They put their lives on the line every single day."
Gibson was pulled over about 2:30 a.m. Friday on Pacific Coast Highway after a deputy observed him driving his 2006 Lexus LS at more than 80 mph, nearly twice the posted speed limit.
A bottle of tequila was found in Gibson's car. The deputy administered breath and field sobriety tests, said Steve Whitmore, a Sheriff's Department spokesman.
Gibson's blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.12%. The legal limit for driving is 0.08% in California. Gibson was taken to the sheriff's station, where he was booked on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and released at 10 a.m. on $5,000 bail.
Department of Motor Vehicles records show that Gibson had no previous driving-related convictions or accidents in California.
Hollywood was speculating Saturday on what effect, if any, statements attributed to Gibson would have on his career, although few would comment on the record. Studio executives noted that Gibson has made enough money that he doesn't really rely on the studios as much as he once did because he can finance his pictures independently. They even question whether Gibson wants to act, noting that he has turned his talents to directing in recent years.
This is not Gibson's first brush with controversy. He came under fire from some Jewish groups with the release of "The Passion of the Christ," which he co-wrote and directed. Jewish leaders said they found it painful, offensive and capable of stoking anti-Semitic response. Gibson disputed the allegations, saying the film, about the final hours' of Jesus' life, was meant to inspire, not offend. In an April 2004 program on CNN, the actor denied he was an anti-Semite.
Gibson told ABC's Diane Sawyer in 2004 that the movie grew from a spiritual rebirth he experienced in 1991, as he struggled with alcohol and other addictions.
"Drugs, booze, anything. You name it," Gibson said during the interview. "Coffee, cigarettes, anything. All right? I'm just one of these guys who is like that. That's my flaw."
Contributing to his controversial image was his affiliation with a traditionalist Catholic movement, which inspired Gibson to build a house of worship in Malibu. That church is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Gibson's father — a leader of that traditionalist movement — has also provoked controversy. A March 2003 New York Times Magazine article quoted his father, Hutton Gibson, as dismissing historical accounts that 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust.
Gibson was the highest paid celebrity in 2004, earning $210 million, according to Forbes magazine. The next year, he earned $185 million more, thanks largely to DVD sales of "The Passion of the Christ," a worldwide blockbuster. As a filmmaker, Gibson has taken many other risks that have usually paid off. He earned a best director Oscar for his 1995 film "Braveheart."
The Australian-raised Gibson became one of Hollywood's highest paid actors playing good-natured action stars, notably in the "Lethal Weapon" series. In promoting his movies, the actor has cultivated an image with fans of a witty practical joker who does not take himself too seriously.
He's taking another chance on his upcoming release, "Apocalypto." The film, about the decline of the Maya empire, features dialogue in an ancient language. It is set for release later this year by Walt Disney Co.
Disney officials on Saturday referred calls to Gibson's publicist, who would not comment. But Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations Inc., said success at the box office often compensates for personal missteps.
"In Hollywood the main currency is currency. It's about box office," he said. "If someone says something offensive but the movie makes a lot of money, it seems all is forgiven. We've seen people recover from just about everything in Hollywood."
The Website With the Gibson Case Documents
Question: What is TMZ.com, the website that published the report about Gibson?
Answer: The celebrity news and gossip website is a joint venture by America Online and Telepictures.
Q: What are the documents?
A: The posted documents are marked "pages four through eight." They were handwritten by the deputy who arrested Gibson and describe his behavior. The Times verified their authenticity through a source.
Q: Who runs the website?
A: Harvey Levin is the site's managing editor. He's a longtime local TV news reporter and consultant to "The People's Court." He and a team of 25 have an office in Glendale.
Q: What does TMZ stand for?
A: "Thirty-Mile Zone," an entertainment industry term referring to the area around Hollywood.
Q: What are the ramifications of the documents' release?
A: The Sheriff's Department said it has launched an investigation into the leaking of the internal documents to TMZ.com.
Transcript of Gibson Arrest ReportTMZ.com, a celebrity news website, published a four-page portion of Los Angeles Sheriff's Deputy James Mee's handwritten report of actor-director Mel Gibson's arrest on suspicion of drunk driving on July 28, 2006. The Los Angeles Times confirmed the authenticity of the posted pages.
Here's a transcript of the arrest report, with profanities redacted and unreadable words in parentheses:
Page 5 of 8
Gibson performed the above sobriety test with the above results. Gibson also completed a preliminary alcohol screening test with result of .12% B.A.C. (see attached).Page 6 of 8 (Facsimile distorted)
I then formed the opinion Gibson was intoxicated and had been driving (unreadable) of 23152 (unreadable), drunk driving.
Gibson was cooperative with the field investigation. His conduct began to change when I advised him he was being detained/arrested for drunk driving. Gibson became increasingly belligerent as he took stock of his predicament. Gibson angrily stated "Everything's (profanity redacted)," "My life is (profanity redacted)." Gibson became fixated on his notoriety and concern that this incident was going to be publicized.
In order to calm Gibson's concerns, I directed Gibson to the back seat of the patrol car, telling him, if he remained cooperative I would transport him without handcuffing. Gibson quickly turned and bolted toward his own vehicle, as he said, "I'm not going to get into your car." Gibson attempted to escape arrest.
I chased after Gibson, catching up as he reached the driver's side of his vehicle. I (unreadable) onto Gibson's (unreadable) from his back side with my hands and turned him a quarter turn so he was facing his vehicle's left side. Gibson offered no resistance. I placed Gibson's hands behind his back and handcuffed him without…
Gibson's belligerent attitude (unreadable). Gibson (unreadable) out profanities (unreadable), calling me, "You mother (profanity redacted)." Gibson repeatedly threatened me, saying, "I'm going to (profanity redacted) you. You're going to regret you ever did this to me."Page 7 of 8
While en route to Lost Hills Sheriff's (unreadable), Gibson's conduct remained (unreadable). Gibson almost continually threatened me, saying he "owns Malibu" and will spend all his money to "get even" with me. Gibson blurted out a barrage of anti-Semitic remarks about "(profanity redacted) Jews." Gibson yelled out, "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Gibson then asked, "Are you a Jew?"
Gibson's conduct concerned and frightened me to a point, I called ahead to the station requesting a sergeant meet the arrival of my patrol car in the station parking lot. Sgt. T. Palmer, #264317 and Sgt. J. Benning, #292797 met with me as I had requested. I briefed them about Gibson's conduct before directing him out of the patrol car. Sgt. Palmer began videotaping Gibson….
to capture any continued belligerent conduct… Sgt. Palmer tape-recorded the chemical test, breath test Gibson performed (unreadable) the booking that followed. Gibson displayed continued belligerent conduct and mood swings, in which he cooperated by completing the breath test, but refused to provide booking information or sign any document.Page 8 of 8
I stored Gibson's vehicle prior to transporting him to the station…. While conducting an inventory search of Gibson's vehicle, I found, EV-1, a 750 ml bottle labeled, "Cazadores Tequila," that was approx. ¾ full of liquid contents, concealed in a brown paper bag, on the right rear floor guard of the vehicle. EV-1 placement in the vehicle was within easy reach of Gibson while he had been driving. Gibson merely had to reach over the front center console separating the two front bucket seats.
I advised Gibson (unreadable) EV-1. Gibson asked, "Was it in a brown paper bag?" When I answered, "Yes," Gibson quickly replied, "It's not mine." I determined Gibson was driving a vehicle in possession of an open container of (unreadable)….
beverage in violation of 23202(A).
Gibson was booked on the indicated charges with the approval of Watch Sgt. Benning and Watch Sgt. (unreadable), # 213438.
I tape-recorded the field investigation. I did not place the tape into evidence because it also contains (unreadable) of other traffic (unreadable) and may be evidentiary in those instances.
07.30.2006 published by TMZ.com, after he was arrested Gibson launched into an anti-Semitic tirade, saying: "Fucking Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Gibson then asked the deputy, "Are you a Jew?"
At a time of escalating tensions in the world, the entertainment industry cannot idly stand by and allow Mel Gibson to get away with such tragically inflammatory statements. When The Passion of the Christ came out, Gibson was quoted as categorically denying any anti-Semitism attributed to him: "For me, it goes against the tenets of my faith, to be racist in any form. To be anti-Semitic is a sin. It's been condemned by one Papal Council after another. There's encyclicals on it, which is, you know -- to be anti-Semitic is to be unchristian, and I'm not."
Now we know the truth. And no amount of publicist-approved contrition can paper it over. People in the entertainment community, whether Jew or gentile, need to demonstrate that they understand how much is at stake in this by professionally shunning Mel Gibson and refusing to work with him, even if it means a sacrifice to their bottom line.
There are times in history when standing up against bigotry and racism is more important than money.
Critics Find Voice in Gibson DramaBy Claudia Eller and Claire Hoffman
Times Staff Writers
August 1, 2006
On the heels of Mel Gibson's reported anti-Semitic tirade during his drunk driving arrest Friday, several prominent Hollywood figures broke the industry's silence Monday by publicly condemning the star.
Meanwhile, Walt Disney Co.'s ABC television network said it had abandoned plans to make a miniseries on the Holocaust with Gibson's production company, although it stopped short of saying his behavior was the reason.
Those who did admonish Gibson on Monday called his purported remarks reprehensible and particularly inappropriate while fighting rages in Israel and Lebanon.
"It's incredibly disappointing that somebody of his stature would speak out that way, especially at this sensitive time," said Sony Pictures movie Chairwoman Amy Pascal, the only studio chief who spoke to The Times on the record.
Hollywood was largely founded by, and the studios are still chiefly run by, Jewish executives such as Pascal. Still, dozens of Jewish executives, producers and agents contacted Monday would not go beyond expressing their outrage in private. In typical Hollywood fashion, they refrained from publicly criticizing — and potentially alienating — a powerful star and director who could make them a lot of money.
But Gibson's alleged profanity-laced remarks, including the statement that "the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," stirred an industry that has honored him with its most prized award — an Oscar for directing "Braveheart" — and has given him the opportunity to reap hundreds of millions of dollars.
"To make all of your money from Jews in Hollywood, and then have a few drinks and say you hate Jews, is shocking," said "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" producer Arnon Milchan, an Israeli citizen. "If you are so upset with the Jews, don't work for them."
Gibson apologized Sunday, blaming his long battle with alcoholism. But apparently his regrets had little effect.
"It's like throwing a nuclear bomb and saying, 'I didn't know the damage it was going to cause. I'm really sorry,' " Milchan said.
Even the head of the International Creative Management talent agency, which has represented Gibson for 18 years, felt compelled to speak out.
"I hate what he said, and so does he," said Chairman Jeff Berg. "His remarks have created a first-class mess, and he has owned up to it. You cannot spin this. This is a question not of how low you can sink, but how you can dig yourself out of this hole."
After a call from Gibson, Berg said he was trying to communicate the actor's remorse to his staff and clients.
"We're not going to back away from him in a moment of need," Berg said. "Our goal is to help him, not judge him."
Gibson's publicist, Alan Nierob, said the actor was seeking help. He has not checked into a rehabilitation facility, but "is fighting for his life" in his struggle with drinking.
Gibson is one of the most powerful people in Hollywood, with the clout to make his own projects. He has starred in such hits as the "Lethal Weapon" action series and "Ransom."
His self-financed "The Passion of the Christ" was a global blockbuster but was criticized by some as anti-Semitic. Gibson denied that and also distanced himself from his father's remarks dismissing accounts of the Holocaust.
Hollywood's silence on the Gibson controversy was shaken loose Sunday night by one of Berg's chief competitors, Endeavor partner Ari Emanuel, who wrote a scathing blog entry on the Huffington Post website. Emanuel said the actor's alcoholism "does not excuse racism and anti-Semitism."
"People in the entertainment community, whether Jew or gentile, need to demonstrate that they understand how much is at stake in this by professionally shunning Mel Gibson and refusing to work with him, even if it means a sacrifice to their bottom line," Emanuel wrote.
Within hours of the posting, Hollywood insiders expressed dismay with Gibson's character.
"He's an old friend of mine," said veteran producer Jerry Weintraub, who rarely speaks to the media. "I am so sad, so hurt and so disappointed. I don't have words to express it. I really feel bad for him as a human being. I never knew this side of him."
"Spider-Man" producer Laura Ziskin, who is Jewish, echoed the industry's anger. "I think it's appalling. In a world in which there is so much hatred, and there is so much violence, to harbor those kinds of feelings … it is so sad."
Asked about ever working with Gibson, Ziskin said: "I don't see that in my future."
Veteran talent manager Bernie Brillstein also said he would not work with him.
"If he calls me tomorrow, would I represent him? The answer is no. That doesn't make me right. I just don't like bigots."
Another longtime Hollywood figure, former MCA Inc. President Sidney J. Sheinberg, remarked: "If he said it, he's at best a putz."
Neither ABC nor Disney, which plans to release Gibson's "Apocalypto" film Dec. 8, directly addressed the star's statements, with the exception of a show of support by the studio's new production president, Oren Aviv, in a story on the Slate website.
Disney said the movie release date remained in place. ABC, however, said that if it continues with the languishing Holocaust miniseries, Gibson's Icon Productions won't be involved.
"Given that it's been nearly two years and we have yet to see the first draft of a script, we have decided to no longer pursue this project with Icon," the network said.
The miniseries is based on the memoirs of Flory A. Van Beek, an 81-year-old Dutch woman who said in an interview that Gibson himself had not been involved.
"I've never met him, I've never heard from him," she said. But she added that it would be a "good thing" for his company to sever its ties to the project.
Mel Gibson: The Speed of Scandal
LOS ANGELES, July 31 — Almost as stunning as Mel Gibson’s anti-Jewish tirade when arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in the early hours of last Friday was the speed at which the scandal unfolded, doing serious damage to one of Hollywood’s most valuable careers along the way.
In a little over 24 hours, Mr. Gibson’s arrest and subsequent behavior in Malibu had already prompted talk of a claimed cover-up, an exposé, worldwide news coverage, an apology and then a full-blown push for alcohol rehabilitation, even as his representatives and executives at the Walt Disney Company rushed to catch up with the event’s effect on the filmmaker’s movie and television projects with the company.
On Monday, Hope Hartman, a spokeswoman for Disney’s ABC television network, said the company was dropping its plans to produce a Holocaust-themed miniseries in collaboration with Mr. Gibson.
“Given that it’s been nearly two years and we have yet to see the first draft of a script, we have decided to no longer pursue this project with Icon,” Ms. Hartman said, referring to Mr. Gibson’s production company.
She did not connect the project’s termination to Mr. Gibson’s remarks. But his statements had already attracted sharp criticism from some who argued that he should be disqualified from moving ahead with the series, despite having apologized for several anti-Jewish statements.
“I don’t think he should be doing a film on the Holocaust,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who had previously criticized what he saw as anti-Semitic overtones in Mr. Gibson’s hit, “The Passion of the Christ.” “It would be like asking someone associated with the K.K.K. to do a movie on the African-American experience.”
Heidi Trotta, a spokeswoman for Disney’s studio unit, said the company still expected to release Mr. Gibson’s feature film “Apocalypto” on schedule in early December. Mr. Gibson’s publicist, Alan Nierob, said he believed the movie would be released on time and by Disney, though he acknowledged that postproduction work would be interrupted by Mr. Gibson’s planned program of rehabilitation for substance abuse.
Meanwhile, those who make a business of managing crisis were already gleaning lessons from the breakneck pace at which the incident had gone from unfortunate encounter to career threat.
“The pervasiveness of the Internet has caused a dramatic increase in the dissemination of news,” said Michael S. Sitrick, chairman of Sitrick & Company, who specializes in crisis communications. The message was that there is no such thing as a minor incident among those for whom celebrity is an asset. “I would have reacted very quickly — even if had just been reported in The Malibu Times,” he said.
In Mr. Gibson’s case, it was not The Malibu Times, but a Time Warner-owned celebrity news Web site, TMZ.com, that set off the media storm. On Friday evening, TMZ posted four pages of a sheriff’s report describing what the arresting officer said was Mr. Gibson’s belligerent behavior and a series of noxious remarks, including several deeply offensive comments about Jews.
In an accompanying article, the site said the officer had been told by superiors to withhold the pages containing the anti-Semitic and other inflammatory remarks from the report that would eventually be made public, reserving them for a separate portion that might escape widespread notice.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department disputed the notion of a cover-up. “The district attorney has the entire case now,” said Steve Whitmore, the spokesman. “We gave them everything we have.”
By late Saturday, however, Mr. Gibson had issued a statement apologizing for his remarks. And the next morning, The Los Angeles Times — in a report that carried no fewer than 11 bylines — reported that a civilian oversight office had already decided to investigate whether Mr. Gibson had been given favorable treatment because of his celebrity status or long-time friendship with the county sheriff, Lee Baca.
“Mel Gibson is an important person in Hollywood, a key player in one of Southern California’s most important industries,” the Los Angeles Times’s editor, Dean Baquet, said in a statement explaining the paper’s mass deployment over the weekend. “Gibson also happens to be someone whose religious views have been the subject of debate since he produced a movie on the subject that is one of the highest-grossing movies of all time. But mainly, it’s a good story.”
A winner in all this was clearly TMZ, a celebrity news site that began operations just last November. “This was huge for us,” said Harvey Levin, the site’s managing editor and something of an expert in celebrity scandal, having created the now-defunct television show “Celebrity Justice.”
For Mr. Gibson, things began their disastrous turn Thursday night, when he spent time drinking and posing for pictures at Moonshadows, an oceanside restaurant and watering hole in Malibu, where he has been a familiar fixture in recent weeks.
When an obviously inebriated Mr. Gibson announced his intention to leave, employees offered to call him a cab or drive him home, according to a person who was involved with events that evening but spoke on condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation.
Mr. Gibson declined the assistance and instead jumped into his Lexus, and was quickly pulled over for speeding on the Pacific Coast Highway and then arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.
According to the report by the arresting officer, James Mee, Mr. Gibson demanded to know whether the deputy was a Jew, and said he would “get even with me.” In an obscenity-laced tirade, which included “a barrage of anti-Semitic remarks,” Mr. Gibson boasted that he “owns Malibu.” At one point, according to the report, the filmmaker tried to break free and had to be handcuffed.
The deputy asked that he be met at the station with a videocamera, according to the report. Mr. Whitmore, the sheriff’s spokesman, said over the weekend that full details of the incident would ultimately be disclosed.
Mr. Nierob strongly challenged the notion of a cover-up. “This report was leaked within minutes of its happening, and it’s anything but a cover-up, and certainly anything but preferential treatment,” Mr. Nierob said Monday of his client. “He’s been held to a much higher situation. You show me the cover-up.”
Mr. Gibson spent much of the last year shooting “Apocalypto,” an idiosyncratic film shot in Mexico that used local actors to tell an epic story of warfare among the ancient Mayans. The film was originally set for release in August, but was delayed when heavy rains complicated the shoot.
Disney is distributing the movie in the United States, but did not directly finance it. Rather, Mr. Gibson’s company, Icon Productions, engineered the financial backing, much as it did for “The Passion of the Christ.”