Are Gibson's Remarks A Career-Ender?

In this booking photo released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, actor-director Mel Gibson is seen in a booking photo taken Friday, July 28, 2006.
AP Photo/LA County Sheriffs Dept.
Actor Mel Gibson apologized again yesterday, specifically for the anti-Semitic remarks he made last week after sheriff's deputies stopped him in Malibu. But some public relations experts question the impact his drunk-driving arrest and tirade may have on his career.

Gibson, a top star of the 1980s for the "Lethal Weapon" series and winner of the best-director Oscar for 1995's "Braveheart," has long acknowledged problems with alcohol.

The latest apology, however, went far beyond his first — which spoke primarily to deputies - by addressing Jewish groups directly, CBS News correspondent Vince Gonzales reported. The apology came after a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the sheriff's report said Gibson told the arresting deputy: "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," and asked him, "Are you a Jew?"

"I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words," Gibson said in a statement issued by his publicist Tuesday. "Please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith.

"There will be many in that (Jewish) community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable," he added. "But I pray that that door is not forever closed."

But will this apology help save his career? No, says publicist Michael Levine. "I cannot see, having done this 25 years at a very high level, any plausible way that his career can be restored. I think that this incident was a career-ender," Levine told CBS News' The Early Show. "And what I mean by that is, simply, I can't see how the career that he had previous to this event can ever be restored."

In addition to his remarks, new photos surfaced showing Gibson, looking inebriated, drinking at a Malibu beachfront restaurant called Moonshadows before his car was stopped. Widely distributed photos show him with his arms around several young women at the restaurant shortly before his arrest.

It's par for the course in Hollywood, says Laura Reis, who works in public relations. "Celebrity pictures like this come out all the time. In and of itself, I don't think that's damaging. He didn't go home with another woman or a prostitute. He was alone," Ries told The Early Show.

"He hurt people with words and words can hurt. But you can recover. I think if he follows through with the things he talks about in his second statement…I think he can come back," Ries added.

One of the early fall-outs of Gibson's remarks was that ABC announced late Monday it had scrapped plans for Gibson to produce a miniseries on the Holocaust, saying it had not seen even the draft of a script in nearly two years.

"I don't think I want to see any more Mel Gibson movies," Barbara Walters said Monday on the ABC talk show "The View."

Mel Gibson's latest apology also drew mixed reactions from Jewish leaders, with some saying they were willing to help the actor address the anti-Semitic slurs he made during a drunken driving arrest and others demanding proof of his repentance.

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the process requires hard work. "You can't just say I'm no longer a drunk; you can't just say I'm no longer a bigot. You need to work hard at it, and we're ready to help him," Foxman said.

Foxman tells CBS News that Gibson has yet to reach out to him. "I'm still waiting," Foxman said.

"We will never know whether this is pragmatic PR or if this is emotion. And since we'll never know, I'm concerned with the impact," Foxman told CBS News.

Gibson has had an edgy relationship with Jewish organizations since his 2004 blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ," which some criticized for portraying Jews as responsible for Jesus' death. Supporters said the movie merely followed the Gospel story.

"There was a feeling he was a bit anti-Semitic and this exacerbates those suspicions," Levine told CBS News.

But Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said "when Mr. Gibson embarks on a serious long-term effort to address that bigotry and anti-Semitism, he will find the Jewish community more than willing to engage and help him," he said.

Meanwhile, officials with the Los Angeles sheriff's department are concerned with allegations Gibson's arrest report was sanitized to protect the celebrity. Authorities initially did not mention Gibson's remarks when giving an account of his arrest, with a Sheriff's Department spokesman saying the arrest was made "without incident."

A civilian watchdog attorney, investigating allegations of a cover-up, said a preliminary review found nothing wrong with the handling of Gibson's arrest. The department has denied any cover-up.

"In this case, the information reviewed to date indicates that LASD did ensure that the arrest of Mr. Gibson was handled in accord with its policies and practices," said Michael Gennaco, head of the county Office of Independent Review.