For the last four years, Gibson has tried to live down the anti-Semitic remarks he spewed when arrested for drunken driving. The new tirade, apparently recorded by his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva and now part of an ongoing custody battle, brings all that right back up. Both TMZ.com and RadarOnline.com claim to have heard the tape, in which Gibson calls Grigorieva a variety of things, among which "whore" was one of the less unpleasant. He also used the N-word and reportedly threatened to burn down her home.
Normally this might be one of those shake-your-head-at-the-celebrity stories, except Gibson isn't just an actor. His production company, Icon, has been successful. The 2004 The Passion of the Christ had a production cost of $30 million and global gross receipts of almost $612 million. In 2006, it came out with Apocalypto, which had a budget of $40 million and gross receipts of almost $121 million. Not all of the company's 20 productions since 1999 have been hits. For example, Seraphim Falls, a 2007 movie starring Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan, had a worldwide gross of only $1.2 million and an opening weekend of $155,560. Those are the numeric equivalent of the word pathetic.
Still, Icon has seen some big hits, and to see more, it needs the cooperation of others in the business -- which will be difficult to obtain. Gibson tried his best to distance himself from his prior ethnic slurs, and his lawyer has branded previous allegations by Grigorieva as false. But this has become far too ugly for the actor-producer-director to win. It's hard to imagine civil rights groups giving Gibson or anything connected to him remotely close to a pass. They will likely bring as much heat and attention as possible to both Gibson and Icon. It's deadly PR that will make Gibson a business contact toxin.