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ABC Cancels Holocaust TV Deal With Gibson's Company
August 1, 2006

Aug. 1 (Bloomberg) -- ABC canceled a contract with Mel Gibson's production company after the actor made anti-Semitic remarks during his July 28 arrest on suspicion of drunk driving.

Gibson, who was pulled over by Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies in Malibu, California, apologized for his comments, admitted to suffering from alcoholism and voluntarily entered a treatment center.

ABC, a unit of Walt Disney Co., dropped the miniseries it was developing with Gibson's Icon Productions about Flory A. Van Beek, a Dutch Jew who survived World War II.

"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," said ABC spokeswoman Hope C. Hartman in a statement. She wouldn't comment further or say whether the decision was related to Gibson's remarks.

Alan Nierob, Gibson's spokesman, didn't immediately respond to a telephone message left at his office in West Hollywood, California, seeking comment.

Prominent Jewish Hollywood executives have expressed anger over Gibson's comments. Sony Pictures Chairwoman Amy Pascal told the Los Angeles Times the incident was "incredibly disappointing." Laura Ziskin, a producer of the "Spider-Man" films, told the newspaper Gibson's actions were "appalling."

Disney still plans to release Gibson's latest film, the Mayan epic "Apocalypto," on Dec. 8. Oren Aviv, head of live- action development and film production at Walt Disney Pictures, defended Gibson yesterday in a Slate magazine story.

"I've worked with Mel on several films over the years and we have a great relationship," he told the online magazine. "We all make mistakes and I've accepted his apology to what was a regrettable situation. I wish him the very best on his path to recovery."

Disney shares fell 31 cents, or 1 percent, to $29.38 at 3:42 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They have gained 24 percent this year before today.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at  afixmer@bloomberg.net

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