Update at 10:30 p.m.:
A furious Haim Saban has mounted a campaign to get Showtime to cancel its planned airing of Oliver Stone’s 10-part series, "A Secret History of America," in the wake of anti-Jewish remarks by the outspoken director.
Stone's apology “is transparently fake,” Saban said in an interview with TheWrap. “He has been consistent in his anti-American and anti-Semitic remarks. I respect his First Amendment rights. I hope he respects mine.”
The billionaire and outspoken media mogul told TheWrap he had contacted CBS chief Leslie Moonves to urge him to pull the series.
He said that WME chairman Ari Emanuel had also called CBS privately to urge the series be pulled. (Update: WME had no comment.)
Stone has previously said the 10-part "Secret History" series would put Hitler and Stalin "in context," and offer an alternative crash course to the "grossly inadequate history" taught by American schools and proffered by mass media.
CBS, Moonves and Emanuel did not respond to emails seeking comment.
Saban said he considers Stone to be "clearly an anti-Semite and an anti-American."
In venting his outrage, Saban has become the first big Hollywood name to publicly criticize Stone for his controversial remarks about the Holocaust.
“This guy should be helped in joining Mel Gibson into the land of retirement, where he can preach his anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism in the wilderness where he belongs,” Saban told TheWrap in an email.
Stone kicked off a media firestorm over the weekend for telling a reporter from London’s Sunday Times that Adolf Hitler, the subject of his upcoming documentary, did more damage to Russia than he did to the Jews. He also stated that the U.S.'s support for Israel is the result of Jewish domination of the media.
Stone apologized Monday afternoon saying his comments were “clumsy” and that contrary to his earlier remarks, Jews didn’t control the media or any industry for that matter.
That wasn't good enough for Saban.
“His love of [Venezuelan president Hugo] Chavez has always bothered me, but here he went too far, and his apology is sooooo transparently fake,” Saban wrote. “He should be embarrassed by it, and has certainly done nothing to calm my outrage at this guy’s positions.”
Saban, a major stakeholder in Univision and chairman of Saban Capital Group, said he is spreading the word among his Hollywood friends to avoid working with Stone.
“Anyone who works with this guy, should be ashamed of him/herself, and shouldn’t share that fact with their neighbors, or kids for that matter,” Saban said.
It's not certain that his appeal will reach sympathetic ears, as others in the movie business seem more willing to move on following Stone’s mea culpa.
“The apology he made for his comment, that ought to end any speculation about how he feels,” Mike Medavoy, chairman of Phoenix Pictures, told TheWrap. “It’s regrettable that he put it that way in the first place…but I’ve known Oliver for many years, and I know he’s not an anti-Semite or anti-Jewish for that matter.”
Saban, a longtime supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, has been a steadfast and outspoken promoter of Israel. He is a generous donor to the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee and provided the seed money for the Saban Center for Middle Eastern Policy, a foreign policy think tank associated with the Brookings Institute.
Though Hollywood has remained mum, various Jewish organizations such as the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivor and the Anti-Defamation League, as well as Israel's minister of public affairs, Yuli Edelstein, all have rebuked the director for his remarks.
David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, went so far as to say that Stone “has outed himself as an anti-Semite.”
Stone, who is half-Jewish, made similar remarks at the Television Critics Association last January while promoting his documentary “A Secret History of America.” At that time, he said that Hitler was an “easy scapegoat” and that Americans don’t learn about the role their own country’s industries played in his rise to power.
The series is slated to air in January.