The screenwriter has written "Heaven and Mel," an eBook recounting in colorful detail his relationship with the disgraced director that Amazon will release on June 6, TheWrap has learned. (Saturday update: The book release was accelerated to June 2 in the wake of TheWrap's article.)
"I can’t remember ever reading a more haunting, nuanced portrait of a Hollywood superstar in decline," Dave Blum, editor of Kindle Singles, told TheWrap exclusively. "This is an eyewitness account by a gifted storyteller of a man of faith at war with his demons. In the end, the demons win.”
Amazon contacted Eszterhas after he released to TheWrap a tape of Gibson ranting violently during a dinner at his home in Costa Rica.
Also read: Mel Gibson Rage Rant in Costa Rica: 'Filthy C—sucker Whore' (Audio)
“On a human level it’s a great story, and it can’t be told in a nine-page letter,” Eszterhas told TheWrap. “Much of it is amusing, some of it is very serious and has to do with anti-Semitism and questions of values. But mostly it’s just very human. I view it as a terrific tale.”
A spokesman for Mel Gibson could not immediately be reached for comment.
"Heaven and Mel" is part of Amazon’s “Kindle Single” program, which allows for publication of short books on an accelerated schedule. It will cost $2.99 (cover art above).
The book, obtained by TheWrap, provides context and detail around the conflict between Gibson and the screenwriter, who was to do a screenplay about Jewish freedom fighters in the 2nd century, the Maccabees.
After his screenplay was rejected by Gibson and Warner Bros., Eszterhas accused the director of making anti-Semitic statements and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva.
Among the new details in the book are Gibson’s emails to Eszterhas during the research and writing process. (“’JUST GOT BOUNCED OFF HANGOVER. NO ONE WILL TELL ME WHY. THIS TOWN SUCKS!’”)
In the book, Eszterhas describes Gibson’s world from the inside as an invited guest and collaborator who slowly comes to distrust the person who hired him.
While Eszterhas wanted to write a story of Jewish heroism, he realized over time that Gibson was seeking a story that “prefigured” the coming of Jesus Christ.
Eszterhas wonders in his book: “Was his intent to make Judah Maccabee, the Jewish Braveheart, into a John the Baptist-like messenger for Jesus?”
Throughout, Eszterhas offers choice observations about Hollywood and why he left Malibu to raise his second family, wife Naomi and four young sons, in Ohio. He writes:
“The house where Mel lives now was the actor David Duchovny’s house when Mel bought it, as the Serra Retreat house had been rocker Rick Springfield’s, as our house in the Malibu Colony had been Woody Harrelson’s. It’s sort of a half-assed Hollywood tradition: You buy a house that has a little bit of stardust already on it when you buy it. Mel’s house on Carbon Canyon is right next to Sean Penn’s house, which burned down in one of the fires.”
Eszterhas was a houseguest with Naomi and 15-year-old son Nick when his son recorded Gibson raging through his house, screaming epithets about Eszterhas and Gibson's former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva.
The Gibson book is not terribly unusual for Eszterhas, who has written more than one kiss-and-tell tome about his life in Hollywood and chronicled his personal struggles with his father, his faith and his addictions in bestsellers “American Rhapsody” and “Hollywood Animal.”
Eszterhas completed the 30,000-plus word book in less than two months. It may be the best revenge since Gibson accused Eszterhas of “utter fabrications” in his nine-page letter to the director, obtained by TheWrap.
After Eszterhas released the tape of Gibson’s rant, the actor-director went on Jay Leno and made light of the incident.
(Disclosure: This site and journalist are mentioned in the book.)