The ongoing feud between screenwriter Joe Eszterhas and actor Mel Gibson has taken another twist.
Eszterhas has called upon Gibson to distance himself from supporters who've expressed anti-Semitic statements, after receiving death threats and hate mail from some people who have apparently sided with Gibson in the bitter rift between him and Eszterhas.
"Many of Mel Gibson’s supporters in chat rooms and on websites have posted anti-Semitic comments. I’ve received hate mail and death threats. I’ve had to ask our local police department to pay special attention to my family’s safety," Eszterhas told TheWrap in a statement.
"I call upon my fellow Catholic, Mel Gibson, to disavow himself from supporters who are anti-Semites," Eszterhas continued.
Eszterhas' spokesman, Stephen Jaffe, told TheWrap that law enforcement is investigating the threats against Eszterhas, which have come both over the Internet and through more personal means.
"I can't comment because there's an ongoing investigation," Jaffe told TheWrap. "You're asking me were they direct or indirect? Both."
Eszterhas also implored Gibson to personally condemn anti-Semitism and make amends for his own derogatory statements about Jews.
"I call upon him to apologize for his own anti-Semitic remarks," the screenwriter said, "I call upon him as a world-wide public figure to condemn anti-Semitism and the hatred and historical persecution of Jews."
Gibson's spokesman did not immediately respond to TheWrap's request for comment.
The rift between Eszterhas and Gibson became public in April, when TheWrap published an angry letter from Eszterhas to Gibson. The pair had been working on a film project about Jewish heroism called "The Maccabees," which ended up being shelved by Warner Bros., and Eszterhas accused Gibson of never intending to make the picture due to anti-Semitic sentiments.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason you won’t make ‘The Maccabees’ is the ugliest possible one. You hate Jews," Eszterhas wrote in the letter to Gibson.
"You continually called Jews 'Hebes' and 'oven-dodgers' and 'Jewboys,'" Eszterhas continued. "It seemed that most times when we discussed someone, you asked 'He’s a Hebe, isn’t he?' You said most 'gatekeepers' of American companies were 'Hebes' who 'controlled their bosses.'"
Eszterhas also accused Gibson of only announcing "The Maccabees" in the first place in order to "deflect continuing charges of anti-Semitism which have dogged you, charges which have crippled your career.”
The "Basic Instinct" scribe followed up on the letter by releasing a tape of Gibson ranting at his home in Costa Rica. On the tape, recorded by Eszterhas' son Nick, a clearly unhinged Gibson can be heard demanding to know why Eszterhas hadn't yet finished a "Maccabees" script, screaming, "I am earning money for a filthy little cocksucker who takes advantage of me! … Just like every motherfucker!"
On the tape, Gibson also bellows, "Who wants to eat?! Who the fuck wants to eat?! Go have something to eat! Hurrrrraaaaayyyyyy!"
During a subsequent appearance on "Tonight Show With Jay Leno," Gibson attempted to shrug off the rant, saying, "Maybe you didn't know this about me, I've got a little bit of a temper."
Eszterhas isn't the first person to accuse "Passion of the Christ" director Gibson of harboring anti-Semitic sentiments. According to an arrest report filed following a 2006 DUI arrest, Gibson went on an anti-Semitic rant during the arrest, saying, "Fucking Jews… the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."