Flareup over Maccabee film

The future of a film about Judah Maccabee is in limbo. Warner Bros. spokesman Paul McGuire said last week that the studio is “analyzing what to do with the project.”

The film about the hero of the Chanukah story was to be a collaboration between producer Mel Gibson and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas. After the studio recently rejected Eszterhas’ script, the screenwriter accused Gibson of anti-Semitism in a letter published online at www.thewrap.com. Gibson responded with his own letter denying the allegations.

Gibson wrote a response to Eszterhas, published in the Los Angeles Times, in which he said that Eszterhas’ script was delivered late and that the draft was “substandard” and a “significant waste of time.”

The Eszterhas allegations and Gibson’s history prompted Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center to issue a statement April 12 calling for Warner Bros. and all other studios “to permanently shelve the Maccabee project as long as Mel Gibson is associated with the film.”

Jewish groups criticized Gibson’s involvement in a film on the life of Judah Maccabee when he inked a production deal with Warner Bros. Studio for the movie project in September 2011.

The controversy over Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ” erupted nine years ago.

The film angered many in the Jewish community who thought that it played into notions of Jewish culpability for the killing of Jesus. Later Gibson landed in hot water after spewing anti-Semitic invective during a drunken confrontation with a police officer in 2006. — ap & jta