Joe Eszterhas’s rejected Maccabee script was über-violent, Jewy

Senior Editor
04.16.12 23 Comments

Last week brought us the news of the biggest celebrity pissing contest of the new year, between Mel Gibson, who wanted to make a “Jewish Braveheart” about the story of Judah Maccabee, and Joe Eszterhas, the screenwriter (Showgirls, Basic Instinct) initially hired to write it, who claims Mel Gibson is a psychopath who calls everyone “oven-dodger” and “Jewboy”, hated John Lennon, and only was interested in the project as a way to rehabilitate his image. In his public response, Gibson said the only reason the project hadn’t moved forward was because Eszterhas’s script was “extraordinarily disappointing.” Frankly, neither of their stories are that hard to believe.

Today Sharon Waxman at TheWrap has posted a review of Eszterhas’s script, which was apparently titled M.C.K.B.I., and sounds like an NKOTB side project. She says it’s “every bit the Jewish Braveheart” Eszterhas was commissioned to write, but you may want to take the whole thing with a grain of salt, considering TheWrap was the site that initially broke Eszterhas’s letter to Gibson, and Waxman has had an ongoing feud with Nikki Finke of Deadline, who published Gibson’s response. Don’t be surprised to see a few pro-Gibson and pro-Eszterhas stories being thrown back and forth between them. (My, this is all very exciting, isn’t it). Anyway, here’s Waxman’s account of the script:

Eszterhas’s script is remarkably faithful to the 2nd century B.C. biblical tale. A group of five brothers, sons of the high priest Mattathias, band together to fight the anti-Jewish occupation of Israel by the Greek-Syrian ruler, Antiochus. It is primal: white hats and black hats. Heroes and heinous villains. Good vs. evil.

On the face of it, this is a script that Mel Gibson should absolutely love: A band of pious underdogs take on an evil overlord. (They don’t paint their faces a la “Braveheart,” but the Jewish women are physically branded as harlots.)

It is full of throat-slitting and cutting off of heads. There are miles of heads on stakes. In one scene, a woman plunges a dagger into the eye of an opponent. Hearts are cut out of dead bodies. And the fighting is full of Rambo-like relish.

The question is, perhaps: Does anyone outside the Anti-Defamation League want to see a Jewish “Braveheart”?

The answer: YES. Especially if Tom Berenger plays a grizzled old Hebrew, running around with a necklace made of enemy foreskins.

From one scene:

“Ramses turns to run, but Judah is on him…Ramses falls. Judah kills him with his bare hands – lifting him by the neck and snapping it suddenly. Judah gets up and faces the other mercenaries. He is a crazed, furious, dervish – explosive, a killing machine. The mercenaries have shields, swords, and shovel-like spears. Judah draws his knife. He is a fighting machine at full roar.”

“Suddenly, the tide of the battle changes when Judah bends down to pick up a nickel. ‘GLAYVIN!’ he shouts, licking his enemies’ blood from his pointy dagger. As the enemy charges forward he asks for a time out, explaining, ‘The dry air makes me wheeze.'”

It’s got feeling in spades and as far as triumph goes, probably too much for many. (Spoiler alert: the Jews win.)
But here’s the other question about this script: it’s a first draft. And as such, Warner’s decision to reject it whole cloth is a mystery. After spending presumably hundreds of thousands of dollars on Eszterhas, why not give him notes and get him to do a rewrite, as more commonly happens in Hollywood?
It’s surprising that Gibson would reject it, along with Warner Bros. It seems right up his alley. [TheWrap]

I know, why wouldn’t they want it?? It’s a mystery! The only explanation is that Mel Gibson is a Jew-hater and never had any intention of making it in the first place. …Wait, don’t you see what this means? IT MEANS THAT STORY YOU PRINTED FIVE DAYS AGO WAS TOTALLY 1000% ACCURATE! I mean talk about coincidence! Even for those scoop-breakers over at TheWrap, I don’t know how they could’ve seen this coming.

[picture via]


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