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Though Mel Gibson's career bounced back from his infamous drunken anti-Semitic tirade in 2006, some think his latest outburst — a profanity-laden phone conversation with his ex-girlfriend and baby mama Oksana Grigorieva in which he suggests that her "provocative" clothing would justify rape — may finally sink him. (Listen to a bleeped version below.) The tirade has already led Gibson's talent agency to end its relationship with him, and the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department to open a domestic violence investigation into his relationship with Grigorieva. Just yesterday, a new Gibson audio assault on Grigorieva surfaced, in which he says, "My career is over." Can Gibson weather this storm?
This is as bad as a celebrity scandal can get: "The Mel Gibson phone rant at his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva is a high-water mark in celebrity outing," Tina Brown writes in The Daily Beast. When Mel tells her that, "'if you get raped by a pack of n-----s... it will be your fault,' it’s not just the demented Mel we hear. It’s as if a curtain was pulled back on the window of every house where a frightened woman is living in fear of a man who has all the financial cards."
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His upcoming films are doomed: Gibson's career survived the 2006 incident partly because he was merely the director of his next movie, Apocalypto, not its star. This time, his upcoming films such as (the Jodie Foster-directed) The Beaver feature him on-camera, making them much tougher sells. "Good luck releasing a movie in the coming months with Mel Gibson on the topline and in posters," says Steven Zeitchik in the Los Angeles Times, "and wearing a beaver puppet to boot." Jay Leno's writers will have a field day "for weeks."
Gibson still has his supporters: While the media has almost unanimously dismissed Gibson, Oscar winner Robert De Niro says he hopes Gibson will survive this crisis, reports Grant Hodgson in Monsters & Critics. "I hope he gets through all this," De Niro commented at a Melbourne, Australia press conference. "It’s unfortunate, you know."
No, this time, it's really over: Even with so many projects on the horizons, it's unlikely Gibson will recover from this one. "His latest meltdown could prove too toxic even for Hollywood," Luchina Fisher says at ABC News, quoting PR guru Howard Bragman as saying that the distributors behind The Beaver are "stuck with this film and I don't think they know what to do with this thing." According to Bragman, Gibson shouldn't be too concerned about his career at this point. He should be worrying about "possibly going to jail."