- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Writer sues Gibson

A screenwriter has sued Mel Gibson and his production company, claiming he was misled by the actor-director into accepting a small payment for writing “The Passion of the Christ” and was refused extra money when the film became a blockbuster.

Benedict Fitzgerald claims that when he was asked to write a script about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Mr. Gibson told him the movie would cost between $4 million and $7 million, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Associated Press reports. Mr. Fitzgerald also said Mr. Gibson promised he wouldn’t receive any money from the film and any profit would be distributed to people who worked on it.

Mr. Gibson stated he didn’t want “money on the back of what he considered a personal gift to his [Roman Catholic] faith,” the lawsuit claims.

Mr. Fitzgerald, who shared screenwriting credits with Mr. Gibson, claims in the suit that he agreed to “a salary substantially less than what he would have taken had he known the true budget for the film,” which the lawsuit claims had an estimated budget of $25 million to $50 million. The 2004 movie went on to gross several hundred million dollars. The lawsuit doesn’t specify how much Mr. Fitzgerald was paid.

An after-hours call to a publicist for Mr. Gibson, 52, wasn’t returned immediately, AP says.

Ford changes lanes

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Ford, whose books include “The Sportswriter” and “Independence Day,” has left longtime publisher Alfred A. Knopf and switched to Ecco, a literary imprint of HarperCollins.

Mr. Ford, who turns 64 on Saturday, is best known for his trilogy of novels about ex-sportswriter Frank Bascombe: “The Sportswriter,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Independence Day” and “The Lay of the Land.” He has agreed to a three-book deal with Ecco, including two novels and a collection of short stories.

Reached by AP at his home in Maine, Mr. Ford declined comment except to say that his years at Knopf had been “wonderful.” Knopf’s director of publicity, Paul Bogaards, said it was Mr. Ford’s decision to leave.

Pam bans media

The usually spotlight-hogging Pamela Anderson has banned the media from attending her shows at the Crazy Horse cabaret in Paris for a Valentine’s Day special, the club said yesterday.

According to Agence France-Presse, the former Playboy cover girl and “Baywatch” star is slated to join the celebrated strip show in a number inspired by the song “Harley Davidson,” which was written for Brigitte Bardot by Serge Gainsbourg. However, management said no journalists or photographers would be allowed in “on the request of Pamela Anderson.”

A year ago, the celebrated Paris cabaret began inviting top female stars to join its regular performers, with Miss Anderson, 40, following in the footsteps of French actress Arielle Dombasle and model-actress Dita von Teese.

Buckle up, Miley told

In a blog item posted Monday, Consumer Reports magazine says 15-year-old superstar Miley Cyrus, who plays Hannah Montana on television, is seen in her new movie riding without a seat belt in the back seat of a Range Rover.

So is her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, the magazine says.

The movie is the 3-D Disney concert film “Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert,” which is based on Miley’s TV show and has made more than $50 million in less than two weeks.

Telephone calls and e-mails to Disney and to several of Miley’s representatives, seeking comment, were not returned immediately, AP said. The magazine says 65 percent of the 13- to 15-year-olds killed in auto accidents in 2006 were not wearing seat belts.

“It seems to us that Miley, her father and Disney had a perfect opportunity to help influence teens and counteract — rather than encourage — this trend,” the blog item says.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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