Richard Roeper Blog

Who you callin’ asshole, asshole!

We all know celebrities live charmed lives, but that doesn’t mean there are drawbacks that accompany the great stuff, whether it’s dealing with paparazzi trailing your every move as you pick up your dry cleaning, fans pestering you for autographs while you’re in the restroom—-or doing a grueling publicity tour for your movie. I’ve been a reporter at junkets where an actor will sit for 30, 40, even 50 interviews in a single day, trying to sound peppy and engaged as one entertainment journalist after another asks the same questions. (“What was it like to work with Co-Star A?” “What’s your next project?” “Did you do any research for this role?” “What was it like to work with Director B?”)

Even more soul-sucking than the in-person junketeer experience is the satellite interview tour. You sit in a small, hot room with the lights bearing down on you, staring into the black hole of a camera lens while fielding questions from the hosts of “Good Morning Topeka!” and, “How’s it Goin’ Cincinnati!”

I’ve been the interview subject on a few of those tours, and it gave me a whole new appreciation for what these people go through. (Again, I know: they’re millionaires. They wanted to be famous. They asked for this. Still doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.) After about two hours, you’ve lost all track of who you’re talking to, which jokes you’ve already used, what your middle name is. You just can’t wait for it to end.

Mel Gibson was doing one of those tours recently to promote “Edge of Darkness,” and his plasma-screened image appeared alongside WGN-TV’s Dean Richards, who kept bringing up Gibson’s well-documented troubles.

Celebrities hate it when you bring up their well-documented troubles. Their publicists REALLY hate it when you bring up their well-documented troubles. Sometimes they’ll cut the interview short and usher you out of the room if you dare bring up the DUI or the messy divorce or the battery charge.

In this case, Gibson tried to deflect Richards’ queries, but Dean-o kept hammering away at him before ending the interview with a mention of Gibson’s movie. After they said goodbye, but with Gibson still on-camera and with his mike on, we hear a one-word comment: “Asshole.”

Gibson says he was directing the comment at his publicist, who supposedly was making faces at him. There is a moment near the very end when you see Gibson’s eyes dart offscreen, as if distracted. But I don’t know—-seems to me he’s calling Richards an asshole.

I don’t know Dean very well, but he’s always been nice to me. I’ve been a guest on WGN-TV a few times with him, and he’s always professional, courteous and fun to work with. (He’s also got great pipes. If you watch Cubs baseball or other programming on superstation on WGN-TV, you hear him doing voice-overs all the time.)

Does he push it a little bit with Gibson? Absolutely. But it’s better than the usual suck-up interview where the questioner doesn’t dare mention the elephant in the room. That said, I can see why Gibson would mutter “Asshole,” at the end of that exchange. The guy fucked up big-time four years ago, but one can understand it if he said, “That’s it, I’m done, I’m not talking about this shit in public for the rest of my life.”

We all gotta learn to let things go, whether it’s our mistakes or somebody else’s.

15 Responses to “Who you callin’ asshole, asshole!”

  1. dj4our Says:

    yeah, um….it’s old news. Richards didn’t have to bring it up. If he was gonna be a professional then he shoulda stuck to talkin’ bout the film. It’s wrong for Mel to call him an asshole but he’s right, “move on” dude.

  2. Chris Says:

    What?! Dean Richards didn’t push him at all. Have you ever seen Hannity, Beck, and Limbaugh interview Sarah Palin? Now that’s some hard-hitting stuff I tell you.

  3. Michael Says:

    Richards asks Gibson whether he thinks the public will view him differently and accept him. Let’s remind everyone who may have forgotten or moved on so we are all on the same page as Richards. Dean Richards was and is an asshole, granted a professional asshole. Instead of trying to make something newsworthy out of yourself why not allow the public to have their own reaction? These psuedo-news people hosting shows are ful of themselves and need to be reminded that they are there to report the news, they are not the news and they need to stop trying to be newsworthy. The three major network morning show hosts often attempt to be the news………Matt Lauer pushing Tom Cruise, Rosie O’Donnell going after Donald Trump, then you have a host completely out of touch like Katie Couric shoving a mic in a father’s face informing him that his son is dead then asking how he feels all in one breath. Will any of these self-absorbed talking heads let Gibson move on? Only on one condition. You can bet if Mel Gibson were to do a special Dr. Phil interview and snivel the only way he would get off the hook is if the show turned in good ratings. A high rating snivelfest is the only sign of a milked dry scandal the megalo-media recognizes.

  4. Mel Brooks Says:

    The reporter was an asshole & got nailed for it. Tough shit.

  5. Mark Says:

    I going to agree with Michael on this one. The whole time I watched this video I just felt bad for Mel Gibson. Poor, drunk, anti-semetic Mel Gibson. But honestly, I did feel bad for the guy. “Dean-o” was being a total asshole, so maybe now he can tone it down a bit with the personal questions and let the movie stars (the reason people tune-in) plug their movies.

  6. Penguin Says:

    I dunno. I can sympathize with Gibson not wanting to dwell on his mistakes (no matter how substantial), but this is also his first big starring role since it happened. Celebrity-to-public protocol has some pretty time-honored rules, and one of them is that the celebrity has to expect questions about his/her most recent fuck-up when promoting a new project. When the next movie/tv show/whatever rolls around, then the celebrity can make with the “I’d rather not get into that awful time of my life” business.

    For most celebrities, this cycle takes about six months (or in the case of Hugh Grant, 36 hours), not four-plus years. Sure, he’s tired of talking about it by now, but he still must know how the game is played.

  7. Chris Says:

    Since this does pertain to Mel Gibson, I don’t think you’ll mind a little disagreement here Richard. I just saw “Edge of Darkness” today, and that one is a total A+. It was one of the best “Revenge” movies that I’ve ever seen! This might sound like blasphemy, but I felt it was on par with “Inglourious Basterds” as a revenge flick. Christoph Waltz is probably going to get best supporting actor for that one, but Mel Gibson’s lead performance was just as memorable for me in this one. That thousand-yard stare, the grizzly face, straight up bad-ass I tell you! As you said in your review, Ray Winstone fits perfectly as well. Not many character actors out there right now that are as good as he is. btw, it’s great to see you back doing video reviews again, real top-shelf stuff. Just a tad bit off on that one though. hehehe

  8. Sean Says:

    totally agree with you here.

  9. MJBodnarek Says:

    I agree with Mel Gibson, it was 4 years ago and nobody cares anymore. He came on the show to promote the show, not to talk about his personal life, that has been talked about to death already. I loved Edge of Darkness and would give it 3 and a half stars out of 4.

  10. KIlburn Hall Says:


    It was only a five-minute interview with WGN-TV film critic Dean Richards but Mel Gibson was twitching like a crack-addict the entire time. Veteran Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9 entertainment reporter and critic Dean Richards who has interviewed hundreds of Hollywood stars over the years but when Richards respectfully asked Gibson the “hard-ball” question: the “ups and downs” of Gibson’s career, including his drinking problems and anti-Semitic rants and about how the public perceives him four-years later, Gibson said he had done his “mea culpas” for all that and kept telling Richards to “move on, dude.” Then after Gibson apparently thought the interview was over and the camera turned off, the actor muttered the word “asshole,” seemingly meant as a derogatory comment about the WGN reporter who had just quizzed him. Despite Gibson’s impolite behavior, Richards kept his professionalism throughout and gave Mel’s new movie, Edge Of Darkness a pretty good review.

    Gibson became a cultural firebrand, directing the 2004 box-office smash “The Passion of the Christ” and 2006 action epic “Apocalypto.” He became a cultural pariah in July 2006 after making obscene and anti-Semitic remarks while police arrested him in Malibu, Calif. He was accused of speeding and driving under the influence.Gibson largely disappeared after the incident.

    Some, though, wonder whether Gibson’s image has been permanently damaged.“I think that drunk-driving tirade confirmed a lot of people’s suspicions about the kind of person Mel Gibson is,” says Matthew Traub, managing director at Dan Klores Communications. Gibson rejects the notion that he’s damaged goods and says events of his recent past won’t harm his relationship with Hollywood studios.”That’s mostly newspaper hype, OK? I can get in with the studio, work with them or work independently as I wish. And I’ll go on as I always have.”

    Yeah and pigs fly.

    In revenge roles, as an actor, Mel Gibson has few peers, but movie producers know that Gibson’s best years are behind him. Even Clint Eastwood had to acknowledge that few people want to see 60-year-old’s doing action flicks. As a movie director, most movie distributors know that a Gibson film comes with too much baggage, they’re tired of his tirades, don’t need the scandals and stress that come from working with him and few movie studios want to.

    The actor has more film projects in the works. He just completed the offbeat comedy “The Beaver,” directed by longtime friend Jodie Foster, and has written a prison drama, “How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” and will star in it later this year.Then there are plans to direct Leonardo DiCaprio in a Viking epic that will employ Old Norse dialogue.

    Now, Gibson yet again, has embroiled himself in yet another controversy. He either doesn’t see the fallout of his boorish behavior or thinks he’s immune to it. seven-years without a film to his name should have told him something. The public thinks Mel Gibson is a crazy person. They have moved on and are just tired of him.

  11. Michael Says:

    “…seven-years without a film to his name should have told him something…” ~Kilburn Hall

    And what do you think of James Cameron? Gibson has his name on several films in the last seven years. You may say not as an actor, however, we are speaking of Mel Gibson of Braveheart, Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto… it is safe to say he is a far better director and producer than actor anyway.

  12. Omnibus Driver Says:

    If Gibson and his team of publicists hadn’t had any warning that Dean Richards might broach this subject, I’d be sympathetic. However, according to Dean, he repeatedly turned down an opportunity to interview Gibson unless there were no conditions placed on it.

    My take on the interview is that Gibson didn’t want to do the interview at all and was clearly waiting for the other shoe to drop — so much so that he overreacted from the get-go.

    His team of publicists also share a large share of the blame — they should have prepared him for the possibilities AND given him options for spinning his answers in a positive way. He… and they… failed miserably.

  13. sanford sklansky Says:

    I don’t think Dean Richards was too tough at all. It was a legitimate question. As far as I know Gibson has not spoken about what happened. Not that he had to. But I think as a public person he has to expect some questions. He hasn’t been in a movie in a long time. I am guessing that is because of what happened.

    If you had read Richards blog, you would have known that he had passed on the interview a couple of times. I can understand Gibson’s pr people not wanting anyone to as about Gibsons past. Blame it on the PR people for relenting and letting Richards do the interview.

  14. Tom S Says:

    It was an absolutely legitimate line of questioning. Whether the DUI/religious slur incident happened last week, four years ago or twenty years ago, this is Mel Gibson’s first foray back into a mainstream lead actor role. He wants to promote his movie by going on this satellite interview so that people will hear about it and go buy tickets and make Mel Gibson richer. Just because Mel thinks he is absolved because of all the “mea culpas” he did back then, it is appropriate to ask how he thinks the American movie going public will feel about it. If he doesn’t want to address those types of questions, don’t do the interviews. Dean Richards was not confrontational or paparazzi-like in his questions. If anything, he lobbed it to Mel in a pretty easy set up. Mel should have had a prepared response to make him look sincere and contrite. Instead, his response made him come across as arrogant and really brings into question who the real asshole is.

  15. Josey. Says:

    There’s a scary thing happening in our society these days where everyone is hiding behind a new little red book of what “right” is and if you make a mistake and step outside of that, it’s o.k. to ride you to no end. I don’t like that.
    Mels a good guy. “Let’s move on, dude.”

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