And no, it’s not a documentary or PSA about the dangers of being a complete asshole. Well, not in the technical sense; it does appear to be a movie about rich assholes.
Variety reports that Mel Gibson, hot on the heels of a (checks notes) Santa Claus movie (???) and Shia LaBeouf, who recently played his own greasy dad, have signed on to an upcoming film called Rothchild. It’s already causing problems, and not for the reasons you might immediately assume when reading a story about Mel Gibson or Shia LaBeouf.
According to Variety, Rothchild is a dark comedy set in New York about a “super-rich” family, named the Rothchilds. Shia will play Becket Rothchild, who was once cast out of the family, and crafts a plan to get back in and get that Rothchild money. Nine family members stand between him and the money, including the film’s villain, Becket’s dad, Whitelaw Rothchild, played by Mel Gibson. Producer Keith Kjarval describes it as a “satirical and thrilling ride.”
According to The Daily Beast, quite a few people have realized it sounds a lot like the super-rich Jewish family, the Rothschilds, a family that goes back to the 1700s and has ties to New York. Like Nicky Hilton’s husband James Rothschild, grandson of Victor Rothschild, 3rd Baron Rothschild. It’s not known if the movie Rothchilds are also Jewish. But since it’s Mel “Trying Real Hard To Make You Forget About That Stuff I Said About Jewish People” Gibson, my guess is: whatever his PR person advised him to do.
Naturally, people had some issues with Mel Gibson playing a possibly-Jewish villain.
To paraphrase Dana Carvey’s Church Lady, it’s all a little too conveeeeenient. Mel’s rep stepped in, and he would like us all to know that any similarities are purely coincidental. His publicist Alan Nierob released the following statement on Monday regarding Mel’s new project:
“I feel the need to spare you any embarrassment as I’m told this film is about a fictional family (hence the name ‘Rothchild’) vs the Rothschild family to which you are referring. Completely unrelated to your premise and angle. Hopefully this is helpful to you.”
The Daily Beast also reached out to the film’s producers to see if they could clear up exactly who these Rothchilds were based on, and The Daily Beast claims they were told they’d get a statement, but they never got one. CAA, who represent Mel Gibson, declined to comment.
Just as you’d expect to get a letter from a Disney lawyer if you tried to trademark a character called Ricky Mouse, I’m pretty sure that deleting one letter from Rothschild doesn’t make this a totally different family. This movie is a mess, and it hasn’t even started filming yet! This is totally going to end with Mel conveniently leaving for “personal reasons.” But then who will play Papa Rothchild? I’ve got an idea…
Christopher Plummer! He’s the guy you call when you’ve got a PR nightmare on your hands. Plus, he’s already a pro at playing a shitty rich dad. I’m sure he can cover for Shia too if (aka when) something messy happens with him. Christopher, keep your schedule open.
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