The top Mel Gibson-related entertainment news from the week fo November 22, 1996

By Jessica Shaw
Updated November 22, 1996 at 05:00 AM EST
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Are you talking to Mel? Ransom‘s Mel Gibson is just the latest Hollywood star to add luster to one of New York City’s most dangerous professions. In addition to filmmaker Edward Burns, who was on the meter in She’s the One, and Donal Logue, who hacks De Niro-style in MTV promo spots, Sylvester Stallone will give New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission a good name in December’s Daylight, while Gibson will play a cabbie who gets into trouble with the FBI in next year’s action thriller Conspiracy Theory. ”It’s great seeing movie stars playing taxi drivers,” says Allan Fromberg, spokesman for New York City’s TLC. ”With a star like Mel in one of our cars, people forget the stereotypes and come away with a positive image of drivers.” And Gibson, for one, took his role seriously enough to get behind a wheel and ferry a few passengers — at the risk of being recognized: ”I picked up this one guy and he said, ‘Aren’t you … ?’ and I said, ‘Hey, what are you talking about? Get out. The ride’s free.’ ”
Jessica Shaw

Riding high after Braveheart, Gibson may soon turn his attention to Italy’s Palio, the famous bareback horse races held each summer in Siena’s magnificent red-brick Piazza del Campo. The actor and his family were spotted in August among the tourists who were attending the famed 1,000-year-old race — which pits 17 neighborhoods against one another and is so fiercely competitive it has long invited allegations of illegal betting and drugged horses. During his four-day visit, Gibson, who was reportedly also there with his Braveheart cinematographer, John Toll, did manage to participate in local life. ”I slept in the street and got badgered by drunks,” jokes Gibson. ”I got to sleep in the stable with the horses.” He was even seen celebrating with the winners. Though details of the project are still sketchy, Gibson says a script is in the works and that he’d definitely like to helm the film. ”It’s a story I’ve had in my head for about 15 years.”
Susan Patrick and Rebecca Ascher-Walsh

Apparently Ransom director Ron Howard isn’t familiar with the concept of corporate synergy. In the dramatic plot-twisting scene of Howard’s Disney film, Gibson’s character puts a bounty on the lives of his son’s kidnappers via a TV news program. But instead of using the Disney-owned ABC News, the film features the news from Fox TV. ”It was the director’s decision,” says a Disney spokeswoman. ”It made creative sense for the picture, and it’s not something we would meddle in.” New York City Fox news anchor Rosanna Scotto, who plays herself in the film, weighed in on the issue. ”Ron told me his daughter loves Fox,” she says. And Howard clearly liked Scotto enough to let her rewrite her own scene. ”We scrapped the script and just said what we would have said if it were a real breaking story,” Scotto adds. The plan worked. When she finished the scene, ”the whole crew gave us a standing ovation.”

You’re on location in New York City, but 3,000 miles away your house may be burning down. What do you do? That was the scenario facing Gibson last month when raging brush fires threatened homes in the Malibu area. Gibson, with his family, was in Manhattan filming the upcoming Conspiracy Theory when, he says, ”I got a call that the fire had reached my backyard. So my wife and I got some friends to go in the house and get out things, like pictures of the kids.” But the rescuers left behind two important trophies: Gibson’s double Oscars for this year’s Best Picture winner, Braveheart. ”All of a sudden it dawned on me that the golden boys were trapped inside,” says the actor. ”I said, ‘Don’t let the boys burn!’ ” In the end the dual statuettes were saved and the house was spared. Now, says Gibson, he can get on with business as usual. ”They each weigh eight pounds, so I use [the Oscars] as weights,” he jokes. ”Where do you think I got these biceps?”


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