Gibson, Glaad clear the air

GOOD MORNING: Mel Gibson was invited to meet with reps of Glaad (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) to talk about the long-brewing beef about quotes attributed to him, plus scenes in his pix — all derogatory to the gay community, they claim. Pickets from Glaad greeted him at the preems of his pix, including the big bow of “Braveheart.” Gibson has chosen not to give any credence to any of the homophobic quotes and other attributed remarks, or to respond to criticism of those scenes in his pix. But he agreed to meet last week with members of Glaad, including managing director William Waybourn, who winged out from the org’s Washington h.q. He was joined by L.A. office members Tamra King and John Hennings; Gibson was accompanied by his longtime agent and friend Ed Limato, press agent Alan Nierob of Rogers & Cowan, and Gibson’s Icon partner Dean Lopata. “It was just getting to know each other and to work together,” said King. The organization was pleased with Eddie Murphy’s recent statement recanting his youthful quotes. “That apology built bridges,” said Alan Klein, Glaad media director. “Bridges have not been built here (with Gibson) yet, but it’s a step in resolving (the issue). The ball is now in his court.” They discussed minsconceptions about each other. I was told it was “mutually beneficial.” Gibson’s Nierob emphasized, “The gay community should know he is not homophobic, nor has he ever spoken out against them (gays).” But Waybourn said there are “reams of material” to the contrary. However, he noted this meeting was “very cordial and the potential is enormous and we look forward to subsequent meetings.” Was there any talk of a Gibson statement, appearance for Glaad or a PSA or — ? “Nothing was asked for by us — or him,” Waybourn said. But it’s no secret the gay community — a hefty moviegoing group — has recently boycotted, or shall we say avoided, Mel Gibson movies.

TAKE ANOTHER DEEP BREATH for “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”– the movie to-be, that is. David Vogel, president of Walt Disney Pictures, says Tim Allen told him the 1954 Disney classic starring Kirk Douglas is his favorite picture of all time. And since Allen has an allegiance to Disney, small and large screen, it’s no stretch of the imagination to picture Allen starring in the 1997, contemporized Jules Verne version … Memories are made of this: Hal David’s 75th black-tied birthday bash, given by loving wife Eunice at the Four Seasons, was one for the memory book. David was surrounded and serenaded by fellow music masters, as well as civilian admirers, all of whom had nothing but bon mots and tuneful tributes to the always-kind David. With Rudy Varone at the piano, songs by David were woven into the show by Paul Williams, emcee Joe Smith and Burt Bacharach (playing, singing “Alfie”); Jay Livingston (three-time Oscar winner with Ray Evans) borrowed Cole Porter’s music to parody-sing “You’re the Top” to David. Selma and I even duetted Evans-Livingston’s B’way tune “You’re So Right for Me,” dedicated to Hal and Eunice. Red Buttons, acknowledging Hal’s hits, told of his “near-misses” like “How Are Things in Bora Bora?” or “52nd Street,” etc. … Nancy Reed (Kanter) and Corky Hale on piano teamed to serenade Hal, who sang his “If I Could Love You More” to wife Eunice … The holiday weekend also was a gala one at La Costa for the ERAS Center’s annual Carl Reiner pro-celeb Tennis and Golf Tourney. Reiner was absent this year, directing “That Old Feeling” in Canada. However, John Byner beautifully subbed, weaving in his hilarious impersonations while introducing comics Bobby Slayton, Bruce Smirnoff, Steve Shaffer, Barry Diamond and — Sid Caesar. Jodi Berry not only sang — but also won the auction bid to have plastic surgery done by Dr. Mark Berman! Gloria and Mike Franks’ weekender brought in more than $220,000 for the ERAS Center, $100,000 of which was donated by Joni (Mrs. Jodi) Berry. Barbara Cull, ERAS Center executive director, said they are now halfway to buying the new $6 million facility. American Airlines, Big Dog, Evian and the Milken Foundation were among the sponsors.

KEANU REEVES IS EXPECTED to be released today from the hospital after being treated for a broken leg sustained in a motorcycle accident Monday. Of course you know he starred in “Speed” and just wound “Chain Reaction”… Producer Bobby Cohn (75), who died of a heart attack Sunday while working at his desk, had been planning to take Evelyn Keyes on a tour of the Sony lot this week and to give her a print of “The Killer That Stalked N.Y.,” which he produced with her starring at Columbia in the truly halcyon days of his family, Harry Cohn and company at Columbia. Bobby (did anyone ever call him Robert?) was a constant supporter and booster of the industry — and a fixture at charity events. His smiling face will be missed …”At the Beach” on E!s “Talk Soup” this week are “live” alumni of sand and sea pics: Frankie Avalon, Sandra Dee and Tab Hunter, among ’em.

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