Mel Gibson Developing Holocaust Drama

Mel Gibson Developing Holocaust Drama
Mel Gibson
Giulio Marcocchi/Sipa

12/07/2005 AT 09:00 AM EST

Mel Gibson, whose 2004 religious film The Passion of the Christ fueled charges of anti-Semitism, is reportedly developing a four-hour, non-fiction TV miniseries for ABC that is set against the Holocaust.

Should the project move ahead for the 2006-07 season, Gibson's TV production company will base the work on the self-published memoir of the real-life love story of Flory A. Van Beek, a Dutch Jew whose non-Jewish boyfriend sheltered her from the Nazis, according to reports in Variety and The New York Times.

As was widely noted at the time of Passion's release (and again brought up in Wednesday's Times coverage of this new project), Gibson's father, Hutton Gibson, has repeatedly denied that the Holocaust actually happened – terming it mostly "fiction" – and asserted that there were more Jews alive in Europe after World War II than before.

In 2004, Mel Gibson said that some of his best friends "have numbers on their arms," in reference to the serial numbers that the Nazis tattooed on their concentration camp prisoners, and acknowledged about the Holocaust: "Yes, of course. Atrocities happened. War is horrible. The Second World War killed tens of millions of people. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps."

When Diane Sawyer interviewed Gibson at the time of the Passion controversy about his father's comments about the Holocaust, the actor-filmmaker told her not "to go there."

ABC executive Quinn Taylor, anticipating critics' responses to Gibson's taking on a Holocaust-related project, told Variety: "I would tell them to shut up and wait to see the movie, and then judge." Taylor added, to The New York Times: "Controversy's publicity, and vice versa."

There has been no direct comment from Mel Gibson, 49, regarding the new project.

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