Burt Prelutsky

By this time, I think most of us have had it up to here with Mel Gibson and Michael Richards. Still, I think a summing-up is in order. Only time will tell if Gibson’s Malibu arrest will affect his career. I know I won’t be rushing out to see “Apocalypto,” but that has less to do with his anti-Semitic rant than with my wishing to avoid a long movie about a bunch of unwashed savages who eat with their hands, paint themselves blue and don’t speak English. I’m afraid they’d remind me too much of Oakland Raider fans.

Unlike Gibson’s scandal, there is a definite upside in all this for Richards. Even though he is now a 58-year-old has-been, the good news for the man is that after all these years people might finally stop calling him Kramer, and start calling him by his right name. The bad news is they probably won’t bother, and will simply call him Moron or Big Dummy.

This brings us to the O.J. Simpson saga. There seems to be a question as to whether he was paid the princely sum of $3.5 million to lend his name to a book and a TV special devoted to how he would have butchered the mother of his children if only those drug-crazed Martians hadn’t beaten him to it. But from everything he’s said about paying off his taxes and providing an annuity for his kids, that figure can’t be too far off. What I’d like to know is how, in the wake of the judgment levied against him in the civil suit, he, and not the Goldman family, gets to pocket the loot. Is Florida, as some people have suggested, a foreign country?

I must confess I found the response by Fox TV and Harper-Collins to be somewhat amusing. They reacted as if Simpson and Judith Regan had pulled a fast one on them, substituting sheer sleaze for what Rupert Murdoch and his minions had every reason to assume would be tasteful and informative entertainment. Like Captain Renault in “Casablanca,” they were shocked…shocked to discover they had underwritten something so vile that to call it obscene would constitute the epitome of British understatement.

Knowing Murdoch as we do, one can only wonder if this isn’t all an elaborate ruse that’s been carefully hatched in that canny old brain of his. After all, he’s not one to neglect cashing in on a billion dollars worth of publicity. So, unless I’m much mistaken, it’s good-bye to a free screening on Fox, and hello to a pay-per-view special and $29.95 DVDs.