Tom Cruise must be breathing a sigh of relief. It's been 10 days since he's held the title of "most blatantly unhinged religious zealot" in Hollywood.
Few media outlets have questioned the whereabouts of his baby, his Scientology ties, or his tenuous relationship with Paramount. (Well, fewer than usual.)
Cruise, of course, has Mel Gibson to thank. Since the Aramaic-obsessed Oscar winner disappointed fans and colleagues with his DUI-sparked vitriol, whereby he attributed great calamities to Jewish culture, the celebrity-pariah tide has focused on him.
Gibson's "people," including Rogers & Cowan and talent agency ICM, since have positioned the actor-director as remorseful and confused, fighting for his very soul against the afflictions of lifelong alcoholism and temporary indiscretion.
The former, most anyone can forgive. A trip to rehab, in fact, often helps rejuvenate celebrity careers. Indiscretion (i.e., stupidity) in the form of unabashed anti-Semitism is another story. Industry watchers had alleged Gibson maintained such prejudicial beliefs. They don't have to allege anymore.
Gibson says - as part of his "recovery process" - he'd like to meet with Jewish community leaders to help him understand from where "those vicious words came."
This tactic may already be working. Though several prominent Hollywood types have condemned his conduct, overall Gibson has been treated with shocking lenience. This is a time where the cogs in the Hollywood publicity machine should band together to criticize Gibson with the same cohesion they normally exhibit in their silence condoning bad, but not prejudicial, behavior.
While Cruise's conduct is decidedly less offensive, moviegoers will make the ultimate decision about both their futures. In the meantime, Cruise should enjoy the break - it won't last. As for Gibson, he should carefully consider what Jesus would do. Then run it by his PR team.