Mel unleashes his "Passion" in Washington

Our invitation was always perceptibly lost in the mail, but some folks were invited to check out a rough cut of Mel Gibson’s new film “The Passion”, earlier this week in the Washington offices of the MPAA. Facing increasing gossip that his upcoming movie depicts the Jews as being responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus, 48 Washington pundits and clergymen as well as cybergossip Matt Drudge and MPAA chief Jack Valenti were invited to see if that were true. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, one of those expressing concern, was peeved he couldn’t get a looksie. "Here’s a man who appeals to the mass audience, but he feels he has to surround himself with a cordon sanitaire of people who back him theologically and maybe ideologically and will stand up and be supportive when the time comes," Foxman tells The Washington Post. Those who did attend the screening signed a confidentiality agreement pledging not to discuss it. But Valenti remarked afterwards: "I don’t see what the controversy is all about. … This is a compelling piece of art. I just called Kirk Douglas and told him that this is the movie to beat."