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Reed Saxon  /  AP file
Mel Gibson, seen here in 2005, has found himself in the middle of controversy again.
updated 10/4/2006 1:53:41 AM ET 2006-10-04T05:53:41

Get ready for more Mel Gibson controversy.

The “Apocalypto” director recently made widely reported comments drawing parallels between Mayan culture shortly before it collapsed and America’s current situation, saying “the precursors to a civilization that’s going under are the same, time and time again,” and adding, “What’s human sacrifice if not sending guys off to Iraq for no reason?”

The organizer of the film festival where the comments were made says that the quote was “exploited out of context” — but, in fact, Gibson made several other thinly veiled references to America today. For example, the director talked about “the use of fear to manipulate people” then quipped, “so happy that doesn’t happen now.” Motivating people with fear is apparently a major theme of Gibson's new film.

“I just wanna draw the parallels,” Gibson said. “I just looked at it, and thought, we display that stuff here. I don’t wanna be a doomsayer, but the Mayan calendar ends in 2012,” he chuckled. “So have fun!”

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The film itself, according to some who’ve seen it, is so gory that it makes his notoriously blood-soaked flicks “Braveheart” and “The Passion of the Christ” look like kiddie flicks.

“The violence in the film is just downright mean and nasty,” notes a glowing review on CinemaStrikesBack. “This isn’t the kind of violence that makes you pump your fist like in a film like ‘Rocky.’ This is violence that makes you squirm in your seat and worry that it will sear your brain forever.”

More money than brains for Hilton
Paris Hilton is close to signing a deal to promote Ecoist.com, an eco-friendly accessories company, but the execs at the company are getting a tad nervous about the prospect of trotting out the heiress as a spokeswoman.

For every recycled fashion product that people buy online, Ecoist.com plants a tree through an organization called Trees for the Future.

“Ecoist is hoping that Paris will join them in October on a trip to Port-Au-Prince to plant more than 40,000 trees,” a source says. “But when she was told about the trip, Paris had no idea where Haiti was. When she was told that they speak French there [along with Creole], she said, ‘I wouldn’t mind spending a few days there and the weekend in Paris.”

Notes from all over
Tom Cruise treated his mother to a show in Vegas. The star and his fiancée Katie Holmes took his mother Mary Lee to “Beatles Love” by Cirque du Soleil at the Mirage for her 70th birthday, according to a rep for the show. Ten family members attended, including Cruise’s children Connor and Isabelle, and his sister Catherine.  This is the second time Tom, Katie, Connor and Isabelle have seen the show. All went backstage to meet the cast and crew following the show, where the cast sang “Happy Birthday” to Cruise’s mother.  . . . Billy Bob Thornton says he’s tired of playing jerks in movie roles and wants to start directing more . . . “The Girls Next Door” star Kendra Wilkinson uses her Web site to blast reality shows — and prove that she’s not exactly a wordsmith. “I want you guys to know that I know that this fantasy land I live now doesn’t last forever and I now that and thats why i go to school,” Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend writes. “This can all go away in the blink of an eye so I am also using this situation to save money for my future. Oh yeah and what you see on tv is not always the truth by the way even if its a reallity show.”

Jeannette Walls Delivers the Scoop Mondays through Thursdays on MSNBC.com

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