Mel Gibson is stirring passions again with his latest project — a nonfiction TV movie set against the backdrop of the Holocaust.
Gibson’s Con Artist Productions is developing “Flory” for ABC, based on the true story of a Dutch Jew named Flory Van Beek and her non-Jewish boyfriend who sheltered her from the Nazis, The New York Times and Variety reported in Wednesday editions.
Critics claimed Gibson’s blockbuster film “Passion of the Christ” was anti-Semitic, a charge Gibson has denied. Gibson’s father also is on the record denying that the Holocaust took place.
“For [Gibson] to be associated with this movie is cause for concern,” Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Melrose Park, Pa., told the Times. “He needs to come clean that he repudiates Holocaust denial.”
Gibson was in Mexico working on his upcoming film “Apocalypto” and couldn’t be reached for comment.
Quinn Taylor, ABC’s senior vice president in charge of television movies, had a harsh reply for early critics.
“Shut up and wait to see the movie, and then judge,” Taylor, who oversaw ABC’s Emmy-winning miniseries “Anne Frank,” told Variety. “I’m not about to rewrite history. I’m going to explore an amazing love story that we can all learn from and, hopefully, be inspired by.”
As recounted in the 1998 memoir “Flory: Survival in the Valley of Death,” Van Beek and her husband survived the sinking of their ship as they tried to flee Holland, then three years of hiding during the German occupation.
The movie has not been formally green-lighted and wouldn’t air until at least the 2006-07 season.