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Studio Script Notes on "The Passion"

Part of: Hollywood

To:Mr. Mel Gibson 12/25/02
Subject: Studio Script Notes on "The Passion"

By Steve Martin (From The New Yorker)

Dear Mel, We love, LOVE the script! The ending works great. You'll be getting a call from us to start negotiations for the book rights. Love the Jesus character. So likable. He can't seem to catch a break! We identify with him because of it. One thing, I think we need to clearly state "the rules."

Why doesn't he use his super powers to save himself? The creative people suggest that you could simply cut away to two spectators: Spectator one Why doesn't he use his super powers to save himself? Spectator two He can only use his powers to help others, never himself.

Does it matter which garden? Gethsemane is hard to say and Eden is a much more recognizable garden. Just thinking out loud. Our creative people suggest a clock visual fading in and out in certain scenes like the last supper bit: Monday, 12:43pm." or later, "Good Friday, 5:14pm." Love the repetition of "is it I?" Could be very funny. On the eighth inquiry, could Jesus just give a little look into camera? Breaks frame, but could be a riot. Also could he change water into wine in last supper scene? Would be a great moment, and it's legit. History compression is a movie tradition and could really brighten up the scene.

Love the flaying. Could the Rabbis be Hispanic? There's lots of hot Latino actors now, could give us a little zing at the box office. Research says there's some justification for it. Is there somewhere where Jesus could be using an IMac? You know, now that I hear myself say it, it sounds ridiculous. Strike that. But think about it. Maybe we start a shot in heaven with Jesus thoughtfully closing the top? (Reminder: heaven is timeless) The studio is very high on Johnny Depp right now. Just saw him in "Pirates." He was hilarious. Might be right for Jesus? Not so straightforward. He could bring a lot of pizzazz to the role. I think a meeting would be warranted. Love the idea of Monica Belluci as Mary Magdalene (Yow!). Our creative people suggest a name change to Heather. Could skew our audience a little younger. Love Judas. Such a great villain. Our creative people suggest that he's a little "conflicted." Couldn't he be one thing? Just bad? Gives the movie much more of a motor. Also, 30 pieces of silver is not going to get anyone excited. I think it's very simple to make him a "new millionaire." Bring in the cash on a tray. Great dilemma that the audience can identify with.

Minor spelling error: on page 18, in the description of the bystanders, there should be a space between the words "Jew" and "boy." Merchandising issue: it seems the cross image has been done to death and we can't own it. Could the crucifixion scene involve something else? A Toyota would be wrong, but maybe there's a shape we can copyright, like an ellipse?

I'm assuming "the dialogue is in Aremeic," is a typo for "American." If not call me on my cell or I'm at home all weekend.

By the way, I'm sending a group of staffers on a cruise to the North Pole, coincidentally around the time of the release date. Would love to invite your dad!


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