Did you hear the one about Mel Gib­son and the beaver pup­pet?

Modern Healthcare - - Editorial -

Some­how a movie star­ring the con­tro­ver­sial Mel Gib­son–as a de­pressed toy ex­ec­u­tive who will only com­mu­ni­cate with oth­ers through his beaver hand pup­pet–bombed at the box of­fice in lim­ited re­lease, de­spite the ful­lon sup­port of men­tal health or­ga­ni­za­tions and de­cent re­views from crit­ics.

The Na­tional Al­liance on Men­tal Ill­ness, one of the or­ga­ni­za­tions back­ing the movie “The Beaver,” spon­sored a so­cial-ac­tion cam­paign to raise aware­ness of men­tal ill­ness that was tied to the movie’s re­lease, a cam­paign that in­cluded ef­forts to de-stig­ma­tize men­tal ill­ness and de­pres­sion and pro­vide sup­port tools and re­sources to fam­i­lies of loved ones who are men­tally ill. (In­for­ma­tion on the cam­paign can be found at Par­tic­i­pant­Media.com.) NAMI was even able to snag an in­ter­view with di­rec­tor and co-star Jodie Fos­ter for its mag­a­zine, Ad­vo­cate.

Not for noth­ing do both Gib­son and Fos­ter have Academy Awards. Re­view­ers were mostly pos­i­tive on “The Beaver,” which got “fresh” rat­ings from 62% of crit­ics tracked on the web­site Rot­ten­Toma­toes.com as of May 12. Nonethe­less, the good re­views and pos­i­tive men­tal health mes­sage were not enough to at­tract many view­ers. The Los An­ge­les Times said the movie flopped with an es­ti­mated open­ing week­end gross of $104,000, re­sult­ing in what it called “a pal­try” per-the­ater av­er­age of $4,745.

Art­ful pro­ceed­ings

Hop­ing to get a piece of the art col­lec­tion of dis­graced health­care ex­ec­u­tive Richard Scrushy? Well, you’re too late. An auc­tion of the art owned by the for­mer HealthSouth Corp. CEO was held May 15 in Philadel­phia, with pro­ceeds ear­marked for his for­mer com­pany and its share­hold­ers. Free­man’s, a 206-year-old auc­tion house in down­town Philly, han­dled the pro­ceed­ings.

HealthSouth won a $2.9 bil­lion civil judg­ment against Scrushy in 2009 af­ter he was con­victed on fed­eral corruption charges. This month an ap­peals court threw out two bribery con­vic­tions but let most of the corruption charges stand.

HealthSouth share­hold­ers have been seiz­ing and sell­ing ev­ery­thing from “the $5 mil­lion lake house to the $3 lamp­shade” to re­coup the money, says share­holder lawyer John Q. Somerville of Birm­ing­ham, Ala., where HealthSouth is head­quar­tered.

The 16 Scrushy pieces that were sched­uled to be auc­tioned in­cluded a rare 1965 Pi­casso print (es­ti­mated value $50,000-$80,000); a Renoir litho­graph ($50,000-$80,000); a Sal­vador Dali wa­ter­color ($40,000-$60,000); and a Cha­gall ink and wash on pa­per ($50,000-$70,000).

“An in­fa­mous name is, I think, help­ful in bring­ing at­ten­tion to the fine art,” Anne Henry of Free­man’s told the Philadel­phia Inquirer. “And the ob­jects speak for them­selves.”

Free­man’s is no stranger to art col­lec­tions con­nected to trou­bled busi­ness deal­ings; last year it auc­tioned off parts of the vast Lehman Bros. col­lec­tion.

GETTY IM­AGES

Mel Gib­son and the movie’s epony­mous beaver pup­pet, shown dur­ing film­ing in New York City in Oc­to­ber 2009.

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