Did you hear the one about Mel Gibson and the beaver puppet?
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.
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.
Mel Gibson and the movie’s eponymous beaver puppet, shown during filming in New York City in October 2009.