Disney Makes Gibson-Ade

I have to take a moment to commend the Walt Disney Co. for making the most of a bad situation.

Back in July, when Mel Gibson took a break from his busy duties as the "owner" of Malibu to spew anti-Semitic and sexist bile after being stopped for drunk driving, it looked like Disney had a category-five mess on its hands. The Disney-owned ABC quickly jettisoned the Holocaust-set miniseries that Gibson was developing. Would the company's Touchstone Pictures release the director's new film, Apocalypto, in December, as planned?

But where other's may have seen a liability, Disney saw opportunity. The company not only stood by Mel and his movie, it exacted a little reciprocity by getting him to sit down with ABC's Diane Sawyer for a two-part Good Morning America heal-in last week. (See how B&C handicapped Sawyer's odds in August: .) ABC even turned him into a punchline on its hit Ugly Betty, in which a character describes a looming scandal as "Mel Gibson bad."

And one of the featured advertisers on ABC.com's broadband video player? Mel Gibson's Apocalypto…in theaters December 8.

Joel Topcik