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Mel Gibson movie appeal little changed by tapes: poll


Mel Gibson poses during the Spanish premiere of the film "Edge of Darkness" in Madrid February 1, 2010. REUTERS/Juan Medina
Mel Gibson poses during the Spanish premiere of the film "Edge of Darkness" in Madrid February 1, 2010. REUTERS/Juan Medina

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Mel Gibson may be suffering one of the worst media scandals of his career, but a new poll shows it is having a relatively small impact on the movie star's box office appeal.

In a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll released on Monday, more than three quarters of Americans said they would not be affected by audiotapes of phone calls, widely reported to be Gibson ranting at his estranged ex-girlfriend, when deciding whether to see one of the Oscar winner's films.

Asked if they were less likely to buy a ticket for a Gibson movie after hearing the tapes posted on the Internet, 76 percent of Americans -- including 80 percent of men and 72 percent of women -- picked , "No, no effect," in the poll by magazine Vanity Fair and television news program 60 Minutes.

Gibson, whose movies include "Braveheart" and "The Passion of the Christ," has in the past been embroiled in other scandals including making anti-Semitic comments to a California police officer in 2006.

In the now infamous tapes of calls between he and former girlfriend and Russian-born model Oksana Grigorieva, a voice said to be Gibson's rants and curses during an argument dealing with their baby daughter.

The tapes, which were posted in July at Radaronline.com, made headlines worldwide and since then, film industry pundits have wondered what the long-term fallout would be on Gibson's movie career and box office appeal.

He has two movies that have wrapped production, "The Beaver" and "How I Spent My Summer Vacation." His most recent "Edge of Darkness," which landed in theaters this past January, failed to ignite much of a spark at box offices.

In a separate poll question, Republican Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice presidential candidate whose rift with the former fiancee of her teenage daughter, Bristol, also has attracted recent U.S. tabloid coverage, was deemed an ineffective future president by 59 percent of Americans.

Six in ten Americans -- including 75 percent of Democrats, 40 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of Independents -- said Palin would not make an effective President, while only 26 percent overall believed she would have the ability to fulfill the role, according to the Vanity Fair/60 Minutes poll.

And contrary to the vampire mania that has spread in recent years among films, books and TV shows such as the popular "Twilight" and "True Blood," the poll said more Americans believe in ghosts than vampires.

Asked to choose which was most believable among vampires, ghosts, U.F.O.'s, Bigfoot, or the Loch Ness Monster, 33 percent overall picked ghosts, followed closely by U.F.O.'s at 30 percent. Vampires scored a mere seven percent.

The poll, which is posted at VF.com, is a monthly measure of U.S. attitudes on topics including culture, lifestyle, current events, and politics. The CBS News interviewing facility conducted a random sample of 847 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone.

(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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