At least Mike Tyson is honest enough not to judge Mel Gibson, his almost-costar in 'The Hangover 2.'

Some of his fellow cast members reportedly nixed Gibson's planned cameo in the film, but today's New York Post quotes Tyson as saying he was "100 percent" in favor of working with the scandal-plagued actor/director. "I'm not going to ever in my life point my finger at anyone. I don't live in a glass house. None of us do. I work with anybody, as long as they're respectful," the boxer said. "We all have that guy -- a Mel Gibson -- in us. We just don't want people to be exposed to it. Maybe he needs to go get help. We all need help, and need someone to talk to. I'm not against him, but I'm not for him."

Tyson seems more generous to Gibson than Gibson allegedly was towards him. A Post article from earlier this week quotes a source close to Gibson as saying, "He doesn't understand why Mike Tyson, a drug user who turned his life around, was given a chance while Mel was kicked to the curb. Everybody deserves a second chance."

Besides his drug past, Tyson is also a convicted rapist, something everyone in Hollywood seems to have forgotten, in no small part because his career rehab via cameo in 'The Hangover' was so well-executed. So Gibson is right to wonder why Hollywood (and the audience) forgives some celebrities but not others. Cinematical's Monica Bartyzel has come up with some possible reasons, but I believe the answer may lie with... Charlie Sheen.

How many times can Sheen backslide as spectacularly as he did this week with his Plaza Hotel incident before his TV network and TV audience reject him?



Well, the TV audience won't reject him in large measure because 'Two and a Half Men' gets much of its humor from the similarity between Sheen's real life and his bad boy TV character. Both are known for hookers and substance abuse, yet both are also successful entertainers who manage to evade the consequences of their misdeeds. Sheen's lurid hotel-room misadventure may disappoint his employers and his family, but for everyone else, he's just staying in character.

And it may not even disappoint his employers that much. After all, as Forbes points out, Sheen's show remains TV's most popular comedy (averaging 15.2 million viewers a week, an amazing feat for a show in its eighth season). It also has the highest ad rate ($207,000 for each 30-second spot) of any comedy on TV except 'The Office.' It earned $155 million for CBS last year and untold millions for Warner Bros. Television (the show's producer) in license fees from CBS and syndication to FX and other channels. Sheen may be the highest-paid performer on TV (nearly $2 million per episode), but he's also a cash cow to his bosses.

In other words, Sheen continues to do the two things required to keep a scandal-magnet star in the good graces of both the industry and the viewers: he's consistently entertaining, and he makes money.

That's really all it takes. There used to be a third requirement, an abject public apology (like Hugh Grant's mea culpa before Jay Leno after his own hooker scandal), but even a pilgrimage to atone before Jay (or Oprah, or Larry King) isn't really necessary anymore. Just the first two.

For instance: Roman Polanski? Not the least bit apologetic, but still makes great movies ('The Ghost Writer') that make a modest profit. Lindsay Lohan? Hasn't done anything really entertaining in a while (including, unfortunately, her self-parodying 'Machete' cameo), but if she ever does (and she certainly could, she's a talented enough actress), her lurid lifestyle won't concern us so much. Tom Cruise? He made us laugh with his unexpected turn in 'Tropic Thunder,' which became a huge hit, so now he's crazy like a fox. Michael Richards? He did apologize on a talk show, but he wasn't funny, so, no soup for him.

And Gibson? If 'Edge of Darkness' had pleased audiences and sold tickets, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now. But in the absence of a recent success, there's a vacuum that's filled only by talk of his legal battle with ex- girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva and her allegations that he assaulted and threatened her.

Mel Gibson

Still, Gibson has some powerful friends who will stick by him no matter what. One of them is Jodie Foster, and if her movie 'The Beaver' ever gets out of release-date limbo and into theaters, it could make people reconsider Gibson as a serious actor. Another, surprisingly, is 'Hangover 2' director Todd Phillips, who insisted at a press conference Wednesday that Gibson was never fired from his movie. "Someone was doing me a favor to come in for a two-minute cameo, and we changed it," E! Online quotes Phillips as saying. "It wasn't like we fired somebody. [Gibson] was just doing a favor from the beginning." That's some impressive spin; it sounds like Phillips is trying to sound like a) a strong director who (despite reports to the contrary) was not overruled by his own mutinous cast, and b) a Hollywood player who wants to maintain friendly ties with Gibson while making sure Gibson's career bridges haven't been burnt.

There is one more thing GIbson could do, following Tyson's example: let a lot of time go by. When Tyson landed the 'Hangover' gig two years ago, his troublesome behavior was seen in Hollywood as a thing of the distant past (though that turned out not to be true), while Gibson's seems ongoing. It takes time for people to forgive and forget.

Take Rob Lowe, for a final example. Today, no one remembers his 1988 sex-and-videotape scandal at that year's Democratic National Convention. It helped that he winked at the incident a bit in the 1999 pilot of 'The West Wing,' but what helped more was that 'The West Wing' turned out to be a huge success and a classic TV drama, in which Lowe gave an excellent performance. In the meantime, however, he'd spent 11 years wandering in the showbiz wilderness, waiting for another big break, a shot at redemption.

No doubt some viewers were even more offended by another embarrassing video he made a few months after his DNC escapade: his wretched musical performance alongside Snow White during the 1989 Oscar telecast. Because that's the one thing a star can do that's harder to forgive than notorious offscreen behavior: cease to be entertaining.