Funnyman Steve Martin has launched a satirical attack on Mel Gibson and his controversial film The Passion Of The Christ.

Comedian and actor Martin has penned a sharply worded column for THE NEW YORKER magazine, in which he questions Gibson's motives for making the hit movie.

In the column, Martin writes that "Stan" - a fictitious studio boss - sends Gibson "studio script notes" on the movie where he effuses enthusiastically about the commercial and dramatic prospects for the script he has received.

However, Stan suggests some changes to increase the movie's appeal.

Martin writes, "Dear Mel, We love, love the script! The ending works great. You'll be getting a call from us to start negotiations for the book rights."

Stan believes that Jesus is such a "likeable" character and because he "can't seem to catch a break" everyone will be able to identify with him.

However, Stan does not understand why Jesus does not use his "superpowers" to save himself.

He suggests a shot of two spectators to clarify the point where the first one poses the question and the second replies, "He can only save use his superpowers to save others."

A list of helpful suggestions are made by Stan, such as "Does it matter which garden? Gethesemane is hard to say, and Eden is a much more recognisable garden. Just thinking out loud."

Other suggestions Stan makes include, "Could the rabbis be Hispanic? There's lots of hot Latino actors now, could give us a little zing at the box office" and "Possible title change: 'Lethal Passion'. Kinda works."

Martin's Stan also calls for product placement in the epic movie, which has grossed $127 million (GBP70.5 million) in less than two weeks.

Stan asks, "Is there someplace where Jesus could be using an iBook?

"Think about it. Maybe we start a shot in Heaven with Jesus thoughtfully closing the top."

08/03/2004 13:50