Mel Gibson Exclusives a Watershed Moment for TheWrap

It’s been an absolutely insane seven days at TheWrap as a result of the site’s exclusive coverage of Mel Gibson’s December 2011 Costa Rica meltdown. First came the nine-page letter written by Joe Eszterhas, followed yesterday by some frightening audio corroboration, recorded by the screenwriter’s son Nick.

“It’s a phenomenal shift moment for the site,” confirms Sharon Waxman via telephone to FishbowlLA. “We’ve never seen traffic coming in the way it has in the past week.”

TheWrap has registered hundreds of thousands of page views for each Gibson story, while social media shares have been in the tens of thousands. The Gibson coverage has also buffeted TheWrap’s international profile, with lots of UK and German linkage. When we spoke to Waxman, there was a Russian TV station crew setting up at her offices for an interview.

TheWrap’s numbers would be even larger if the audio of a sober (and perhaps severely bi-polar) Gibson had remained exclusive to the site. But because the file was shared, The Drudge Report is linking today for example to a TMZ story (with full credit to TheWrap) about the audio.

“It’s very easy to rip the audio,” Waxman says, “so we couldn’t really protect it. We spent about an hour and a half running after people before deciding to make the audio shareable. It’s been a real education this past week dealing with the different technical issues.”

An interesting offshoot in that regard has been Waxman’s decision to take advantage of some $20 software to generate split-screen Skype interviews as article enhancements. Her first such conversation was with friend and colleague Howard Kurtz, while the second features Eszterhas (embedded above).

At the other end of the tech equation, Waxman says she and her site colleagues have spent hours deleting objectionable and spam comments from the various articles. With huge Web traffic, especially when it is fed by Drudge, comes a trail of angry and sometimes demented opinion sharing. Waxman says the saner overall message emanating from the reader comments is that Gibson needs to get help ASAP.

When we wondered who might be able to intercede at the actor’s end, Waxman floated the name of Robert Downey Jr. That’s a good suggestion. If anyone knows how much can be gained from the helping hand of a showbiz friend and colleague, it’s the actor who with Gibson’s support recovered to become Tony Stark.

Previously on FishbowlLA:
TheWrap Makes Like TMZ, Scores Massive Mel Gibson Scoop

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