Penitent Mel Gibson turns on the charm to plug film

With a movie coming out and a tattered reputation to mend following his drunken anti-Semitic tirade this summer, Mel Gibson is embarking on a renewed charm offensive.

In the grand tradition of American sinners seeking redemption - not to mention the tradition of actor-directors with product to push - he has recorded a two-part conversation with the prominent celebrity interviewer Diane Sawyer, which will begin airing on Good Morning America this week.

It may be no coincidence that Sawyer's network, ABC, is owned by Walt Disney, which also has the unenviable task of promoting Gibson's Apocalypto, a chronicle of the brutal demise of the Mayan civilisation featuring a cast of Mayan-speaking unknowns.

It will be Gibson's first significant exposure to the public since being pulled over by a Malibu police officer in July and letting out a torrent of anti-Semitic invective. At one recent advance screening of his film in Oklahoma, he showed up in a mask and wig. At another screening in Texas, he answered fans' questions about the film, but did not discuss his personal demons.

Mel Gibson is in court-ordered rehab - he pleaded no contest to drunk-driving charges in August - and has also held private meetings with Jewish leaders. Not everyone has been impressed by his efforts. "You would think that he would also find time to say that he wants to address his terrible statements," Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles said last week. "His remarks were so anti-Semitic and so hurtful to Jews. You can't make amends for that by talking on the phone to 12 Jews you know from Hollywood."

Both ABC and Gibson's publicist were keeping mum about the exact content of his interview. "We'll have to wait and see," spokesman Alan Nierob told the Associated Press.