Eli Roth has come to the defence of Russell Crowe over a Jewish joke that went too far.
Gladiator star Crowe appeared to be attacking Jewish parents who circumcise their kids in a recent rant on Twitter.com, branding the practise "barbaric and stupid" and "man's interpretation of what God requires".
He asked, "Who are you to correct nature? Is it real that God requires a donation of foreskin? Babies are perfect. (I have) many Jewish friends, I love my Jewish friends, I love the apples and the honey and the funny little hats but stop cutting yr (your) babies."
He then responded to several critics who took him to task for his opinion by adding, "We can get by without little fingers and toes too, we can still be fully human missing limbs... I will always stand for the perfection of babies."
But now Crowe and his Twitter.com pal Roth, who is Jewish, have insisted the whole thing was just a joke - and wasn't meant to offend.
Taking aim at a Hollywood Reporter article which branded Crowe an anti-Semite for his remarks, Roth tells TMZ.com, "It's tabloid journalism at its worst. No one contacted either of us. It's terrible. Russell is a great person and respectful of all religions.
"The press is trying to terrify celebrities into not using Twitter. They want to show they can still ruin you. It's sickening."
The controversy has prompted Crowe to remove the correspondence from his Twitter.com account and apologize for any offense he caused.
In a tweet on Friday (10Jun11), he writes, "I realize that some will interpret this debate as me mocking the rituals and traditions of others. I am very sorry."
He added, "I have a deep and abiding love for all people of all nationalities."
He also issued a statement via his publicist, which read, "I am deeply sorry for any distress I have caused by my insensitive remarks."