Oksana Grigorieva

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment

In summer 2010, actor Mel Gibson and ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva's contentious breakup, ensuing domestic violence investigation and custody battle over their young daughter, commanded headlines around the world. The tabloid frenzy surrounding the story reached a fever point after recordings of private telephone conversations between Mel and Oksana were leaked to the press.

Behind the scenes at The Oprah Winfrey Show, senior producer Jack and his team are working to secure an interview with Oksana. "What makes this booking controversial is that there are allegations in the press that have turned into a real mudslinging—almost war," Jack says. "I think this could end up being one of the most talked-about shows of the season."

Oprah approves the booking. "I thought if I could root out the truth and get some real feeling there, that would be good," Oprah says. "This is the thing about Oksana. I wanted to know, 'How did those tapes get out?' And if she did put them out, why did she? And if she didn't put them out, how did they get out?"

Executive producer Sheri has some misgivings. "I'm not sure this interview is in our sweet spot," Sheri says. "Should we be doing it? Should we not? Should Oprah be interviewing this person or is this one of those stories that we should pass on? Right now it's booked. It might not be booked in a couple days."

While the booking might make headlines around the world once it’s final, behind the scenes it’s falling apart. Three days before taping, a court battle threatens to cancel the whole show. "I had heard that Mel Gibson's laywers were going into court to get a gag order to prevent her from talking," Jack says.

After court, Jack hears from Oksana's lawyer. "The judge is like, 'No, I'm not going to put a gag order,'" Jack says. "But then he looked right at Oksana and said, 'But anybody who goes on TV, I will hold that not to be in the best interest of the child.' So she doesn't want to do the show. She doesn't want to risk losing her child."

Jack tells Oksana's lawyer he respects her decision. Hours later, he receives another call from her attorney. "We got a call from Oksana's lawyer and they say she's being bullied and they feel like her best bet is to perhaps go on TV and make a case that she's a better parent than Mel," Jack says. "So now they're considering coming back on."

In his 15 years at The Oprah Show, Jack's never had a show cancelled. "I'm determined not to let that happen," he says.


Two days before taping, Jack calls his team together with concerning news. "I've called every number for Oksana. Every number for all of her lawyers and no one is picking up the line," he says. "They should have let me know an hour ago, so I would take that to be a bad sign."

In a last-ditch effort, Jack calls Oksana's cell phone.

Watch what happens when she picks up the call

Oksana tells Jack it's not in her best interest to do the interview because her first amendment lawyer says it could jeopardize her custody battle, and Jack respects her decision. "We know that even if we did it, it would really only be half the story," Jack says. "Now that it's not happening, we just move on."

"Most times there are two sides to every story and you really want Mel Gibson to sit down and explain this and help us understand," Sheri says. "Unfortunately, he's not talking now."

Meanwhile, senior supervising producer Lisa and her team are shooting with Oprah and Gayle at Yosemite National Park. Go inside their adventure