Close Call for Mel

Don't look for Warner Bros.' now-filming "Lethal Weapon 2" to be too lethal: The script by Shane Black--who shot to industry notoriety at age 25 by penning the original--was rejected by the producers as too grim. Especially bumming: A climactic battle in which Mel Gibson's character, Martin Riggs, is killed!

"I'm always infuriating producers by making people die," Black told us. "I seem to specialize in grim. "

About the death we won't be seeing: It follows a climactic battle between Riggs and his arch-nemesis, "who is his worst nightmare." Riggs winds up being stabbed, "and he takes a while to die."

Black--who teamed with pulp novelist Warren Murphy (the Remo Williams books) on the sequel script--"wanted to say something about courage and heroics." But "the producers wanted a lighter, more comedic approach."

Black bowed out of the project amicably, he said; Jeffrey Boam, who contributed some scenes to "Lethal I," came in.

No hard feelings, either. Black gives Boam's draft high marks: "I thought it was pretty terrific. I don't want to give away any details, but I will tell you that the villains are gonna be great. You really hate these guys a lot."

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