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A look inside Hollywood and the movies. : LETHAL BLAST : Wonder If They’d Try to Blow Up Mickey Mouse

Action-movie producer Joel Silver obviously loves seeing buildings demolished on film. In the new trailer for “Lethal Weapon 3,” the sequel to the first two mega-hits, movie audiences can see the opening scene from the movie, which features the old Orlando, Fla., City Hall going down in a fiery implosion. Now Silver has his sights set on an historic hotel in St. Petersburg, Fla., but the town’s preservationists are trying to stop it.

“We’re doing our best to block destruction of the site,” says Peter Belmont, legal counsel for SOS, the preservationist group trying to halt the razing of the 58-year-old Soreno Hotel, which has been vacant for years. “I don’t care if it’s ‘Gone With the Wind,’ they’re not going to do anything without the city council, which we hope will side with us.”

Warner Bros.’ “Lethal Weapon 3,” which is being directed by Richard Donner and re-teams Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as cops Riggs and Murtaugh, tells the story of an ex-cop who steals weapons and ammunition from the police bay and sells them back on the street. The film begins six days before Murtaugh (Glover) is about to retire. When Gibson’s new partner, played by 21-year-old Jason Meshover Iorg, is killed early on, he and Glover re-team to solve the mystery.

A spokesman for Silver Pictures denied that the filmmakers had designs on the St. Petersburg hotel: “The producers are not interested in another explosion for ‘Lethal Weapon III.’ ” However, several key people involved in the film, including producer Steven Perry, art director James Spencer and two special effects experts, were reportedly in St. Petersburg Wednesday touring the abandoned building. Also present was Mark Lowizeaux, president of Controlled Demolition Inc., the company responsible for the Orlando demolition.

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“They spent an hour and a half looking around,” says Robert Kaufman, the attorney for Bay Plaza, the developer that owns the property. “I think they were impressed with what they saw. Hopefully they’ll make a decision soon.”

“Lethal Weapon” had been filming in Florida, but is now back in L.A. According to Kaufman, Bay Plaza is keeping tabs on the film’s shooting schedule and has been told by the producers the scene will have to be done the last week of January. Kaufman says his company has agreed to pay all the costs of the demolition, which are estimated at over $1 million. He feels this will make the site even more attractive to the filmmakers. “We hope that will be enough to sway them,” he says.

The preservationists are angry about this, though, accusing the developers of using the filmmakers as a tool to bring down the building. “They’re trying to use the glamour of Hollywood to sway the city council, so they can go ahead with their plans to destroy the building,” says Belmont.

The footage of the demolition of the Orlando structure is featured prominently in the “Lethal Weapon 3" trailer, which hit theaters Friday, attached to Warners’ “The Last Boy Scout.”

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