Thursday, April 25, 2024

Spielberg, Mel Brooks Others Say Goodbye to “Lethal Weapon” Director Richard Donner, Mel Gibson Vows to Make 5th Movie


Beloved “Lethal Weapon” director Richard Donner finally got a proper send off over the weekend. A list stars met at the Warner Bros. lot to say goodbye.

Donner died last July at age 90. His memorial was set for September 2021, but COVID interfered.

His widow, producer Lauren Shuler Donner, put together the classy event according to insiders.

Among the speakers: Steven Spielberg, Mel Brooks. famed manager Shep Gordon, director Brian Helgeland, and “Lethal Weapon” star Danny Glover, who observers said looked frail. There were musical performances from Herb Alpert, who played Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile,” and from rocker Joe Walsh.

Not in attendance: Mel Gibson, still a pariah, although Donner stuck by him loyally even after the former star’s many scandals. Gibson would not have been welcome in that crowd so he sent a video. He said — paraphrasing — “Dick was always so nice to everyone on a set.  When I direct Lethal Weapon 5, I’ll think of Dick everyday.” 

(The chances of Gibson ever making that movie are zero.)

At the memorial’s conclusion, “Monty Python” star Eric Idle performed his famous song “Always Look On the Bright Side of Life.” And Josh Brolin led the cast of the Donner-produced “Goonies” in a farewell dance.

Donner was a star, and the rare Hollywood player who everyone adored. He will be sorely missed. One of my favorites of his was “16 Blocks,” with Bruce Willis, an unsung gem worth re-watching.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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