Mel Gibson and ''Very Bad Things'' made movie news the week of May 8, 1998

Mel Gibson, known around Hollywood as a master prankster, recently pulled one on costar Joe Pesci on the set of Lethal Weapon 4. Gibson, who enlisted costar Chris Rock as his partner in crime, slipped into Pesci’s trailer and took photos of the actor’s stash of cigars in, as Gibson puts it, ”compromising positions.” The following day, Gibson and Rock approached Pesci, who was smoking a cigar, and asked him if the stogie tasted good. When Pesci said yes, Gibson whipped out a shot of himself and Rock with Pesci’s cigars wedged in their derrieres. ”That was funny,” says Rock. Pesci ”kinda spit it out.” Is Rock worried that the fast-talking actor will take revenge? ”Yeah,” he says, ”I know he’s gonna do something. I’ll probably never be in a Martin Scorsese movie now.” That’s not the first time Gibson has shown his devilish side on the set. When Paramount execs screened dailies of Gibson’s 1995 Braveheart, they too got a surprise. After uttering some of the film’s most dramatic dialogue, Gibson turned to the camera wearing a bulbous plastic red nose. From time to time, the red nose would show up on other actors as well.

Big buzz surrounds the upcoming indie Very Bad Things, for which PolyGram recently paid a little under $6.5 million to nail North American and U.K. distribution rights. The black comedy — written and directed by actor Peter Berg and starring Christian Slater and Cameron Diaz — centers on a bachelor party that turns tragic when a prostitute is accidentally killed by one of the guests, a plot that sounds strikingly similar to last year’s Stag. That thriller, about a bachelor party that turns tragic after a stripper is accidentally killed, starred Andrew McCarthy and Kevin Dillon, and went straight to HBO last June after failing to get a theatrical deal. Very Bad Things is slated to open on July 24.

Director Billy Bob Thornton is in talks with his Sling Blade costar Lucas Black, 15, to star opposite Matt Damon in All the Pretty Horses. And the coveted role of Damon’s love interest may go to Spanish actress Penelope Cruz, who just wrapped the indie Western The Hi Lo Country, starring Woody Harrelson, and is now reading for the Horses part. Damon, 27, plans to lose weight to better blend in with the even more youthful cast…. Nicole Kidman is being talked about to fill the Janet Leigh role in Gus Van Sant’s Universal remake of Psycho, the classic Hitchcock thriller, while Columbia Pictures is moving forward on the drama Berlin Diaries, starring Kidman and directed by Ang Lee…. At press time, Helena Bonham Carter received an offer to star alongside Edward Norton and Brad Pitt in The Fight Club, beating out Courtney Love for the role of the love interest of both men.