How Hollywood Ruined Fletch Won

IESB reported a couple days back that the Fletch prequel has a new director and star. Accepted director Steve Pink will direct the film starring, get this, Joshua Jackson as Fletch (a role made famous by Chevy Chase). It’s funny how a project that  once had my complete interest, has degraded into the worst possible result.

Fletch Won tells the story of a young Fletch on his first story. When the man Fletch is about to interview turns up dead, Fletch takes it upon himself to figure out who killed him. What many children of the 1980’s might not realize, the Fletch films were (LOOSELY) based on a series of books by Gregory McDonald.

Let’s go through the backstory: The only reason a Fletch prequel was EVER optioned was because Kevin Smith couldn’t keep his mouth shut. And that’s not a bad thing. Smith is a great storyteller and very accessible to his fans. But this also leads him, like other accessible directors, to talk about possible future projects that eventually never happen. Smith wanted to adapt Fletch Won, the prequel novel of the Fletch series. And that’s not to say it’s not a good idea, it’s a great book, which could make a great movie – if handled properly. Like most fans, I had confidence that Smith knew what made the book good.

From what I remember, Harvey Weinstein bought the property for Smith, who originally wanted Jason Lee to star as Fletch. But these were the days before My Name is Earl. Wvery single film starring Lee faired poorly at the box office. Smith kept to his guns for a huge length of time but eventually relented. He chose Zack Braff, coming off the hot indie flick Garden State and the popular Scrubs television series. Zack was a bankable star in Harvey’s eyes, but sometimes Hollywood is like that episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy is trying to cover the holes on the shower pipe spurting water all over the place – When Lucy would cover one hole, another hole would burst open. The studio executives didn’t like the tone of Smith’s script, which was more in line with the book. They wanted something more closer to the tone of the campy Chevy Chase film (or so I gather). Then Braff inherited the project, with Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence attached to write and direct. And when that didn’t happen, somehow Steve Pink and Joshua Jackson entered the mix.

Looks Like Harvey will finally get the campy comedy he originally wanted. What happened to the old Harvey who knew how to promote and could tell a good idea from the bad (aside from the occasional She’s All That)?

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