A Brief History of 'Fletch'


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Posted by Kevin at etntwn1-blk1-hfc-0252-d1db060b.rdc1.nj.comcastatwork.com on June 29, 2000 at 13:03:47:

So I've read all your thoughts and well-wishes and concerns and complaints. Thanks for the input. But in an effort to burn down the rumor mill, here's the lay of the land in regards to View Askew's (re)involvement with 'Fletch'.

A couple of weeks back, David List - the lit agent for 'Fletch' author Gregory McDonald - left a message at the office that the rights which had belonged to Universal had gotten free. Since my desk is a pig-sty, this message got lost under a pile of crap, until Tuesday, when I was cleaning house. I found the message, gave David a call, and he reiterated that the option on 'Fletch' was now up for grabs again. I talked about how I'd wanted to do a screen version of the books that was very true to the source material (the '85 flick which starred, as we're all aware, Chevy Chase was funny, but not nearly as funny as the book on which it was based). I'd always felt that the idea would be to start with 'Fletch Won', a book that came late in the 'Fletch' series, but actually told the story of how Fletch became... well, Fletch. It's 'Year One' adventure of a younger Irwin that would allow you to cast anyone, and not be tied solely to Chevy Chase. As a nod to the previous movies however, one COULD use Chase in wraparounds or bookend sequences, I said - as if an older Fletch was telling the story of his first big story - which would be useful in maintaining the narrative flow of Chevy's voiceover from 'Fletch' and 'Fletch Lives' (a device that I thought was well-used).

After that, I said I'd call Miramax and see if they'd be interested in picking up the rights (which were also being pursued by a number of other interested studios and producers, apparently). I called Harvey and told him about the situation, and he immediately said yes. Jon Gordon (our Miramax bitch) got on the horn with the Miramax legal eagles and David, and within three or four hours, it was done. I was watching a test screening of Ben's new movie 'Bounce', and about twenty minutes in, someone came into the theater and whispered to Harvey, who then leaned forward and informed me "We got 'Fletch'."

All in all, a surprising and whirlwind turn of events that came to pass in far less than a business day.

So to answer some questions...

1) No, I didn't know about any of this 'Fletch' business until Tuesday, as it all happened then.

2) No, it's not going to be Chevy (unless we use the framing device mentioned above, and he opts to be involved).

3) I bear no grudge against Chevy Chase which would translate into the reason we're not using him in the lead role. We're just adapting 'Fletch Won', which, as mentioned above, tells the story of a young, cub reporter Fletch.

4) For those of you who refer to this as 'Fletch 3' and think this is a crap idea because you hate the 'Fletch' movies: you're a little misinformed. We're not planning a sequel to the 'Fletch' movies. This is an adaptation of Gregory McDonald's wonderful series of books, that could very well turn into a franchise, if we handle the first one well. Calling it 'Fletch 3' is like calling 'The Talented Mister Ripley' 'Purple Noon 2', just because both were based on Patricia Highsmith's series of books.

5) This will be the first non-Askewniverse film from View Askew (ie - no Jay and Silent Bob).

6) We're not starting until we're done with View Askew 5 (which we're looking at starting in Sept/Oct and releasing in May 2001). That means the earliest you'd see 'Fletch Won' would be late 2001.

7) No one's been attached as Fletch, though you can probably guess there are a couple guys in the running (at least in my mind).

8) The 'Fletch' library is currently out of print, so don't go looking for them in stores (you can find most of the titles on E-bay, however).

9) We're going to stay very true to the book, as it has all the makings of a terrific story, and needs very little input from me.

10) I actually learned to write dialogue by reading McDonald's 'Fletch' books. If you read his stuff, it reads like one of my screenplays. They're very dense with dialogue, and spartan in descriptive passages (just the way I like 'em).

So that's all there is to possibly know at this point. We're all pretty pleased about this very recent yet somehow familiar turn of events. Hopefully, when the flick's done, you'll dig it as much as you've dug the other flicks we've made. There's a certain personal, kharmic symmetry for me in making this flick, as the book is one of my all-time favorite things ever written, and there's a debt I feel I owe Mister McDonald as far as my own writing goes.

The whole damn affair couldn't be more perfect, to be honest.

So now we know what looms in the near future, following the shuttering of the Jersey Saga. Hopefully, you'll all stick around for our first foray into something different for us (which isn't that different after all).


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