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Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash

Miramax and Kevin Smith Fetch 'Fletch' for Franchise

June 29th, 2000

By JONATHAN BING , CLAUDE BRODESSER - Coutesy of Variety.com

Fletch, the flip shamus of Gregory McDonald's comic mystery series, has found a new home at Miramax, and a new patron saint in Kevin Smith.

The Chevy Chase "Fletch" franchise -- brought to life onscreen in 1985's "Fletch" and 1989's "Fletch Lives" -- was parked at Universal. But when theatrical rights reverted, Smith took an immediate interest.

Following a meeting with Smith, Universal had re-optioned the project; however, the director told Daily Variety, "I got busy doing 'Dogma' and the rights went by the wayside."

When the rights reverted a second time, Smith set up the series with Miramax for what's said to be mid-six against seven figures (Miramax would not confirm the price). It will be produced under his production shingle, View Askew, which has an overall deal with Miramax.

The company sees the project as possibly the first in a series of a pictures, which would make it the first Miramax franchise to be produced outside its genre division, Dimension.

Smith will write and direct the first "Fletch" picture, with View Askew veep Scott Mosier and David List, of RoadDog Inc., attached to produce.

The terms of the deal include the remaining series of novels post 1974's "Fletch" -- more than 10 in all, including "Fletch's Moxie," "Confess, Fletch" and culminating with "Fletch Reflected." All are game for development as pics, though it's not immediately clear which will be the first to catch Smith's eye.

"Kevin's wit and humor make him the perfect writer and director for this material," said Miramax co-head Harvey Weinstein. "With him at the helm, we have the chance to make 'Fletch' Miramax Films' first-ever franchise."

Miramax was repped by production co-prexy Bob Osher, production exec veep John Gordon and business and legal affairs veep Eric Roth. McDonald was repped by RoadDog's List.

"Scott and I can't wait to finally make Mr. McDonald proud by giving his genius series of books the Miramax/View Askew treatment," said Smith. "Big kudos to David List, Jon Gordon, and Bob Osher for making a massive deal in a whirlwind four hours, and especially Harvey Weinstein -- the master 'Fletch'-fetcher."

McDonald commented, "I am looking forward to the result of Kevin Smith's great talent as applied to 'Fletch,' and to working with the entire Miramax team."

Smith on case as 'Fletch' lives

By Zorianna Kit - Courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter

LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) --- Fifteen years after Chevy Chase popularized author Gregory Mcdonald's series of "Fletch" novels in the films "Fletch" and "Fletch Lives," filmmaker Kevin Smith is set to write and direct a new feature film version for Miramax Films.

The first "Fletch" book that Smith is considering adapting for the screen is "Fletch Won." Smith plans to be in production on the new "Fletch" film after he directs a yet-to-be announced project for Miramax in the fall.

Miramax optioned the rights to the 11-book series for mid-six against seven figures. Producer David List, who manages Mcdonald and has been shopping the rights for several weeks, will produce "Fletch" through his Road Dog Inc. (HR 6/19). Scott Mosier, Smith's partner in their Miramax-based View Askew Prods., is also producing with List.

Ironically, Smith was attached to direct the Fletch series three years ago when Universal optioned it for him. However, the option lapsed and reverted back to Mcdonald while Smith was in production on "Dogma." When List approached Smith on Tuesday about the project, the filmmaker jumped at the opportunity, and Miramax made a deal immediately.

"I was a huge fan of the series of books," Smith told The Hollywood Reporter. "I liked the movie quite a bit too, but the books were fantastic. That's actually where I learned to write dialogue."

" 'Fletch Won' is the one we're leaning towards making first because it's the story of how Fletch became Fletch," Smith said. "Off the top of my head, I'm leaning towards Ben Affleck (for the title role). Or Jason Lee. We'll also see if we can get Chevy Chase involved in the film."

Miramax executive vp John Gordon is overseeing the project. Gordon, Miramax co-president of production Bob Osher and vp business and legal affairs Eric Roth negotiated for the company.

Smith, repped by Endeavor, wrote and directed "Dogma," "Chasing Amy," "Mallrats" and "Clerks."

Kevin Says...

Posted on June 29, 2000

Posted by Kevin 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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