If, like us, you’ve been eagerly following the long and torturous route that the Fletch series has been taking on its return journey to cinema screens, then you were no doubt disappointed when Kevin Smith’s attempt to make Fletch One floundered and died in an avalanche of studio politics and casting issues.
But if you still believe it can happen, prepare to breathe a sigh of relief as Bill Lawrence – the main man behind one of US TV’s funniest sitcoms (that’s Scrubs, by the way) - is handed the reigns.
The Weinstein Company – which has owned the rights to Fletch creator Gregory Mcdonald’s Fletch Won for years – has now signed Lawrence to write and direct an adaptation. The prequel plot will follow the haphazard ‘tec in his early days as a work-shy junior journalist who solves a murder with the help of the paper’s crime reporter.
And if he has his way, Lawrence will exert all the power he has over friend and Scrubs star Zach Braff to play the part. It shouldn’t exactly be a tough job – Braff was considered when Kevin Smith was still attached. “Zach is perfect for the role," Lawrence told The Hollywood Reporter. "I'm going to use all my pull trying to make him do it."
And he acknowledged the pressure to get it right, since Fletch has a hefty cult following: "My closest friends from high school don't care about my career. This is the only job I've ever gotten where every one of them said, 'Congratulations,' and then said, 'Don't fuck it up.' "
Chevy Chase starred in the original ‘80s Fletch films – Fletch and Fletch Lives. But Lawrence is promising a fresh approach. "There were definitely broader, sketchier parts in the earlier films. I'd compare this one more to Beverly Hills Cop, where there was a sense of real jeopardy. Like Batman Begins, I also think people will enjoy seeing how Irwin Fletcher became Fletch."
Lawrence – and hopefully Braff – will start shooting in April, once they’ve finished larking around, sorry, working hard, on Scrubs’ next season.