Jon Hamm is set to star in a new attempt to bring Gregory McDonald’s Fletch comic mystery novel series to the big screen.
Variety is reporting that this film will be based on MacDonald’s second novel Fletch novel, 1977’s Confess Fletch and will see him investigating a series of murders while also trying to locate his fiancee’s father’s missing art collection.
Superbad helmer Greg Mottola is set to direct with Zev Borrow, who has written on the Forever, Human Target and Lethal Weapon TV series. Miramax is producing.
The Fletch character was memorably brought the screen in 1985 with Chevy Chase in the lead as the LA investigative reporter who frequently uses outlandish disguises to uncover the information he needs for his story. The first film was based on the first novel in McDonald’s series. A sequel, 1988’s Fletch Lives, departed from the source material for its story and did not did as well at the box office.
If this new attempt makes to the screen, it will succeed where a number of other attempts have failed.
In the early 2000s, Kevin Smith was anxious to adapt the novel Fletch Won for Miramax, then a subsidiary of Disney. The film was set to be an “origin story” of sorts for the character telling the tale of how he landed his first big story for his newspaper. He wrote a screenplay which he stated was very faithful to the book and had picked his Mallrats/Dogma star Jason Lee to play Fletch. However, studio chief Harvey Weinstein – Smith had a writing/directing deal with Miramax – didn’t want to make the film with Lee headlining. Smith, for his part, didn’t want to make the movie without Lee, so the stalemate killed the project.
The novel series’ rights stayed with Miramax for a bit longer. Bill Lawrence, creator of the television series Scrubs, also turned in a screenplay, loosely based on Fletch Won. Hot Tub Time Machine director Steve Pink also took a stab at a script though that went nowhere as well.
Eventually the Fletch rights passed onto Warner brothers where David Mandel, a writer/producer on the long-running Seinfeld series, spearheaded an attempt to the get Fletch back up on the big screen. Mandel eventually dropped out, but a script from Steve Golin and Michael Sugar was enough to get comic actor Jason Sudeikis in talks to star. That version never came to be and the rights to the novel series passed onto Relativity for a short while before returning to Miramax.
The book series has a wealth of great material and while the Chevy Chase films were fun, they were a little sillier than even the light-hearted tone of the novels, though the first film was incredibly faithful to the story of the first novel. If this new attempt follows the books, it shouldn’t have too much of a problem in being a good film.