The prophecy has been fulfilled. Climbing its way from the depths of development hell, where it’s been held captive for the better part of 30 years, is Confess, Fletch. Your eyes do not betray you. The trailer for the Fletch reboot is here for your enjoyment. That’s right, everybody’s favorite smart aleck investigative reporter is finally back, hoping to wash the taste of Fletch Lives out of our mouths—it’s been nearly 35 years, and we’re still waiting on Listerine!
Jon Hamm takes over for Chevy Chase, beating out a generation of leading men for the role. Before Hamm took over, the movie went through the wringer. Kevin Smith began pushing the Fletch sequel rock up a hill in 1997 when he first signed on to write the script for Fletch 3 starring Chevy Chase.
That plan didn’t last long. In 2000, Smith told Variety, “I got busy doing Dogma, and the rights went by the wayside.” Miramax snapped up the rights, giving Smith the opportunity to spend the next six years trying and failing to get the movie made.
While he first suggested Ben Affleck for the role, Smith soon became set on making Jason Lee his new Fletch. This would never happen. Smith later wrote on Facebook that Harvey Weinstein was against casting Lee. Weinstein “maintained Jason Lee was never big enough to play the lead in Fletch Won,” even when he was on My Name Is Earl. Instead, Weinstein used Smith’s first-look deal as leverage over him, pressuring him to get Affleck in the movie. He writes:
“Fine,” Harvey said. “Drop that Disney movie and I’ll let you make your FLETCH movie…” I was ready to hug him when he added “With BEN as Fletch.”
“What about Jason Lee?” I asked. Harvey said that was never going to happen. If I wanted to make FLETCH WON, I had to get Ben to be Fletch. I argued that Ben was still gonna wanna do the flick at Disney, so I was told to convey a message to him: Miramax would match Ben’s Disney offer.
The movie was almost rushed into production but fell apart at the last second because Ben Affleck passed. However, Smith reassured fans that Affleck “was cool about it.” Smith writes, “He said he’d never understand my loyalty-thing to Harvey, but he still respected it.” Nothing like reading old quotes about movies that were never made.
Affleck and Lee were the first in a long line of potential Fletches. Other names tossed out include Zach Braff, Brad Pitt, and Jimmy Fallon. In 2010, the former manager of the author of the Fletch book series, the late Gregory McDonald, and producer of these proposed Fletches, David List, told EW, “There’s not an actor that’s ever said anything funny that hasn’t been talked about.” One executive suggested Ellen Degeneres for the part, but the producer had other leads on his mind. “List wanted Ryan Reynolds in a big, bad way,” said Smith. “Reynolds was disinclined to play such an indelible character,” EW writes. It was a different time.
After Fletch Won fell apart, Bill Lawrence, the creator of Ted Lasso and Scrubs, took over, and so began another decade of rumors, false starts, and passing on what could be a very modest, adult mystery comedy. Coincidentally, that’s what Confess, Fletch looks like!
Directed by Greg Mottola, the movie stars Jon Hamm, Roy Wood, Jr, Kyle MacLachlan, Marcia Gay Harden, and John Slattery. It looks like a fine Saturday afternoon comedy about a snarky journalist who solves an art crime. Who knows why this took so long, but making movies is weird and hard. At the very least, it’ll probably be better than Fletch Lives. If it isn’t, may God have mercy on our souls.
Confess, Fletch hits theaters and VOD on September 16.