BEVERLY HILLS, California — One can imagine Irwin M. Fletcher himself on the case, disguised as a stagehand sporting a bad moustache, or maybe a “Chicken Little” animator with an Afro. No matter how devious his undercover attempts, however, the quirky investigative reporter would still have a tough time confirming what might be the worst-kept secret in Hollywood: Zach Braff is the new Fletch.
“I’m not going to put a percentage on it,” the 31-year-old actor said last weekend of the odds that he will, indeed, don the famous Lakers jersey worn by Chevy Chase in the “Fletch” flicks. “I know they want me to do it, and I’m very interested in doing it.”
Such is the scoop on “Fletch Won” — a long-in-development prequel to the first two Fletch films, the most recent of which came out in 1989 — just weeks after Braff buddy Bill Lawrence was officially selected to make his feature-film debut as its writer and director. The unorthodox mastermind behind TV’s “Scrubs” and the current YouTube sensation/discarded TV pilot “Nobody’s Watching,” Lawrence has made no secret of his desire to cast Braff as the incessantly sarcastic sleuth, and the “Garden State” star seems equally excited by any opportunity to discuss the would-be project.
“Probably not everyone knows that they’re based on a series of books,” Braff said of the 11 comedic crime novels published by writer Gregory McDonald between 1974 and 1994.
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An unabashed fan of the tomes — as well as the improv-heavy Chase performances that have inspired the likes of Ryan Reynolds and Jason Lee — Braff insisted that he and Lawrence would stay pretty loyal while adapting the 1985 book “Fletch Won.” “Greg McDonald writes the most amazing dialogue. There are certain strings of dialogue you can just take right out of the book and put in the movies because they are just so well-written and so dry,” Braff grinned, perhaps imagining himself dodging a divorce attorney or charging a steak sandwich to Mr. Underhill’s tab. “I’m sure we will be improvising, but a lot of it will be just taking the dialogue right out of the books.”
At the risk of using the whole fist in our examination, Braff certainly seems to use the word “will” quite frequently for a man who won’t confirm that he’s got the gig. And the fact that Braff and Lawrence are putting an official end to the adventures of “Scrubs” smartass Dr. J.D. Dorian would seem to be another clue that he’s considering a proposition that could entail his dressing up as Little Bo Peep.
“Definitely, this is my last year of ‘Scrubs,’ ” Braff revealed. “The sixth season ends [filming] in April. So if it happened, ['Fletch Won' would be released] summer of next year, probably.”
With the relationship drama “The Last Kiss” due in theaters September 15, and a remake of the intense Danish flick “Open Hearts” in development as his directorial follow-up to “Garden State,” Braff is hoping for an excuse to lighten things up a bit — and Fletch’s wide array of plastic teeth and bad wigs seem to have made “Won” a winner.
“Bill is the perfect person for ‘Fletch Won’ — he’s a huge, huge fan of the first movie. Also, more importantly, he read the books growing up,” Braff beamed, finally allowing himself to say that the timing of the proposed shoot is the only thing holding him back from leasing some rubber gloves with an option to buy. “I’d like to do it. … It’ll just come down to when they are talking about doing it, and stuff like that.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Fletch Won.”
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