'Fletch Won' Loses To 'Green Hornet' On Kevin Smith's To-Do List

Director says comic flick will be more serious than his usual fare.

Director Kevin Smith says he's found his Green Hornet.

"I think Kurt Loder's ready. I think Loder's ready to step up and put on the mask," Smith said recently. "I look at his stony, wooden visage on the news every hour on the hour and I go, 'That's a dude who can save a city.' "

Actually, Smith won't say who he really has in mind, but he did reveal that discussions have already gotten under way. "We had a really tremendous meeting," Smith said. "Hopefully he says yes."

Rumors have linked both George Clooney — who was attached to the project in 1997 before he was cast in "The Peacemaker" — and Jet Li, but Smith wouldn't name names when pressed. He would only say that "acting skill" is at the top of his wish list. "I want a performer more than anything else — a guy who can act," Smith said.

Smith has also said he would love to work with martial arts legend Master Woo-Ping Yuen, perhaps using him in an advisory capacity like Quentin Tarantino did on "Kill Bill."

The director plans to deliver a "Green Hornet" that's more serious in tone than his usual fare ("Clerks," "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back"), and he expects the film's story to span several decades.

Smith fans who are worried about his previous commitment to directing "Fletch Won," a prequel to Chevy Chase's "Fletch" movies, shouldn't be concerned.

"By doing 'Green Hornet' next, we just kind of pushed 'Fletch Won' by about a year, year and a half," Smith explained. "The opportunity to do this movie just kind of popped up, and it's once-in-a-lifetime, so I had to seize it. 'Fletch' had to take a back seat once again, but I am getting to it. I'm totally doing 'Fletch Won.' It's a movie I'm committed to."

Though Smith's fear of casting commitment kept him from discussing who he's looking to cast as the young Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher, he was clear about his intentions to keep the story as close as possible to the Gregory McDonald books that inspired the original films.

"The first movie is actually very funny as a Chevy Chase movie, but the books are way, way better than those movies ever were. The second movie's dogsh--, but they didn't base it on any of the books.

" 'Fletch Won' actually goes back and tells the story of how he got the job on the paper," Smith continued. "It's a book I love, and it's a movie I've been wanting to make for years, so I will definitely get to it."

But before Smith brings either the Green Hornet or Fletch to the big screen, he'll deliver Ben Affleck in "Jersey Girl," which opens March 26.