loves to talk, and over the holidays he got chatty. In case you missed it, Slash Film
recounted his Twitter story about Ben Affleck, Disney and Fletch Won
. It turns out that the Clerks
filmmaker was wrapping up Jersey Girl
when Affleck was offered the lead in a Disney film. Take a moment to absorb that. The Argo
actor approached Smith to direct the film. Smith had never worked on someone else's script before, but he took an interest... and then Harvey Weinstein happened.
Back in 1993, Miramax was purchased by Disney with the Weinsteins at the helm. Since Disney was the parent company, it had final say on distribution, and both parties had a major disagreement when it came to Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. You can probably imagine why the Mouse House wasn't fond of it. Disney claimed Harvey Weinstein hid the film from them and refused to cease and desist. Eventually the Weinsteins bought the film out from Disney, but the drama soiled their relationship, and they parted ways in 2005.
"I was then instructed to turn the gig down," Smith explained. "I told them my deal allowed me to direct for somebody else. There were lots of guilt-ridden 'family' and 'us' and 'them' terms thrown at me." Harvey sweetened the pot by offering to allow Smith to direct his "insanely faithful-to-the-book Fletch Won script, which tells the story of a young Fletch's first big story at the newspaper." Harvey had previously poo-pooed the idea of Jason Lee as Fletch, claiming the actor didn't have an audience. (Well, in Hollywood terms, he didn't really.) And Harvey was sticking to that notion.
He said Smith could only make the movie if he put Affleck in the lead as Fletch. This is getting weirder, right? "We almost rushed my Fletch Won flick into production with bloated, studio-like salaries. All to beat Disney," Smith said. "But mercifully, before a $50 million version of Fletch Won could happen, Ben passed. He said he didn't feel right about flat-leaving Disney." The Disney film never made it, Fletch Won never made it, and Miramax didn't make it — which Smith indicates killed "a big piece of [his] passion for film" since he saw the company as "a gang of NY."
Did the trio make the right moves?