What's ''Fletch'' without Chevy Chase? Apparently it's Kevin Smith's next movie. The ''Dogma'' director is reinventing the '80s comedy franchise with ''Fletch One,'' which begins filming in January. The film is part of Smith's most recent deal with Miramax Films, which will also release an upcoming sci-fi adventure and a documentary from his View Askew production company.
Instead of Chase in the role of a mystery-solving journalist, Smith tells Variety he's looking at a short list of stars including Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, Will Smith, Jimmy Fallon and Adam Sandler for the wisecracking role. Notably absent from the A-list pack is Jason Lee, whom Smith had named as a frontrunner, along with Affleck, when first mulling over the project several years ago. But Lee, who appears briefly in Smith's ''Jersey Girl,'' likely lost some of his box office luster following back-to-back bombs ''Dreamcatcher'' and ''A Guy Thing.''
Smith promises that his take on Fletch will not be modeled on the Chase films, instead sticking closer to author Gregory McDonald's original books. ''We've taken an early novel where the author told the origin of how Fletch got his job on a newspaper,'' Smith told Variety, naming the Jennifer Lopez vehicle ''Out of Sight'' as the model for his film. We're just relieved he didn't pick ''Gigli.''