Greg Iwinski: Sorry. Well, I think in terms of, I think you answered a lot of it, of how did you get attached and what were you attempting to adapt? I think it seems like both the books and movies. I do have a question about what you were just saying, which is, and I’ve asked this question about the “Bourne” books as well. Talking about those adaptations is a murder mystery or a crime thing set in the seventies or eighties is in such a different world. There’s no cell phones. There’s no DNA. There’s no, I mean, so much has changed. So even in that technical world, did you take the central crime mystery of confessed ledge from a book from 19 76, 19 78?
Greg Mottola: I think 78.
Greg Iwinski: Yeah. So how do you take that? And then yes. And then keep the same ahas while updating it for today’s technology and world.
Greg Mottola: I should, might have been 76. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I used a lot of ZEVs lines and I used a couple of his scene there’s stuff in there that he broke. He took the first swing at bringing it to 20, 22 and I think had some great ideas for that. So in continuing that for, I thought, well, the one thing that I like about Gregory McDonald a lot and he says it I’m going to quote him. He says, or writing mysteries, lets me get away with murder. I think the mystery may be the greatest form of social criticism simply because it is pedestrian. There’s a lot of social satire in his fledge novels. And each book focuses on one area of society because the seventies he’s poking holes in the sexual revolution and authority and a bunch of other things that were seventies issues. And I thought, well, we don’t have the budget to make a period piece, but at the same time, it also is.
It would that stuff be relevant now. And for instance, the character that Lucy punch plays in the movie, which is the ex-wife of one of the suspects and maybe she’s a suspect too. And the book, she’s a woman who left her husband for another woman and in 1976 or wherever, that was probably a different kind of topic, a more charged topic. And not that it’s a bad thing at all, but in the book he fle thinks she’s the murderer. And I thought that might not track well in this day and age, it it’d be easy to misinterpret. That is like, we’re trying to say something about a certain type of person. And at the same time, I mean, this is a subject that gets talked about a lot. How do you talk about now and be funny? And I like the idea that John, the way he looks, which is similar to the way Fletcher is described in the books is good.
Looking very white seems kind of waspy. And in the book, he can walk through this world of fancy hotels and yacht clubs and expensive apartments and super high end art dealers and nobody blinks an eye and they all think he’s one of them. But I think Fletcher is actual value system is quite different than theirs. He just lets them think that he’s like them. So there’s a certain amount of satire of white privilege, tone deafness, certainly with Lucy Punch’s character, who’s the sort of influencer type with people of the yacht club and people calling Fletch on his white privilege. I wanted to make it at least in the realm of the conversation of what’s happening now and not pretend we’re in the seventies. So there’s a degree of that.
Greg Iwinski: I will enjoy that in those scenes that there are these scenes that are dialogue heavy that are digging into who these people are. And he is many times F let’s commenting to their face, the societal issue to them. And that it’s just the continued obliviousness. It is, it isn’t just the kitchen scene. It’s all these other people who are oblivious to the fact that they are incredibly privileged, incredibly separate and incredibly whatever. And so you get a lot of that. And I mean, there’s a line that’s in the trailer of the movie not giving, but where Roy Wood is talking to John ham and John ham says, I don’t know who people hate more journalists or cops, Roy. And then John Hamm’s like, yeah, it’s cops, people hate cops, it’s cops. And just really like, yeah, no it’s cops. It’s very obvious. And so I was like these nice things of, again, it gets to stay naturalistic in the dialogue and stuff.
And I think also setting it, it being in Boston and ham being ham, you do very much get the idea that I think there’s this scene where he literally just in one swift motion puts on a yacht club member jacket and it’s just immediately accepted into a yacht club. It’s like, yeah, if he looks like that, he can do whatever he wants. And that gets to be its own commentary. Yeah. It’s very interesting. I wondered as you were bringing this in, so you you’ve taken a co-written draft and now you’re kind of running with it and working on this next version, doing that, did you reach out to Chevy? Did you reach out to Andrew Bergman who directed it? Who I know from “Blazing Saddles” obviously, but was there any touching base with them in terms of taking Fletch thoughts?
Greg Mottola: I was my second movie that never got made. I wrote a script in the late nineties that got set up at Sony. It was about an intervention that goes awry and it was gonna star Steves on and John Cusack and Chevy. I cast Chevy as an uncle who it’s, it was like a destination intervention. They all go to the south of France, which on Cusack’s been hiding out from his friends, cuz they’ve found out he’s a terrible alcoholic and Chevy was gonna play this sort of clueless uncle who comes along for the ride and does not help things at all. And we did table read and he was hilarious and it was great. And the idea of working with cherry the time was such a thrill cuz my parents let me watch SNL. The first season, I was probably eight years old I think. And he was a hero and it was very tempting to ask him if he play a part in it, be involved in it. But ultimately as we talked it through, we thought that could backfire because then everyone’s gonna compare it to his version. And it might smack of a kind of to what’s the word I would use nostalgic desperation or something, not desperation, but
Greg Iwinski: Trying to get maybe some cheap heat would be, I guess the negative
Greg Mottola: Version taking advantage of someone else’s success. And there was a lot of when the trailer came, I made the mistake of looking at Twitter and saw comments. Like Hollywood just keeps reinventing the same stuff. We don’t have any new ideas. And it’s like, okay, fine. Yeah. Is this getting made? Cuz there’s IP that people have heard of sure. But there’s like 10 Fletch books and we’re not using the same one and we’re not remaking that movie. And so I think we really wanted to set apart. I mean, Andrew Bergman is actually Michael Richie who directed Andrew Bergman wrote it. Andrew Bergman is one of the great comedy writers of all time. Michael, Rich’s a great director. He directed bad news bears amongst other things. The candidate, I have nothing but respect for those people, but I think we ultimately decided let’s do our own thing. Maybe they’ll let us make another, maybe then I’ll come and beg Chevy and see if he’s mad at me or not. We got along really well in 1999. Okay. I haven’t talked to him since, so
Greg Iwinski: Yeah, no big changes since then and now. Yeah,
Greg Mottola: No.
Greg Iwinski: Okay. One of the things that struck me is a nice clean, running time on this film. I’m sure you know it down to the exact minute to I was is an hour and 35 minutes. It’s around there.
Greg Mottola: I think it’s it’s 98 minutes with credits. Yeah.
Greg Iwinski: Okay. Yes. So, right, right. Apologies to all the people who I didn’t count in the running time for the credits. I’m very sorry. Everyone does hard work. I’m
Greg Mottola: Glad. No, I feel like credits are so long now. It’s like, you should be able to say it’s 95 minutes because it is
Greg Iwinski: Yeah. That’s credits are adding trailers. Don’t count for running time. But in doing that, it’s like so many movies, even broad comedies are two hours now two 15, they push into these super long stories. What was there a decision that you wanted it to be shorter? And I mean, I’m not saying shorter in a negative way. I think 90 minutes is a great length for a film. It’s great.
Greg Mottola: Yeah, John and I both say, let’s make this short. Let’s not out wear our welcome. I want the movie to have a light touch. I have no pretensions that this is Oscar bait. We make a movie that doesn’t feel stupid, but that people enjoy can get the hell out of there. And I missed movies that length too. And I think I read an interview with Chevy from back in the day about flesh and how the first cuts were two hours. And so that’s why they ended up putting in all the voiceover cuz they had to chop out a lot of plot. We said, if we’re desperate, we’ll do that. But if we can do it without the voiceover, just so it doesn’t seem like we’re once again, ripping off another movie, we we’ll try. And we are, I think yeah. Throughout things that I liked jokes that I liked. And I said for the greater good, this has to go. This seems
Greg Iwinski: That’s something they don’t talk about enough with writing. Not enough people in writing classes talk about how much of professional writing is going. This is good. And I like it. And maybe other people like it, but it can’t be in this thing and having to just, yeah, that’s just how life is you. Everything can be infinitely long.
Greg Mottola: And sometimes my editor would say, are you sure this is so good? I like this so much. And I’m like, yes, I’m sure. I’m sure because I’ve seen stuff of my own where I felt like, Ugh, I should have cut this scene shorter. And it’s like that torture of knowing that you weren’t disciplined enough. I thought I don’t wanna live with that.
Greg Iwinski: There’s always the option to do a director’s cut. That’s longer. Nobody’s putting out a director’s cut. That’s shorter.
Greg Mottola: But the Cohen brothers did, which is one of the many reasons I love them. They put out a director’s edition of blood, simple, their first movie and they took out 11 minutes. They’re the only people who’ve ever done that
Greg Iwinski: They got that.
Greg Mottola: They were like, wait, this is wait, you made it. You took stuff away.
Greg Iwinski: Yeah. You don’t this part, you, you don’t need this. You don’t need this. That is incredible. Yeah.
Greg Mottola: It’s like, oh we can cut out the scene. We can cut another shot much sooner. Yeah. So I I’m with you with you. I think for certain kind of comedy in particular. Good to not wear it. You’re welcome.
Greg Iwinski: Yeah. Cuz I think we’re in a place now. This is maybe a bit esoteric, but that a lot of longer stories that might be two and a half Mo our movies, you just make into a six hour short or limited series. So you stretch it end up the other way instead of compressing it to 90, you just go yeah, we’ll blow it out.
Greg Mottola: Yeah. Although sometimes I’ll watch a limited series and think this could have been a two hour movie,
Greg Iwinski: At least 50% of limited series could have been movies, even a long movie, even a two and a half hour movie.
Greg Mottola: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. It’s like
Greg Iwinski: There are good two and a half hour movies. You could just take out a bunch of side character story lines. That weird episode where you don’t actually progress the plot. You just kind of go off on a secret adventure for
Greg Mottola: A flashback for yeah. Right. Exactly. I mean, that’s cool. But yeah, it’s well such a weird time. This sort of transition between streaming and movies. I mean a movie like this, isn’t on screens all that often these days, especially the fact that it’s not so broad and it’s not aimed at younger people necessarily. I don’t wanna scare them away. Younger people listening. Please give it a shot, but it’s flat for a new generation. But yeah, the conversation came up at some point. Should we do a flat series instead of a movie and John and I were like, fine. Just get other people. Cause we’re not gonna do that. We wanna do movies. Mean movies are my first love. I I’ve done a lot of great TV. I mean, I’ve been lucky to work on a lot of great shows and I love a lot of television and some of the best. So my favorite TV ever has happened in this age. I’m still recovering from knowing I’ll never see another episode, better call. It’s the excitement of watching the ending of it and was quickly followed by a depression of knowing it’s over. But yeah, I love movies and where the fuck are they? A lot of big comedies are going straight to streaming.
God bless Judd. He’s still trying to put him out on the screen. He’s got bros coming out. My friend, Nick Stoler directed that. And I’m sure it’ll be hilarious. Fletch is a drier quieter kind of comedy that I think is very rarely on screens these days. So the fact that it’s being shown at all in movie theaters is makes me happy. Even though they’re those trolls who say, oh, well this must stink because they’re not going wide with it. But it’s like, guys, it’s not top gun Maverick,
Greg Iwinski: Right? Yes. It’s coming from growing up. Seeing I saw a ton of movies as a kid to now realizing, oh, there’s a whole business side of this that I didn’t understand about how they even got this print to me. I do think that one of the things I love about quick clean movies that are telling a story is that you are able to see it and have seen it. So I watched your film and now I’ve seen it. Now I can tell other people to see it. Now it’s not the commitment of you are going to have to spend the next 18 Sundays of your life diving into this because I do love weekly television. I’m a big proponent of weekly television even on stream. Yeah, sure. But film provides a nice antidote to that where you go, Hey, you wanna know the ending in 90 minutes? It’s over. That was the end. Beautiful.
Greg Mottola: Yeah. I mean you can’t do the character development and twists and turns that happened on a great TV series and length of a feature, but you can tell a complete story and you could tell it quickly and hopefully without too much fat. Yeah. And I agree with you. I mean I hope dropping all the episodes at one time kind of makes me sad. I like the weekly thing a lot.
Greg Iwinski: Yeah.
Greg Mottola: So you have to wait.
Greg Iwinski: Yeah. I we’ve talked about it on everywhere from the other podcasts I do to here to every, but the idea of, I was thinking about it the other day, the anticipation is good. The actual feeling of anticipating and being like I was, I’ve watching she Hawk and watching just welcome to reim documentary, the old man, a billion things. Most of them on FX, I guess, but watching all these things and being when it ends and you go, I can’t believe I have to wait a week. That’s good. I actually do believe that’s good for an audience. It’s good for the viewers. It’s good for creators to create. It’s nice that we have to wait for something.
Greg Mottola: It’s the way Charles Dickens wrote his novels. They were just came out in installments in a magazine each week and you’d have to wait to find out what was going on with David Copperfield. And FX is great. I worked on the show, Dave, I did the pilot in the first few episodes of Dave and they were such a pleasure work with they. They’re just smart. And they get creative people. And Dave, we did for not a lot of money and that’s the deal you get. It’s like, yeah, make it come in for this amount. And we will let you do your thing. And when they gave notes, they were really smart. So I’m very FX. They’re good people.
Greg Iwinski: Yeah. I have one last kind of thematic question in terms of all of this, which is that it does seem like murder mystery, who done it. Detective stories have come back, obviously knives out happened and you’ve got the PO books and a movies and all of these things. It’s not just one singular movie, but there is an audience for it and people love it. And it’s a thing that has existed. I mean, AGA the Christie novels and yeah, there’s been so much murder mystery in time. It’s not like there’s been a new thing that’s invented, but it has had a resurgence. And is there anything that you credit that to? Why do you think this has sparked up as the new thing?
Greg Mottola: I think it’s because the society, the way it is now with endless just wrongdoing and nothing. So little getting done for climate change and our government almost being taken over by fascists and the pandemic going on forever. People realize that this, even though it’s an antiquated genre, there’s a real satisfaction in seeing something get solved and the person who did it get punished and they’re being consequences for actions. And I think that’s it. I think people are like, oh, nothing seems to ever happen. These people just keep doing terrible things and nothing ever seems to, they never face any consequences. What the world might be uninhabitable in a hundred years. And no one seems to be taking this seriously, what is happening? So I think it’s a very appealing place to be in obviously, so knives out, which is innovative in its technique and its social satire was an inspiration.
We didn’t have the budget and time to make something quite as boldly visual as Ryan did. But I certainly thought about it a lot about how he approached this old fashioned genre and really putting new life into it. And I can’t wait for the next one. It looks amazing. Yeah. So I, and I have ideas if they let me do another one, I have ideas of how to build on this one and be a little more ambitious visually if they give a little more time, a little more money and there’s not quitting so much of our budget into pandemic, the pandemic department and not on the screen. But yeah, I think that’s, it. Does that sound right to you? Do you no
Greg Iwinski: Agree that people especially coming from late night where we are the ones saying, Hey, look at this thing, this horrible person did today. And then tomorrow. And then tomorrow we talk about it all the time. It’s at least at the end of my life, I can say that I stopped Donald Trump. I told a bunch of jokes and everyone rose up and they took him to jail. And it was because I pointed out his hypocrisy at 1130 at night. And that was it is that frustration of you can boldly point out what’s being done wrong and a bunch of people can cheer you, but it’s not gonna do anything. It doesn’t stop the bad guy. So yeah, people are desperate, I think were what you’re saying for that catharsis of watch this bad guy get punished. It feels good to see that system actually work.
Greg Mottola: Yeah. And I, I, I love your boss, Mr. Colbert. And I think he’s one of the great truth tellers of our time. And he’s incredibly smart and funny. And prior to the show, when he was impersonating a right wing lunatic and going at it, satirizing it from the inside out was brilliant. And it must be hard to be him and you guys and see still nothing happens. Yeah. So little happens. Okay. We won the election, but what’s other elections and everything can be overturned. And nobody seems to be waking up on that side that whatever 20, 30% of the country does not seem to be stamping out of their delusions. So what the fuck?
Greg Iwinski: Yeah. I think that is, you’re just like, I just want to see something work, how it’s supposed to work when so many institutions. And I really love mystery. I as do audiences worldwide, I have as a writing question, when you are a building mystery, I’ve asked several mystery writers, this, what do you have a process? I know that with this, with flesh fledge, there’s already a little bit of the book has already laid out a bit of how who done it works. But when you’re constructing a who done it, let’s say the next one you make is from scratch. What is your process at building that complex mystery? Cuz as a viewer, you watch it and you go, wow, how did all this fit together? But as the writer, you’re the one that actually has to do that.
Greg Mottola: It was tricky because in Z’s version, for instance, the murderer was a different character. And I decided to go a different way. And I brought in some characters from the book and it was fun to write them and bring them into 2022, but it didn’t help me shape the mystery necessarily. So I did take some cues from the book of some ideas from the book and move them around in different places for the purpose of the plot. And then there were places where I was like, this is a dead end. I don’t know how to do this without getting into a world of exposition. That’s going to be boring on screen. I mean, I think the closest we come to that is the scene. There’s a wrap up scene without giving too much away where the characters tell the audience it’s classic kind of ag of the Christie or Raymond Chandler scene.
Tell the audience exactly. All the things that happened and put it it together. And I thought, will people sit still for this? And when we screened it, we only out a couple of screenings, but I thought, oh, they wanna know they they’re willing to sit still for this because they’re like, yeah, tell me what happened because I see all the moving parts and I kind of get why this person did that and that person did that, but I don’t make it all add up for me. Yes. So a lot of that is retrofitted. A lot of is working backwards. Where do I want to end up and going back and saying, well, if that’s gonna happen, I need this dead end. I need this ruse. Or what’s the cliche red. Oh yes. I need the audience. I need to point them over here. So they’re not thinking about this too much. It’s like, well, look at this, look at this. Don’t look at the thing that would sort obviously tell you the answer.
It want the answer to go like, oh, okay. I see it. I could see how that was the murderer and why that happened. And it makes sense to me and I can see why I didn’t know the whole time. And I bet there would be people who guess, and people will be like, oh wow. But you really want that part to work. You want that to be effective? You don’t want people to go well, that’s just lame because we’ve also bet the house on it. To some extent we’ve really leaned into it. Being a detective story, I’d say more so than the original flat. So if that doesn’t work, then I don’t blame people for saying, well, why aren’t there more jokes in disguises and slapstick because your dumb plot didn’t add up to anything. So that was daunting, but also fun. I mean, that’s something that I’ve never really done before. And I went and read interviews with people like Rian Johnson who loves the genre and talked about movie. His new movie I think is very inspired by the last of Sheila, which is a movie written by Stephen Sondheim, which is a whoa, I’ve never watched, it’s like a seventies movie. I have to go and see it. Cuz it’s people who love the genre say it’s fantastic. But for whatever reason, cuz they talked about a lot.
Greg Iwinski: Yeah. That is
Greg Mottola: Like a who done it on a boat. Yeah.
Greg Iwinski: Well my last question is, is there anything that you would want to talk about that I have not brought up?
Greg Mottola: Well, I wrote during the pandemic and in between projects, it’s taken me a while, but I’ve written a script that I love that is more in the genre of “Adventureland” probably, but it’s like an adult comedy drama about new Yorkers. It’s a big ensemble piece. I wrote parts for some people. I really like, I read apart for Jesse Eisenberg and he wants to do it. And it’s kind of about a changing New York City. And I was about to go out within then the pandemic hit, which gave me time to do rewrites at least, but New York city didn’t seem the same anymore. It wasn’t quite the same New York and felt I better wait until it’s kind of back to where it is. So my hope is to do one more polished kind of address New York city as it is in this moment, sort as the pandemic still exists, but isn’t the worst part.
And I think it’s gonna be hard to get made because it’s more drama than comedy. It’s a real character piece. If my name was Noah Baumbach, they might give me the money, but I know Noah for a million years, we came up together in the nineties. He’s a great guy, but it is kind of in the spirit of that kind of. And I feel like Noah’s one of the few people who does it and Alexander Payne does it brilliantly, but I wanna make serious with enough comedy to make an entertaining character movie. But they’re a little hard to justify unless I can rope in some really huge stars, no offense to Jesse, but he’s appealing to finance years, but I need to surround him. Both other people that are appealing. I shouldn’t have said this. Sorry Jesse. I mean they gave me a hundred million based on your name.
Greg Iwinski: I mean New York, New York is always changing and is always, they say New York is a character, but it was always a new character. It seems like where it was before and where it is now. Yeah.
Greg Mottola: I mean it’s kind of inspired by, there are characters that represent in New York. That’s not gonna exist soon. And then I love hate feeling about New York.
Greg Iwinski: I think that’s a healthy way to feel about it.
Greg Mottola: Yeah. It’s a little bit of a breakup note that to New York, that begrudgingly admits that I love the place more than any place on earth.
Greg Iwinski: I feel exactly the same way. Well Greg, thank you so much for coming on the show. It was great to talk. Thank
Greg Mottola: You. Thank you other Greg.
Greg Iwinski: Thanks bye-bye.
Greg Mottola: Take care
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