Just a few days ago, this writer was waxing with a colleague about how some filmmakers may just have one movie in them and that additional endeavors become a fruitless attempt at trying to equal that success. Shoot, a few can never seem to get another picture off the ground. My example? Zach Braff.
In 2004, Braff set Sundance and the indie movie world on fire with his hit “Garden State.” Not only did the reportedly $2.5 million Fox Searchlight flick make $35 million worldwide, it won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature, a Grammy for Best Soundtrack, numerous critics groups awards and was a staple on many top ten lists. Braff, who at the time was also riding high on the strong ratings of “Scrubs,” seemed like the next big thing both as a filmmaker and an actor — a younger George Clooney if you will. But then…
Things seemed to go sour when Braff starred in the huge bomb “The Last Kiss” in 2006. Around that time he also entered what is known as “development hell” on a number of projects. Meaning, big announcements are made, properties are acquired but the studio and filmmaker can never agree on how to make the picture and the studio usually looses interest. Strangely, even his movie career as an actor completely stalled. Rumblings could be heard that he was difficult to work with and his ego had exploded after “State,” but so much so that no one would finance his next feature? The only work Braff has been able to get behind the camera since then was to helm one of the shorts in the upcoming anthology “New York, I Love You” (which also features a segment directed by his “State” leading lady Natalie Portman). Again, a not-so typical scenario for an “acclaimed” filmmaker and it will be interesting to see what Braff says publicly now that he’s finally back in the game.
Yep, according to Variety, Paramount Pictures (who by the way distributed “Kiss”) has hired Braff to rewrite, direct and co-star in the new Cameron Diaz vehicle “Swingles.” The original story follows a bachelor who is dumped by his regular wingman and teams up with a sharp-tongued woman (Diaz) in order to meet other singles.
Two drafts of the screenplay have already been written by two different writers at this point. Nothing new for Hollywood, but its clear the project still needs some work. Braff will certainly have more free time on his hands as he’s only committed to six episodes of the upcoming and possibly final season of “Scrubs.”
When “Swingles” could possibly go before cameras is unclear, but most likely not until 2010. If and when it does, Braff will finally have his second chance at a filmmaking career.