Production in Pinellas County on A Fonder Heart hit another roadblock when its star, Burt Reynolds, checked into a South Florida rehabilitation center last month and checked out after a 30-day stay. The rehab stint - it's not clear exactly when he checked in or out - was reportedly due to Reynolds' addiction to painkillers and sleeping pills after recent back surgery.
Writer-producer-director Jim Fitzpatrick said this week that production was slated to begin on Sept. 21, but that date has been scrapped. Fitzpatrick said he'll have a better idea by the end of September of Reynolds' availability to work after physical therapy and rest.
The drama was originally set to start shooting in July before the first of several start-date delays due to glitches in the financing plan - including, according to Fitzpatrick, the suicide of one investor. Fitzpatrick said that money has been replaced by another silent partner, and the $5.4 million budget is secured.
"We actually knew he was going to be doing this. It's not a big deal," Fitzpatrick said. "When you have lower back surgery, sometimes it's a complete success, and other times you have pain. Sometimes when you take a painkiller, it doesn't kill the pain, so you take an extra one. That's it."
Fitzpatrick added that reports of Reynolds' rehab including alcohol addiction treatment are "a lie and a rumor. He hasn't drank alcohol in years."
Fitzpatrick said the cast of A Fonder Heart - including Daryl Hannah, Stockard Channing, James Brolin and Lou Gossett Jr. - is still intact despite the delays.