Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello are due “Back to the Beach” July 31, thanks to Paramount--but it took 17 writers to get them there!

Maybe it’s the complexity of the plot: A former surf champion and his beach-bunny wife leave their conventional life (and Ford dealership) in Ohio, lured back to the Southern California sun and sand by a teen-age daughter up to the same shenanigans they were into two decades earlier.

Avalon, who starred with Funicello in the original “Beach Party (1963) and sequels from American International Pictures, hatched the idea for the new movie. He hired several screenwriters and shopped the screenplay around town. Paramount liked the idea--but not the script. They gave the project a “go” when James Komack (who shares the same agent as Avalon) was thrown in as writer-director.


Komack told Outtakes: “I met with Ned Tanen (Paramount’s production chief) and we agreed it would be about a middle-age marital life crisis which, through a series of happy events, allows the couple to recapture their youth and renew the relationship. Eventually, they wanted a picture I couldn’t deliver. They wanted to camp it up and I felt it wasn’t necessary.”

After “Beach” went before the cameras with first-time director Lyndall Hobbs, a veteran of music videos, and producer Frank Mancuso Jr., writers reportedly started coming in waves. As recently as June 26, someone was writing voice-over narration in the editing room. So far, according to sources, some $2 million has been spent for writers alone (among the 17 names: Jeff Buhia & Steve Zacharias, Robert Kaufman, David Obst and Bill Norton Jr.)

Meanwhile, the Paramount spokeswoman assured us the studio has had no contact about its derivative film with Orion Pictures, which owns rights to the original “Beach” pictures. She insisted the film is “an entirely original screenplay not based on any prior beach movies. It parodies all beach movies.”

But Mike Medavoy, Orion’s executive vice president, said discussions have taken place, although “there are no pending lawsuits.”