If U.N.C.L.E. is a success, can Cavill do sequels?

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

File this under “getting ahead of yourself.” Still, at major companies, people are paid to think about various future scenarios. So…

If The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie, scheduled to debut in January 2015, is a success, will the lead even be able to do any sequels?

Warner Bros. evidently plans on keeping Henry Cavill busy playing Superman. The studio also controls U.N.C.L.E., but you still have to wonder if the actor will have enough time to do future U.N.C.L.E. films. He played Napoleon Solo in the U.N.C.L.E. movie that’s now in post-production.

Here’s what prompts the question:

Nikki Finke, the founder of the Deadline: Hollywood website, is now on her own and has started A NEW WEBSITE. She has a history of scoops that have been proven to be true, such as Sam Mendes being in talks to direct Skyfall and John Logan being hired to write Bond 24 and Bond 25.

In one of her posts on the new site, Finke reported that Warner Bros. plans in the way of superhero movies. It’s already known that Warners is planning a Batman-Superman movie for May 2016 (it’s currently in production) and a Justice League film for 2017.

According to Finke, the studio also wants another solo Superman movie for May 2018. (She also says Warners plans several other superhero projects as it tries to catch up with Disney’s Marvel Studios.) Cavill first played the character in 2013′s Man of Steel.

If Finke is right, you’ve got to wonder if Cavill would have the time to do an U.N.C.L.E. sequel. Superhero movies involve a lot of special effects and long shooting schedules.

The U.N.C.L.E. movie had a tight, three-month shooting schedule — probably in part to make sure Cavill could beef up in time to do the Batman-Superman film. Compare that to Skyfall, the most recent James Bond movie, that had a seven-month shooting schedule.

Again, this is looking way ahead. The U.N.C.L.E. movie hardly is assured of being a hit. It doesn’t have the name recognition of the comic book characters from Marvel and DC that are populating movies.

Considering the seeming curse whether there’d even be an U.N.C.L.E. movie, it’s remarkable there’s even a film to watch. Even then, some fans don’t like the idea of a movie, preferring there never, ever be any more versions of the original 1964-68 series.

Still, it is something to keep in mind as events unfold in the months ahead.

The FBI season 8: time of transition at QM Productions

"Sorry, Arthur, no time to talk right now. I'm ordering season eight of The FBI."

“Sorry, Arthur, no time to talk right now. I’m ordering season eight of The FBI.”

The eighth, and next-to-last, season of The FBI is now available from Warner Archive The 1972-73 season marked a time of transition at QM Productions.

From the fall of 1967 (when The Fugitive ended a four-year run) to the fall of 1971 (When Cannon began the first of five seasons), The FBI kept producer Quinn Martin in business.

Some of Martin’s series, such as The Invaders, were cult hits but didn’t last that long. The Invaders, about an architect’s one-man battle against invading aliens, ran 43 episodes over two seasons. Banyon, a 1930s detective show, and Dan August, a contemporary police show, had short runs.

By the fall of 1972, things had begun to change. Cannon’s second season was starting and QM’s The Streets of San Francisco, was beginning a five-year run. In early 1973, QM added Barnaby Jones to the mix, which would run eight seasons.

Meanwhile, for its eighth season, The FBI continued to cruise along. It was the fourth season under producer Philip Saltzman. It would be his last work on the series. He’d be shifted to Barnaby Jones starting during that show’s second season. Eventually, Saltzman became executive producer of all of QM’s shows after Quinn Martin sold his company in the late 1970s.

Season 8 would also be the last as a regular for William Reynolds, who played sidekick Tom Colby to Efrem Zimbalist Jr.’s Inspector Lewis Erskine. Reynolds had been around The FBI even longer than Saltzman, joining the series as a regular in the third season and had been a guest star in the first and second seasons.

Season 8 hasn’t been included in previous syndication packages for The FBI. For information about ordering, you can CLICK HERE.

Fans say they’ve seen U.N.C.L.E. test showing

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer

A few fans took to Twitter saying they had seen a June 9 test screening of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie in the Los Angeles area.

At this point, three fans seem to have Tweeted. You can CLICK HERE or CLICK HERE or CLICK HERE to view the postings. (UPDATE: There’s a fourth from somebody who didn’t like it. You can CLICK HERE to read the negative mini-review.)

The fans involved didn’t provide a lot of details. Some said they liked the stars, Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, who play the roles of Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin that Robert Vaughn and David McCallum portrayed in the original 1964-68 television series. One fan said the test showing was at a theater in Pasdena, California. The postings were spotted by @laneyboggs2001 on Twitter.

If there actually was a test screening, some questions arise. No composer for the U.N.C.L.E. movie, which won’t be released until January 2015, has been announced. Did the test version use music from another movie, or movies, to take up the slack? Also, some test versions of films can be rough, missing special effects that are still in production.

Still, this may be a sign that Warner Bros. is taking some care with U.N.C.L.E. Some reshoots were done earlier this year that didn’t involve the main actors. A test screening seven months before the premier date would provide time if other fixes are needed. Presumably, it’d be hard to do anything too elaborate. Cavill currently is filming a Batman-Superman movie.

The race to do an Edward Snowden movie

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson

There’s a race to see who can do an Edward Snowden movie first.

In one corner is Sony Pictures and 007 producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. In the other, according to various stories (including THIS ONE BY THE GUARDIAN) is director Oliver Stone.

Each project is based on separate books about Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked details of NSA surveillance programs to reporters. The Sony-Eon Productions project is based on a book by Glenn Greenwald. The Stone project on a book by Luke Harding.

Here’s an excerpt from The Guardian about Stone’s project. The newspaper may have a bit of a rooting interest.

Stone’s thriller will focus on the experiences of the American whistleblower Edward Snowden, a contractor at the National Security Agency who leaked thousands of classified documents to the former Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald back in June 2013. The film is to be produced by Stone’s regular business partner Moritz Borman, with Harding and other Guardian journalists serving as production and story consultants.

“This is one of the greatest stories of our time,” Stone, 67, said in a statement. “A real challenge. I’m glad to have the Guardian working with us.” Stone’s previous films include Platoon, JFK and W. The director has also made documentaries on Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, together with a 2012 TV series, Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States.

The Sony-Eon project was announced in May. Greenwald’s work for The Guardian about Snowden earned that newspaper a Pulitzer Prize for public service, which it shared with The Washington Post. The public service Pulitzer is given only to publications, not to particular individuals. Greenwald left The Guardian to start a website called The Intercept.

For now, the question is which project reaches theater screens first. Wilson and Broccoli have been involved in a number of non-Bond movie projects but haven’t had one become reality yet. Separately, Broccoli has been involved as a producer of a documentary (Stolen Childhoods), a made-for-television movie (Crime of the Century) and a public service short film (James Bond Supports International Women’s Day). Broccoli and Wilson together have also been involved in stage productions.

Wilson and Broccoli also have Bond 24, scheduled to start filming this fall for a 2015 release. Can they handle they handle that and get their Snowden project to theaters ahead of Oliver Stone? We’ll see. The Stone movie is supposed to start filming before the end of 2014.

U.N.C.L.E. 50th anniversary event planned for LA

The original U.N.C.L.E.s

The original U.N.C.L.E.s

The 50th anniversary of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is scheduled to be celebrated in September in the Los Angeles area. All the details aren’t set yet, but here’s information FROM A FACEBOOK PAGE for the gathering.

“The Golden Anniversary Affair” – a two day event “Somewhere in Los Angeles”, Sept. 26th-27th, 2014, will be celebrating a half century of U.N.C.L.E.. This once in a lifetime event will feature a cast and crew reunion, a display of original props, presentations by U.N.C.L.E. aficionados as well as other surprises. A special feature will be an exclusive “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” MGM /SONY Studios tour that features a visit inside STAGE 10 where U.N.C.L.E HQ once stood. Keep Channel “D” open for more information as it becomes available.

The show debuted on Sept. 22, 1964, and ran until Sept. 15, 1968. A movie based on the series will be released in January 2015.

UPDATE (May 28): The event now HAS A WEBSITE, which says that participating U.N.C.L.E. crew members include Joseph Sargent, a leading director on the series; Fred Koenekamp, who photographed 90 of the 105 Man From U.N.C.L.E. episodes; and George Lehr, who was assistant to the producer and associate producer.

Matthew Vaughn’s latest looks more U.N.C.L.E. than 007

The Movies.com website has a post about Kingsman: The Secret Service.

The website describes the movie, directed by Matthew Vaughn and due out this fall, as “like James Bond but way more ridiculous.” But it actually looks more U.N.C.L.E. than 007.

Based on the trailer, it’s about the exploits of an international spy organization, like U.N.C.L.E. was. Also, characters enter a hidden entrance via a hook in a trailor shop, like Del Floria’s in U.N.C.L.E.

Judge for yourself:

How U.N.C.L.E. was ahead of its time on drones

Robert Vaughn in a first-season main title.

Robert Vaughn in a first-season main title.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. showed up in an unusual place: JIMROMENESKO.COM, a website about trends in journalism.

Romenesko, run by its namesake, Jim Romenesko, had a post concerning a journalism professor trying to track down early media mentions of drones.

The professor, Barney McCoy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, wrote the following to Romemesko:

The FAA’s restrictions over the commercial use of drones in this country left me and Matt Waite, Drone Lab founder in UNL’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications, discussing the earliest media mentions of drones.

Then I recalled a drone memory I had from a popular fictional TV show from the 1960′s.

The show was The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and the specific episode was “The Mad, MAD Tea Party Affair from the first season. McCoy asked Romenesko readers if they knew of any earlier media depiction of drones.

The professor also uploaded a YouTube video of a scene from the episode. He included an audio recording of the Hugo Montenegro-arranged version of Jerry Goldsmith’s theme music that most definitely wasn’t part of the episode.

In any case, in the clip, a drone sort of attacks U.N.C.L.E. headquarters in New York. which Robert Vaughn’s Napoleon Solo and David McCallum’s Illya Kuryakin have to deal with. Those who have seen the episode are aware of the twists that follow.

UPDATE: U.N.C.L.E. movie writer credit changes again

U.N.C.L.E. logo on a second unit crew T-shirt

U.N.C.L.E. logo on a second unit crew T-shirt


The IMDB.COM ENTRY for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has been changed again. The name of Jeffrey Hatcher, a playwright with television, video and movie credits, has been removed from the list of writers.

IMDB has gone back to the information from the official Sept. 3 Warner Bros. press release, which never mentioned Hatcher. The press release said the movie’s screenplay is by director Guy Ritchie and his producing partner Lionel Wigram.

It’s hard to say how significant this is. IMDB.com relies on input from members and it’s not certain who originally added Hatcher’s name. The final screenplay credit will be subject to Writer’s Guild rules.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: @laneyboggs2001 on Twitter advises the cast list has also been expanded to include Ben Wright, stunt double of actor Armie Hammer, as “The Unit.” Hammer played Illya Kuryakin in the film while Henry Cavill had the Napoleon Solo part.

Efrem Zimbalist Jr. dies at 95

Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

Efrem Zimbalist Jr., who portrayed stalwart heroes in 77 Sunset Strip and The FBI, has died at 95, according to an obituary at the DEADLINE ENTERTAINMENT NEWS WEBSITE.

Between the two shows, Zimbalist had a starring role on U.S. television for 15 out of 16 years from 1958 to 1974. He stayed busy with character roles afterward, including a recurring part on Remington Steele, with his daughter Stephanie Zimbalist and Pierce Brosnan. He also voiced Alfred the Butler in Batman cartoons beginning in 1992 and lasting into the early 21st century.

In 77 Sunset Strip, Zimbalist played former OSS agent Stuart Bailey, who ran a private detective agency. It was an early hit on television for Warner Bros. The first five seasons included a snappy theme song and a mostly lighter take on the proceedings. The sixth, and final, season had a drastic makeover where Zimbalist was the only cast member retained.

Zimbalist was back in television in 1965, with The FBI. He played Inspector Lewis Erskine, the bureau’s top investigator. It would run for nine seasons and be the long-running series by producer Quinn Martin. The show featured a good many espionage-related stories in its early seasons, though that tailed off over time. By the seventh season (the most recent released on DVD), there were only three such stories.

77 Sunset Strip featured a lot of fast-paced banter between Zimbalist’s Bailey and the other detectives in the agency. Zimbalist’s Erskine, by contrast, was stern much of the time. In the earliest episodes, Erskine is still tormented how his wife “took a bullet meant for me.” He had a daughter in college (Lynn Loring) who wanted to marry his FBI associate, something that did not make Erskine happy. The angle was dropped before the end of the first season.

In AN INTERVIEW WITH DVD TALK, Zimbalist reflected on the two series.

EZ: It’s interesting, the two shows: the audiences were very different. First of all, they were different in time. But 77 Sunset Strip was a universally popular series. I mean, everybody loved it; it was the favorite. The F.B.I., because of the nature of the F.B.I. itself, because of the conditions in the world at the time, of the Sixties and so forth, [the public] was sharply divided. A lot of people were on the F.B.I.’s side, and a lot of people were not. We had that to contend with; we didn’t have the universal audience put in our lap the way we had with the other series.

He also offered up this summation of his career:

I would say that I was a very lucky actor who came into very lucky times, and got to Hollywood, and was put under contract by Warners in the very last days of the studio contract era, and was privileged to go through that time which is gone now. I mean, people produce from the back of a pick-up truck today; it’s a totally different world. But that world was invaluable and I treasure the memory of it.

Here’s the end titles to the first episode of The FBI:

Who’s the (not so) new writer on the U.N.C.L.E. movie?

U.N.C.L.E. logo on a second unit crew T-shirt

U.N.C.L.E. logo on a second unit crew T-shirt


The IMDB.COM ENTRY for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. lists a new name on the list of writers: Jeffrey Hatcher, a playwright with a list of a dozen television, video and movie credits.

It’s hard to consider him a “new” writer on the project given it completed production in December. Presumably, Hatcher performed his work before production commenced, but there’s simply no additional information. Also, given how entries in IMDB can change based on member input, it’s unclear the source of the information..

The official Sept. 3 Warner Bros. press release doesn’t mention Hatcher. It says the movie’s screenplay is by director Guy Ritchie and his producing partner Lionel Wigram.

It’s certainly possible the final writing credit will change before the final release because of Writer’s Guild rules. For example, it’s not known whether Sam Rolfe, who developed the original show, will get a credit the way, say, Bruce Geller, creator of Mission: Impossible, receives on M:I movies.

Hatcher’s list of IMDB credits begins with a 1998 Columbo made-for-television movie. His IMDB entry lists some of his plays.

Meanwhile, a (pretty breathless) video showed up on YouTube that provides a primer about the movie. Not a lot new, but given how the film won’t be out until January 2015, it’s presented here.

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