UPDATE: U.N.C.L.E. composer? What U.N.C.L.E. composer?

"Don't rely on IMDB, son."

Robert Vaughn says, “Don’t rely on IMDB, son.” (Uncle Agents photo, used with permission)

As Maxwell Smart used to say, “Sorry about that, Chief!”

IMDB.com has altered its ENTRY FOR THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. MOVIE to remove Theodore Shapiro as composer. IMDB has gone back to not listing any composer at all.

As noted in this blog before, both IMDB and Wikipedia both listed Shapiro as composer for the film that’s due out in January 2015. (In fact, as of July 10, Wikipedia STILL DOES.) Both websites rely on users to input information and things occasionally go awry.

Anyway, it appears we’re back to Square One. Whoever gets the gig will be following in the footsteps of famed composer Jerry Goldsmith, who scored the pilot of the 1964-68 television series and wrote its distinctive theme.

Meanwhile, IMDB has, once again, added a name to the movie’s writing credit (Jeff Kleeman, one of its producers). The site for a time added another writer’s name, only to withdraw it later. So, for now, it’s best to say we’ll see what happens.

‘Mr. Warner, when does U.N.C.L.E. get some publicity?’

Henry Cavill in a new publicity image

Henry Cavill in a new publicity image

This past week, Warner Bros. unleashed some publicity images for a movie involving actor Henry Cavill — a movie that won’t be out for 22 months.

That film, of course, is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, due out in May 2016. Warners released a new publicity image of Cavill as Superman. Various outlets bit on doing stories, including Forbes.com and USA Today. The movie currently is in production.

Meanwhile, Cavill has done another Warners feature. By comparison, the studio is in radio silence concerning the film. That project is a film version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which is due in a little more than six months, in mid-January 2015.

Long-time U.N.C.L.E. fans have a mixed reaction. Some would like to see a new take on the 1964-68 television series. Others wished the studio would have left well enough alone. Either way, there’s a feeling of disrespect. Robert Vaughn, who played Napoleon Solo in the series (the role Cavill played in the film), says he wasn’t asked to do a cameo. That rubbed some fans the wrong way.

What it comes down to is business. Warners is looking to Batman v Superman as the precursor to a Justice League movie, where a group of super heroes combine their forces. The studio watched as Disney/Marvel had a huge hit with 2012′s The Avengers and the owners of the WB shield want in on that kind of action.

The U.N.C.L.E. film, meanwhile, is more of a back door operation. Warners would, of course, like it to be a hit. But it has bet a relatively modest sum, if $75 million can be called modest. That’s less money that, say, the first Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes film. That 2009 project, which, like U.N.C.L.E., was directed by Guy Ritchie, had an estimated budget of $95 million. Of course, Downey, fresh off 2008′s Iron Man, was a star. It remains to be seen whether Cavill is a star beyond 2013′s Man of Steel.

Warners has a lot invested in its superhero properties (its parent company owns DC Comics). It’s also trying to play catch up with Disney/Marvel’s machine-like output of films.

Also, Superman has more name recognition among the general public than U.N.C.L.E. does. Christopher Reeve did four Superman films from 1978 to 1987, Warners has produced various Superman TV projects, a 2006 movie and Man of Steel. There hasn’t been an U.N.C.L.E. production since a 1983 television movie. The first-generation U.N.C.L.E. fan base isn’t getting any younger.

Put another way, leveraging DC characters is a top priority for the studio. U.N.C.L.E.? Not so much.

For better or worse, U.N.C.L.E. fans are going to have to wait to see what Cavill and Ritchie have done with U.N.C.L.E.

Bond 24 questions: the writers edition

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis.

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis.

Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are back? There’s been no official announcement but it was reported last month by The Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye that the writers were retained to rewrite John Logan’s efforts.

Bamigboye had a number of Skyfall and Bond 24 scoops proven correct. Example: he wrote that Purvis and Wade were initially not going to be back for Bond 24, while their Skyfall co-scribe John Logan would be the new 007 film’s writer. Purvis and Wade subsequently confirmed they were leaving the series. Until, it now seems, things changed.

How extensive will Purvis and Wade’s Bond 24 script work going to be? If the duo end up getting a credit, you’ll know it will have been substantial.

The Writer’s Guild has extensive guidelines on how much work a scribe (with a team of writers such as Purvis and Wade counted as a single entity) should do to get a screen credit. A writer or writing team must contribute more than 33 percent of the finished product for an adapted script, 50 percent for an original one. Bond 24 falls under the adapted category since it uses a character who originally appeared in a novel.

Getting a credit isn’t as simple as counting lines of dialogue. A credit is supposed to reflect “contributions to the screenplay as a whole,” according to the guild. It’s possible, for example, for a writer to change every line of dialogue but for the guild to determine there’s been no significant change to the screenplay.

In any case, if Bond 24′s credit reads something like, “Written by John Logan and Neal Purvis & Robert Wade,” Purvis and Wade will have done more than revamp some dialogue or tweak a scene or two.

Is this unusual?It’s the normal method of operation for both movies in general and James Bond movies in particular. Even 007 films that had only one writing credit had contributions from other writers. For example:

–From Russia With Love had a solo screenplay credit for Richard Maibaum, but also an “adapted by” credit for Johanna Harwood, while Len Deighton did work that didn’t earn a credit.
–You Only Live Twice had a “screenplay by” credit for Roald Dahl but an “additional story material” credit for Harold Jack Bloom, the film’s first writer.
–On Her Majesty’s Secret Service had a Maibaum solo credit for the screenplay but an “additional dialogue” credit for Simon Raven, who rewrote dialogue in some scenes.
–Tomorrow Never Dies had a “written by” credit for Bruce Feirstein. Other writers took a whirl without credit between Feirstein’s first draft and his final draft.

As far as anyone knows, Live And Let Die really represented the work of only one writer (Tom Mankiewicz), and he did plenty of rewrites himself.

Is this any reason to be concerned? The Daily Mail also reported the start of Bond 24 filming was pushed back to December from October. If true, that should still be enough time for Bond 24 to meet its release date of late October 2015 in the U.K. and early November 2015 in the U.S.

What should fans look for next? The date of the press conference announcing the start of Bond 24 filming. There should also be a press release. If Purvis and Wade get a mention in that press release along with John Logan, that’ll be a sign they did a fair amount of work on the script.

Robert Vaughn tells fans he’s not in the U.N.C.L.E. movie

Robert Vaughn during fan appearance. (Uncle Agents photo by Nancy Battaglia Frankmano, used with permission)

Robert Vaughn during fan appearance. (Uncle Agents photo by Nancy Battaglia Frankmano, used with permission)

Robert Vaughn told fans during an appearance at the Dean Martin Expo in New York that he was never approached about doing a cameo in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie, according to a post on the UNCLE AGENTS PAGE ON FACEBOOK.

Vaughn, 81, met fans as part of a “meet and greet” organized in connection with the convention. Here’s the text of an Uncle Agents post:

He was asked if Warner Bros. or the Producers of the NEW Man from U.N.C.L.E. film contacted him to be in it. “No,” was his answer. There were some gasps from the crowd. He told us that, no one ever approached him about being in the film, and that he was only working about a block from the shoot.

According to another post on the site, Vaughn joked about the kind of cameo he’d have wanted to do. “I would have wanted to be the guy pressing the clothes.”

Vaughn played Napoleon Solo in the 1964-68 television series, a role that Henry Cavill had for the movie. Previously, Vaughn’s co-star, David McCallum, said he wouldn’t appear in the movie either. His role of Illya Kuryakin was played by Armie Hammer in the film.

Principal photography on the movie ran from early September to early December 2013. The production was based at Warner Bros.’ U.K. studio. Meanwhile, Vaughn was in the U.K. for a stage production of Twelve Angry Men. For those unfamiliar with the original series, one of the entrances to U.N.C.L.E. headquarters was through Del Floria’s tailor shop.

The movie, which has an “origin of U.N.C.L.E.” plot line, will be released in the U.S. in January 2015.

OCTOBER 2013 POST: VAUGHN SAYS HE’S GOTTEN ‘FEELERS’ ABOUT AN U.N.C.L.E. CAMEO

NOVEMBER 2013 POST: VAUGHN SAYS NO U.N.C.L.E. CAMEO YET

Repeat after me, ‘Writing a James Bond movie is hard’

Bond 24 writer, err co-writer, John Logan

Bond 24 writer, err co-writer, John Logan

John Logan is learning a lesson that the likes of Paul Haggis, Bruce Feistein, Jeffrey Caine and Michael France learned before him. Writing a James Bond movie is hard.

You can be a hero one day (Logan after Skyfall, Feirstein after GoldenEye, Haggis after Casino Royale) and out the door the next (Feirstein for a period during Tomorrow Never Dies until he got asked back, Haggis after Quantum of Solace).

Screenwriting in general is tough. If you’re in demand, you make a lot of money. If you’re not, it can be humbling. Studios make fewer, more expensive movies. With the stakes so high, there are all sorts of people — directors, stars, studio executives — looking over your shoulder. Bond movies take it a step further. You have the Broccoli-Wilson family, which has controlled the franchise for more than a half century. They have definite ideas of what they like and don’t like.

Screenwriters don’t tally up a lot of multiple 007 screen credits. An Oscar winner such as Paul Dehn had only one. Other one-time only scribes include John Hopkins. Roald Dahl and Michael France. Some writers toil without even getting a credit, such as Len Deighton and Donald E. Westlake, hardly slouches as authors.

All of which is a long way of saying it’s remarkable that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have been summoned, according to Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail, for a sixth turn writing a James Bond movie, taking over for Logan, who, in turn, rewrote their script for Skyfall. The only writer who has more Bond screenwriting credits is Richard Maibaum (1909-1991) with 13. Maibaum had the advantage of a long-standing relationship with producer Albert R. Broccoli.

Maibuam and the Purvis-Wade team have one thing in common. They’ve taken their share of flak over the years. The British film historian Adrian Turner, in a 1998 book about Goldfinger, made it clear he didn’t think much of Maibaum, painting Dehn as the one who brought the Goldfinger script into shape. Purvis and Wade, meanwhile, get criticized on Internet message boards and social media by some fans as hacks. It helps to have a thick skin.

Feirstein, Haggis and Logan were the final writers on three significant 007 hits: GoldenEye (reviving the franchise after a six-year hiatus), Casino Royale (a reboot of the franchise) and Skyfall (the first billion-dollar Bond film). They got invited back but in the cases of Feirstein and Haggis it was hardly easy going. Something similar may be going on with Logan. He was hired to write a two-film story arc, but that plan got scrapped as part of the price to get Skyfall director Sam Mendes back for Bond 24.

The situation undoubtedly is even more complicated and can only really be appreciated by those who’ve gone through the same grind. But the basic lesson still stands. It’s hard to write a James Bond movie.

Purvis and Wade return to rewrite Bond 24, Daily Mail says

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis.

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis.

Five-time 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have been hired to revamp John Logan’s Bond 24 script, Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail reported.

The move also means that the start of production has been delayed until December, according to Bamigboye, who had a number of scoops about Skyfall proven correct. (CLICK HERE for examples.)

Here’s an excerpt:

Purvis and Wade have been asked to ‘punch up’ the script and sprinkle in more gags, emphasising the witty repartee between Daniel Craig’s 007 and Naomie Harris’s Miss Moneypenny, and focusing on the interplay between Bond and Ralph Fiennes’s M.

Bamigboye originally reported that Purvis and Wade wouldn’t return for Bond 24 and that Logan — who rewrote their Skyfall script — had been hired. Purvis and Wade later confirmed their departure and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced that Logan had been hired to write Bond 24 and Bond 25.

Originally, Bond 24 and Bond 25 were supposed to be a two-movie story arc. That plan was jettisoned as part of the deal to get Skyfall director Sam Mendes back for Bond 24. Mendes himself confirmed all that in April.

PREVIOUS POST: PURVIS & WADE, AN APPRECIATION

UPDATE: Does the U.N.C.L.E. movie have a composer?

Henry Cavill's Napoleon Solo

Henry Cavill’s Napoleon Solo

Shoutout to @laneyboggs2001 on Twitter for the tip.

IMDB.com’s entry for THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. movie now lists Theodore Shapiro as composer. The website joins the online encyclopedia Wikipedia (both HERE and HERE) as listing Shapiro as doing the music.

The usual caveat: Both Wikipedia and IMDB rely on users to supply information. Editors try to police data for accuracy but errors can creep into both websites.

Shapiro, 42, has scored such films as To listen to samples of his work you can The Devil Wears Prada, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Marley & Me. You can CLICK HERE to watch a short 2009 video where Shapiro (pronounced sha-PIE-roe) discusses his work.

Assuming Shapiro is the man, the question is whether he’ll incorporate Jerry Goldsmith’s original theme for the original 1964-68 television series. There were five versions during the series (two in the first season, one each for the remaining three). Here’s four of them:

UPDATE: One more caveat. The name of writer Jeffrey Hatcher was added to the IMDB listing for the U.N.C.L.E. movie. It came off later. So, we’ll see if Shapiro does score the movie.

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